Linux 3.8 will drop support for Intel 386 chips

Adriano Gasparri on Flickr

Today's Best Tech Deals

Picked by PCWorld's Editors

Top Deals On Great Products

Picked by Techconnect's Editors

Launched back in 1985, the venerable i386 processor has served countless PC users around the globe long and well, but recently the developers of the Linux kernel decided to drop support for it.

“This tree removes ancient-386-CPUs support and thus zaps quite a bit of complexity,” wrote  developer Ingo Molnar when submitting the change on Tuesday.

That complexity has meant extra work for kernel developers for years, Molnar pointed out.

'Good riddance'

While removing 386 support will make life easier, it also means that starting with Linux 3.8, very old hardware will no longer be able to run modern versions of Linux.

“Unfortunately there's a nostalgic cost: your old original 386 DX33 system from early 1991 won't be able to boot modern Linux kernels anymore. Sniff,” Molnar added.

Linux in general and lightweight distributions such as Puppy Linux and Damn Small Linux in particular have long offered a way to keep older hardware up and running productively for years.

Linux creator Linus Torvalds, however, was unconcerned: “I'm not sentimental,” he wrote on Wednesday in response. “Good riddance.”

Production of the i386 ended in September 2007, by which time it was already obsolete for use in PCs. It had still been used in embedded systems, however, and in phones including the BlackBerry 950 and Nokia 9000 Communicator.

Linux 3.7 debuts

On Monday, meanwhile, Torvalds released Linux 3.7.

“It's been a somewhat drawn out release despite the 3.7 merge window having otherwise appeared pretty straightforward, and none of the rc's were all that big either,” Torvalds wrote in the announcement. “But we're done, and this means that the merge window will close on Christmas Eve.”

Linux 3.7 is particularly notable for features including multiplatform ARM support and 64-bit ARM support as well as heightened security, full TCP Fast Open support, and improved drivers for Intel and Nvidia graphics hardware, among many other features.

Note: When you purchase something after clicking links in our articles, we may earn a small commission. Read our affiliate link policy for more details.
Shop Tech Products at Amazon