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Old 05-29-2014, 06:25 AM   #1
Darth Vader
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How functional Slackware 14.1+ is indeed in a i486 machine?


I wonder if it's worth that, Slackware to lose computing power to support a hypothetical i486 system.

If you look at this very forum, you will see that users, who try to install Slackware on old computers, encounter various problems. Most notably, the video drivers are old and/or are just some stinking abandoned code.

Problems are even on more modern computers, for example on Pentium4 that are par excellence i686. But them have a Savage or GeForce2 video card. And here the problems begin, even rising the need to go back to older versions of Xorg or old kernels.

But if there are user's problems with Slackware 14.1+ on a proud i686 like Pentium4, how effective is it with a i586 processor and its system, for example?

Don't you think that Slackware, by switching to arch i686, would not only gain a better use of the CPU, but it would be more honest with the cruel reality of today software stack?

PS. Please don't give me the argument of "-march=i486 -mtune=i686", this is not a very efficient i686 optimization, also don't give me your stories of old computers used as routers, as arguments against...

Last edited by Darth Vader; 05-29-2014 at 06:35 AM.
 
Old 05-29-2014, 06:36 AM   #2
willysr
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Unless you have a computer that's dated back before 2000, i think it won't be a problem
I had Slackware 14.1 installed on my first laptop (bought it in 2005) and it's still working fine out-of-the-box with everything is detected perfectly.
 
Old 05-29-2014, 06:41 AM   #3
Darth Vader
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Quote:
Originally Posted by willysr View Post
Unless you have a computer that's dated back before 2000, i think it won't be a problem
I had Slackware 14.1 installed on my first laptop (bought it in 2005) and it's still working fine out-of-the-box with everything is detected perfectly.
A nice success story, but will be ever nice to say the model of your CPU, video card, motherboard chipset, memory amount, etc...

Also, how you really define "a computer that's dated back before 2000" as its hardware configuration?

Because we talk about the true support of the old hardware, right?

Last edited by Darth Vader; 05-29-2014 at 06:48 AM.
 
Old 05-29-2014, 07:21 AM   #4
Didier Spaier
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I don't understand how issues with old video cards are related to the machine's architecture in any way.

Furthermore you can always use a legacy X driver like vesa (still shipped in Sackware 14.1) if everything else fails.

Also, I'm not sure that compiling the whole distribution for i686 will result in a significant performance increase (does someone have figures or links on that?) but in any case you can always re-compile the stuff you want to accelerate.

In any case, there are so many different hardware configurations that finding a general answer to your question will be difficult.

If you suggest dropping support for old machines to favor newer ones... Well answers will fall into two categories:
  • I agree
  • I disagree
Then who do you want to satisfy?

Anyhow it's up to Pat to decide on such a matter (among others :-)

Last edited by Didier Spaier; 05-29-2014 at 07:39 AM.
 
Old 05-29-2014, 07:33 AM   #5
willysr
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Darth Vader View Post
A nice success story, but will be ever nice to say the model of your CPU, video card, motherboard chipset, memory amount, etc...

Also, how you really define "a computer that's dated back before 2000" as its hardware configuration?

Because we talk about the true support of the old hardware, right?
It's ACER Travelmate 4150 NLCi
http://www.engadget.com/products/ace...te/4150/specs/
 
Old 05-29-2014, 07:40 AM   #6
ruario
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Darth Vader View Post
Please don't give me the argument of "-march=i486 -mtune=i686"
Quote:
Originally Posted by Darth Vader View Post
also don't give me your stories of old computers used as routers
So basically, what you are saying is "I want to discuss dropping i486 support but don't argue with me"?

How about I turn it around, what is the advantage of dropping i486 and compiling for i686 only?

Why pull support for older architectures just for the sake of it? No doubt some people with find some (perhaps obscure) use case and it costs relatively little, it doesn't really take anything away from those of us with modern hardware, since we can run Slackware64, which already is "optimised" for our hardware.

Last edited by ruario; 05-29-2014 at 07:42 AM.
 
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Old 05-29-2014, 07:47 AM   #7
TobiSGD
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Quote:
Originally Posted by willysr View Post
Unless you have a computer that's dated back before 2000, i think it won't be a problem
VIA's C3 series introduced CMOV and with it full i686 support in 2003. Many SoC designs, like the Vortex86 CPUs (used in some cheap netbooks) don't implement i686 to this day.
 
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Old 05-29-2014, 07:49 AM   #8
solarfields
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Quote:
PS. Please don't give me the argument of "-march=i486 -mtune=i686", this is not a very efficient i686 optimization, also don't give me your stories of old computers used as routers, as arguments against...
so, what shall we give you?
 
Old 05-29-2014, 07:56 AM   #9
h0wl
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Darth Vader View Post
[...]also don't give me your stories of old computers used as routers, as arguments against...
Running old computers as routers/servers/&c. are perfectly legitimate use-cases as I see it, and therefore fair counter-arguments IMO. I don't think these arguments should be left out of the discussion.

Do you have any links to real-world benchmarks that show that running i686-code is significantly faster than running i486-code in an ordinary usage scenario?
 
Old 05-29-2014, 07:57 AM   #10
ruario
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Darth Vader View Post
But if there are user's problems with Slackware 14.1+ on a proud i686 like Pentium4, how effective is it with a i586 processor and its system, for example?
Newer Pentium 4's (the vast majority of those from the last decade [starting around February 2004]) are in fact x86_64 processors, so you can use Slackware64.
 
Old 05-29-2014, 09:13 AM   #11
tronayne
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Not real sure about whether this is relevant; I have a pair of Dell Dimension 8400 boxes that date from 2004/2005 that I use as headless data base servers (one MySQL the other PostgreSQL). I bought one new, the other for $75 from a guy that was cleaning out old stuff (I don't remember the OEM cost of box 1 but it was in the high $100s). Both have 4G RAM (replaced from 1G), both have replaced drives (the OEM Seagate drives crapped out quickly and were replaced with Maxtor 7L250S0 250G drives. It surprises me that the Maxtors are still functional, but what the heck.

They have Pentium 4 CPUs at 3.0GHz, Dell motherboard 0U7077, AMD/ATI RV370 (Radeon X300 SE) display controllers, CA0106 Soundblaster audio controller, bunch of USB 2 ports and an Ethernet port (so I can talk to them). Both have CD-R/W drives, one has a floppy drive.

They were delivered with XP, got dual-booted for a while then became full-time Slackware boxes with no Microsoft pollution. Might have been Slackware 10.x, don't remember; this would have been ~2006-2007.

The original box had a capacitor failure about four years ago, got a new motherboard for $50 and it's been fine ever since. They've been clean-installed with every Slackware release since and kept at "stable" with all patches as issued. There have been some minor glitches with the Radeon cards (now working just fine with 14.1), haven't had speakers connected since like forever, occasionally connect a monitor and do a little work with Acrobat Reader forms when Okular won't work on the 64-bit boxes (dammit, I wish Adobe would get with the program and release 64-bit Acrobat!). The machines serve data bases (about 20 of them), mostly geographic data, sometimes do big-ass map projections (who cares if it takes a few minutes longer than the big-iron 64-bit boxes, keeps the load off the one I work on, eh?).

I subscribe to the dual-side Slackware DVD, clean-install my 64-bit boxes and these two dinosaurs with the 32-bit side; average install takes about 20 minutes, up, patched, tested and going in under an hour.

As long as these guys don't develop dementia, I'll keep using them until they finally die. I don't (and I won't) bother with Multilib; don't play games, don't watch movies, don't give a hoot about mixing 32- and 64-bit on the same platform. It won't be too long before 32-bit goes the way of 16-bit and that will be that -- off to recycle heaven with 'em, got my money's worth many times over.

I will say that 14.1 (well, maybe since 13.37 with minor glitches) works just fine on these things and they do everything I need done with no fuss or bother. Install, configure, up and going, that's all I demand of anything. They sit in a closet (a well-ventilated closest) and mumble to themselves until called upon then do their thing; what else could you ask for?

32-bit has had its day, other than for special purposes there is no good reason I can think of to continue developing anything for 32-bit platforms; anything you can do on a 32-bit platform can be done faster, better, cleaner on a 64-bit platform. Old stuff, sure, keep it going until it dies, but, frankly, why bother after that? We're talking Linux here, not Microjunk: well-written software should compile and go on both 32- and 64-bit platforms (seems like Slackware sure does). Try to buy a general-purpose 32-bit platform (not machine controllers or instrumentation or the like, an actual general-purpose computer). Nobody supports 8- or 16-bit stuff any more, it won't be long before 32-bit winds up on the ash-heap of history right alongside those.

I'm glad that Slackware supports my babies. I'll miss them when they crap out, but I won't be crying over their corpses -- this from a guy that has a working S-100 bus boat anchor with a Motorola 68040 processor and 1M of RAM in it sitting on a shelf, eh?

Hope this helps some.
 
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Old 05-29-2014, 09:34 AM   #12
Didier Spaier
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tronayne View Post
[...] 1M of RAM [...]
That's a lot! At the end of the seventies, to translate a BASIC interpreter to French (keywords and error messages), I loaded in RAM both the interpreter and a copy of it. 64K of RAM was enough to do that
 
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Old 05-29-2014, 09:40 AM   #13
tronayne
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Originally Posted by Didier Spaier View Post
That's a lot! At the end of the seventies, to translate a BASIC interpreter to French (keywords and error messages), I loaded in RAM both the interpreter and a copy of it. 64K of RAM was enough to do that
... and, I forgot to mention, the operating system is Unix System 3 (yes, running in 1M of RAM on a 50M disk drive). Thing weighs about 20 pounds, you can heat the house with it as a bonus.

Them were the days.
 
Old 05-29-2014, 10:01 AM   #14
Darth Vader
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tronayne View Post
Not real sure about whether this is relevant; I have a pair of Dell Dimension 8400 boxes that date from 2004/2005 that I use as headless data base servers (one MySQL the other PostgreSQL). I bought one new, the other for $75 from a guy that was cleaning out old stuff (I don't remember the OEM cost of box 1 but it was in the high $100s). Both have 4G RAM (replaced from 1G), both have replaced drives (the OEM Seagate drives crapped out quickly and were replaced with Maxtor 7L250S0 250G drives. It surprises me that the Maxtors are still functional, but what the heck.

They have Pentium 4 CPUs at 3.0GHz, Dell motherboard 0U7077, AMD/ATI RV370 (Radeon X300 SE) display controllers, CA0106 Soundblaster audio controller, bunch of USB 2 ports and an Ethernet port (so I can talk to them). Both have CD-R/W drives, one has a floppy drive.

They were delivered with XP, got dual-booted for a while then became full-time Slackware boxes with no Microsoft pollution. Might have been Slackware 10.x, don't remember; this would have been ~2006-2007.

The original box had a capacitor failure about four years ago, got a new motherboard for $50 and it's been fine ever since. They've been clean-installed with every Slackware release since and kept at "stable" with all patches as issued. There have been some minor glitches with the Radeon cards (now working just fine with 14.1), haven't had speakers connected since like forever, occasionally connect a monitor and do a little work with Acrobat Reader forms when Okular won't work on the 64-bit boxes (dammit, I wish Adobe would get with the program and release 64-bit Acrobat!). The machines serve data bases (about 20 of them), mostly geographic data, sometimes do big-ass map projections (who cares if it takes a few minutes longer than the big-iron 64-bit boxes, keeps the load off the one I work on, eh?).

I subscribe to the dual-side Slackware DVD, clean-install my 64-bit boxes and these two dinosaurs with the 32-bit side; average install takes about 20 minutes, up, patched, tested and going in under an hour.

As long as these guys don't develop dementia, I'll keep using them until they finally die. I don't (and I won't) bother with Multilib; don't play games, don't watch movies, don't give a hoot about mixing 32- and 64-bit on the same platform. It won't be too long before 32-bit goes the way of 16-bit and that will be that -- off to recycle heaven with 'em, got my money's worth many times over.

I will say that 14.1 (well, maybe since 13.37 with minor glitches) works just fine on these things and they do everything I need done with no fuss or bother. Install, configure, up and going, that's all I demand of anything. They sit in a closet (a well-ventilated closest) and mumble to themselves until called upon then do their thing; what else could you ask for?

32-bit has had its day, other than for special purposes there is no good reason I can think of to continue developing anything for 32-bit platforms; anything you can do on a 32-bit platform can be done faster, better, cleaner on a 64-bit platform. Old stuff, sure, keep it going until it dies, but, frankly, why bother after that? We're talking Linux here, not Microjunk: well-written software should compile and go on both 32- and 64-bit platforms (seems like Slackware sure does). Try to buy a general-purpose 32-bit platform (not machine controllers or instrumentation or the like, an actual general-purpose computer). Nobody supports 8- or 16-bit stuff any more, it won't be long before 32-bit winds up on the ash-heap of history right alongside those.

I'm glad that Slackware supports my babies. I'll miss them when they crap out, but I won't be crying over their corpses -- this from a guy that has a working S-100 bus boat anchor with a Motorola 68040 processor and 1M of RAM in it sitting on a shelf, eh?

Hope this helps some.
I can say, dear friend, that your post is particularly relevant.

First, because it is exactly the type of post I want to see, very detailed details on your dinosaurs and is not a fierce statement about recompiling Slackware in the ultra-Orthodox way, as in i686 platform as a "blasphemy".

And for the record, looks like that you will not have problems with a pure i686 Slackware, also probably your dinosaurs will benefit primarily from a Slackware i686, because there is the case where you feel best.

Also, your dinosaurs is a classic example of old computers, nowadays. The Pentium 2 little stories are fantasies.

Therefore, I ask you, if there were a Slackware i686 or a i686 port demonstration'd be interested to test it on your beloved dinosaurs?

Last edited by Darth Vader; 05-29-2014 at 10:16 AM.
 
Old 05-29-2014, 10:15 AM   #15
Darth Vader
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Quote:
Originally Posted by h0wl View Post
Running old computers as routers/servers/&c. are perfectly legitimate use-cases as I see it, and therefore fair counter-arguments IMO. I don't think these arguments should be left out of the discussion.

Do you have any links to real-world benchmarks that show that running i686-code is significantly faster than running i486-code in an ordinary usage scenario?
On the contrary, I consider using the old computers as routers or servers at home as a very unhealthy habit.

First, any router of $20, is able to do the job successfully like the dinosaur eating at least 100W. But this dedicated router consumes 5W.

And if you do not find dedicated solutions on commerce, show me what you can not do with a ARM minicomputer, for example Cubieboard, as home server. And that Cubieboard also consume 5W.

The modest expenses, in addition, will be recupered very quickly in energy savings.

Also, if the use the old computers as routers, it is usual for Slackers, means a tremendous waste of energy.

Think a little. If there are 10,000 Slackers, mean 10MW waste. What is 10MW? Normal consumption of a town of 10,000 inhabitants.

If switching to i686 will cause the energy savings can even say that this will help prevent global warming.
 
  


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