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I'm not a Slackware dev but my guess is that the minimal gains to be had from restricting the arch just haven't outweighed the cost of cutting off entire classes of computers from current Slackware.
Seems like a moot point to me - most people who care about such things will be on x86_64 and using Slack64 anyway. I'd just leave it alone. No reason for Slack to drop it if the tools still support it. 486 should probably be handled like 386 was.
I still have a K6 and a Pentium, though I don't use them. I'm sure many more active souls have similar machinery running as file servers or whatever. However, I think 8.1 still gets updated and 13.x certainly will for years to come, so they could keep running 486 Slacks. So I don't see either move being too catastrophic and neither bothers me too much.
I'm not currently a slackware user (though it was my first Linux, on a 386SX, a dozen years back!). But I do have a couple of quite serviceable 800 mHz systems with VIA cpus which are 1 or 2 instructions short of being 686es, which I use as test systems for new Ubuntu and Debian releases. Generally I try live CDs first, before installing. Some distros have live CDs which are 686-only - which means I don't bother to try them.
IMHO install disks should have 486 kernels, with the option to install or build whatever level of kernel works on a given system.
I'm glad to know that you can start with a 486 kernel on Slackware - I might be inspired to install Slackware on one of my VIA systems, then.
Would the devs mind sharing why the change hasn't been made? I'm guessing there must be a lot of Slackware users with 15-20 year old computers that want to run the latest software.
My thoughts: Since you're only guessing.. you are probably NOT a 486/586 user. Since I too am not a 486 or 585 user, that makes us 2 not the people Pat is hoping to get a reply from.
486: We all know what those where.
586: Pentium, series I: you know, the 60 75Mhz up to 300 Mhz
(Pentium, derived from Penta => 5)
And from Pentium Pro and II up = minimal i686
I vaguely remember I had a Cyrix/IBM 6x86 P166+.. I must have worked on that machine most of my university life. It's been for ages. I presume there probably won't be many of them left,. I, personally, can't imagine I will in the nearby future obtain/get my hand on/find anything pre-Pentium III, and do anything with it, other than use it as a door-stop.
If Pat won't get any input from real 486/586 users,.. He's got my blessings
Distribution: slackware64 13.37 and -current, Dragonfly BSD
You also have to remember that in the developing world the computers tend to be older than in the more developed nations. It is only fair to give everyone a chance to use Slackware.
Hey I never thought of that! I responded to Pat's original tweet at the time going along with him possibly scrapping 486 support - (as did others) - now I feel bad - just as well he made his own mind up anyway !
In the developing world, computers tend to be older.. 15+ years older? I doubt, but still: If so: should 'they' be running '-current' or could 13.x be 'new' enough,, for the following 5 years?
PS: I drive 28+ years old cars, so yeah, I know nice it is if old stuff is still supported (brakediscs, pads, fuel, timingbelts and stuff).. but you won't hear me complaining they haven't offered me A/C, cupholders, airbags or a-symetrical foldable rear-seats
For older hardware you need special designed distributions, with a very little resources requirement.
Older versions of Slackware run very well indeed on old hardware. I ran Slackware 10.2 on PII 266 MHz with 128 MB RAM and XFce; it ran very well.
I started with Slackware 10.0, but, Slackware 10.2 is my oldest screen shot.