Hell, I remember programming the 8080. It was a ceramic DIP chip, too - none of this new fangled plastic or BGA stuff.
Linus Torvalds has announced the Linux kernel no longer supports Intel's 80386 processors. Reg readers will doubtless recall that the 386 debuted way back in 1985 and made something of a splash when the chip found its way into PCs made by Compaq before an IBM PC bearing the processor reached the market. 386s screamed along, …
Apple ][+ 140k SSSD FD IIRC. Ah, the joys of being able to hook the reset button! :D
Go-go Miner 2049er (but not "lemonade stand" - that's not a proper game.)
My neighbour had a Heathkit Z80 on which we used to play Y-Wing.
You are in a maze of happy memories, all alike. On the wall is an inscription.
The 6809 seemed to be one of the best of the 8bit breed. Good addressing modes, multiple accumulators, orthogonal instructions. I think it had only 2 real problems
Long execution times.
Late in the field.
Motorola made many microcontrollers with all sorts of on chip jiggery pokery, and whoever they are now (Freescale?) probably still does but only on the 6800 instruction set.
OT I wonder what a Psion II would have been like with the 6809 instruction set available?
"The 6809 seemed to be one of the best of the 8bit breed"
I think the problem was it WAS rather slow and the complex, elegant addressing modes and position independent code which made it such a great cpu to program in assembler were dying the death as compilers generally only used simpler modes. It was caught at the wrong moment in time really with the 68000 being developed on one hand and the shift over to RISC on the other.
I've often thought that an updated 32 bit with high clock speeds would have been interesting but past is past and I'd much rather have a multi-core modern cpu running at 3GHz even if much of the power seems to disappear somewhere these days.
(I do have a 6809 still running in a home-made Forth system but I guess I've not switched it on in years)
The 6809 was lovely to program (I still have several Dragon 32s somewhere, and I'd written my first OS kernel for a 6809), but it was still hampered by a rather limited register file compared with the Zilog Z80, which had already been on sale for a couple of years by the time the 6809 launched. This compromise was due to maintaining source compatibility with 1974's 6800. Compared to that processor, though, the 6809 was a breath of fresh air!
I don't think there ever was a "perfect" 8-bit processor - large register file, efficient execution, concise code, logical and consistent instruction set, clean memory map, and no significant bugs - from that era, but the Z80 (+variants) and the 6809 probably were the best of breed.
The 6502 was cool, but the Z80 had programmable interrupts for peripheral devices. The best part was that one could both read (and learn) the entire instruction sets and physically carry the documentation!
I gave up after the 486, where the "CPU-book" was something like 600 pages and The Errata's three volumes of equal bloat (AFAIK). Last time I looked, on AMD Athlon, the memory controller was a volume of about 100 pages ... for nostalgia I sometimes hack embedded thingies like MSP430. I can still understand that "scale" of device and it is more fun than soduko and crosswords.
Now, now. Let's be fair. I loved its zero-page addressing mode (bit of a shock coming from Z-80) and yes it was *fast* but I also loved the chunky opcodes in Z-80, like LDIR. Horribly wasteful of clock cycles though it was, my first sprite routine relied rather heavily on it...
Considering that the 6502 went on indirectly to inspire the instruction set of the ARM processor, which is probably the most widely-used processor architecture on the planet (it's found in mobile phones, routers, printers, wireless cards and even the Raspberry Pi), you might just be right with that.
Actually, the 6502 wasn't a bad chip in its own right, if you knew how to deal with zero page mode.
For me, it was the 6502 on a Commodore 128. Simple as it was, the built-in machine language Monitor actually found some use for me in the latter days as with help from a book explaining all the opcodes, I actually learned how to make my own ML programs. Being able to interpret assembler code is still finding use for me when I stumble upon the occasional snippet. Generally, all I need is a lookup of the appropriate architecture and I can follow along.
Yeah, but standard mode (and the monitor) used the *8*502 (misread a bit, but it's a superset of the 6502). CP/M never really was that practical on a 128, even if you used fast mode in 80 columns. Plus by the time it came out the transition to DOS was already in progress. In any event, it wasn't really dual processor as only one or the other was on at a time.
8080? - pshaw. Around the same time GE MicroElectronics up in Bonny Scotland came out with the CP1600. Yeah, 16 bits in 1974. Stomped all over the 8086, but their marketing department must, in retrospect, have sucked mightily. I wonder who that was? Probably William McGonagle. He was writing poems instead of selling it.
Ah saw a CPU up on a hill
It's no there noo...
It's still no there noo.
"Linux never supported the 286 or earlier."
Well, the linux kernel didn't appear until 1991 and Linus built it for a 386/486 target (he was playing with Minix 386 and was frustrated with its limitations).
However, somewhere in my loft I still have a copy of v2 of Xenix (an MS licensed version of Unix) dating from the mid 80s which ran on a 286. The earlier version ran on 8086 I believe.
You think you had it bad? Ha! When I was a lad I had to program an abacus in binary to factorise on an elliptic curve, while barefoot, sweeping the igloo 's chimney and fending off hungry polar bears.
You don't know how lucky you've got it.
Binary, you had Binary, Ohhhh we used to DREAM of havin' binary, there were 120 of us working in the outflow pipe of local sewage works, we couldn't even afoard ones and zeros, we 'ad to write all our programs using only a zero wher we worked twenty-four hours a day at
the mill foxconn for fourpence every six years.
But you try and tell the young people today that... and they won't believe ya'.
Coat, with matching flat cap.
Surely CTC take a large chunk of the credit via the Datapoint 2200? They largely specified the 8008 instruction set and merely contracted it out to Intel. When Intel couldn't deliver on time they went with a TTL implementation, meaning that the very first commercial sale of a predecessor of the x86 architecture started in 1970 without Intel parts. As part of the contract termination negotiations, Intel got to keep the instruction set though at that point they'd never shipped a microprocessor — the 4004 wasn't available until late '71 and the 8008 itself wasn't completed until '72.
Well not with typists of the one fingered variety perhaps. But the screen couldn't keep up with even my own random 10 fingered crawl across the keys let alone any moderately competent typist. I remember having to talk to quite a number of secretaries who were being driven up the wall by how much time it would take to catch up with them.
I'd imagine the FFS of AmigaOS (unless you have a recent ROM/OS) has some limitations on disc size.
You can get an IDE to CF adaptor that will be cheaper than finding an old 2.5" IDE small enough. Not having virtual memory means it won't wear out too fast.
I don't remember the typing problem. And I replaced an actual typewriter with my first PC, a 25Mhz 386 SX with 2 whole MB of RAM. It's amazing how little you can get on a 40MB hard disk, when it's already half full of DOS and Windows 3.1.
My 8 notes of polyphony Soundblaster was amazing too. Wolfenstein 3D was my game of choice. The sad thing is I saw it somewhere a few months ago and played a bit, and I can still remember the way round all the levels (including where about half of the secret passages are).
"It's amazing how little you can get on a 40MB hard disk, when it's already half full of DOS and Windows 3.1."
HAHA. I remember those days. When Doom came out I had a choice of having Windows or Doom on so I got very good at installing Windows. I actually still have that 40MB Hard drive. I tried killing it once by driving over it in a 38 tonne lorry several times but it lived and worked perfectly. They dont build them like that any more.
"It's amazing how little you can get on a 40MB hard disk, when it's already half full of DOS and Windows 3.1."
40MB, We used to dream of havin' 40 MB...... etc. etc.
The first PC I had had a 20MB HD with a RLL controller to trick it into giving you 32MB, when I got it a friend asked me "what do you need that much space for, are you going to use it as a file server?".
That was in the days when the turbo C compiler and debugger lived quite comfortably on a 5-1/4" floppy and terabyte was something you heard of in SiFi films . I got rid of that PC when the install for MickeySoft 'C' (V6.0 ???) hit 40MB.
The first PC I had had a 20MB HD with a RLL controller to trick it into giving you 32MB
Lucky bastard. My first computer had a pair of 5 1/4 in floppy drives and a floppy labeled "DOS Boot Disk". No internal storage whatsoever. I had at least 10 copies of that boot disk to, just in case something happened to it.
I remember having that problem, and I didn't learn how to type properly until later. My typing speed at that point couldn't have been more that 20 or 25 wpm. That was only in Microsoft Works, however. In a proper word processor (my definition of proper at the time being Q&A.....did anyone else use that?) the computer kept up just fine with my mother, who was an excellent typist at the time, even if she did constantly complain about the differences between the computer keyboard and the one on her typewriter.
I assume the 486 still scrapes by? There are still products using 486-compatible processors on the market, I've used some recently. It would be somewhat annoying if Linux no longer supported those, but I haven't used a 386 CPU for many years (despite having a couple of old DOS 386 machines in the loft).
You run your existing hardware with an existing kernel.
If you just have software which requires a 386, that you could do that in an emulator.
Must I think of everything? ;)
Actually, its getting hard enough to find a distro with a downloadable non-pae installation kernel on a pentium m.
> Isn't 486 a 386+maths coprocessor?
Not necessarily: remember the 486SX?
Plus it made some significant changes to the instruction set that made multi-threading significantly easier. For example the atomic interlocked increment and decrement operations return the new value rather than just a zero or not-zero indication. Hence (from the article:
> which complexity has plagued us with extra work whenever we wanted to change SMP primitives
(And also why the InterlockedIncrement and InterlockedDecrement Win32APIs where different on WinNT vs. Win9x.)
The 486 also introduced some other instructions iirc, bound and bswap. (though for bulk swapping SSE solutions are faster)
Note that this might not only kill 386s, but also 3rd party x86 chips that are not entirely 486 compatible in the sense that matters for the kernel. Cyrix and UMC among others had 486 alikes.
486 is still supported, judging by comments in the changelog. There are some sort-of-486-like processors that are no longer supported, however:
"Note that the 386 is no longer supported, this includes AMD/Cyrix/Intel 386DX/DXL/SL/SLC/SX, Cyrix/TI 486DLC/DLC2, UMC 486SX-S and the NexGen Nx586."
"Note that the 386 is no longer supported, this includes AMD/Cyrix/Intel 386DX/DXL/SL/SLC/SX, Cyrix/TI 486DLC/DLC2, UMC 486SX-S and the NexGen Nx586."
Some chip manufacturers played fast and loose with the numbering so they might have said 486 and supported the instruction but internally they might have had a largely 386 architecture such as bus. Anyway I expect they're dumped for their rarity and disuse as much as anything else - who knows or cares if they work because nobody has the hardware to actually test them.
"The more things change, the more they stay the same.... my current work laptop sometimes cannot keep up with my typing speed (Windows 7 + Word)"
Just this morning, on my 2 year old Core i5 w/6GB RAM, Win 7 and was typing an email in Outlook, it was struggling to keep up and I ended up with a word inserted into the middle of anwordother.
Yet my 486 with Clarisworks (albeit I never ran email on it until it became a Pentium 233) never had this issue, was always snappy. At least until I put Win95 on it and had to DriveSpace the 170mb HDD to get any space.
MS has always acted as if the purpose of an operating system is to suck all the life out of the CPU, so you can't run any non-MS software, unless you invest in extreme hardware, like gaming machines. MS Word on my work 2GHz Core 2 Duo XP machine is slower than Wordstar on my old 12 MHz 286 DOS 3.3 from back in the last millenium.
Ah, but 386 motherboards had a cool feature modern boards don't: an clock circuit that kept accurate time. I think they only disappeared with the advent of the Pentium. My first employer use to look for them because he could pick them up and sell the clock circuits to a client who repurposed them.
Ah, the 386. I remember when the first Compaq 386 machines came out (I believe at 20MHz, not 33MHz, though Wikipedia tells me that slower 386s were available), and my fanboyism disliking the fact that it took the performance crown for desktops back from the 8MHz ARM2 Archimedes machines (probably as measured by dhrystone, although BASIC may have been involved). I'm sure my copy of Structured Computer Organization contains some comment about Intel "finally making a decent CPU", but unfortunately I'm a few thousand miles away and can't check - anyone got the red edition?
The 486 was a bit nicer as designs go, excluding the slight problem of getting everyone to optimize code in a way that was pessimal for Pentiums. I still wish IBM hadn't decided to use the chip from their printers and had gone with the 68000 series from the start (and if we were going to end up with thirty years of compatible machines foisted on us by Windows, we'd ended up with anything less crufty than x86), but at least it meant that near and far pointers weren't always obligatory...
"ended up with anything less crufty than x86"
As always, it's the marketting and "ease" of use that wins, not the better implementation or sophistication.
I used to be surprised at how well x86 coped with the exploding computing market, but (as you said) Windows lock-in pretty much guaranteed that no one really wanted to put money in to alternatives.
I remember doing that on my first home PC (massive steel-framed beige box that it was).
When it was finally retired by my dad's purchase of a 486, I took the thing apart and was slightly disappointed to find that the values shown on the 7-segment display were purely down to the state of the toggle button (being now much wiser, it clearly makes sense).
On the plus side, it meant that I was able to fit it to the 486 case and continue with the placebo "active turbo!" fun ;)
I think that this great ideal which would aim at being able to run Linux on ANY device prevails over these complexities.
I understand that Linux will not suddenly stop running on 386 boxes, but this is a step in the wrong direction, especially when you consider that with Linux , so much can be done with so little CPU.
>but this is a step in the wrong direction
I'm not sure how dumping legacy stuff that causes issues supporting the majority of users is a "step in the wrong direction". I would go further than Linus.. I would remove all of the archs and boards that haven't been touched for years and only allow them back in when someone steps up and offers to support them and can prove that they still work or are fixable.
>especially when you consider that with Linux , so much can be done with so little CPU.
If you turn off everything that makes using a recent kernel worth using..
Anyone who has a 386 processor and wants to install Linux on it now can easily download one of the zillions of distros that support kernel up to 3.3 (or whatever) and it will run just fine. And then they can do the same for all of those other processors that haven't been sold in years.
Just provide a document somewhere that says processor X is supported in kernel version [1, 3.3] or whatever with link to some distro locations that include that.
Then the people maintaining the kernel can get on with supporting new stuff (only)
>Anyone who has a 386 processor and wants to install Linux on it now can easily download one
>of the zillions of distros that support kernel
I don't think that is true.. as someone else said glibc doesn't work on 386 anymore.. IIRC even Debian's i386 arch has only worked on 486+ for at least the last stable release, maybe the one before that.
Erm, they aren't going back in time and deleting previous kernel versions. Just saying future kernel versions won't work.
So just use the ones which do work. No problem.
As for support, they will be supported in the same way as any other linux kernel - you support it in-house yourself, or buy support separately from a company or person with expertise.
There comes a point where you have to cut off support though, otherwise Linux would become bloated and inefficient. If relatively few people are using 386 class machines and supporting them is causing problems, why not drop support? After all, they'll probably not gain any advantage of using a newer kernel anyway as the machine won't be powerful enough to support a lot of new features.
Earlier kernels probably aren't going to stop working because a newer kernel has been released, and, it being open source, there is nothing stopping someone restoring 386 support to newer builds.
Being the head of one of the most successful and innovative open source movements in the world clearly has its freedoms. No paying customers means zero commercial obligation to keep supporting them, and one can just walk away without a care in the world. Bliss!
So there's a little lesson. You really can't count on free software being sustainable in the long run. If your product life cycle isn't going to evolve at the same-ish rate as the free software you're currently depending on then it's not necessarily a good idea to use it in the first place. Many people use Linux as if it will be there forever, and will always be the best thing in town. With enough people using it that will probably become a self fulfilling prophecy (certainly no bad thing!), but it's not written into any contract anywhere that that really will be the case.
In practise I suspect that it won't matter that much to embedded 386 users (I'm not one - PowerPC me). Embedded software is updated far less often than mainstream IT, and if it works now it'll keep working. I can understand Linus's point of view, and it will be quite a long time before it becomes a major headache for the users of these ancient chips.
On a side note, a Linux driver dev I know moans that Linux is a bit Mozilla-ish. Every major release changes everything all over again and drivers have to be re-written, etc. etc. It's a ball ache to keep up. That may indeed be the price of innovation and progress, but on the whole many people would prefer a more considered approach. Device driver devs matter a lot, and if they get too fed up and stop bothering? Well, that sort of thing can do real damage to an OS.
MS (and presumably Apple) long ago learnt the true value of drivers, API stability, etc. Like it or loathe it, the fact that Windows XP has been maintained all this time, still works, and so forth is fairly impressive and has meant that many paying customers have stuck with MS. Windows 7 looks like it will go the same way, and that's good news for many people out there.
By contrast vendors of paid-for software withdraw support for their OSes afor their own commercial advantage, and with the objective of forcing their still-locked-in customers onto another platform controlled by that vendor... ka-ching! Exhibit A - HP, which has notched up - RTE, MPE, Domain/OS, WebOS at least and is probably trying to snuff out OpenVMS as we speak.
We're talking about a part that ceased production 5 years ago (at which time it would have been made for anyone to be using it in new designs) - which embedded device vendor is still releasing major firmware updates for 5 year old products (yes I appreciate that device manufacturers' stocks of the part may take a year or two to be used up)?
Major flaw there. Try running Windows XP, which is still in some form of official support, on a domain with mandatory profiles and Internet Explorer 8 - the latest version to work on it and report back to me how well that works out for you. I know for a fact that it doesn't work as well as anyone would like, as IE creates files that have names that are too long, which messes up the locally cached profile so when a user logs in again it can't do anything with them and therefore doesn't let them log in. They also won't be fixing it, even though MS have admitted it is a problem, with the advice being... upgrade to a newer version of Windows.
Linux has a heck of a longer support cycle than Windows, period. But if you need to support an ancient chip 27 years after it was released, I'd be advising that you make your own custom OS, and not expect anyone else to.
That's stable and supported software too...
If you are using mandatory profiles then use a gpo to stop Windows making a local cached copy of the profile. If you are using mandatory profiles then this is the recommended way of using them. If your network is so slow that local cached profiles are necessary then you need to upgrade your infrastructure, if its because the server isn't always available then maybe local profiles would be a better option.
Personally, I am finding that Win98 has better support than 2 year old EEEBuntu.
I don't know that I agree with the idea that Linux has a longer support cycle than Windows: Red Hat has a 10 year support cycle for server products (XP is already older than that), but your workstation Linux from 10 years ago is well out of support now.
So, you're praising MS because they support a ten year old operating system, while criticising Linux for dropping support of a 27 year old CPU. Good luck in getting MS to support MS-DOS 4.0...
For that matter, the embedded systems manufacturers are still free to fork their own copy of the Linux kernel that supports the 80386. They can backport patches from the mail kernel tree. They have full source access. Heck, if there's enough of a demand somebody is free to create a startup which does all these things for the embedded market - not that I can see it happening for a CPU that has not been manufactured for five years.
With a closed source OS, none of these things are options. If your OS vendor drops support for your platform, you either find another OS or keep running the last version that works, tweaking your hardware to keep it functional.
With regard to drivers, I can't speak from personal experience, but your friend did say "major releases" - 2.6 was released in 2003, about the same time as Windows XP, and many XP drivers work poorly if at all on Windows 7 (I hate to think how they are on Windows 8).
You're forgetting a major point that sort of completely invalidates your argument. Whichever kernel you choose up to the latest one that runs on the 386 can be recompiled, altered and upgraded at your will. Nothing stops you forking the current kernel and keeping your own 386-good branch. It will not be as cheap as free, but possible to do.
Try that with your Windows/OS X/OS2 binary release of 15 years ago and come back with your results.
I have the entire (i hope) source code for CP-6 version E00, on microfiche. I don't remember what the 'with source code' option on the support contract cost, but it was significant. I'm sure if we had run our factory on Microsoft WIndows, I'd have a copy of that instead.
Maybe one day I'll have the time, inclination and a microfiche reader and be abe to peruse the AARDVARK code...
anonymous, just in case.
XP is only still around because companies refused to buy Windows Vista. Neither of them will run on a 386. I can't remember when Microsoft dropped support for the 386 but it could have been as far back as Windows 95. More recently you can pity those poor fools who have bought Windows Mobile or Windows Phone devices only to see support for them dropped after about 12 months, Microsoft's approach to drivers was laughable for years - basically anything was possible and this was a major source of problems for many because buggy hardware would rely on fixes in untested drivers.
There are lots of things to criticise about Linux and its development but this isn't one of them. Anyway if you want to keep your old 386s running up to date unix just switch to NetBSD!
> I can't remember when Microsoft dropped support for the 386 but it could have been as far back as Windows 95.
Windows NT4 certainly ran on the i386. My university had a few compter rooms filled with Compaq 386SX-25s with 4MB RAM.
OK, "run" isn't quite the right description. More accurately, the code executed.
"You really can't count on free software being sustainable in the long run."
I was somewhat surprised and dismayed the other day when I went looking for "gadgets" for my windows 7 laptop. I don't normally go anywhere near them but I wanted something specific, I forget what now though.
Anyway, upon clicking "Get more gadgets online" I was taken to a page that said:
"Because we want to focus on the exciting possibilities of the newest version of Windows, the Windows website no longer hosts the gadget gallery. " (not even the ones that used to be there)
If wikipedia is correct then Windows 7 is only about 3 years old. Microsoft is already dumping additional stuff from Windows 7 to "encourage" people to upgrade to Windows 8.
Wrote :- "MS (and presumably Apple) long ago learnt the true value of drivers, API stability, etc. Like it or loathe it, the fact that Windows XP has been maintained all this time, still works, and so forth is fairly impressive"
Please keep your analogies relevant. Torvalds is talking about the next version of Linux. That is equivalent to Windows 9, not XP. Will W9 run on 386's? I would not know and don't really care (who the hell would want to do that anyway?) and would not criticise MS if it didn't. Perhaps you can tell us, as you seem very close to MS?
Also, XP is still used by a large percentage of people, including me when I use Windows. OTOH 386 processors are not much used now, and those that are are used for special applications for which the developers are quite capable of chosing an appropriate version of Linux.
Windows 8 System Requirments:
Processor: 1 gigahertz (GHz) or faster with support for PAE, NX, and SSE2
So no 386's then.
PAE: Pentium Pro or newer
NX: Pentium 4/AMD64 or better
SSE2: P4/AMD64 or better
So, Windows 8 doesn't support 386, 486, Pentium, Pentium 2 or Pentium 3 architectures it seems, or any of the AMD equivalents.
I know you're a troll but... "Every major release changes everything all over again"
Surely, that's exactly the definition of a major release? If it doesnt include breaking changes, the convention is to call it a minor release or revision.
Remember that (commerical) Windows versioning is more related to the GUI than any underlying architecture.
Being the head of one of the most successful and innovative open source movements in the world clearly has its freedoms. No paying customers means zero commercial obligation to keep supporting them, and one can just walk away without a care in the world. Bliss!Yes, because all the code that's already been written that did support the 80386 has suddenly vanished for all time. Oh, no, wait. It hasn't. It's all still there. Scrub that, then.
a Linux driver dev I know moans that Linux is a bit Mozilla-ish. Every major release changes everything all over again and drivers have to be re-written, etc. etc. It's a ball ache to keep up."Changing everything all over again" is pretty much the definition of a major release.
MS (and presumably Apple) long ago learnt the true value of drivers, API stability, etc. Like it or loathe it, the fact that Windows XP has been maintained all this time, still works, and so forth is fairly impressive and has meant that many paying customers have stuck with MS.Windows XP has been about for what, 11 years or so, and Microsoft are going to be pulling support for it Real Soon Now. Linux has been around since 1991, and every version ever released is still available. For £0, and with commented Source Code and modification rights.
Binary compatibility across releases was deliberately never a design goal of Linux. This was a deliberate decision: binary compatibility can potentially mean having to support things that, with the benefit of hindsight, turn out to have been stupid decisions. Having to recompile applications (or download new, pre-compiled versions from a trusted source) is ultimately less bother for users than security holes you could get a bus through sideways.
glibc hasn't worked on i386 for some time now, a few years at least. So you were more or less stuck with µClibc on 386s.
Most embedded things that would run on a 386, could equally run on an ARM or MIPS chip, with far lower power consumption and in a much more compact form factor than any 386.
I will point out, that 386s running at 33MHz were common, and occasionally one did see a 40MHz 386 out in the wild. I've never heard of a 33mHz 386 chip — that'd be slow indeed!
Last time I ran Linux on a 386 was in 2008. I grabbed this 386DX 33MHz with 20MB RAM to use as a stand-in for an embedded device as it was the closest thing I had to hand that would match the constraints of a typical embedded system. It ran a single floppy distribution of Linux based on µClibc and Busybox, had a (crude) web interface and was intended to drive a LED sign, taking feeds via RSS (using a self-written RSS parser based on libexpat). With a bogoMIPS reading of about 6 with the Turbo button turned on, it was the slowest Linux box at the uni.
"4 bits was enough for Apollo and the LEM!"
No it wasn't; the Apollo Guidance Computer had 16-bit words.
This book, by its designer, is well worth reading:
"No it wasn't; the Apollo Guidance Computer had 16-bit words."
Strictly it was 14 bits, with 2 bits for error detection and correction (1 bit correction, 2 bit detection).
The internal architecture was bit serial clocked at 1Mhz (can't recall why as 16*32k is512k and its computing power was around 32Kips).
So 14 bit or 1 bit, depending on your PoV.
NASA quite liked the bit serial approach. Lower power, few chips -> less weight but slower (when you're trying to shoehorn a probe to Jupiter onto a relatively small rocket that makes a difference (and you get to define your own instruction set, which is pretty handy too). There's a book in the NASA history series on Spaceflight Computers. It makes interesting reading. A 386 was the upgrade to the Hubble control system.
That is not entirely correct. People who were there, and the modern retro gaming crowd, will know that the AMD 386DX-40 was a hot seller precisely because it was faster than the 486SX. The reason being it had more cache. The Pentium of course beat them all. Here is a good writeup on the AMD386.
Who the fuck still wants to own and run Linux on a 386. I can't even imagine any reasonable nostalgique for doing so.
I learned assembler on a 386 but what would I accomplish by firing it up now, christ were talking 20ish years ago.
Linus is perfectly correct in abandoning old archaich code that does nothing positive for anyone, anymore.
How many of you keep your spare parts from your 20 year old Ford Escorts ? They are not really very uswefull today are they. ( Except for hoping to flog them to some antique Ford Escort nut)....
FFS, lets move on.
I've got a garage full of Mk1/2 escorts bits and pieces (well, engines, gearboxes, radiators, steering racks, axles etc)- very popular in kit cars and Locosts, and in the Historic Rallying scene.
A decent 1600 Xflow is worth decent money nowadays!
You should have said Austin Maxi.
I think the right question is "Who the fuck still wants to own and run the latest Linux kernel on a 386". For which I cannot offer any good answer.
The obvious answer to the question as posed, is anyone who has a large investment in a piece of hardware that's still useful and which would be very expensive to replace, which is controlled by an embedded 386 PC that runs linux. I don't have to look after any lab equipment that runs Linux. I do know of two pieces of lab equipment that still run Windows 3.1, and a couple more locked to Windows NT4. When I can no longer fix the computer, the bill for a modern replacement will be five, maybe six, figures.
I have an Intel NetportExpress. It's the only thing I still own that has a 386 processor in it (and that's a 386SL - I know, because I cracked it open to have a look). And I doubt it runs Linux (I think it might be VxWorks but haven't bothered to look - it "just works" and has done for years).
It networks a parallel port laser printer that you can't buy any more (Samsung ML-4500) which lets you use any toner in its refillable cartridges (until their attached drums wear out, when it's about £20 for a new cartridge + drum). I've had the same setup for so long, I've never had to add another printer on my home network.
Though, it's a bit annoying because Windows 7 x64 doesn't seem to support the drivers for the printer (32-bit version works fine). There's probably a workaround that involves some sort of compatibility mode, but to be honest once I get to that point, I'll throw it onto a Linux machine as a CUPS printer and have done with it.... and then the last 386 in the house will be put into retirement.
Not surprised, not shocked, not affected. I doubt whether anyone is. I got rid of my last 386 desktop machine something like 10+ years ago and that had been obsolete for a while, and run into the ground, and went to be a games machine for my cousin even after that. And embedded programmers have their own problems, and need to fix them themselves (if that means using an old kernel or patching the functionality back, or using a different chip, then they will).
The oldest PC I have in the house now is something like a Pentium 133 laptop. Probably, what 3 generations above the 386? And that's never going to come off what it's currently running because of the problems of doing so (it is quite hilarious to have a ThinkPad that old, though, that was thrown into a skip nearly 8 years ago, have a PCMCIA card shoved into it and join a 802.11g network as if it was any other machine - and it still has one of nicest "feels" to using it of any machine I've ever owned).
"Though, it's a bit annoying because Windows 7 x64 doesn't seem to support the drivers for the printer (32-bit version works fine). "
Have you tried a generic PCL driver (not from a manufacturer but from a similar era PC - e.g. drive it with a HP Laserjet 4 driver)? This is what we do in work to get the various archaic Samsung and Brother printers that customers have and that will not die to work on x64 Windows.
Methinks <b><i>this</i></b> would have been an appropriate juncture at which to jump from 2.6.xx numbering to 3.xx
...and to anyone jumping at the "grouse about your 386s being dropped" bait... what exactly is the hardware you have in your 386 systems which needs a kernel >3.7? Can't you just use a 2.6.xx or 2.4.xx kernel? Linux is FOSS so you can take your pick of any kernel there's ever been, download the source and do with it as you please.
How can you people support an OS raising its minimum processor requirements a whole generation?
It's an outrage to think that they can just axe support for the 386 like that!
Where will it end? The next version requiring a 486 with 487, not just a plain 486?
The line must be drawn here! This far, and no further!
Who needs a desktop OS hosted on a processor last mfg 4 years ago?
No one. This focuses finite resources on active platforms. The "centre of mass" of the community has shifted.
The last people running 386 are people with ones buried inside various bits of exotic (and not so exotic) equipment. They already have a tool chain in place to support their bits and pieces. Will future upgrades benefit them? There UI is a 2 line LCD with a set of buttons and switches, or a set of 422 serial lines. At the bottom is the latest Linux assembler that much better?
And it's not like previous versions will magically vanish from all websites worldwide is it?
I wonder if this will actually shrink the kernel or will they pack other stuff instead?
BTW Intel does supply compilers. I wonder if they still support the 386.
I think it will be replaced by arm things. Everything is going arm and the guys making Linux realize that a crappy windows RT arm edition won't cut the mustard, so they are thankfully building all sorts of arm support into the kernel.
Microsoft, take the hint. Support arm fully you plebs!
The stupid thing is I'm not really doing anything today that I wasn't doing then
WordPerfect, Lotus 123, Foxpro, Monarch and Corel may have bitten the dust (in varying degrees) but I'm esentially using something I could fly to the moon to write roughly the same documents, spreadsheets, small database systems and draw the odd diagram. The ony real difference is my email is now intregal, rather than stuck on an IBM green-screen in the corner.
Progress anyone ?
Not PDP-8, but one of its descendants the HP 1000.
One one occasion when there was a disk failure we used the front panel switches to load a program which flashed the display register in meaningless patterns - we had the HP customer engineer going for a while when he arrived with the head crash fixit kit (they used to hate the 3 hr drive and fear the possibility that the problem they were facing did not correspond to the parts they'd brought).
not until he can sort out the clusterf£^k of accelerated hardware driver support and stop all the "NDA" bullsh!t
Arm support for Linux is going well until you need to actually use hardware acceleration *sigh*
I have a Trimslice working as a door stop for exactly that reason. The Chromebook is better because you can fit the Google Kernel and hardware blobs to a Fedora/Ubuntu/Arch root filesystem.
While he's trying, unfortunately it needs the chip manufacturers to play ball. Only TI seemed to be open to supporting OpenSource properly with the beagle/panda board and supply up to date chips and drivers, but they're not going to last much longer.
My hopes are that ODriod will overcome the NDA/Licensing minefield and provide a fully working hardware/software solution.
I'm bored of reading so many Arm product specs where "full linux hardware acceleration" is a coming in the future marketing feature.
..., yet as someone who went from home electronics (ah the joy of cutting Veroboard) through the early efforts of Sir Clive (dodgy 16k RAM packs anyone?) to the joy of the BBC B and on, I'm just wondering what kind of conversations my children (and theirs) will be having in years to come...
"What? Apple are dropping support for the A4??? What about my iPad? Steve Jobs will be spinning in his grave!"
Heh, I doubt it'll be anything like the thoughts where i "helped" my dad build a ZX81 because the kit form was much cheaper than the ready built version...
or the joy of finally getting a program running on said ZX81....
or the portable compaq luggable that was larger and heavier than his suitcase with a 4" green screen
I'm fairly certain if he tries to get Internet near me it'll still result in "BT expect upto 512Mb broadband available" on your line though ;)
Nostalgia aside... I did run Linux originally on a 386. But, that said, the hard memory limit on the 386 was 16MB (you could still have 4GB virtual memory...). So, shoving a 386 full of RAM to watch a newer distro crawl to a start is realistically not an option. Even most small distros (puppylinux, damn small linux) are not small enough to run in 16MB. Also most distros have been built for 486+ for years, the few new instructions 486 added over 386 ended up improving performance so significantly that distros dropped 386 years ago (and some are built i686 -- Pentium Pro -- on up.) So I'm not going to cry out over this.
I think cmpxchg (atomic compare and exchange) is probably why the kernel guys are jonesing to drop 386, not having this instruction would make spinlocks and mutexes much harder (these are used on SMP systems to make sure a given resource is only accessed by one CPU at a time).
I initially used Linux ('MCC Interim') with a 386, but a bit over two decades ago (!) switched to a 486.
I think I still have that 486 around for sentimental reasons.
That 386 has no chance of running a modern Linux kernel. It had too little memory. You would have to strip the kernel down to uselessness to get it to load at all, then there would still be too little space for buffers.
Ha... if you think that is fast - you MUST see this... It's a 486..................
Oooooooooooooooooooooo I think I paid about $4000 for that when it first came out.
$180 for a 4 or 8 meg stick of RAM - or was that 2 sticks of 4 meg of RAM?
I wish I had of had of had what I have today back then...... twas such a bucket of shit.
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