jxself.org

Evacuating The Titanic

Thu, 5 Jul 2018

"CQD CQD SOS Titanic Position 41.44 N 50.24 W. Require immediate assistance. Come at once. We struck an iceberg. Sinking."

It's one of the distress calls sent by the Titanic in the early hours of April 15, 1912. Titanic was the largest ship in the world at the time, and seems an apt analogy to Intel's x86 processors.

x86 seems a sinking ship to me for software freedom. Newer machines have fatal freedom problems and the ones we can use without those problems are out of production (mostly; except for the KGPE-D16.) Those that aren't being produced anymore will become harder and harder to find over time, which is a big problem for our own sustainability.

It's very much like Stallman described in his talk from LibrePlanet a few years ago:

Thinking on all this is what got me to decide to embrace support for other CPU architectures, starting with the IBM Power CPUs. I have added this support to my APT repository for Linux-libre. It needs POWER8 or above, like those machines from Raptor Engineering.

There's no way to know what is going to work out well for software freedom in the long term. It doesn't make sense to put all of our eggs in one basket. Indeed, there can be multiple efforts going on and EOMA68 and RISC-V both seem interesting too.

Let's begin a planned and orderly evacuation of x86. This will take years. Please put your life jackets on and proceed to the boat deck. It's very cold out tonight. I understand the Carpathia is making full steam ahead for us.


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