2015-01-19

Devil's Proposal: Moving Fedora to 64 bit only in Fedora 23

[Edited: 2014-01-22 This post is meant to have been absurd with a level of Jonathan Swift Modest Proposal. Lesson learned I am no Jonathan Swift.. if I see a problem I will write about it directly instead of as what only I saw as satire. Please see the next post for my formal apology to those I wronged.]

I am going to make the uncomfortable and ugly proposal to drop 32 bit in Fedora 23 and only look at 64 bit architectures as primary architectures. All 32 bit architectures (arm7hl, i386) would be moved to being secondary architectures that would require their own build teams and 'koji' to maintain builds in future releases. At the moment that would make the only 64 bit primary architecture x86_64 with arm64 and ppc64 possible candidates for mainstream support in F24 (if they aren't ready by Fedora 23).

The main reasons I am proposing this are:

  1. i386 yum usage and usage of Fedora have not grown and actually fallen slightly over the last 2 years.  [Harder to show in this picture is that a larger number of the i386 are older releases no longer supported by Fedora] 
  2. Multiple proposed changes in builder options for security work 'faster', 'better', or at all only in 64 bit.
  3. Development and developers have been focusing on 64 bit for quite a while leading to 32 bit to being an afterthought or a "I don't have a Pentium III to try and replicate your problem with." Many active developers and projects are looking to support only 4 year old hardware that they have. 
I think that those point to a picture where people who are using 32 bit architectures are not getting well served by the distribution ( and have not been for a while). Trying to force developers to focus on them usually ends up with a passive-aggressive relationship where things are only fixed after a long 'fight' of blame versus someone who is interested in older hardware taking active charge of the problem.

Some people running 32 bit currently may feel that they are not capable of running a build system. The job at this point would be to look for the people capable and willing to do so. Maybe a patreon or some similar program will be needed. I think it will be better to start an active community towards 32 bit Linux versus alternatives where Fedora X is 64 bit only and no avenues for 32 bit are left.

This may also mean that people with older hardware end up dropping Fedora altogether and going to Debian or Arch. I would actually say that the people doing so are being active and taking control of their destinies which is better than waiting for hand-scraps. If it means that Arch has a strong 32 bit presence and users of that hardware can get better support then the users win. 
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