Bye bye Linux on the 486 . We will miss you?

Lakados

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Who even uses an 80486 anymore?! Besides maybe old industrial PCs still in service/rad hardened chips for space?
Radiation hardened stuff is mostly PowerPC. Russia launched their own x86 “hardened” chips a while back and they lasted a week or 2 into a 6 year mission before they failed. But the RAD750 and RAD550 are the industry standard since 2001 and they are PowerPC.
 

Zarathustra[H]

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I mean, the 286 lived on well into the 2000's as an embedded chip, if I am not mistaken.

You can find them in cars and all sorts of places. Not sure if the 486 is still being made, but it is probable.

Not for retail/consumer applications - of course - but for die shrunk embedded applications.

Those embedded applications probably don't need mainstream OS support though, so I fail to see where dropping the 486 from the Linux kernel would be a problem.

This reminds me of the first time I tried Linux. It was some early distribution from the early 90's that came free attached to the cover of some PC magazine. I want to say it was SUSE, but I can't remember. Slackware. It was Slackware.

I tested it on my 486 sx25 back in the early 90's, and decided I didn't like it and switched back to DOS :p

Which is kind of amusing, considering I use Linux for almost everything these days.
 
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LukeTbk

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i imagine that even if 4x86 are still used in some old running submarine, industrial offshore drills, banking system, satellites and what not, I imagine part of the points of all those systems would include not caring about the latest Linux kernel release.
 
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Lakados

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More like energy sector, they still use it. Also many governments.
My truck/bus scale is still running the same 486 that was installed with it back in 1992.

The scale that it runs still works fine but it’s software and interface is windows 3.1, it’s a cool half million to replace the scale so it’s gotta work until I leave because no way in hell they are gonna give me the budget to replace it.
 

Lakados

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i imagine that ven if 4x86 are still used in some old running submarine, industrial offshore drills, banking system, satellites and what not, I imagine part of the points of all those systems would include not caring about the latest Linux kernel release.
They run custom closed Unix systems not Linux.
 

cjcox

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By the way, "floating an idea" !=== "BYE BYE" But it might lead to that eventually.
 

The Mad Atheist

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My father had a 486 full tower Gateway PC, bought him The Hobbit or LOTR, a TOS Star Trek screensaver, and I think Maelstrom in the mid 90s.
I wonder if he ever played those.
 
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Who even uses an 80486 anymore?! Besides maybe old industrial PCs still in service/rad hardened chips for space?
Hey now, I have a Compaq portable that still runs.

Well.. Runs might be a strong word. I mean it works fine, but I'm not sure what it does should be called "running".
 

Halon

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Radiation hardened stuff is mostly PowerPC. Russia launched their own x86 “hardened” chips a while back and they lasted a week or 2 into a 6 year mission before they failed. But the RAD750 and RAD550 are the industry standard since 2001 and they are PowerPC.
Correct - the RAD750 is a low-clocked, radiation-hardened variant of the CPU Apple called the G3. The James Webb telescope's Integrated Science Instrument Module is running one at 118 MHz with 44MB RAM, running VxWorks.

I've got mixed feelings on the 486 being nixed. It was probably inevitable - given enough time, any platform will eventually succumb to obsolescence. Hell, even Slackware finally made i586 compatibility a baseline. And most of those embedded purpose 486es are probably running a bespoke solution that only gets modified on an as-needed basis, if ever. C'est la vie - one day even Skylake will be EOL'd.
 

Mr. Bluntman

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Yeah, I think that's most everyone's experience with Linux, even today ;).
Yep, that's also been mine every time as well. Could never get it to work 100%, and the most common answer when seeking help amongst the Linux community is git gud, scrub...

That said, I know two people who are jumping ship from Windows 10 to Linux directly, with one already in the process of migrating. They refuse to have anything to do with Windows 11...
 

Unabomber

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Until about 10 years ago, I still had an old Am 486 DX2-66 running some random distro that came with a very large book and a CD. It finally bit the bullet after 14 years of good use. Trying to get X-Windows to properly work on it was a nightmare, and it was only through the help of the Usenet folks in the Linux groups that I was able to piece together something that worked.

Surprisingly, the system worked very well, especially since it had 16 megabytes of memory in it, which was a princely sum at the time.

The system wasn't really used for anything notable, except in my lab where there was a proprietary conversion program that some clever wag wrote, that allowed me to freely convert acquired nuclear magnetic resonance data from one instrument's format to another. I'd read in the data on a CD-RW, since at least that system had a working CD-ROM drive that could read them.

It only worked on that specific machine, since it scanned for that MB's specific BIOS chip. While I was sad to see that old reliable system bite the dust, at least other folks in the community adapted their programs to allow for the reading of all common forms of data, whether it be from Bruker, Varian (Agilent), or JEOL.
 

Zarathustra[H]

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Until about 10 years ago, I still had an old Am 486 DX2-66 running some random distro that came with a very large book and a CD. It finally bit the bullet after 14 years of good use. Trying to get X-Windows to properly work on it was a nightmare, and it was only through the help of the Usenet folks in the Linux groups that I was able to piece together something that worked.

I wonder if a basic LXDE or XFCE install would have worked on that hardware. Would have been easier to set up.

The RAM would probably have been the limiting factor.

It only worked on that specific machine, since it scanned for that MB's specific BIOS chip.

That seems like a really shitty design and needless complication.

Was it sold as part of the PC as a package or something?
 
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Halon

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I wonder if a basic LXDE or XFCE install would have worked on that hardware. Would have been easier to set up.

The RAM would probably have been the limiting factor.
LXDE probably would, though I’d be surprised if it felt spry. There’s a blurb on the project About page detailing system requirements and they recommend a Pentium II for a speedy experience. Between the kernel, X11, and the desktop environment, I’d guess around 64MB would be necessary. A kitted out 128MB 486 could get up to some surprisingly modern-looking mischief. Maybe I’ll give this a try in a PCem instance and see what it yields…

XFCE’s less likely - even in trim configurations I find it rare for the desktop environment to use less than 400MB. I haven’t met a 486 that could handle more than 256MB, and then you run into the limit on write-through caching for those chipsets at 128MB… or write back cache at 64MB. Which means that installing a preposterous amount of RAM by 1992 standards would result in only the first chunk of it being cached. The speed impact would be pretty awful beyond that boundary.
 
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