What's new in Debian GNU/Linux 3.1

Support for i386

Nathanael Nerode explained:

The GNU C library (and everything else in userland) in sarge requires a kernel with the i486 emulation patch for real 80386 machines. Without, this processor is not supported anymore. This is due to an upstream change in the GNU Compiler Collection (GCC).

Nathanael Nerode added that it wouldn't be necessary if Debian was willing to break C++ binary compatibility with all other Linux distributions, while reducing performance of all C++ programs on i486+, but that wasn't considered an option.

There is no such kernel in woody (Debian 3.0), but the emulation has been added to Linux 2.4.24. The kernels in sarge cannot be installed on a woody system because they require newer modutils and initrd-tools, which require new glibc.

In order to support upgrading real 80386 machines to Debian sarge, there will be a special upgrade-i386 directory which will contain upgrade packages that need to be installed on a 80386 machine before actually upgrading. This includes at least a kernel with 80486 emulation.

Summary by Masanori Goto

  • Original bug #231538 will be fixed by debian-glibc maintainer team at the next glibc 2.3.2.ds1-12 which adds the code to prevent installing sarge's glibc on real 80386 arch with kernel < 2.4.24.
  • Debian decided to make dists/sarge/main/upgrade-i386 for providing upgrade path for real 80386 architecture.
  • ftp.debian.org maintainer needs to make upgrade-i386 directory with appropriate documents/binaries/libraries.
  • Release document/management team need to write additional notes about upgrade-i386 issue into sarge release announce documents for i386 architecture.
  • Kernel maintainer may need to put kernel 2.4.24 or newer into upgrade-i386 directory. The newer kernel has 486 emulation code which can install sarge's libraries even on real 80386 architecture.

The release team has decided to keep -i386 kernels which will run on real 80386 machines. The used patch, though, is said to contain security problems, which only exist on real 80386 machines (if at all).