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 Forum index » Taking the Puppy out for a walk » Misc
32-bit support prematurely obsoleted
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labbe5

Joined: 13 Nov 2013
Posts: 1018
Location: Canada

PostPosted: Tue 10 Oct 2017, 10:19    Post subject:  32-bit support prematurely obsoleted
Subject description: A Distrowatch Opinion
 

https://distrowatch.com/weekly.php?issue=20171009#opinion

Let's make one thing clear: 32-bit CPUs must fade away, just as 8-bit and 16-bit did in the past - it's not personal, it's evolution. But timing is important, because software and hardware share a symbiotic relationship. Now that Canonical has dropped the 32-bit Ubuntu Desktop ISO images, support for the aging CPU architecture has become a rarity.

Sadly, even some developers and distro maintainers overlook the practical importance of keeping 32-bit around for a while longer.

Even when you have a 64-bit CPU, that's not enough for a decent computing experience. The 64-bit software comes with the cost of an increased RAM consumption. This is of course not a problem when we have enough RAM to handle our needs, but it quickly turns into an inconvenience when our programs need more RAM than physically available. When this happens, the kernel must resort to swapping.

There are a lot of good PCs out there with 64-bit CPUs having 2-4 cores and SSDs, but they have low RAM because that's how the computer manufacturers prefer doing business. How else do you "encourage" your customers to buy a better model?

The second-hand market is also huge and there are plenty of good laptops and even desktop PCs that while otherwise capable of decent computing, their RAM limitation makes them unfit for 64-bit software despite having the capability.

Just in case you somehow missed this information, you should know that SSDs have a limited write cycle on their memory cells. So a HDD makes your PC very slow while swapping, and swapping on an SSD will shorten its lifetime. Basically, swapping is not good. And if you can't add more RAM to your PC because of a technical limitation, these are your options: use the swap and deal with the consequences; reduce your RAM usage by choosing a 32-bit OS and programs; buy a PC with enough RAM for your needs, and which has RAM upgrade options.

Here's a wake up call for the developers and operating system builders: there's a lot of 64-bit capable hardware that is limited to 2-4GB of RAM by design. And then there's very good (older) hardware that does the job very nicely even with the latest and greatest OS - but the RAM limit affects them. Would you prefer people go buy a new PC rather than donate to your projects? And even after these people get new PCs, they will sell or give away the old ones, and the new users will face the same problem. Here's a wake up call for the users: if you're affected by the RAM limitation, make sure you let the developers know. When you don't have the money or it doesn't make sense to buy a new PC because your existing one is already very capable, if you keep quiet you will soon see all the nice 32-bit options go away, and it will partially be your fault. Also, if you use an OS that still offers a 32-bit version, donate to the project and let them know specifically that you donated because 32-bit is still very important to you. Or at least write them a thank you message, because with less options today soon we will have to throw away perfectly capable PCs just because the developers and builders think almost nobody still cares about 32-bit.

Thanks to Puppy and Dog developers to keep 32-bit architecture.
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Moose On The Loose


Joined: 24 Feb 2011
Posts: 773

PostPosted: Tue 10 Oct 2017, 10:45    Post subject: Re: 32-bit support prematurely obsoleted
Subject description: A Distrowatch Opinion
 

labbe5 wrote:
https://distrowatch.com/weekly.php?issue=20171009#opinion

[i]Let's make one thing clear: 32-bit CPUs must fade away



I disagree with that.

With a 32 bit CPU:
1) You can browse the web
2) You can write an email
3) You can play a simple game.
4) You can edit a document

For almost all users, this is what they use a computer for. In my tool kit I have a hammer. Hammers were invented who knows how long ago but today to drive in a nail I would get out my hammer. Computers are tools. So long as a tool works very well for its intended purpose and that purpose still is needed by the user, that tool is one to own.

I can, however see the X86 instruction set going away. In a world where battery life matters, its serious disadvantage vs the ARM in terms of throughput per watt will eventually kill it. A longer battery life makes ARM like a better hammer.
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8Geee


Joined: 12 May 2008
Posts: 1252
Location: N.E. USA

PostPosted: Wed 11 Oct 2017, 04:01    Post subject:  

Might I dare remind labbe5 that ALL Intel 64-bit CPU's after 2010 have the Intel Management Engine burnt onto the die itself.Older 32-bit Intel CPU's do not. IIRC the Diamondville Atoms might have the original weak version.

So if you're running 32-bit, the hammer is in your hand: running 64-bit places the hammer in Intel's hand. I prefer the former.

Regards
8Geee

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