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#1 2006-07-30 06:57:58

markzzzsmith
Member
From: Adelaide, South Australia
Registered: 2006-07-30
Posts: 14

i386 Arch Linux ?

Hi,

I've been using Arch linux on my main machine for a few months now, and really like it. I like the "currentness" of it, as well as it's minimalist approach.

I have an old 80486DX2 66Mhz with 20MB of RAM which I occasionally fire up to play with networking things, as I work as a network engineer. I'd really like to be able to install a minimal copy of Arch Linux on it. Of course I can't, because the Arch Linux distro is i686 or greater. I've got a 10GB hard drive in it, so disk space isn't an issue. I currently have an old version of Debian on it.

I'd like to suggest creating "base-line PC" Arch distro, that is compiled only using i386 CPU instructions, allowing it to run on all generation 32 bit PCs. This would allow us Arch fans to run Arch on older computers we might have lying around.

Regards,
Mark.

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#2 2006-07-30 07:23:50

syd
Member
From: Auckland, NZ
Registered: 2006-01-22
Posts: 155

Re: i386 Arch Linux ?

While i have a couple of old 386 computer lying around and would like to run arch on them, slackware works fine.

But by all means start a i386 fork. big_smile

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#3 2006-07-30 08:18:01

Romashka
Forum Fellow
Registered: 2005-12-07
Posts: 1,054

Re: i386 Arch Linux ?

There are not much old hardware these days (i386, i486, i586). IMHO i386 Arch is not worth it. You can use i686 machine to rebuild all your software for i386 and rebuild installer too. I know it is not easy procedure but I think Arch devs has no time and resources to waste/spend them on official i386 port.
Maybe you or some other user(s) that has many i386 machines can create unofficial repo with most useful packages.


to live is to die

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#4 2006-07-30 09:46:42

markzzzsmith
Member
From: Adelaide, South Australia
Registered: 2006-07-30
Posts: 14

Re: i386 Arch Linux ?

Romashka wrote:

There are not much old hardware these days (i386, i486, i586).

Well, the nice thing is that because it is so old you usually get it for free, or just the cost of picking it up.

IMHO i386 Arch is not worth it. You can use i686 machine to rebuild all your software for i386 and rebuild installer too. I know it is not easy procedure but I think Arch devs has no time and resources to waste/spend them on official i386 port.

Are there any notes/doco about how to go about creating a port somewhere ? With Arch64 and ArchPPC coming along, hopefully the process of creating a port is getting easier.

I'd guess an i386 port of Arch wouldn't be all that hard to create, mainly as it is likely to just be a change of the compile flags that are used when building packages. No endian or variable size issues as there are with other platforms like the x86_64 or PPC.

Maybe you or some other user(s) that has many i386 machines can create unofficial repo with most useful packages.

That's an idea. Part of my reason to post here was to see if there was much interest or use for something like this.

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#5 2006-07-30 10:05:16

dtw
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From: UK
Registered: 2004-08-03
Posts: 4,439
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Re: i386 Arch Linux ?

I think a limited fork would be great!  It really wouldn't be worth porting 90% of things in [extra] for example because a) they'll take an age to build and b) it's unlikely an i386 system would have the resources to run them.

You could do a port of the base pkgs just for starters.  I don't think you'll have much luck porting the whole of [current] - you certainly don't want to port X I think, and therefore no programs which require it, which leaves out a lot of [extra].

So, basically, port [current]/base.  If that works then try and grab other pkgs you like from [current].  Once you have your   [current] repository set up only then would I start looking at grabbing pkgs from [extra].  I think your [extra] repository will prove very small indeed.

Just some idea - hope that helps

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#6 2006-07-30 14:19:27

1c3d0g
Member
Registered: 2006-07-05
Posts: 81

Re: i386 Arch Linux ?

This defeats the whole purpose of Arch. No thanks. sad

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#7 2006-07-30 14:49:47

dtw
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From: UK
Registered: 2004-08-03
Posts: 4,439
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Re: i386 Arch Linux ?

1c3d0g wrote:

This defeats the whole purpose of Arch.

No, it doesn't.  If Arch became an i386 optimized distro it would but it won't so it's not smile

A i386 fork though means that people who want to can take advantage of pacman, Arch's config methods and Arch-like repositories to build a i386 system, probably as a server or firewall I'd guess.

I think I'd even be happy to help with this one!

Also, given that the mechanisms are being put in place to officially support Arch64 and eventually PPC I even think you Judd would agree to support a limited i386 port.  The thing is...such a port would be so small it would hardly seem worth it but by that token it's hard to argue it's to much to support.  I believe that a proven dev team could get offical support and merge with the main Arch project at some point in the future.

You'll just need to prove that you can do it!  People tried and failed with a i586 port though.  I think they may have tried to go too far though.

I think it is simple enough to start:

1) Set the CFLAGS and other stuff in /etc/makepkg.conf (what would they be?)
2) Grab the LFS manual
3) Do the boot strap in a regular Arch install using abs
4) Create a repo of your pkgs and PKGBUILDs
5) Install your pkgs to a target partition (can be as simple as gunzip)
6) chroot into the system, grab the rest of the [current]/base PKGBUILDs and get building the rest of the repo.

Easy...in theory.

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#8 2006-07-30 16:20:02

deficite
Member
From: Augusta, GA
Registered: 2005-06-02
Posts: 693

Re: i386 Arch Linux ?

I really like how you have no option to disagree with you at all, you either have to agree with you or vote that you don't know what a 486 is (Which is quite odd, because I know of quite a few rednecks in my school who even know what a 486 is)

Anyway, I think it's a waste of effort IMHO. A computer that old would probably not have a large HDD, and Arch requires >90MB for a full base install (of course you COULD strip things out). I remember the 486DX-33 we had only had like a 150MB hard drive or something, if even that much, and it came with 4MB of RAM (I upped it to 32MB after my dad found a broken computer in a storage unit next to ours a few years ago big_smile)

I guess you could run a server or two on it or something, but do you really want to spend all that effort porting Arch to 386 when you could just run another distro. There are distros made specifically for running servers on old hardware.

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#9 2006-07-30 17:03:04

dtw
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From: UK
Registered: 2004-08-03
Posts: 4,439
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Re: i386 Arch Linux ?

but it'd be a challenge!

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#10 2006-07-30 21:54:08

markzzzsmith
Member
From: Adelaide, South Australia
Registered: 2006-07-30
Posts: 14

Re: i386 Arch Linux ?

deficite wrote:

I really like how you have no option to disagree with you at all, you either have to agree with you or vote that you don't know what a 486 is (Which is quite odd, because I know of quite a few rednecks in my school who even know what a 486 is)

Was having a small amount of fun with the poll option.:-) Having used Linux since early 1993, and having come across people in another forum asking what version of Linux would run on such as slow machine as a P3 550, I was amused to ask if people knew what an 80486 was.

Anyway, I think it's a waste of effort IMHO. A computer that old would probably not have a large HDD, and Arch requires >90MB for a full base install (of course you COULD strip things out). I remember the 486DX-33 we had only had like a 150MB hard drive or something, if even that much, and it came with 4MB of RAM (I upped it to 32MB after my dad found a broken computer in a storage unit next to ours a few years ago big_smile)

It's possible to run large HDDs in machines that old, I have a 10GB drive in the 80486 I have. Once Linux starts, it talks directly to the disk, so BIOS limitations disappear. All you need to do is configure the BIOS with the largest sized HDD it supports, and make sure the bootloader and the kernel reside within that part of the disk. This was the technique we used to use to get around the 512MB limit in the BIOS. I think actual IDE hardware limits kick in once you require LBA access to the disk, and from very rusty memory, that is something like 37GB.

20MB of RAM, which was also popular enough (4 x 1MB SIMMs, 4x4MB SIMMs), should be is enough to run a base Linux install(plenty actually, I used to run Linux on a 486 with 8MB of RAM, with X windows. I'd have 0.5MB left to run applications, however with fast swapping to a SCSI disk, it was quite useable).

I guess you could run a server or two on it or something, but do you really want to spend all that effort porting Arch to 386 when you could just run another distro. There are distros made specifically for running servers on old hardware.

Yes, but then it wouldn't be running Arch, would it. :-)

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#11 2006-07-31 05:21:03

deficite
Member
From: Augusta, GA
Registered: 2005-06-02
Posts: 693

Re: i386 Arch Linux ?

I predicted your post 100%. I knew exactly what you'd say in response to my post. I knew you'd say that you CAN put a large hard drive in a crusty old machine. I also knew you'd say something like your last sentence, etc. etc. I guess if you really want to do this nobody is stopping you and it would be a benefit for the people who want to use Arch on an old machine. The very point of Linux is that it can be customized to your needs and if this is how you wish to seek this customizability, so be it. Too bad that all the projects that are designed specifically for old hardware doesn't suffice for you.

I'm not trying to sound like I'm offensive here or that I'm fighting you or anything. Why would I want to stop somebody doing something productive that will benefit people? Just don't expect too much out of this.

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#12 2006-07-31 07:21:30

dtw
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From: UK
Registered: 2004-08-03
Posts: 4,439
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Re: i386 Arch Linux ?

The very point of Linux is that it can be customized to your needs and if this is how you wish to seek this customizability, so be it. Too bad that all the projects that are designed specifically for old hardware doesn't suffice for you.

Isn't this so obviously contradictory that it verges on the idiotic? Linux is about customization...so porting Arch to i386 is what Linux is all about.  OK there may not be niche for i386 the way there was for i686 optimized at the time but that's a poor case to argue.  Arch i386 could be the best i386 distro ever!  I'mnot saying that is likely though smile

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#13 2006-07-31 08:38:33

onearm
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From: Anywhere but here
Registered: 2006-07-06
Posts: 359
Website

Re: i386 Arch Linux ?

For me it'd be a waste of resources and time. I have an old pc but I don't use it anymore and anyway there are a lot of other distro which work fine and are optimized for old configurations. Arch is born for i686 and I think that would be better to keep focusing on these architectures. Isn't the Unix philosophy to do few things very well instead of doing a lot of things averagely? smile
I mean, I'm not against supporting old hardware, only I don't think it's worth the time.


To get something done, a committee should consist of no more than three persons, two of them absent.
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#14 2006-07-31 14:38:57

phrakture
Arch Overlord
From: behind you
Registered: 2003-10-29
Posts: 7,879
Website

Re: i386 Arch Linux ?

Personally, I've always thought a 386 port would be superior to a 586 port (which was kinda-sorta worked on for some time).  If you have the time and energy, feel free to start it up, I'd support you (though I'd have to scrounge up an old 486 machine to truely "test" it).

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#15 2006-07-31 14:44:04

dtw
Forum Fellow
From: UK
Registered: 2004-08-03
Posts: 4,439
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Re: i386 Arch Linux ?

Phrak, is it as theoretically simple as I have suggested?

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#16 2006-07-31 14:47:26

rezza
Member
From: Edinburgh, uk
Registered: 2004-07-08
Posts: 237

Re: i386 Arch Linux ?

I say hell yeah. I'd love to be able to put arch on my super-powered 486 DX4-100 beast of a machine. It has 32 megs of RAM, and wow, it runs like greased lightning. Or did when I got it, anyway.

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#17 2006-07-31 14:48:40

phrakture
Arch Overlord
From: behind you
Registered: 2003-10-29
Posts: 7,879
Website

Re: i386 Arch Linux ?

dtw wrote:

Phrak, is it as theoretically simple as I have suggested?

I believe so.  It should even be fully possible to cross compile the whole thing.  The only issue is that for some packages, different patches may be need to compile, but i doubt that will happen alot as 386 and 686 are far closer than x86_64.

You can take a peek at how the arch64 changes affect things in cvs.  Generally, most PKGBUILDs are just "approved" as 64bit compatible, but certain ones require additional changes (i.e. the kernel).

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#18 2006-07-31 15:00:28

user
Member
Registered: 2006-03-29
Posts: 465

Re: i386 Arch Linux ?

Dude, Just use debian. it is i386-based.


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#19 2006-08-01 00:47:51

ducttapeBigSexy
Member
Registered: 2006-07-01
Posts: 31
Website

Re: i386 Arch Linux ?

user wrote:

Dude, Just use debian. it is i386-based.

This is probably a better solution.  Personally, I feel there's way too many 386-based distros out there.  I mean, seriously, on an average day, how many people actually use a x86 processor that doesn't support 686?  And, if you are, there's not a good chance it'll run today's modern apps, anyway!

I mean, I'm not stopping you or anything - at the very least, it'd be a great learning experience.... and a lot of fun, in the process big_smile

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#20 2006-08-01 05:46:56

deficite
Member
From: Augusta, GA
Registered: 2005-06-02
Posts: 693

Re: i386 Arch Linux ?

dtw wrote:

The very point of Linux is that it can be customized to your needs and if this is how you wish to seek this customizability, so be it. Too bad that all the projects that are designed specifically for old hardware doesn't suffice for you.

Isn't this so obviously contradictory that it verges on the idiotic? Linux is about customization...so porting Arch to i386 is what Linux is all about.  OK there may not be niche for i386 the way there was for i686 optimized at the time but that's a poor case to argue.  Arch i386 could be the best i386 distro ever!  I'mnot saying that is likely though smile

I already said if this is how he wants to seek customizability than so be it. It is not contradictory at all. Again I predict exactly how someone will misunderstand my post before it happens.

I agree with user and ducttape.

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#21 2006-08-01 10:24:46

scrawler
Member
Registered: 2005-06-07
Posts: 318

Re: i386 Arch Linux ?

I have a 133 mhz 586 laptop with 128 megs of ram.  It
has debian on it now. I don't use the laptop too much,
because I have a more modern one, but I can see using
the old lappy in certain situations.

I can use it now, because there's nothing wrong with
debian, but I think a change would revitalize the old
thing.

Oh, no cdrom drive.  I do sort of yearn for the old
single floppy ftp install.

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#22 2006-08-02 17:00:13

jaboua
Member
Registered: 2005-11-05
Posts: 634

Re: i386 Arch Linux ?

Good luck with the project, sounds cool!

But why can't anyone port linux to my atari 286 :cry:

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#23 2006-08-02 18:38:21

kth5
Member
Registered: 2004-04-29
Posts: 655
Website

Re: i386 Arch Linux ?

jaboua wrote:

Good luck with the project, sounds cool!

But why can't anyone port linux to my atari 286 :cry:

that thing still is a 16bit cpu with no support for protected memory... while we're at it, i wonder if even linux 1.0 would run in only 1MB max of RAM.  :twisted:


I recognize that while theory and practice are, in theory, the same, they are, in practice, different. -Mark Mitchell

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#24 2006-08-02 23:22:09

Chman
Member
Registered: 2006-01-31
Posts: 169
Website

Re: i386 Arch Linux ?

I would be pleased to test Arch i386, I have a Pentium 166Mhz laptop waiting under my desk.

kth5 wrote:

while we're at it, i wonder if even linux 1.0 would run in only 1MB max of RAM.  :twisted:

Yeaaaaah let's make an ArchLinux retro project with linux < 1.0 big_smile

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#25 2006-08-03 02:56:12

benplaut
Member
Registered: 2006-06-13
Posts: 383

Re: i386 Arch Linux ?

how about my 75mhz Thinkpad 701c with 16mb ram and 540mb hdd.

orinoco wifi drivers kthxbye big_smile

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