Tuesday, August 21. 2012
Posted by Manuel Tortosa
With Chakra being a community distro, it is fully shaped by those who are actively working on its development. For a number of reasons explained in this news article The Chakra-Project team has decided, it is best for this project to focus from now on solely on x86_64.
About 10-15 years ago, the standard architecture used was i486, then, slowly, i686 took over that standard. Since about 2004-2006 pretty much all desktop and laptop systems manufactured were built for the x86_64 architecture. Although some distributions still support very old hardware for the i486 architecture, Chakra had chosen from the start not to support it, and focus on being a modern desktop distribution. In that light, discussions have been held (mostly in the forums), starting about 18 months ago, how long i686 would be fully supported and why. There are dozens and dozens of distributions fully focusing on old hardware, which do not supply any x86_64 support, only one architecture, i686. It seems the time is right for a modern hardware focused distribution to do the same, and focus solely on x86_64.
Since all who work on Chakra and support it with packaging and coding are on x86_64 systems, it had become harder and harder to keep the same quality standard for all testing phases for i686, since no one would have their system in daily use for i686.
Also Chakra has grown at a much faster pace then anyone had anticipated. At the start of the split from Arch, that time an ISO release would have around 7000-10.000 downloads for a series. The Edn series (ISO's following KDE SC 4.7.x ) had a total of about 100.000, now the last series, Archimedes, is at about 260.000. All those new users came with demands for all kinds of packages and features, and Chakra kept filling those demands as much as possible, disregarding the fact that the user demands was fast outpacing the number of volunteers actively supporting this distro. Maintaining about 7000 packages (bundles included) in a half rolling distro, at a quality level Chakra has set for itself, with 2-3 packagers doing the work on about 5000-6000 packages is not sustainable.
Hopefully everything outlined above makes it clear that dropping full support for i686 is the logical and necessary next step for Chakra. It will bring it back to a solid, sustainable level. And from now on, growth will only come from an expanding, dedicated volunteer base.
What does this mean for those currently on i686?
In the immediate future, nothing, no change. Your system is fully up to date and synced with x86_64 as of this writing. For the next 2-3 months you will receive all bug fixes and security updates. After that, the i686 repositories and mirrors will stay up indefinitely, but will be no longer maintained. So it will be quite similar as being on a non-rolling distribution, were after six month you usually have to re-install, or choose another distro to be fully up to date again.
No i686 ISO's will be released anymore and that is why we feel the timing for the i686 drop is now. The upcoming Claire ISO will bring the all new KDE SC 4.9, complete new artwork, a first release with Kapudan and Spun, so it probably will bring quite a few new users. Best to make sure they choose a x86_64 distribution now, and not see a few months from now, their architecture is dropped.
For any comments, questions or remarks, please use the forum thread opened for this.
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