Linux Torvalds, founder of the Linux kernel, has posted in the kernel mailing list that he wants to drop support for Intel 486 (i486) processors, citing their age. The i486 CPUs were introduced way back in April 1989 and discontinued in 2007. They were designed by Pat Gelsinger, who is now Intel’s CEO.
Support for i386 processors was removed back in 2012 and now there’s a desire by Torvalds to axe support for i486 a decade later. He has suggested that people still using i486 ought to be told to use an LTS kernel, but that the mainline kernel should lose support. A couple of people responded to the thread saying that it wouldn’t be too inconvenient to remove support, so there’s a good chance the plan could go forward.
For most people running Linux, this change will not have any impact because most will be running newer hardware. By dropping support, the kernel should become more secure too because there’s a bit less code that needs to be maintained and protected from vulnerabilities.
According to Phoronix, Linux 6.1 is likely to be the next LTS kernel, so Linux 6.2 could be the first release to remove support for i486 processors if no major objections are raised.