ARM as a primary architecture

Kevin Kofler kevin.kofler at
Thu Mar 22 06:31:16 UTC 2012

Tom Lane wrote:
> That opinion is flat out ridiculous.  Or maybe it makes sense if you
> think consumer desktops are the be-all and end-all; but they are not.

Consumer desktops and notebooks. The things we normally call "computers". 
Those have always been and should remain our primary target.

> (If you do think that Apple's decisions are an important factor here,
> why are you so much not on board with pushing ARM?  Apple's certainly
> doing their darndest to make ARM a mainstream arch.)

Apple's PPC machines were computers. Apple's ARM machines are not. One big 
reason being that Apple is doing everything they can to prevent you from 
installing a non-Apple operating system (such as Fedora) on them.

> And that opinion is simply wrong.  You have provided no justification

I did. The justification is that there is, at this time, only one 
architecture seriously relevant for computers (defined as "desktops or 

> for allowing Fedora to get boxed in on a single architecture, which is
> the inevitable end result of the thinking you espouse.

It is not. Supporting more architectures (and having working ports to fall 
back on when the need should arise) is what secondary architectures are for.

> Pointing at individual deficiencies of individual arches is not a
> justification; especially not in view of all the problems x86 itself has
> got.  The Linux community has slowly worked around x86's limitations, the
> same could happen for any other arch.

Wow, you seem to really hate x86. But please accept the fact that, no matter 
how much you hate x86, it is THE relevant architecture right now.

> The only reason this doesn't happen is people trying to justify not
> putting in the work by rationalizing that "that architecture is obsolete"

In most cases, it is.

> or "Intel is the top of the heap today, so I don't need to bother thinking
> about anything else".

I'd rephrase that as "That architecture is not mature yet.", i.e. the 
opposite problem compared to "That architecture is obsolete."

It will be time to consider ARM for primary architecture status when it will 
be a serious contender in the computer (as defined previously) market.

> Or in other words: you sir are not part of the solution, you are part of
> the problem.

I still see no problem.

> I'm not saying that I think ARM is the ideal other primary arch, but
> it seems to have more momentum than most of the other choices.  We
> should be looking for ways to make it a PA, or make something else
> a PA.  We should not be looking for excuses for monoculturalism.

They're not "excuses", they're valid reasons to not waste valuable developer 
time on niche architectures. Let the people who care about those 
architectures work on them (which is how the secondary architecture system 

> If we settle for that, we'll have only ourselves to blame when we
> become irrelevant, not too many years down the road.

Nonsense. As long as we have healthy secondary architectures, we can promote 
them to primary when it really makes sense, i.e. when/if the x86 apocalypse 
happens. (By the way, don't count on it happening at all. The end of x86 has 
been proclaimed so many times, yet each of the prophecies has been proven 
wrong so far. Not even the move to 64-bit and Intel putting its weight 
behind a non-x86 64-bit architecture were able to kill x86. What was killed 
instead was the Itanium, dubbed "Itanic" by many. Don't be too quick to 
write off x86!) There is no need whatsoever to make the move to primary now. 
Who knows what architecture (if any) will replace x86 in the end, it might 
not be ARM at all!

        Kevin Kofler

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