[CentOS-devel] Why does CentOS 5 claim to be i386 compatible when it's really not?

Jeff Johnson

n3npq at mac.com
Tue Dec 14 18:29:29 UTC 2010

On Dec 14, 2010, at 1:14 PM, Ross Walker wrote:
> It actually makes more sense to call the distro x86, better to peg it
> to a particular architecture then a CPU release.
> Then one has x86 (32-bit) and x86_64 (64-bit).

Sure there's an appealing symmetry with "x86" <-> "x86_64".
The problem is that the names keep changing for marketing
and technical reasons. Even "i686" and "i586" are mostly
meaningless jargon. E.g. the linux kernel chose to start
returning "i686" as a generic, not specific, and rely
on precise details in /proc/cpuinfo years and years ago.

> But this is all decided by Redhat, CentOS is just a RHEL recompilation
> with the intellectual property stripped out.

Nothing decided by RedHat (or Intel) prevents using "ia32e"
or "i786" as a cpu architecture identifier in CentOS.

It's a "Principle of Least Surprise" wrto users that continues to use "i386"
as an identifier.

73 de Jeff

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