Over the past week, we've been dealing with a kernel bug that
prevents i686 machines from booting. Help was requested and given,
and it has been excellent and most welcome. This email has no
reflection on that, and is instead focused on the reality of where
i686 stands today.
In February we sent out an email highlighting that the kernel team
was not going to treat i686 bugs as a priority. Since that time, we
have held true to our word and have not focused on fixing i686 bugs at
all. It seems that the wider community is also treating i686
similarly. The kernel bug that was made automatic blocker because of
existing criteria was present in Fedora since the 4.1-rc6 kernel,
which was released May 31. It has been in every boot.iso created
since that date. Not a single person reported this issue until last
week. That is a timespan of two months.
The kernel team has autotesting for i686 kernels, but the environment
there does not utilize boot.iso so it did not detect this. The QA
team has automated testing for some of this, but nothing for the i686
architecture at all. It is not a priority there either.
Perhaps it is time that we evaluate where i686 stands in Fedora more
closely. For a starting suggestion, I would recommend that we do not
treat it as a release blocking architecture. This is not the same as
demotion to secondary architecture status. That has broader
implications in both buildsys and ecosystem. My suggestion is
narrowly focused so that builds still proceed as today, but if there
is something broken for i686 it does not block the release of whatever
milestone we are pursuing.
(To be clear, I would support a move to secondary arch status for
i686, but I am not suggesting it at this time.)
Making i686 non-release blocking would actually match reality. None
of the Fedora Editions appear at all concerned with i686. Cloud is
demoting i686 from its offering. Workstation has been fairly
ambivalent about it and recommends x86_64. Server does the same.
Given the lack of focus on it, and the fact that the broader community
is not testing the development releases for i686, I believe this would
be a good first step.