[SATLUG] Does i386 mean i386 anymore?

Al Castanoli afcasta at satx.rr.com
Thu Aug 13 10:25:13 CDT 2009

On Wed, 2009-08-12 at 22:46 -0500, Bruce Dubbs wrote:
> Cheryl Holmes wrote:
> > I thpoought it was kept because so many ppl still run really older
> > machines..these older i386's tend to run great Linux...too bad they dropped
> > the i386.  Most everyone I know is running on them...seniors and older folks
> > anyway...c
> Well the i386 was first in production in 1986.  The i486 in 1989.  The maximum 
> clock speed for a i386 was 40MHz.  No software even halfway modern would run on 
> it.    The i386 was produced through 2007, but that was for embedded purposes. 
> I doubt that a 386 based PC system has been available for at least 15 years.
>    -- Bruce

There were still i386 machines being built and maintained as late as
2001 to run the 1985 version of Microsoft Xenix for a specific
application that newer machines are not capable of running.  Newer
machines could emulate i386 processing, but not as well as the original
80386/80387 workstations.  The coder for the application had passed on
and did not document his code.  I know because I did Y2K testing of
these specially configured workstations and because they boot using
network time (yes, it has upgraded to NTP), they passed all Y2K
requirements because the CMOS clock is not involved once Xenix gets to
the NTP daemon startup.

If this sounds weird, consider the same organization that used those old
i386 workstations was still running Macintosh terminals on MacOS 6.0.3
as late as 1991.

There were also a lot of 80486-DX2/66 based terminals on a few oil rigs
in the Gulf of Mexico two years ago, running Slackware.  With regular
maintenance, many old machines will run for years.

Al Castanoli

More information about the SATLUG mailing list