What is the oldest x86 processor that is still supported by a modern Linux kernel in present time?
I asked the above quiz question during the Geekcamp tech conference in Nov 2017 during my emcee role. The theoretical answer as you can glean from the title of this post is the 486 which was first released in 1989. I determined that fact from this article where support for the 386 was dropped in Dec 2012.
To get you interested, here is the result of my effort.
The white smudge on the screen is not the camera’s fault, there is really a backlight problem with my old 19″ monitor.
You can skip to 11:39 when the boot completes.
00:00 to 00:46 – BIOS
00:46 to 11:39 – Bootup. It takes almost 11mins to bootup!
11:39 to 13:14 – System specs, IP info and ALSA mixer
13:14 to 15:00 – Playing music via Sound Blaster 16
15:00 to 17:25 – SSH while playing (stuttering) music in the background. With AlsaMixer adjusting volume.
17:25 to 17:48 – Opening a webpage hosted by nginx.
18:10 to 20:13 – Git clone a repo.
20:13 to 21:13 – Using Python 3.6.3
21:13 to 21:43 – Cleanup and issue shutdown command
21:43 to End – Shutdown. It takes 5.5 mins to shutdown!
Interested in how I got a modern Linux kernel 4.14.8 (released in December 2017) to run on this ancient PC? Read on!