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Intel Itanium Support is Here to Stay in the Linux Kernel

It looks like the Linux Kernel will continue supporting Intel Itanium (ia64).

There were substantial reports that support for Intel Itanium was set to be dropped from the Linux Kernel, but that will no longer happen.

At least not yet.

You see, the Itanium series of processors were meant to be a replacement for the x86 architecture, but instead turned out to be a commercial failure.

This was a joint venture between HP and Intel, with it being officially sunset by Intel back in July 2021.

Support for it was still alive and kicking with Linux Kernel, albeit with a lot of functionality-breaking bugs 🐛

So, what happened now, you ask?

Well, let me take you through it.

What started this?: Recently, there were calls regarding support for Itanium to be dropped from the Linux Kernel in a recent thread, citing the following:

The IA64 port of Linux has no maintainer, and according to a report from
its only remaining user [0], it has been broken for a month and nobody

Even the aforementioned remaining user of Itanium, John Paul Adrian Glaubitz, mentioned that:

It's not that I don't care. I just haven't been able to bisect the bug .yet. I'm actually fine with marking it as dead. I forgot to ack.

To add to that, Linus Torvalds gave his opinion too:

I'm not a fan of ia64 as an architecture, but it's a bit sad to remove it entirely. It's not like it's been a huge maintenance burden in general.

That said, if it doesn't work, and nobody has the time and/or inclination to figure out why, I don't really see any alternative.

And we thought that this would be the end of it.

Fortunately, it's here to stay 😅

Glaubitz (a Debian dev) has come to the rescue for the Itanium support issue on Linux.

He mentioned that he has the time to maintain this, as he also maintains the same support for Debian.

Unfortunately, he was caught up with other work and didn't have the time to fully debug the issue with Intel Itanium (IA64) support that was introduced with Linux 6.1. He intends to continue the debugging process in the coming weekend to find the offending commit that has caused such regression and to see whether it can be fixed.

Glaubitz also thinks this is not a big issue and can be addressed.

Because the last time when they had a similar issue, it was due to a regression introduced by a previous commit, which was quickly fixed.

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