i386 on FreeBSD 13 will be Tier 2

Software

Michael Dexter over on FreeBSD News reminded us in February that the i386 architecture is being demoted to Tier 2 status. He linked to the original freebsd-announce mailing list thread, written by John Baldwin:

FreeBSD is designating i386 as a Tier 2 architecture starting with FreeBSD 13.0. The Project will continue to provide release images, binary updates, and pre-built packages for the 13.x branch. However, i386-specific issues (including SAs) may not be addressed in 13.x. The i386 platform will remain Tier 1 on FreeBSD 11.x and 12.x.

I absolutely empathise with their position, but it still feels like the end of an era.

My first experience with FreeBSD was on PowerPC, but I still have my 6.1-RELEASE and 6.2-STABLE ISOs from when I first ran it on x86. I even used it to test the beta releases of Parallels and VMware Fusion in the mid-2000s.

Screenshot showing the VMware Fusion beta running FreeBSD 6.2 STABLE.

I also liked that I could still put a contemporary version on my vintage x86 machines, partly for the warm fuzzies, but also so I could boot into them to transfer files over Ethernet without resorting to floppies. I had plan to move those to NetBSD/i386 anyway though.

Thanks to the FreeBSD maintainers and developers for all the work maintaining this architecture.

Author bio and support

Me!

Ruben Schade is a technical writer and IaaS engineer in Sydney, Australia who refers to himself in the third person in bios. Wait, not BIOS… my brain should be EFI by now.

The site is powered by Hugo, FreeBSD, and OpenZFS on OrionVM, everyone’s favourite cloud infrastructure provider.

If you found this post helpful or entertaining, you can shout me a coffee or buy some silly merch. Thanks!