Debian are dropping support for 586-class processors in the newer versions of the distro. In simple terms, this means that original Pentium chips will stop working after Debian Jessie (which is supported until 2020). Pentium 2 (which came out in 1995), Pentium Pro and newer chips will continue to work. This change should increase the performance on newer chips by making it easier for software to take advantage of more modern processor features. By the time the support ends, Debian, a non-profit organisation run by volunteers will have supported this hardware for over 25 years.
Also in the news, Google (ok, Alphabet) have used a software update to brick smart home hardware that’s less than two years old (https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/apr/05/revolv-devices-bricked-google-nest-smart-home). Only after internet outcry did Google (ok, Alphabet) agree to refund the owners.
Our question this fortnight is: How long do you think hardware should get software updates for? Is two years acceptable in this modern world of consumable devices? Is 25 years just about right even though it may mean the software is less efficient on newer devices? Should we split the difference and say 13years 6 months? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below and we’ll read them out on the upcoming podcast.
(we know we can’t directly compare the two situations because older devices will still be able to run Debain without updates indefinitely whereas Google (ok, Alphabet) actually stopped the devices from working, but there’re two recent situations that have highlighted this point).