As of yesterday, the mainline Linux kernel will no longer support 386-class CPU’s. Here’s the commit note from the kernel source tree:

This tree removes ancient-386-CPUs support and thus zaps quite a bit of complexity:

24 files changed, 56 insertions(+), 425 deletions(-)

… which complexity has plagued us with extra work whenever we wanted to change SMP primitives, for years.

Unfortunately there’s a nostalgic cost: your old original 386 DX33 system from early 1991 won’t be able to boot modern Linux kernels anymore. Sniff.

What’s funny is in early 1991, I actually had an Intel 80386 DX-33 processor in my computer. It was the successor to my trusty Apple IIgs, which was a great machine but ended up being problematic at college. For a little over $2,000 I bought what was known at the time as an “IBM PC”. It had the screaming fast 33Mhz processor with an amazing 4MB of system memory. Sweet!

I remember upgrading my 386 processor to an incredible 486 chip about two years later. I bought the CPU from my friend Chad for a bargain price of $450. I think I may have also upgraded my memory to 8MB for a few hundred dollars more. Then my computer was really humming along.

Of course I’m writing this on a computer that has a quad-core processor roughly 100 times faster with 4,000 times more memory. Ahh, progress.