November 30, 2021

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Alpine Linux 3.15 bids a fond farewell to MIPS64 support

Alpine Linux 3.15 bids a fond farewell to MIPS64 support
LTS Linux kernel – check. Once proud RISC contender? Nope The compact Linux distribution Alpine has gained the latest LTS Linux kernel with the update to version 3.15, but fans must say goodbye to support for the MIPS64 architecture. The release is the first in the 3.15 stable series and, as well as the 5.15…

LTS Linux kernel – check. Once proud RISC contender? Nope


The compact Linux distribution Alpine has gained the latest LTS Linux kernel with the update to version 3.15, but fans must say goodbye to support for the MIPS64 architecture.

The release is the first in the 3.15 stable series and, as well as the 5.15 LTS Linux kernel, received a raft of updated tools and components, including the 16.13 LTS version of Node.js (version 17 is also included) and GNOME 41.

There is also some initial support for UEFI secure boot on x86_64, but the time has come to say goodbye to the MIPS64 port.

“The architecture is EOL,” notes the release blog. “The mips64 builder is gone. There is no way we can build any packages anymore, we can no longer fix any security issues, so it’s prudent to officially decommission mips64.”

This seems fair enough, although the stable releases will remain on the mirrors.

The RISC architecture turned up in the 1980s and its designer, MIPS Technologies, has passed through a number of hands in the years since. It was subsequently promoted as a sort-of-open-source alternative to RISC-V before eventually being abandoned in favour of an architecture based on RISC-V itself earlier this year.

Axing the MIPS64 port was perhaps inevitable for Alpine, regardless of tooling availability; the distribution’s size and efficiency makes it a good option for lightweight containers. A minimal installation to disk only takes up around 130MB storage.

Other updates include support for disk encryption in the installer and out-of-tree kernel modules via Alpine Kernel Module Support (AKMS), with a nod to Dynamic Kernel Module Support (DKMS). ®

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