An interesting discussion was opened up this week on the Fedoradeveloper mailing list concerning optimizations in software builds versus backward compatibility. The discussion was launched by a proposal to rebuild Fedora packages using modern CPU architectures, essentially upgrades to the original 64-bit design. The rebuild would leverage newer hardware features to provide better performance. However, the drawback is most computers older than five years of age would no longer be able to run the distribution. Most developers have opposed the change, pointing out it would render many fairly modern machines unable to run Fedora. Others have suggested the proposal could be applied to a special, optimised Fedora edition. This would allow most people to continue using regular Fedora spins while people who wanted to take advantage of modern CPU features could run the optimized build. The mailing list has raised important questions about how long hardware should be supported and how soon new features should be adopted.
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