Pentium 4 Linux problem all Chipzilla's fault, apparently
Forgot to tell anybody. But now SuSE runs too...
Intel seems to be largely to blame for the fact that many Linux distributions won't install on the Pentium 4. According to the latest Linux 2.2.18 kernel notes, Chipzilla's big mistake was to break the usual pattern in CPUID model numbering without telling people - or at least without telling them loudly enough.
According to the notes: "Intel chose to ignore all precedent in model numbering via CPUID and report a family of '15'. This sudden jump broke assumptions in the kernel tree without any warning."
Intel doesn't appear to have sent notification of the changes to the kernel mailing list, but seems to have failed to do this through dumbness rasther than malice. More than two years on from the commencement of its Big Linux Adventure, Chipzilla seems not altogether to have grasped how Linux development works. "Intel have failed to provide good reasons for their change," the notes say disapprovingly: "We have chosen to continue to report the Pentium IV as a '686' class processor." So there.
The kernel notes also include another small Linux-related P4 alert. There seem to be problems with earlier P4 chips, and anybody wishing to run Linux on a P4 should use stepping 7 or higher, with the latest shipping microcode update.
Meanwhile, SuSE has joined Red Hat and TurboLinux in the P4-able Linux camp. The company said yesterday that it has integrated backward-compatible Pentium 4 recognition in the kernel in SuSE Linux 7.0. You can get a boot disk image of the kernel here.