At least two major GNU/Linux distributions have decided to drop PowerPC support; OpenSUSE has dropped support already, and Fedora is going to drop it in Fedora 13.
To avoid confusion: this is an item written by OSNews reader douglasm. Please note that we publsh non-staff news items too (if submitted properly).
The strangest thing, though, is the total lack of official information about this subject. They are deprecating the entire architecture silently; no announcements, no press-releases, nothing. Even Wikipedia doesn’t seem to know that openSUSE is now x86/x86_64 only (since three months ago). Worse yet, the “Get it” icon on the openSUSE homepage still reads “PPC”.
I asked openSUSE maintainters for some information. “Linux distros are just following what the market is dictating,” they replied, “I think our usage data showed something like less than 1% of users had PPC.”
This is odd, since there was never more than 1% of non-x86 GNU/Linux users to begin with. “The question isn’t whether it’s less than before,” they replied, “It’s just that it was decided that it doesn’t make sense for us to allocate resources to maintain PPC.”
Ubuntu, which dropped official support for PowerPC a long time ago, is an exception to the rule, making an announcement and publishing a PowerPC FAQ.
These are primarily desktop-oriented systems and PowerPC is darn near close to dead in the desktop space. It was never huge on the desktop and once Apple, the only company actively pushing PPC for desktop use, dropped PPC it was pretty much inevitable. The boards and CPUs are expensive as compared with X86 or ARM, and there’s no real benefit to PPC anymore the way there used to be.
That being said, if there’s still enough call for these systems on PPC the community will, I’m sure, make it happen. That’s part of the real power of free software, you’re not only bound to what the official project leaders want for it if you have the knowledge to do what you want with it.