After a (somewhat) long discussion in the FreeBSD ‘current@’ and ‘hackers@’ mailing lists concerning the status of KSE in -CURRENT, the FreeBSD Release Engineering Team have decided to drop tier-ness of the alpha port to Tier-2 before 5.3 hits the road. This means, among other things, that 4-STABLE will be the last FreeBSD -STABLE branch for the alpha platform.The email that announced this fall-from-grace, stated that “demotion is not a terminal condition”. However, according to the docs on www.FreeBSD.org, tier-2 platforms “are not supported by the security officer and release engineering teams” and “at the discretion of the toolchain maintainer, they may be supported in the toolchain”. With the upcoming update of binutils/gcc/gdb, the demotion seems rather terminal (at least to my eyes).
The DEC-Compaq-HP alpha processor family had always been in the hearts and minds of those striving to get every tiny bit of extra horsepower out of their hardware — namely, people in industry and academia in need of high-performance computing — and FreeBSD does have well more than a handfull of followers therein. With alpha dieing a slow death and x86-64 rising up as the new reference 64-bit platform, we (FreeBSD/alpha users) are left with the options of either changing our hardware or choosing another OS. Now it’s for time and history to tell which one will prevail.