APM, and the value in Linux

I have to offer a public thank-you to Alex, who pointed out the APM discussion on the kernel mailing list. I’ve been through the majority of the replies and find it very interesting.

It’s certainly not a life-changing debate, but there are a couple of points that stand out for me.

To start, as mentioned early on in the string, there isn’t much activity around APM support, which suggests two possibilities: Either the code has reached pristine condition, or no one is using it.

If the latter is true, then there does seem to be a rationale for dumping it.

But there does seem to be support for a lot of hardware that is far older than the APM bracket, and it’s still in the kernel. Which makes cutting it seem a bit arbitrary.

Losing it wouldn’t make a machine unusable, it would just make it difficult to use with newer kernels. And when that happens, then we have reached the definition of obsolescence.

I have to admit up front that I rarely, if ever, rely on software-driven power management of any kind, when I build my own kernels. So whether it’s there or not is immaterial … to me.

But that doesn’t mean it wouldn’t be useful to someone else, using something similar or even older. And I think Ingo summed it up well by saying, “Our general compatibility with old hardware is an asset that we should value.”

I think that’s the real value in Linux. People watch their perfectly functional, favorite computers slowly become “unusable,” as big-name operating systems gleefully abandon them.

Where’s the first place they go? Linux, because it has the reputation of supporting outdated machines … often better than the original manufacturer intended.

Keep it, I say. Dropping it only means alienating a smaller bracket of potential users, or committing a small pocket of hardware to final unusability.

And who knows? Maybe APM really has reached code Nirvana. It’s not impossible. :mrgreen:


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