Debian Etch, the next major version of the Linux distribution, will only be available on eight architectures, with four getting the boot.
Steve Langasek, a release manager at Debian, said in a mailing list posting last week that the official release of Etch, which is due in December 2006, will not be ported to systems based on the ARM, Motorola 68k, IBM S/390 and Sun SPARC architectures.
The move to cut down the number of architectures supported was discussed during a project meeting in March 2005. The Debian release team agreed that it was not sustainable to continue making coordinated releases for as many architectures as the current version supports.
"This [move] will drastically reduce the architecture coordination required in testing, giving us a more limber release process and (it is hoped) a much shorter release cycle on the order of 12-18 months," said Langasek in an email at the time.
The current version of Debian, codenamed Sarge, was released in June last year, three years after the previous release leading to concerns about the frequency of the software release cycle.
Langasek said that its decision to include or exclude certain architectures from Etch is not final — if architectures stop meeting particular criteria they may be excluded in the future.