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Thread: about kernel
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uname -afree/libre/open software for the people by the people
Linux user #185360
The kernel doesn't detect specific architectures, nor variations on or revisions of an architecture. That's why kernel.org posts arhitecture-specific versions of the kernel source, and within the i386 source you can choose one of 22 variations (as of kernel 2.6.17, and not counting the subarchitecture types). Until the last couple of years, precompiled kernels generally were built for 386 to ensure compatibility; more recently, they're built for 586/6x86, probably because newly purchased computers are expected to have at least that revision.
You can build a kernel for Pentium-III specifically, which will make use of the particular MMX/SSE extensions used by that processor. There are way too many HOWTOs on kernel compiling in general, and even on Debian/Ubuntu in particular. From what I've seen, the best one is this one, straight from debian.org's docs.
Take care that when you configure your kernel, as much of your hardware as possible should be hard-compiled (not modules). This is especially critical for your root filesystem, if you're not using an initrd. (Not using an initrd will let you boot faster, since you don't have to load a temporary kernel image and modules that will load your real kernel image.)Stand up and be counted as a Linux user!
I've read up more on the issue and I think I'll skip it for now. I found a 686 distro of Fedora I'll try. You've all been helpful.