Linux kernel developers are discussing removing support for x32

A few years ago, the Linux open source ecosystem began supporting the x32 ABI (x32 ABI: an application binary interface and one of the interfaces of the Linux kernel). But now the kernel developers are discussing the depreciation of the x32 ABI and eventually removing it from Linux.

The Linux x32 ABI takes advantage of the x86-64 instruction set to reduce the program’s memory footprint with smaller pointers and to get programs to run faster by loading the cache. But the use of 32-bit pointers has always been used instead of 64-bit pointers.

Although the x32 ABI has these advantages in a Linux environment, it is not actually heavily used by users, and supporting x32 ABI requires additional maintenance costs. So, kernel developers are discussing the need for x32 ABI to exist.

Linus Torvalds and other Linux contributors are in favour of removing support for the x32 ABI from the current release.

Hi all-

I'm seriously considering sending a patch to remove x32 support from
upstream Linux.  Here are some problems with it:

1. It's not entirely clear that it has users.  As far as I know, it's
supported on Gentoo and Debian, and the Debian popcon graph for x32
has been falling off dramatically.  I don't think that any enterprise
distro has ever supported x32.

2. The way that system calls work is very strange.  Most syscalls on
x32 enter through their *native* (i.e. not COMPAT_SYSCALL_DEFINE)
entry point, and this is intentional.  For example, adjtimex() uses
the native entry, not the compat entry, because x32's struct timex
matches the x86_64 layout.  But a handful of syscalls have separate
entry points -- these are the syscalls starting at 512.  These enter
through the COMPAT_SYSCALL_DEFINE entry points.

The x32 syscalls that are *not* in the 512 range violate all semblance
of kernel syscall convention.  In the syscall handlers,
in_compat_syscall() returns true, but the COMPAT_SYSCALL_DEFINE entry
is not invoked.   This is nutty and risks breaking things when people
refactor their syscall implementations.  And no one tests these
things.  Similarly, if someone calls any of the syscalls below 512 but
sets bit 31 in RAX, then the native entry will be called with

Conversely, if you call a syscall in the 512 range with bit 31
*clear*, then the compat entry is set with in_compat_syscall()
*clear*.  This is also nutty.

Finally, the kernel has a weird distinction between CONFIG_X86_X32_ABI
and and CONFIG_X86_X32, which I suspect results in incorrect builds if
the host doesn't have an x32 toolchain installed.

I propose that we make CONFIG_X86_X32 depend on BROKEN for a release
or two and then remove all the code if no one complains.  If anyone
wants to re-add it, IMO they're welcome to do so, but they need to do
it in a way that is maintainable.