Linux Kernel Nixes IDE Support In the Latest 5.14 Release Candidate

IDE cable stock image
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Linux founder Linus Torvalds recently posted an update on the Linux Kernel Mailing List announcing the arrival of Linux kernel version 5.14. Perhaps the biggest change is the removal of legacy support for Parallel ATA (PATA), also referred to as ATAm or IDE.

IDE is a connector that has long served as a base for IBM computers, which turned into PCs later. It is a type of connector that is used to connect hard disk drives, floppy disk drives, and optical disc drives in computers. As more advanced protocols appeared, IDE has become irrelevant to most PC builders in recent years, having been replaced by the SATA connector in modern PCs.

As the Linux kernel continues to advance, supporting code for legacy devices becomes increasingly difficult, while the need becomes less and less. That is why the Linux kernel is officially dumping support and removing the IDE code from its repositories.

From now on, all IDE support will be based on libATA, a library used for providing support for ATA host controllers and devices. This change will shift away from in-kernel support, to a library that is implemented only when it's needed.

According to Torvalds, the removal of IDE from the Linux kernel was long overdue. "What's slightly less usual is how there's a lot of line _removals_ in there, with the old IDE layer finally having met its long-overdue demise, and all our IDE support is now based on libata," says Mr. Torvals, continuing that "Of course, the fact that we removed all that legacy IDE code doesn't mean that we had a reduction in lines over-all: a few tens of thousands of lines of legacy code is nowhere near enough to balance out the usual kernel growth. But it's still a nice thing to see the cleanup."

  • vern72
    Does that mean it's no longer possible to boot a system using PATA?
  • tim1724
    vern72 said:
    Does that mean it's no longer possible to boot a system using PATA?

    libata has support for PATA. Traditionally this wasn't enabled in the kernel to avoid conflicts with the older IDE code. It should be possible to use libata to access PATA devices in 5.14+ kernels.
  • Scooter70
    I don't think I've ever seen a multi-colored IDE cable like in that picture before.