Recently the developers have been discussing the possibility of adding some additional optimizations to our i686 port to improve multimedia support. This would involve reducing the compatibility with older systems. As some of you may have heard, this discussion has resulted in the decision to focus exclusively on the x86_64 port. The overall opinion of the developers is that the x86_64 port is now complete enough to justify this decision and that this is in keeping with Arch's philosophy of supporting current generation hardware. The x86_64 architecture has been available since 2002 (compared to i686 which is from 1995), and we believe most of our i686 users have x86_64 compatible hardware.
I got this in my RSS feed (from Arch Latest News) on Tuesday night (around 23:00), and I was really annoyed for the next hour after that. Arch Linux dropping i686 support? What am I going to do with my laptop? I don't want to reinstall everything on a completely different distro, especially since that practically promises to slow down my computer and make it less customizable. I forwarded this Genia (who has been planning to switch over to Arch after trying out Ubuntu for a while), telling her to reconsidering the switch.
It was only until Wednesday night around 22:30 did I realize it was Arch Linux's April Fool's joke. I have never fallen for something as big as this (although I was Rickrolled twice by Ryan - I just click on links by instinct, and if it's not what I want I close them. Thanks mouse gestures). I recognized Google's joke right away - Google CADIE is so far ahead in the AI curve that it can't real. Also around the Northwestern campus there were posters about Jon Stewart coming to campus, which turned out to be a hoax. I did not see the posters myself, but was told this by a friend. My first question was on the organization which is bringing him to campus, but since my friend didn't know, we switched topics to comparing Stewart and Colbert instead.
So Arch dropping i686 support is the only hoax I really fell for. Why? Wizard's First Rule.
People are stupid; given proper motivation, almost anyone will believe almost anything. Because people are stupid, they will believe a lie because they want to believe it's true, or because they are afraid it might be true. People’s heads are full of knowledge, facts, and beliefs, and most of it is false, yet they think it all true. People are stupid; they can only rarely tell the difference between a lie and the truth, and yet they are confident they can, and so are all the easier to fool.
Or, in a one sentence summary:
The first step to believing something is wanting to believe it is true, or being afraid it is.
The only hoax I really had enough knowledge to dispell is Google's, because of my background in computer science. For Jon Stewart coming to speak, I had no immediate interest. I used to watch The Daily Show, but have stopped since the middle of last quarter. My lack of preference allowed my rationality to kick in, and ask who was bringing him to campus. For Arch though, the idea of them dropping support for i686 is not out of the ballpark - they've dropped support for popular things before (for example, the official Sun JRE and JDF packages). The post even had links to forum discussions, and knowing that Arch is a fairly international distro, that the discussion was not in English did not surprise me. Since this was plausible, and after reading it I was afraid it was true (and didn't bother visiting the Arch forums, because I was sure there would be a lot of complaining - again, April Fool's completely out of my mine), I took the joke hook, line, and sinker.
The funny thing was, for most of the day I was pretty aware that it's April Fool's, and took a lot of things with a grain of salt. And still Arch took my completely by surprise.
I have to say, good job Arch Team. Keep up the good work.