I'm really sticking my neck out here, I subscribed Colin Watson which is totally rude and I hope he'll forgive me :^)
I was so clueless about the change to the pae enabled kernel that I had to ask a question at the forums. All of my hardware works great with "pae" and I wouldn't even have noticed except for the new suffix in grub. But that forum post became a bit of a lightning rod so I followed it up with two questions at Ubuntu answers. So even though I'm not directly effected I've now thrown myself into the fray, testing the non-pae mini.iso, upgrade options, etc.
So my question to Colin is; according to the minutes of the Ubuntu Technical Board meeting on Dec 12, 2011 you said, "Switch precise over to PAE kernel by default on i386; we retain the option to revert if it causes too much fallout (Colin)".
Now obviously I want to know if we've yet seen enough "fallout"?
I think we must seriously consider that question based on the following facts:
#1: Both pae and non-pae kernel versions are going to be supported throughout the 5 year Precise life cycle anyway, and those who desire a PAE-enabled kernel can easily install it post-installation.
#2: The only official methods to install non-pae Precise are:
(a) Install Lucid (10.04.4), install all available updates, then upgrade to Precise. Do note however this is not likely to work for Lubuntu.
(b) Install Oneiric (11.10), install all available updates, then upgrade to Precise. This should work for all official derivatives.
(c) Use the non-pae mini.iso, aka; netboot image, and then install the desired DE.
#3: I have a 5000kbps+ wired connection and any of the three above options are time consuming. Depending on which DE I use a mini.iso install takes about 1 hour and 20 minutes to 1 hour and 45 minutes to complete.
Either of the install + update + dist-upgrade options are even more time consuming, Oneiric more so since Lucid just had a point-release (10.04.4).
#4: More important than just time required is the fact that most, if not all, of those reporting the inability to install Precise due to the lack of pae support are laptop users many of whom lack access to a wired connection which is almost a requirement for a netboot/mini.iso install, and certainly preferable for dist-upgrades.
#5: It's nearly impossible to determine how many users are effected at this point but based on PM's, bug reports, mailing lists, etc. I'd put it at no less than 2 dozen .......... and remember we're just in Beta 1.
#6: David Henningsson has already produced the first "hybrid" Ubuntu image, and Greg Faith has reported on the Lubuntu mailing list that he's managed to create an Lubuntu hybrid image. While I applaud their efforts, how much difficulty does this present for the devs when it comes to squashing unrelated bugs? I'd think we can be sure that others will create their own hybrid images for other DE's and such.
#7: I understand that the Precise default download will be 64 bit anyway, and most hardware capable of 4GB+ RAM will run a 64 bit system so why default to the PAE kernel on i386? Isn't this a bit like rubbing salt in a wound?
#8: We're running out of time to revert ........ maybe we've already done so. It would be incredibly awkward to introduce such a change at 12.04.1!
I subscribed Colin for two reasons. He's both reasonable to work with and he knows what is and is NOT possible. My two greatest concerns are the difficulty installing a non-pae system with no available wired connection and the difficulty presented by introducing multiple hybrid images into the fray.
I certainly apologize again for rudely subscribing Colin, that's the price he has to pay for being reliable in the past ;^)
Thanks in advance.