ARM Linux, at least Debian was traditionally (pre eabi) built for the FPA floating point unit*. Unfortunately under old ABI it was not easily possible to mix soft-float code with FPA code. The result of this is that many arm Linux systems ended up relying on kernel emulation of floating point, and this was a large part of the impetus for the eabi port.
What is puzzling me is how we got to this situation in the first place. It seems that few arm systems had it. It seems it was an optional extra for the Acorn A540 and Acorn A5000 and it was promised for the Acorn Risc PC, but I can't find any evidence it made it past the prototype stage, and the Risc PC was already about 5 years old by the time Debian was released for ARM.
Is there any history available on why this decision was made? Is there any other significant arm hardware with FPA that I have missed?
* Not to be confused with the VFP floating point units arm use today.