A lot has happened to the kernel since
the early days, though, and for some time, it has been capable of loading
these optimizations at runtime. Even when you use the -386 kernel, you get
the benefit of many CPU-specific optimizations automatically. This is great
news for integrators, like Ubuntu, because we want to provide everyone with
the best experience out of the box, and as you know, there isn't room for so
many redundant kernels on the CD (only one). Many users spend time and
bandwidth quotas downloading these optimized kernel in hopes of squeezing
the most performance out of their hardware.
This begged the question: do we still need these old-fashioned builds?