Ubuntu's Plans To Drop 32-Bit Support


What are your thoughts on it? If this happen I sadly have to switch distro.

Ubuntu Budgie 18.04 LTS has full 32bit support for a few years.

You havent said why you need 32bit support.

The finer details of how stuff like very old 32bit only games is still to be worked. But highly likely ready solutions will be available by the time 19.10… and especially the 20.04 LTS arrives.

Steam and Wine users may be affected by this because of the use of 32 bit Runtime libraries.

I have heard through the grapevine that Canonical is looking at the steam issues - but I am not sure where that leaves the WIne project.

The reality is - 32bit has been on it’s way out (slowly) for over a decade. I could be wrong, but when was the last 32bit laptop/desktop even made?

The Steam/WIne would be the largest roadblocks.

I hope there is a path forward for those specific projects though.

I ran across this article . I dual boot and have no hardware that requires 32 bit.

Based on my little understanding, it’s not hardware limitation : a 64 arch is capable of 32 bits computing.

Problem here is rather how software engineered for 32 bits may be handled in a full 64 bits hardware+software « landscape » if compatibility libraries ( the ones that actually handle 32 bit software inside a 64 bits environment ) are no longer provided by the system ?

I can’t see how any editor of 32 bits software would advice for a system without wide inbuilt 32/64 bits compatibility support. Games vendors are mostly concerned but this limitation might affect many other kinds of software ( the whole software realm is far from being 100% 64 bits based ).

Am I reasoning correct ?

If so, once again a strange move from Canonical, when seen from a desktop-pc user’s point of view.
Do they still really consider desktop as a place for Linux ? I know 'buntu is not the-whole-Linux-universe but as seen as the most friendly Linux distribution out there, I wonder what is my future as a Linux user on desktop for my daily usage, at home AND at work…

You are correct (x64 running x32). :slight_smile: What I was more so trying to illustrate was just that the architecture itself is old… and has been on it’s way out or some time. Sure - I am over simplifying it (admittedly). There of course going to be other types of software that could be effected, but I suspect those are edge cases, or older software that likely is either not supported - or someone has been avoiding an update (resources, priorities, etc.). Canonical dropping this support really is not about the desktop itself and their support there of. I think (opinion) that this comes down to many factors such as cost (infrastructure, people, etc), people power (OSS contributors) to maintain, lack of testers (this is exactly why we dropped 32bit support in the ISO) vs the return to both the company and the community. Canonical itself is dedicated to the desktop. I will back that up 100%. They provide infrastructure to us the flavours for no cost. For example - when an LTS is released the CDN’s are hit substantially - and I can tell you from experience in my data centre life, that is very expensive. Canoical also at their expense take care of a lot of administrative tasks/functions for us the flavours. They do provide us support. My opinion is that they are dedicated to the desktop. They do provide that support - even if their “business” focus is elsewhere. But that is just the POV I tend to come from. 🤷‍

Dustin Krysak



Thanks for these highlights Dustin.

Well it was just an over dramatic point of view from an uneducated user ( me ).

As seen here https://lists.ubuntu.com/archives/ubuntu-announce/2019-June/000245.html “ there are a number of ways that 32-bit applications can continue to be made available to users of later Ubuntu releases ”

My bit of bitterness comes from Unity’s history or snap. I fear a kind of putting the cart before the horse where the replacement will not be at least as good as its predecessor. And to be honest as good as before is not enough : it should be better than before ( UI, UX or performance wise ).

Once again it’s only from my mostly desktop user’s point of view. I can’t see how Gnome is as good as or better than Unity, can’t see how snap ease my daily user’s life over apt/deb. But I think I understand why those choices matter for developers and maintainers and how much they benefit from them.

A ( big ) bit at my UX cost though…

All true, but this issue for the gaming ecosystem is that you have 32 bit software (and games) that are never going to be updated. Tons of conversation at the gamingonlinux.com site.

The reason I’m concerned is if this change (and it’s pretty fricken drastic) messes up Wine and Steam, that would be a major blow to gaming on linux, Ubuntu in this case obviously. The Wine team, CodeWeavers, and Valve have made tremendous strides for gaming on linux and this change has the potential to make several leaps backwards. I think thats where the majority of the concern comes from. Especially if Valve is already making statements that they’d drop support for Ubuntu 19.10+ and look to other distros as their ‘official’ distro.

All of this isn’t good, no matter how you dissect it. What Canonical wants to do (while good in the long term) could have been done in a friendlier way with the community. Ya know, open up a dialog with the community, get feedback, make a plan that everyone agrees with, and then move forward. Instead of simply sayin we’re dropping this, have fun. Just my 2c.

Interesting comment here made by Popey here who is a very well known member of Ubuntu and Canonical employee

Bear in mind the change being outlined hasn’t happened yet, and we’re still gathering feedback

Will be interesting to see what happens over the next week or so. Maybe reading too much into that but sounds like a compromise is being hatched

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Well, that’s one of the frustrating things. Some people at Ubuntu, like Popey himself, are big time gamers. What response did they expect? Rightly or wrongly, the entirety of the gaming ecosystem, including Wine and Steam, emulators, etc, have 32 bit code and dependencies. Many of those are legacy games and systems. They are never getting updated, and are heavily used today. Ubuntu’s decision strikes me like Gnome’s removal of the task icon panel. Heavily hinted at, well thought out, but the entirely of the computing ecosystem didn’t change what they were doing just because Gnome felt there was a better way. Same thing here… This was a pointless fight to pick. Even if they backpedal, they’ve damaged trust…

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Here is one thing to take into consideration - most people are jumping on this like it was “out of the blue”; which it was not. Discussions has been going on via mailing lists for about a year now. I would question why none of the affected stakeholders spoke up then? I don’t quite follow how this is a question of “trust”. Tech companies decom technology all the time. This work is open source and other people/companies who had a vested interest could have become involved. Provided feedback and been involved in the potential process. Granted I do not read the mailing lists daily; but it seems like it was not overly engaged by third parties. (But I could be wrong!).

PS - this is absolutely meant to be friendly discussion, and not any crusade of opinions. (And not meaning you! :slight_smile: ).

I do however think a call into a more public place could have been called out (but nothing stopped anyone from becoming involved sooner). I know that if my company was heavily invested in an area of tech I sure as heck would be involved or at a minimum, monitoring that community. And I do think it is a bad thing for the overall Linux gaming ecosystem (which is already small). BUT… there is a reason OSS is done mostly in the open - so that people can submit feedback, and get involved as needed.

I’m more so sitting back to “wait and see”… people are discussing it - which is good.

Ok - the word from Canonical themselves:

I’m sorry that we’ve given anyone the impression that we are “dropping support for i386 applications”. That’s simply not the case. What we are dropping is updates to the i386 libraries, which will be frozen at the 18.04 LTS versions. But there is every intention to ensure that there is a clear story for how i386 applications (including games) can be run on versions of Ubuntu later than 19.10.

What this means in practise is that libraries of software will not be rebuilt from the latest sources - they will be rebuilt from 18.04 LTS source.

There will be issues over trying to build the mesa and other graphics drivers for 32bit - that is the bit that needs to be worked out how to support 32bit builds - often because upstream development has ceased/or is about to cease support - so in all likelihood will soon not be able to compile on 32bit.

All of this is to be clarified over the next week as and when Canonical devs get back to work and have more info to explain how the “polishing” of 32bit support is to be done.


I’m a Ubuntu user since 5 years. Now it’s sadly time to switch.

Things are moving fast - that’s an “old” article based on out-of-date info.

Things should become much clearer over the next week or so and should satisfy Valve/Wine and others.

From Canonical

In summary, partial retreat. 32bit libraries that are needed for Steam Wine and other key apps for flavours such as Ubuntu will be made available on 19.10 and later.

Thus all old legacy games will continue to work as well as Valve games targeted for 32bit.

You beat me @fossfreedom! I came here to post this. :slight_smile: