Ubuntu Will Be Dropping 32-bit Desktop and Server Installers

Live CD

There is now the renewed discussion with regards to ending support for 32-bit Ubuntu ISOs as can be seen in a mailing list that was posted last week and it was initiated by a recommendation from Canonical’s Dimitri John Ledkov.

The discussion is on the table strictly for reasons that have to do with security, merit, and value.

Ledkov explained that building and maintaining 32-bit images for Ubuntu is “not free” and comes at the cost of utilizing our build farm, QA and validation time.” The software engineer added that “whilst we have scalable build-farms, i386 still requires all packages, auto package tests, and ISOs to be revalidated across our infrastructure [and] take up mirror space & bandwidth”.

To intensify the issue of cost is the fact that a lot of independent software vendors either plan to drop 32-bit Linux support soon enough, or they have already done so.

Following similar decisions on Windows and OS X made last year, January so the end of Google support for 32-bit downloads of Chrome for Linux. The issue of reduced upstream software support and reduced upstream security support results in squeaky bum time and so the questions of how Ubuntu can offer effective security support on such systems was raised.

Draft Plan Suggests Dropping 32-bit Desktop Images

The best way to slowly end support for any legacy architecture is: carefully.

By Ubuntu 18.10, the presently suggested timetable which is being discussed makes room for a gradual process with the goal of offering completely zero installable 32-bit support. Before then, however, Ubuntu 16.10 through 17.10 would continue to offer 32-bit Ubuntu support except that it will be in a less capacity as installable 32-bit desktop and server images will be dropped.

The net-boot installer, among other alternative installation images, cloud images etc, will still be provided for in these releases.

Ledkov’s timetable proposes that Ubuntu 18.04 LTS “…provide i386 port to run legacy applications on amd64” but drops all alternative, kernel and cloud installers and support will disappear competely. This will leave users with no option than to use Containers, Snaps, or VMs if they want to run 32-bit software.

Apparently, April 2021 is the official deadline date for all official 32-bit OS support.

We wonder how many people this change in Ubuntu’s architecture support will affect. Are you in agreement that this move is a necessary step to keep the distro focused? Let us know your thoughts down below.

About The Author
Okoi Martins Jr.
I'm a Computer Scientist with a passion for learning new things in fields ranging from theoretical implications of computer science and mathematical modeling to web development and music. In my spare time, I listen to music, read like a compiler, and learn like an A.I algorithm.

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