Poll: Ubuntu Desktop dropping i386 images

As @Wimpy asks on Google+:

There is a proposal being discussed on the Ubuntu Development mailing list to determine if/when Ubuntu Desktop will drop i386 iso images. Flavours, such as Ubuntu MATE, have the option to continue making i386 iso images although there are some security considerations in doing so.

This is a complex discussion, but what I’m interested to know is do any of you absolutely require i386 iso images for your hardware?

  • I only have amd64 capable hardware
  • I only have i386 capable hardware
  • I have both amd64 and i386 hardware or use i386 isos on amd64

0 voters

I’ll start by saying my desktop uses amd64, but while my netbook tablet-like computer is 64-bit capable (but only has 2 GB of RAM), I use the i386 image for better performance.

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There should be a voting option like “I have Both 64 bit and 32 bit hardware” :wink:

I have UM in both my 64 bit Dell desktop as well as my 32 bit ACER netbook. :wink:

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I was considering adding the option, but @Wimpy probably has a reason for providing these options, so I went for the bottom one.

I also use i386 in VMs for compiling patches of Wine. :slight_smile:

I can’t answer the question because I have both architectures. It seems to me the result of this poll is running a risk of being invalid due to this omission

I too have both architectures but several of the neighbours that I help with their computer troubles are on 32 bit systems. I have migrated some of them to linux but if 32 bit ISOs are dropped then the rest would be left stranded.
Many people have moved to linux because they only have old machines, don’t let us push them away!

Easy for me to say - I don’t have to produce all the images.

I have both architectures, only very recently (1 moth ago) having acquired my first 64-bit computer.

However, I live in Angola. The vast majority of the computer market is 32-bit computing and most of the people I know operate 32-bit computers. 64-bit computing is rarer, even more so because its exactly in these 3rd-world markets that the large manufacturers came to dump all their 32-bit stock. It’s for this reason that you can still buy in here new, never used, 32-bit computers even today in 2016. 64-bit shows up, but its just not that attractive to home or SMBs because it comes at a higher price.

This is a tough thing for me to speak about because Ubuntu-MATE is not Canonical, so I can understand perfectly well if eventually 32-bit is abandoned because the upstream repos have abandoned it. Ubuntu-MATE would need a strong influx of package maintainers to keep up with the work and start their own repos.

It’s for this reason that whatever I replied to another post (linked below) discussing this matter has nothing, absolutely nothing, to do with you guys. I always tend to frame my opinions on the people that need to make the decision. Not just on how that decision may impact me. And in this case, that is you, Ubuntu MATE team and your reality in terms of personal and infrastructure. Which I understand if you will be very likely forced to follow Canonical decision.


As a hardware guy spanning the 8, 16, 32, 64 progression a lot of questions come to mind.

Knowing how terms like “64-bit” can be rather obscure when it gets mixed with marketing capabilities and not just the size of buses and working registers with a few instructions added.

Can anyone elaborate on exactly what “security considerations” are? I suspect a lot would be there even if Canonical was involved because it comes from lack of available features.

Can anyone elaborate the burden to the Mate team if they wanted to continue 32-bit?

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look here:

quote, short:
In 2018:
- it will be over 2 years since 3rd party ISVs stopped supporting software on i386, or even never had it officially
- e.g. Google Chrome, ZFS, Docker, etc
- with both desktop and server software developed, tested and deployed on amd64 only

And in 2018, the question will come if we can effectively provide security support on i386.

…The key point here is lack of upstream software support and upstream security support on i386, rather than actual hardware being out of stock and/or old.

(quote end)

another thing to the questions:

quote: “I only have …”

I have all kinds of machines: my desktop, an old 32bit notebook, PCs i repair for friends are often 32bit only, but I know: PCs should have a minimum of 2 cores- than youtube etc will work. And this means - these machines have 64 bit CPUs. Older PCs are most not acceptable as a Desktop-PC.

how should I vote?

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I just changed the last option, even though it no longer matches @Wimpy’s original poll.

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There are still a lot of older PC’S/laptops out there that would benefit from having a 32 Bit ISO!. :smiley:

I voted to have both 32 and 64 Bit versions btw!. :smiley:

We have five computers and two have a 32-bit processor. So those would have to move from Ubuntu to another well known distro.

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For completeness here are some of my comments from the G+ topic:

There is a proposal being discussed on the Ubuntu Development mailing list to determine if/when Ubuntu Desktop will drop i386 iso images. Flavours, such as Ubuntu MATE, have the option to continue making i386 iso images although there are some security considerations in doing so.

This is a complex discussion, but what I’m interested to know is do any of you absolutely require i386 iso images for your hardware? I’d also like to hear from @fixitleeds ​​​​and +Ken Starks​​​​ to understand how the potential removal of i386 images might affect your organisations.

In answer to some of your comments, my daughter has a Dell Mini 9 Atom netbook, it is 32bit capable only. I think netbooks are in the category of computers sold fairly recently that are still very usable, certainly we’ve probably all seen +Helam Sirrine​ post his videos on YouTube demonstrating how his old netbook received a new lease of life running Ubuntu MATE.

Ubuntu are not going to remove the i386 deb files from the archive, many legacy applications (and some not legacy, such as Steam) require multiarch. The proposal here is i386 Ubuntu Desktop (proper Ubuntu) may drop i386 support at some point. While some i386 server and cloud images will continue to be made available, they may become “unofficial” with no guarantee of support. This is not decided, just being discussed.

The main concern for me is how often organisations, such as @fixitleeds​ and +Reglue​ recieve 32bit PC hardware donations? How might this decision affect them and the families and organisations they support who simply don’t have $100 to spend on a computer.

I have some statistics on the Ubuntu MATE downloads and the i386 downloads are a tiny percentage when compared to amd64 and armhf (Raspberry Pi). That said, the number of blind and visually impaired individuals using Ubuntu MATE is also extremely small but I continue to invest the effort to ensure Ubuntu MATE is highly accessible. Likewise I would be prepared to continue supporting i386 while there is a socially valuable reason to do so.

With all that said, if the Ubuntu Security team determine that maintaining the security profile of i386 is not possible, with particular regard to browsers, then that would absolutely influence my thinking. I’m simply not prepared to release a desktop operating system that has inadequate security coverage. One of the benefits of being an official Ubuntu flavour is having access to the additional expertise the various Ubuntu teams provide, such as access to the security team.

So if Ubuntu MATE does feel the need to drop i386 support, then security concerns will likely be the main reason for doing so. But this discussion is still developing and no firm decisions have been taken yet.

Many people have mentioned that Mint could pick up the i386 mantle. Lets be very clear, the only reason Ubuntu flavours such as Ubuntu MATE and Lubuntu would drop i386 images is if there is clear security rationale for doing so. Therefore, if Mint do continue with i386 after Ubuntu and other flavours drop it, consider this; you’ll be running a known vulnerable operating system.


Hi @Wimpy,

even though I have 2; 64 bit PC’s at home, there is still a need for 32 bit as I recently installed Ubuntu Mate on 2; 32 bit only PC’s, like I commented before, not everyone can afford a newer PC (you said the same thing yourself!) and I for one would like to see continued support for 32 bit PC’s. :smiley:


I have a laptop and netbook that are 32 bit and so would, naturally, like to see continued 32 bit support. But, given that these two machines are secondary to my needs, I could live with using a 32 bit Arch derivative with Mate/LXDE desktops on them.

Where it gets more complicated is with LTSP. Ubuntu LTSP images can be (currently) either 32 bit or 64 bit, depending on the architecture of the client. For example, I have a 64 bit host running a 32 bit client image and it all works well. Presumably, if 32 bit images are stopped, this will mean that the 32 bit LTSP image will become progressively out of date relative to the host image, not in terms of architecture, but in terms of the actual software available.

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Hi @Wimpy,

The term security is a double-edged sword. I mean, dropping support for i-386 because security of said software can no longer be ensured, means that existing 32-bit computers running Linux will become even more insecure for lack of updates. By dropping support, upstream is effectively turning these systems more insecure. Systems that will nonetheless keep running the Ubuntu brand.

Maybe ISVs are forcing this on Ubuntu. I hadn’t considered that angle before. But oh boy, isn’t that a can of worms on itself. To stop support because docker doesn’t support 32-bit, can be construed by many as “then docker shouldn’t be a good option for our distro”, notwithstanding its popularity.

What this means really is that software developers keep on shipping 32-bit software in droves. With the exception of certain specialized areas (like video edition or CAD, etc) where 64-bit computing is an obvious and tremendous benefit, most software being shipped is still built for 32-bit computing. 32-bit software has no security issue, except that which is being forced on everyone by middleware. Middleware that we have gladly adopted, but should never have. It’s software like Docker that present a security problem. It’s software like it that creates the problem.

In other words, it is software like Docker that is insecure. (ed: purposely in its own paragraph)

But if you can’t break the dependency from these ISVs because upstream won’t do it, then what can you do, right? I agree it is largely off your control; Eventually, the fact upstream insists on using middleware that is inherently insecure, will present a security risk to Ubuntu-MATE that will force you to resign support for 32-bit.

It’s why I would eventually resign myself to accept such a choice. I’m a newcomer to Ubuntu-MATE, so whatever I think is worth what is worth. But in any case, I think you are wrong in saying that Mint will become more insecure by supporting 32-bit. What they most definitely will be doing is isolating both arches and only offer to the 32bit arch that which is guaranteed to work.

If Ubuntu-MATE has that capability already, or if Ubuntu-MATE needs help with that, or if Ubntu-MATE is not going to take that step, it is for you to decide. Let us known.

In direct answer to your question:
I live in Angola. It’s 32-bit world from what you can read from my other post above. But 32-bit support from Ubuntu-MATE on my particular case isn’t essential. I can keep those machines running on Arch and Debian. While my current 64-bit system stays on Ubuntu-MATE.


Thanks for the poll. Acer aspire one need updates

Hey guys, in my house I have two 32-bit computers and two 64-bit computers,
there are people who can not change all computers in your house, and buy everything in 64 bits, although ISO downloads are more favorable to 64 bits, is not all,
I downloaded 1 32-bit ISO and 1 64-bit ISO, but then I made 4 32-bit installations and 3 64-bit installations, as you see is 2 downloads made 7 teams.

I hope to continue the development of i386 while you can,


I have 2 32bit machines running UM one desktop and one laptop.

I also have a 64bit custom machine that I have been trying Elementary OS 0.3.2 Freya and Loki Beta 2 from 32G flash drives. This desk top machine is currently loaded with Windows 7 Pro, Business Office, the basic Adobe packages, and Avast anti virus. Bloated with required fixes, patches and updates it has consumed a little more than 100G of my 120G ssd. Good thing I also have a 2TB hdd for storage of data and non essential programs.

The 4 Linux systems I am currently running are all under 15G,( both Mate installs are 11-12G) and 3 of 4 work beautifully on my older hardware, low resource Windows XP machines.

I am trying to start (hobby at this point) something like @fixitleeds​ or +Reglue​ in my local area (Florida Keys). Out five machines I have found four 32 bit desk tops and one 64 bit laptop. Funding and other resources are always a problem for me. Discontinuing the i386 would would make me look elsewhere for 32bit operating system, where I have no ideas. I will cross that bridge when/if I have to. I noticed this question on a couple of different Linux community sites and have posted to them.

“…The key point here is lack of upstream software support and upstream security support on i386, rather than actual hardware being out of stock and/or old.”

I believe its not a question of if, but when support is dropped for the i386 and not just by Ubuntu Matte, or Linux in general but by all involved in computing. I do not think we can not stop the evolution, but maybe slow it down for a couple years, 2020?

I thought most Windows programs (even 64 bit) are written in 32 bit language?