Ubuntu considering to drop i386 after 19.10

Slightly related and a continuation of a discussion started 3 years ago:

Ubuntu have now announced they will begin to phase out i386 support, starting from 19.10.

[ Pressing F intensifies ]

But yeah, that kinda sucks. Hopefully Ubuntu server remains 32 bit, otherwise we'll be telling people to install 19.04 and incrementally upgrade to current.

That or we'll tell people to install Ubuntu on a 32-bit 64-bit system and add multi-arch support by adding i386 as a foreign architecture. About concerns of programmers being shut out;

That isn't happening, though. 64-bit's been around since Windows XP was a thing. There are more than enough legacy x64 components banging about overseas for kids to play around, with only the motherboard and processor being of concern. The rest of the components should be relatively low-price, or free depending on what's compatible in the junk heap.

The mini iso for disco is still available in 32 bit.


From what I understand, the archives for i386 are being dropped, so that would mean no more 32-bit server ISO, mini ISO, or any official flavours releasing i386 builds as the repositories for that architecture wouldn't exist. Similar to powerpc after 16.10.

I've been told multilib will still be a thing, so you can run 32-bit libraries and applications within a 64-bit environment. Not to be confused with multiarch. Even so, I'm not entirely sure how this works.

I fixed it. Thanks for letting me know.

We'll see if programs which otherwise use 32-bit libraries for compatibility sake will even function without adding extra repos in 19.10. I have a strange feeling that before the i386-compatible libraries are dropped, we're going to see some people wondering how to use 19.04 repos should there be issues with the 64-bit only policy.

Judging from the thread https://www.winehq.org/pipermail/wine-devel/2019-June/147869.html on the wine-devel list, fully dropping i386 libs looks like a major roadblock for wine, as so many Windows applications rely on 32 bit code in one form or another.

I hope they can work out something more user-friendly and long-term viable than Ubuntu's current suggestions of containers, snaps and chroot into a 18.04 enviroment.


To be honest, it's things like this that make me wonder how much longer I'll be using Ubuntu. Ubuntu Server has been giving me headaches since upgrading to 18.04 and I finally replaced it with CentOS 7. My media computer is running Antergos and I've been experimenting with vanilla Arch. My UM boxes are still running well, but, as an official "flavor", they'll have to toe the party line.

Experimenting for fun or out of boredom is one thing, distro-hopping to find a new daily driver is quite another.

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The fact that this effectively would kill gaming on Ubuntu (and its many derivatives) would force me to find a new distro from a much smaller pool of possible candidates as well.
Not really looking forward to that prospect, to be honest ...

Btw. it looks like Valve is starting to pull the plug on Ubuntu support:


This decision is not final or irriversable just yet.


I can understand if the 32-bit ISO may be dropped, It might allow developers more time and money to focus on making Ubuntu Mate even better

I use Ubuntu Mate as my daily desktop and have been doing it for years. I'm sure we all have older machines that we'd like to keep running but the fact is there are very old and unless you're willing to invest a little money in let's say adding more Ram, these older machines will not perform as you may want them to

At the moment I don't have any 32-bit machines I kind of phased them out a few years back. All of my machines are 64-bit with at least 4-GB of Ram if not more

I do understand most of the community concerns but with all the new technology being presented to use developer have to do what's right for them and the development of Ubuntu / Linux

Thank you all, for making Linux a GREAT way to spend time on the internet

Thank you so much for all you do for the Linux community :slight_smile:

I see no reason whatsoever why Ubuntu should completely abandon the i386 libraries. This is something that Microsoft Windows is actually doing right; keeping the 32-bit software support means that while most software moves on, all software has legacy needs satisfied.

Funny enough this almost feels like a Microsoft thing; if so much OEM software didn't need 32-bit support, since Valve is too damn lazy to code a 64-bit version of Steam it would certainly kneecap gaming on Windows and provide an artificial reason to check out games through the Microsoft Store. Microsoft wouldn't even need to contend with Valve legally so long they can convince the public keeping 32-bit compatibility is a major security risk and we should all move on from 32-bit software.

But see... this isn't Microsoft. And there are still functional 32-bit only machines that are mission-critical in certain applications due to being erected around a time when 64-bit was a mere twinkle in some code monkey's eye; i386 can't completely go. And at the very least if they are so damn commmitted to removing 32-bit libraries they at least keep up a 32-bit repository as a default-disabled option for people who still need it.

(Keeping an i386-compatible server core version wouldn't be bad either as a springboard for 32-bit systems but that's just an IMO thing, and would provide non 64-bit systems an option in the future.)

Decisions can change, as an Ubuntu developer from the Ubuntu Community Hub says the i386 libraries will stay but remain "frozen" at the 18.04 versions. :confused:

I'm sure we'll probably hear an official update from Canonical in the next few days to clarify the 32-bit situation.

And wasn't running 64-bit Windows XP interesting? Lots of things did not work in it.

"We're moving to be 64-bit only - buy new hardware if necessary!!"

"We're sticking with old i386 libraries - if you buy new hardware, it won't work!!"


Yeah that's kind of sketch. I feel like we'll see a return to the old days where you'll have to find your own libs for newer hardware rather than relying on the distributor. Best learn how to use apt-mark in case you need to mix libraries in strange ways apt will break.

Canonical have made an announcement - 32-bit libraries will stay for 19.10 and 20.04:

But one point in particular I'm not too sure about:

We will also work with the WINE, Ubuntu Studio and gaming communities to use container technology to address the ultimate end of life of 32-bit libraries; it should stay possible to run old applications on newer versions of Ubuntu. Snaps and LXD enable us both to have complete 32-bit environments, and bundled libraries, to solve these issues in the long term.

Great, now we'll need faster processors and more RAM and (probably) better video. Not to mention, bigger hard drives. What happened to the concept of keeping older hardware usable?

I've been reading a lot of responses on the Ubuntu Community Hub. It's pretty clear this is just the start of a problem. For as long as we have 32-bit software (for legacy games, applications, drivers) and processors capable of it, users will expect their OS to support it.

While things will (mostly) continue as they are till at least 2025, I'm wondering about the long term implications.

Containers would over-engineer the problem. It's good from a security standpoint, but presents unnecessary hoops from seamless integration on the desktop. Using snaps would force Canonical's technology onto us. Many may be fine with this (it's pre-installed after all) but many (including me) don't wish to use it.

Freezing libraries may be problematic with future hardware (GPUs mainly) and would introduce compatibility problems, not to mention unnecessary resources. Plus, if a container is running a copy of 18.04/20.04 i386, what happens when it reaches end of life? New drivers will be released yet they could end up bundling their own 32-bit libraries... sounds messy.

I don't quite understand the original intentions to drop 32-bit libraries. Other distros (like Arch) already dropped i386 hardware (though archlinux32 exists to continue it's life) yet still maintain 32-bit libraries. Is this down to leadership or corporate decisions (cost savings?) at Canonical?

The shock announcement and conclusions does reveal an uncertainty in how they approached the situation. That alone may drive people to switch distros (which includes Valve & Steam) to one that wouldn't threaten 32-bit support while demonstrating good community and leadership spirit. Could this mean something else will take Ubuntu's #1 spot in 10 years from now....? Who knows!

i386 is obsolete, but on the contrary, there is still perfectly good 32-bit software that may never be recompiled or updated. As for now, I'm a bit unsettled with the direction of Canonical in addition to GNOME/GTK that powers the Ubuntu desktop.

  • I still wish to use 32-bit software/games in 10 years.
  • All my software are 64-bit.
  • I wouldn't know if I have 32-bit or 64-bit software!
  • I use 32-bit software on i386 hardware!

0 voters

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I think Canonical dropped the ball hard here.
Even if they pulled back from their decision in the short term, Valve yesterday announced that they will be looking to support another distro officially. The damage has been done. A company of Valve's size and knowing the efforts they've taken to make Linux gaming accessible with the Proton integration in Steam, they won't allow themselves to be impacted by Canonical's decisions. Who knows what they'll come up with tomorrow. They'll probably hop onto another Debian distro, since SteamOS is a Debian derivative, so they are familiar with this.

That was a red flag for me too and after 2 more years on 18.04, I'm quitting Ubuntu and moving onto either what Valve picks or Manjaro.