Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Canonical Is Considering Dropping Support for 32-Bit PCs

Ubuntu’s Dimitri John Ledkov put forth a proposal to wind down 32-bit support on the Ubuntu mailing list recently. Hardware that can’t run 64-bit software is becoming much less common, while creating 32-bit images, testing them, and supporting them takes time and effort. (On Linux, the “i386” architecture is the standard 32-bit for Intel-compatible CPUs, while “amd64” is the 64-bit architecture originally made by AMD that Intel CPUs are compatible with.)

Ledkov points out that Ubuntu wants to limit the number of new 32-bit installations, with Ubuntu 16.10. This next release will not offer a 32-bit Ubuntu Desktop or Ubuntu Server image. The software could still be installed for legacy compatibility purposes via more traditional installers. By Ubuntu 18.10 in October 2018, Ubuntu would completely end support for 32-bit software and encourage running it in a virtual machine or container instead.
Fedora has made similar choices. Fedora Server no longer offers a 32-bit image as of Fedora 24. A proposal to dump all 32-bit images in Fedora 24 failed, and Fedora 24 still offers 32-bit versions of Fedora Workstation. However, Fedora no longer considers them important. As the developers put it during the meeting, no one wants to support the 32-bit images. I’d expect to see Fedora stop releasing 32-bit images within the next few releases, too.

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