End of an era – Ubuntu will soon end support to 32-bit PCs
Bad news for those who are still using 32-bit processors – Ubuntu is the latest operating system planning to end support to 32-bit processors. Ubuntu’s Dimitri John Ledkov put forth a proposal to wind down 32-bit support on the Ubuntu mailing list recently.
He reports that 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.
32-bit systems today are a lot older. AMD introduced the Athlon64 processor in 2003, and Intel came out with its 64-bit processor one year later.
Ledkov also 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.
Canonical is not the first Linux vendor to end 32-bit support. Red Hat stopped offering a 32-bit version of Fedora Server as of Fedora 24, but it does still offer 32-bit 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.
OpenSUSE Leap hasn’t even offered 32-bit images since its inception. OpenSUSE Chairman Richard Brown explained on Reddit that it wasn’t worth supporting 32-bit for another three years after the release because downloads of 32-bit releases have steadily declined.
32-Bit Linux distributions will still exist
Don’t worry, 32-bit Linux distributions will continue to exist for a long time. Because the recently released Ubuntu 16.04 LTS will be supported for five years until 2021. Even after many of the big Linux distributions stop releasing new versions for 32-bit hardware, there will be Linux distributions out there specializing in support for this older hardware. But, by then, more 32-bit hardware will be out of commission.