Ubuntu Takes A U-Turn with 32-Bit Support

Jun 25, 2019

Canonical will continue to support legacy applications and libraries.

Canonical, maker of the popular Ubuntu Linux distribution, has revived support for 32-bit libraries after feedback from WINE, Ubuntu Studio, and Steam communities.

Last week Canonical announced that its engineering teams decided that Ubuntu should not continue to carry i386 forward as an architecture. “Consequently, i386 will not be included as an architecture for the 19.10 release, and we will shortly begin the process of disabling it for the eoan series across Ubuntu infrastructure,” wrote Will Cooke, Director of Ubuntu Desktop at Canonical.

However, the news was not received well. Canonical was criticized for the move. Responding to the uproar, Canonical decided to continue to support 32-bit applications.

As Steve Langasek, a Debian and Ubuntu developer wrote in a mailing list, that maintaining support for 32-bit libraries is “a cost largely paid by Canonical (both in terms of infrastructure and in terms of engineering work to keep the base system working). It's not very compelling to say that Canonical should continue bearing these costs out of pocket on the grounds that some other companies are unwilling to update their software to an ISA from this millennium :)”

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