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As an update to the situation around Canonical planning to drop 32bit support (and Valve saying bye-bye to Ubuntu 19.10+ support), apparently they're not. Instead, the 32bit libraries will be frozen. Are you confused yet? I sure am.

Canonical's Steve Langasek has attempted to clarify the situation. Here's what they said:

I’m sorry that we’ve given anyone the impression that we are “dropping support for i386 applications”. That’s simply not the case. What we are dropping is updates to the i386 libraries, which will be frozen at the 18.04 LTS versions. But there is every intention to ensure that there is a clear story for how i386 applications (including games) can be run on versions of Ubuntu later than 19.10.

That's at least a little better, isn't it? They also said a little further:

[…] since the vast majority of i386-only software is also legacy (closed-source, will never be rebuilt), it also does not generally benefit from newer libraries […]

There's a pretty big difference from not being "included as an architecture", to having them available but frozen and still possible to use, isn't there? It's confusing, since that's not how it was originally explained. This is something that should have been said very clearly from the start.

Perhaps this might not be the epic disaster many people (myself included) thought it might turn out to be. We still have to wait and see how exactly they implement all this, and how it will affect gaming.

There's still going to be confusion and issues though, like upgrading drivers. Touching on that, Langasek said:

32-bit mesa will be available in the Ubuntu 18.04 repository. Note that mesa already gets updates in 18.04 which track the versions from later Ubuntu releases, as part of hardware enablement. If incompatibilities are introduced beyond 20.04 (which is the cutoff for hardware enablement backports for 18.04), we will need to address them on a case-by-case basis.

So it sounds like you're still going to be stuck in some ways. Seems like the proposal is still no good for Wine either (and so Steam Play too).

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Tags: Distro News, Misc
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abelthorne 23 Jun, 2019
Quoting: finaldestCorrect me if I am wrong but surly freezing the library would make it impossible to use newer GFX drivers.

I plan to upgrade my ryzen desktop CPU soon and may consider Navi GPU further down the line. How am I supposed to get the latest drivers if the packages are frozen?
On LTS, they have what they call the Hardware Enablement Stack, which allows to update core components of the system over time, like the kernel, Mesa... So, despite having a version freeze for most of the apps in the repos when you use a LTS, you still have updates for the kernel and Mesa (albeit after a few weeks, not right when a new Ubuntu version is released).

If you stick to the version of Mesa from the repos, this shouldn't be a big issue, the 32 bit version should catch up with the one from 19.10 and later with the system they plan to implement. If you usually use a PPA to get a newer version, it will work for the 64 bit version but likely not for the 32 bit one.
Purple Library Guy 23 Jun, 2019
Quoting: GuestI do not see how they could backpedal without recanting totally and lose face.
In my experience, when someone comes out and simply says "I was wrong about X, so I'm changing my mind and I'm sorry for any problems I caused" they don't lose face. People are if anything impressed. But at a minimum, they sure lose a lot less face than if they stonewall forever and pretend they're totally right when it's obvious they're both wrong and screwing people over. Canonical never seem to have figured this out.
Purple Library Guy 23 Jun, 2019
Quoting: GuestThey DID talk about it before
I think everyone was under the impression that what they were talking about was no longer distributing the OS as 32-bit, as in you'd need a 64-bit machine to run Ubuntu going forward. That wouldn't be a huge deal and they wouldn't be the first distro to go that way. Sure, there are still a few 32-bit machines out there (up until very recently I had one of them), but they're either not being updated much or they belong to people using Slack or some damn thing (I was the former).
I don't think anyone was aware they were planning this, which is a whole different ball game.
Vortex_Acherontic 23 Jun, 2019
I thought this was obvious they said it word by word that they will just not build new libraries for 32bit and I was like, hm, okay and why is everybody ranting about it?. I'm more confused by the reaction of the community which had not fully read their blog post and linked mailing lists. :D

Quoting: Vortex_Acherontic
Quoting: KlaasBut that's exactly what they said they are going to do. AKA shooting themselves in both feet.

From reading their blog post I assume they will not build newer libs for 32bit but old ones will be still available.

QuoteWhile this means we will not provide 32-bit builds of new upstream versions of libraries, there are a number of ways that 32-bit applications can continue to be made available to users of later Ubuntu releases, as detailed here. We will be working to polish the 32-bit support story over the course of the 19.10 development cycle.

QuoteI don't believe they support the conclusion that we should continue to release
Ubuntu on i386 in future releases.

Or I just totally miss understanding something here. :|

Edit: SO I think they will include some sort of 32bit run time for older applications. Anything else would really be self destructive.

Last edited by Vortex_Acherontic on 23 June 2019 at 8:36 pm UTC
Redface 23 Jun, 2019
Quoting: GuestThey DID talk about it before and my wild guess is at least Valve took notice of it. Hence their quick declaration afterwards with no much visible bargaining.

Possible Valve was aware and could not change their mind. There is this mailing list post from a year ago that outline this plan, someone on reddit just mentioned it:

This should have been made a lot more public, it reminds me of Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy where the announcement of the plan to bulldozer the main characters house was buried in the cellar of the townhall. He could just have objected to it in time.
Arten 23 Jun, 2019
Quoting: liamdawe
Quoting: Nevertheless
Quoting: JaromirMaybe Shuttleworth still plans on a Canonical Initial Public Offering (IPO) in 2019. It would make Ubuntu more attractive if they don't focus on the 32 bit libs but on profitable projects instead.

I think that it's time for Arch, Manjaro, Debian or Fedora to become the new leading OS for the desktop.

And I also like Clear Linux OS as a replacement for Ubuntu because it is generally the fastest system and because you have collaboration potential with Intel. And Clear Linux also works very fast on AMD hardware.

There will be some initial problems with Nvidia drivers and other issues but I think that Clear Linux OS can be a perfect replacement for Ubuntu in the long term.

It will become clearer when Clear Linux adopts KDE Plasma.. .. Holy f.. it already has!
Clear Linux becoming more consumer orientated, adopting KDE, Valve hiring for Kwin...hmmm...

I don't like the idea of ​​an intel controlled distro used as a distribution recommended for games. They may try look beter then AMD. Choose optimisation which help them but hurt Ryzen,... Or maybe i'm paranoid.
TobiSGD 23 Jun, 2019
I seriously would like to know how much of a burden maintaining 32 bit libraries there really is for Canonical. After all, they are still getting most of their packages directly from Debian and just recompile them, IIRC, and Debian isn't dropping support for newer versions.

Anyways, I wanted to wait updating my gaming system from 16.04 until 20.04 was released, seems to me that it rather will be Buster then.
deathxxx 23 Jun, 2019
Valve, you'r options are: Manjaro/Pure Arch, Clear Linux, Solus, FreeBSD!

Last edited by deathxxx on 23 June 2019 at 9:05 pm UTC
Asu 23 Jun, 2019
much better.
abelthorne 23 Jun, 2019
Quoting: deathxxxValve, you'r options are: Manjaro/Pure Arch, Clear Linux, Solus, FreeBSD!
They said don't want Arch nor Debian. And I doubt they'd even consider FreeBSD as it's not Linux. I guess their most likely choice would be either openSUSE or Fedora.
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