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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).

Article taken from GamingOnLinux.com.
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144 comments
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Noxes 23 June 2019 at 4:50 pm UTC
Well, that could've been handled better. Wonder how much marketshare they lost over past day alone over this.
mphuZ 23 June 2019 at 4:52 pm UTC
I think it is better to have no more business with them at all.
TimeFreeze 23 June 2019 at 4:54 pm UTC
image
Shmerl 23 June 2019 at 4:56 pm UTC
Frozen libraries are not a solution. Think of Mesa, Wine, dxvk and the rest of the gaming stack rapidly progressing. Ubuntu proposes to freeze them going forward (for 32-bit). Or "address them on case by case basis" once in a while. I doubt gamers will appreciate it, when other distros are not proposing anything that crippling.

I see only two working solutions here:

1. Keep providing up to date x86_32 multiarch (most distros will be doing it in the foreseeable future).
2. Come up with solution to run 32-bit programs, using 64-bit libraries with good performance, no 32-bit libs involved at all.

#2 can be tricky, and until it's ready, #1 should be available. Since Ubuntu can't provide either, gamers should just switch to other distros.


Last edited by Shmerl on 23 June 2019 at 5:14 pm UTC
iAlwaysSin 23 June 2019 at 4:56 pm UTC
Eh?!
buckysrevenge 23 June 2019 at 4:56 pm UTC
Well, it at the very least gave people incentive to try a different distro


Last edited by buckysrevenge on 23 June 2019 at 4:58 pm UTC
Eike 23 June 2019 at 4:57 pm UTC
Why did they test games without 32 bit libs if they never intended to remove them?
Eike 23 June 2019 at 4:57 pm UTC
Will people be able to do install newer GPU drivers nevertheless, when the respective 32 bit libs are "frozen"?
Shmerl 23 June 2019 at 4:58 pm UTC
EikeWill people be able to do install newer GPU drivers nevertheless, when the respective 32 bit libs are "frozen"?

Nope, since they can require newer features in the lower stack. The whole stack is interdependent. Think of Mesa periodically bumping their dependencies for its build. That will quickly go bust, once they are frozen.

Even if Ubuntu will address that once in a while "on case by case basis", I doubt it they'll be able to do it for all 32-bit libraries that we care about. Or in the timely manner. So why even bother falling into that pit?


Last edited by Shmerl on 23 June 2019 at 5:16 pm UTC
Liam Dawe 23 June 2019 at 4:59 pm UTC
EikeWhy did they test games without 32 bit libs if they never intended to remove them?
As their communication, was obviously rather poor even in their own ranks.
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