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Ubuntu dropping 32 bits support.
Dedale commented on 19 June 2019 at 7:52 pm UTC

This comes from this phoronix news. We are quite a lot here running 32 bit software. Sometimes unmaintained old software. And we are many to use ubuntu or an ubuntu derivative.

https://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=news_item&px=Ubuntu-Drops-32-bit-x86

A Link to their mailing list: https://lists.ubuntu.com/archives/ubuntu-announce/2019-June/000245.html

How would casual gamers work that out in the long term ? What are going to do GoG, itch.io and humble for example ?

What are your thoughts ?

sprocket commented on 19 June 2019 at 8:09 pm UTC

To be clear, they are removing the ability to run x86 32-bit software in an amd64 64-bit environment.

Dropping install support for x86 is one thing, but they are removing the built-in multilib support that Ubuntu amd64 has. Which will mean removing the ability to run 32-bit software, ie older games.

I see this as a very bad move on Ubuntu's part, especially when upstream Debian will continue to have x86 support for the forseeable future. If anything, it will ruin Ubuntu as a platform for playing older games. I just hope that Debian doesn't follow suit anytime soon.

Salvatos commented on 19 June 2019 at 10:41 pm UTC

Kind of surprising, but then again, I'm sure plenty of other distros will keep supporting older architectures for years to come.

gurv commented on 19 June 2019 at 11:34 pm UTC

[tinfoilhat]
What is the likelihood that Canonical's good friend Microsoft is behind this?
I mean this move only hurts the desktop, not the server.
[/tinfoilhat]

denyasis commented on 19 June 2019 at 11:36 pm UTC

Ok, I'm a little confused here (probably because I'm dumb).

The way I read the mailing list and references, as long as you have the 32 bit libraries, a program would likely run, right? Ubuntu just won't provide or build them anymore.

So, for games, the game would need to pack its own set of libraries (sorta like the steam run time libraries)?

Am I missing anything?

gurv commented on 19 June 2019 at 11:48 pm UTC

denyasisAm I missing anything?

  • Older games won't be updated

  • Games can't ship *all* the 32 bits dependency (hint: you need 32bits gl and vulkan drivers!)

  • You are entering dependency/conflict nightmare territory

  • there's probably a *lot* more but you get the gist



Bottom line: I'll start looking for a non Ubuntu based distro.
Ubuntu is basically dead for gaming purposes.

Maybe I'll switch to SteamOS, after all I don't do much besides browsing/mail and gaming.

Samsai commented on 20 June 2019 at 6:21 am UTC

I don't think there's a reason for any hysteria or hyperbole. There are a couple of problems they need to solve for legacy stuff to continue running but this is hardly the END OF DAYS as predicted on /r/linux_gaming for example.

Firstly, this has been a long time coming and the original plans for this were laid out at the beginning of this year. This change is going to take place in October with the release of 19.10, which is an interim release and thus not worth upgrading to for those wanting to avoid breakage to begin with.

This is also not a "32-bit software will not work" kind of a situation, and framing it as such is misleading. So many people seem to be under the assumption that all 32-bit binaries will just stop working. If the necessary libraries are provided, software will work as it did. The biggest blockers are GLIBC and the 3D drivers (libgl.so etc) which games are unlikely to bundle, but majority of libraries could be fetched from Steam runtime (or just load up 18.04 libs into a custom "runtime"). The 3D drivers could either be abstracted using containerization or by providing some kind of a shim that lets the 32-bit software talk to the 64-bit drivers. There is also no reason why someone wouldn't be able to build and ship the required 32-bit libraries using PPAs for example. This means that the community would need to take up responsibility of handling such legacy stuff, which is perfectly fine by me, since Ubuntu is doing this due to a lack of resources. Letting those that need it handle it isn't a new concept in the open source world.

It's also worth noting that even if Ubuntu continued building 32-bit versions of their packages, in the long-term there would still be no guarantees that legacy applications would continue working, since libraries that are in flux tend to become incompatible over time. So whichever way you put it, the proprietary legacy applications will eventually stop working. You can continue shimming them to make them work but the burden of the legacy is likely only going to increase as time goes on. In order for any forward movement to be possible, sometimes you need to let go of some legacy and look into the future.

ageres commented on 20 June 2019 at 7:19 am UTC

I use a Windows program at my work which prints some documents. It needs libcups2:i386 to be able to use printers. What will I have to do to make it work in next Ubuntu LTS?

Dedale commented on 20 June 2019 at 8:45 am UTC

For the average user installing PPA's is already too cumbersome. Provided they know what a PPA is which is not at all sure. This hardens a LOT the barriers to migration for a Windows gamer.

There will be a need for a general purpose distro (like ubuntu was) with all that is needed to run steam AND GOG games and Lutris and all. Out of the box. Plus the time for that distro to be known by the general public.

I can picture the belly laugh from the usual naysayers: "You have pitched ubuntu for all those years and now you tell your customers to move to manjaro !?". There are enough complaints from commercial devs about the absence of stable ABI as it is.

Or maybe the gog page of a Linux game will look like:

SomeGame Windows (7, 8, 10), Linux (Ubuntu 14.04, Ubuntu 16.04, Ubuntu 18.04, Ubuntu 20.04 with foobar PPA and libsmorgl386:so,libsproutnz368.so,libbrrr386.so (Litany of libs)), Mac OS X (10.9+)

I have a hunch we are going to stay a niche market for a long long time...

m-svo commented on 20 June 2019 at 8:53 am UTC

DedaleThere will be a need for a general purpose distro (like ubuntu was) with all that is needed to run steam AND GOG games and Lutris and all. Out of the box. Plus the time for that distro to be known by the general public.
I would like to see Linux Mint Debian Edition as such distro. They only need to change the default Download page on their website to make it so, and maybe little configuration.
I did not personally test it, though. I hope it is ready.

Samsai commented on 20 June 2019 at 8:58 am UTC

DedaleFor the average user installing PPA's is already too cumbersome. Provided they know what a PPA is which is not at all sure. This hardens a LOT the barriers to migration for a Windows gamer.

There will be a need for a general purpose distro (like ubuntu was) with all that is needed to run steam AND GOG games and Lutris and all. Out of the box. Plus the time for that distro to be known by the general public.

I can picture the belly laugh from the usual naysayers: "You have pitched ubuntu for all those years and now you tell your customers to move to manjaro !?". There are enough complaints form commercial devs about the absence of stable ABI as it is.

Or maybe the gog page of a Linux game will look like:

SomeGame Windows (7, 8, 10), Linux (Ubuntu 14.04, Ubuntu 16.04, Ubuntu 18.04, Ubuntu 20.04 with foobar PPA and libsmorgl386:so,libsproutnz368.so,libbrrr386.so (Litany of libs)), Mac OS X (10.9+)

I have a hunch we are going to stay a niche market for a long long time...
It's doubtful a legacy game's Linux requirements page would even be updated, since I doubt any game that is actively being updated ships in 32-bit. I certainly hope no new games are available only as 32-bit binaries.

If someone decides to make a distro that manages to retain legacy compatibility and won't collapse in on itself after a while, that's absolutely fantastic. However, I predict that no matter what, stuff that is around/over a decade old will begin degrading in such a way that the number of bandaids required will cause a significant maintenance burden. Ultimately I think we are either going to need to virtualize or containerize to keep the legacy going. How easy that will be for the end-user depends on the people making such containerization tools or shims.

The best solution would naturally be that games opened up their source after a while, so that the game could be kept working legacy-free as long as there's enough interest, but I suppose that is not possible or practical with many games released.

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