Linux to abandon 32-bit support for old PCs/laptops in coming months

Linux started off in 1991 as an alternative to the world’s most popular operating system Windows. The new users adopted Linux because it was open source and it ran beautifully on their older PCs that didn’t have the horsepower to run newer versions of Windows. However, after 30 years, Ubuntu, a major Linux distro is looking to end support for 32-bit processors.

Ubuntu’s Dimitri John Ledkov has issued a new proposal on the Ubuntu mailing list recently which states that the company will be winding down support for 32-bit processors. Ledkov uses the justification for ending 32-bit support saying that major software vendors and products like Google, ZFS and Docker will be ending 32-bit processors so it would not be feasible for Ubuntu to continue doing so.

“The key point here is a lack of upstream software support and upstream security support on i386 rather than actual hardware being out of stock and/or old,” he wrote in the proposal.

Though 32-bit systems worldwide are on the way out, it’s not denying that governments continue with older PCs due to lack of funds. It remains to be seen how these vintage systems cope with the new Ubuntu proposal.

64-bit processors become an order of the day in 2000s when AMD and Intel came out with 64-bit processors. In last 20 years most PC/laptop processors sold by the two CPU makers were 64-bit chips. It also helped that 64-bit chips blew past the 4GB memory limit giving users more power.

Ubuntu and Canonical to drop 32-bit support

Ledkov said Ubuntu wants to stop providing new 32-bit installations at Ubuntu 16.10. By Ubuntu 18.10 in October 2018, Canonical 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. And OpenSUSE Leap never offered a 32-bit image.

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