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Ubuntu 32-bit support debacle
June 18, 2019
Canonical announces they will drop 32-bit support entirely for Ubuntu 19.10 onwards:

The Ubuntu engineering team has reviewed the facts before us and concluded that we 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.

While 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.
Q. Doesn’t Steam use 32 bit libraries? How can I play my games?

Steam itself bundles a runtime containing necessary 32-bit libraries required to run the Steam client. In addition each game installed via Steam may ship 32-bit libraries they require. We’re in discussions with Valve about the best way to provide support from 19.10 onwards.

It may be possible to run 32 bit only games inside a lxd container running a 32 bit version of 18.04 LTS. You can pass through the graphics card to the container and run your games from that 32bit environment.

https://discourse.ubuntu.com/t/i386-architecture-will-be-dropped-starting-with-eoan-ubuntu-19-10/11263

Later that same day, Valve developer (Plagman) commented on Reddit and explained that this change would break Steam on 19.10 unless more work was done. Steam ships 32-bit libraries in its runtime, but it still relies on basic 32-bit support from the host distro:

Steam and thousands of its games rely on a 32-bit glibc from the host system, as well as OpenGL and Vulkan userland graphics driver libraries for Mesa and the NVIDIA driver. Steam as it currently exists will be broken on 19.10 unless more work is done on our end. That work seems tractable, but fairly involved; what's unfortunate is that it will take away resources that would otherwise be spent on improving performance and functionality.

https://www.reddit.com/r/linux_gaming/comments/c24gpk/i386_architecture_will_be_dropped_starting_with/eri4vy2?utm_source=share&utm_medium=web2x

June 20, 2019
Wine developers discuss Ubuntu's Plans to drop 32-bit support:

I think not building packages for Ubuntu 19.10 would be the only practical option. It would probably be good to have a small explanation on the download page though. As I understand it, it would still be possible to run 32-bit executables on the Ubuntu 19.10 kernel, but we'd have to build and ship all our dependencies ourselves. I don't think we want to go there just yet.

https://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=news_item&px=Wine-Unsure-Ubuntu-32-Bit

June 21, 2019
Valve announces Ubuntu will no longer be officially supported or recommended and that they will shift their focus to a different distribution:

Ubuntu 19.10 and future releases will not be officially supported by Steam or recommended to our users. We will evaluate ways to minimize breakage for existing users, but will also switch our focus to a different distribution, currently TBD.

https://twitter.com/Plagman2/status/1142262103106973698

A Canonical developer tries (and fails) to run 32-bit games on a 64-bit-only Ubuntu:

Further to the recent announcement and subsequent discussion, I did a little testing over lunch on eoan 19.10 with all i386 packages removed and the i386 part of the repo disabled.

I did this because there’s been a couple of assertions made:
  • That games ship their own required libs and will likely work
  • That WINE64 is sufficient for playing Windows games
These don’t seem to be true for the limited testing I did.

https://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=news_item&px=Trying-GOG-Games-64-bit-Ubuntu

June 23, 2019
Cannonical devs are now walking back their decision and saying they will ship 32-bit libs in future releases, but that they will be frozen at 18.04 LTS versions:

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.

https://discourse.ubuntu.com/t/i386-architecture-will-be-dropped-starting-with-eoan-ubuntu-19-10/11263/84

June 24, 2019
Canonical has done a full U-turn now, and has decided to change their plans:

Thanks to the huge amount of feedback this weekend from gamers, Ubuntu Studio, and the WINE community, we will change our plan and build selected 32-bit i386 packages for Ubuntu 19.10 and 20.04 LTS.

We will put in place a community process to determine which 32-bit packages are needed to support legacy software, and can add to that list post-release if we miss something that is needed.

https://ubuntu.com/blog/statement-on-32-bit-i386-packages-for-ubuntu-19-10-and-20-04-lts

June 26, 2019

Valve's update on Steam, Ubuntu, and 32-bit support:

We're still not particularly excited about the removal of any existing functionality, but such a change to the plan is extremely welcome, and will allow us to continue to work towards improvements in the Steam distribution model without causing new headaches for users. Given the information we have on this new approach so far, it seems likely that we will be able to continue to officially support Steam on Ubuntu.

The Linux landscape has changed dramatically since we released the initial version of Steam for Linux, and as such, we are re-thinking how we want to approach distribution support going forward. There are several distributions on the market today that offer a great gaming desktop experience such as Arch Linux, Manjaro, Pop!_OS, Fedora, and many others. We'll be working closer with many more distribution maintainers in the future.

https://steamcommunity.com/app/221410/discussions/0/1640915206447625383/
Legutóbb szerkesztette: Rogue; jún. 26., 16:47
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Why don't they simply rebase their preferred platform, then? Hell, they already ship a TON of 32-bit dependencies with the package, albeit no hardware drivers, that would be total hell to provide by themselves. What this will boil down to, though, is probably most users interested in Steam will either skip 19.10 entirely or simply use another *buntu flavor that ships 32-bit deps (*cough* Mint *cough*). In all seriousness, though many, many, MANY legacy games will be alienated, and Valve already has its own freaking distribution, so instead of relying on Ubuntu, why not straight up put their act together in SteamOS? or straight up Debian for that matter?!

I personally would not switch distros to it, unless the one I use suddenly has the same bright idea as Canonical (doubtful, but you may never know). So while I do belive Valve will do as much as they can to "fix" this (they will never be able to provide 32-bit driver runtimes, especially for nVidia if they do not control the distro, which they already do with SteamOS), I think this is Canonical shooting themselves in the foot (as usual).
Ubuntu dropping 32-bit support makes a lot of sense. Other distributions are likely to follow, the loss of Ubuntu maintaining software for 32-bit use will accelerate the decline.
Ubuntu dropping 32-bit support makes a lot of sense. Other distributions are likely to follow, the loss of Ubuntu maintaining software for 32-bit use will accelerate the decline.
That’s actually bad news, if that were going to happen. I hope other distros won’t follow, else we will have a hard time when it comes to gaming especially.
thetargos eredeti hozzászólása:
What this will boil down to, though, is probably most users interested in Steam will either skip 19.10 entirely or simply use another *buntu flavor that ships 32-bit deps (*cough* Mint *cough*)
Mint relies on the ubuntu repositories. Ubuntu dropping support for 32 bit will mean there will be no newer packages for mint 32 bit to use as a base, nor will there be any newer 32 bit packages to pull from the repos.

Users with 32 bit hardware will most likely end up switching to something like MX Linux.
Why would Ubuntu make such a horrible unilateral decision.

This is a bad decision if you ask me.

I suspect there will quickly be a PPA with 32bit support.
Is MX Linux any good? I have 64bit hardware but it's time for a change, I've been using Ubuntu since 6.06, I'm ready to use something else.
lucifertdark eredeti hozzászólása:
Is MX Linux any good? I have 64bit hardware but it's time for a change, I've been using Ubuntu since 6.06, I'm ready to use something else.
It's had a huge spike in popularity in recent months, and is currently #1 on distowatch, for whatever that's worth.

I tried it. It's very solid. I liked it a lot, but I chose to stick with Mint.
Aoi Blue eredeti hozzászólása:
Why would Ubuntu make such a horrible unilateral decision.

This is a bad decision if you ask me.

I suspect there will quickly be a PPA with 32bit support.
I think you are underestimating the amount of resources and work required for such little return and demand.
I get their side, dropping 32-bit x86 is a big reduction in workload and there are really few machines from that era left in working condition that have enough oompf to run a recent version of Ubuntu...

I just wish that transition periods to avoid breaking things were more well-planned in the sense that necessary retrocompatibility cases were raised early in the process, and plans made to deal with them, and announcing these plans along with the overall proposal...

I say this without any knowledge of how the proposal evolved, risking being unfair to their work here, but it does seem like Canonical missed a spot by failing to acknowledge and/or address that old games need these 32-bit libs to run even under a 64-bit environment.

I have to wonder if they just didn't remember games needed this (and that differently to other software it is unreasonable to expect they will ever get patched/redeveloped for 64-bit)... or if they think it is acceptable that all 32-bit lib dependant games suddenly stop working on new versions of the OS?

Likely GamingOnLinux and Phoronix will have more details on this move soon and I hope also some light into "what happens now" regarding software that a user wants to run despite being frozen in a 32-bit past.


It is possible that a new PPA emerges...

or also that either Padoka or Oibaf start including those libs in their PPAs, but we shouldn't count on it... or should I say Valve and Canonical shouldn't?

What might make it worse is that with Ubuntu I don't think it's just a matter fetching a copy of upstream sources and building them... there might be some build parameter changes to be done first, making it non-trivial for most of us.


I'm not familiar with the details of why 32-bit libs *need* to still exist for 32-bit games to run on a 64-bit environment, but I'm hoping that some sort of shim libraries redirecting calls to their 64-bit counterparts might be enough in the future to solve this issue without being too hard to maintain, and without being a complete multi-arch implementation like the one being dropped now.


I'd very much like it if Valve and other linux-gaming-interested parties would join up and rise to the challenge by devising a collectively usable permanent solution instead of Valve just dumping these files in their Steam Runtimes... a PPA would be usable in other cases beyond Steam and even beyond gaming.

Indeed this makes Codeweavers, Lutris devs and GOG potential partners in providing a one-stop-solution, plus game engines that work on Linux too... I doubt they'll *all* get actively involved, but hopefully some.
About Linux Mint, since it is always based on the latest LTS version of Ubuntu, LM users will only have to deal with this in what will likely be LM 20, based on Ubuntu 20.04.

If things get too chaotic then, there is a small chance that they take it upon themselves to build and incorporate to their own repos a minimal set of 32-bit libs for gaming to be viable, with some meta-package to make it easier to install.

They have done a few similar moves in the past, but it is a small team and a huge task so I wouldn't bet on it actually happening.
Here is the Phoronix post (90 comments and counting up!):
https://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=news_item&px=Ubuntu-Drops-32-bit-x86

And at the end some useful info on "what to do now" for games and other software stuck on 32-bit:
Users still needing Ubuntu x86 32-bit packages can stick to using Ubuntu 18.04 LTS or otherwise setup a chroot on top of Ubuntu 19.10+ that is based on the Ubuntu 18.04 LTS package set. This may cause some snags for the likes of Steam, but we'll see the path they take now moving forward.

Also it link to the Canonical mailing list thread with the details on why, how, etc:
https://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=news_item&px=Ubuntu-Drops-32-bit-x86

While 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 in [4]. We will be working to polish the 32-bit support story over the course of the 19.10 development cycle. To follow the evolution of this support, you can participate in the discourse thread at [5].
[...]
[4] https://lists.ubuntu.com/archives/ubuntu-devel/2018-May/040348.html
[5] https://discourse.ubuntu.com/t/i386-architecture-will-be-dropped-starting-with-eoan-ubuntu-19-10/11263/2

So it isn't really like they're dropping things entirely without thinking about how to handle games.
Legutóbb szerkesztette: Marlock; jún. 19., 5:13
Marlock eredeti hozzászólása:
I just wish that transition periods to avoid breaking things were more well-planned in the sense that necessary retrocompatibility cases were raised early in the process, and plans made to deal with them, and announcing these plans along with the overall proposal....

IIRC Ubuntu 18.04 was a Long Term Service (LTS) release that they promise to support for 5 years {HIVATKOZÁS TÖRÖLVE}.

So it seems they're doing exactly what you ask, they're announcing plans to drop 32-bit by April 2023. If you want the latest and greatest then the impact is going to be sooner, but you've likely been using a 64-bit OS for 10 years, or so, and it's no great surprise to hardware manufacturers or game makers.

Ubuntu have been distributing a 64-bit version since at least 2004 ("Warty Warthog"); and it's been primary since 2012.

You can still run DOS games on Ubuntu (and SNES and things through emulators) it's not going to be a case of October 2019 any 32-bit games stop working.
If it's the same with unfinished features, it might not make it into 20.04 too. Wayland anybody? They might have chosen to do it in 19.10 because it's a development version? If it causes too much problems, 20.04 might support 32bit while they figure it out.

Might be wrong though, I'm no software engineer; I'm just highlighting the way Canonical does things, usually.
Dropping support for 32-bit hardware is totally fine. Dropping support for 32-bit software is... another story.

Telling users to set up a container with GPU passthrough is not a valid solution. Ubuntu is supposed to be the distro for newbies. Are we to tell new users: "Hey if you want to play your 32-bit games, no problem, just set up a container with GPU passthrough and..."? They will go back to Windows. Same thing with setting up a chroot. These solutions are not valid for newbies.

Sure, Ubuntu 18.04 will be supported for 5 years, but we all know that some new users go to the Ubuntu website and just download the latest version. It will be problematic.

Canonical really doesn't seem to care about Linux beyond their own Ubuntu ecosystem. Unity was never really portable to other distros. Upstart instead of Systemd. Mir instead of Wayland. The list goes on and on...

But my biggest gripe is this (quoted from Valve developer, Plagman):

"Steam as it currently exists will be broken on 19.10 unless more work is done on our end. That work seems tractable, but fairly involved; what's unfortunate is that it will take away resources that would otherwise be spent on improving performance and functionality."
Legutóbb szerkesztette: Rogue; jún. 19., 10:40
Rogue eredeti hozzászólása:
Dropping support for 32-bit hardware is totally fine. Dropping support for 32-bit software is... another story.

Telling users to set up a container with GPU passthrough is not a valid solution. Ubuntu is supposed to be the distro for newbies. Are we to tell new users: "Hey if you want to play your 32-bit games, no problem, just set up a container with GPU passthrough and..."? They will go back to Windows. Same thing with setting up a chroot. These solutions are not valid for newbies.
Exactly why it is THE best opportunity for Valve to get SteamOS up to become THE reference gaming distribution. Way too many distros use Ubuntu as their upstream, when they should base off Debian proper and only incorporate a few Ubuntu features... Alas, the state of affairs is different.
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