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Linux vendors want to stop developing for 32-bit CPUs

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July 5, 2016

It appears that major Linux distributions and their vendors are in agreement-- it's time to stop developing new versions for 32-bit CPUs. They are getting to old they say.

Simply, it's a waste of time they think, both to create the 32-bit port, and then to keep 32-bit hardware around to test it on.

At the end of June, Ubuntu developer Dimitri Ledkov jumped on the bandwagon with this mailing list post, saying bluntly that 32-bit ports are a waste of resources.

Of course, not everybody agrees with him but some do. “Building i386 images is not for free, it comes at the cost of utilizing our build farm, QA and validation time. While we still have scalable build-farms, i386 still requires all packages, autopackage tests, and ISOs to be revalidated across our infrastructure.”

Ledkov wants out. His proposal is that Ubuntu version 18.10 would be 64-bit-only, and if users desperately need to run 32-bit legacy applications, the'll have to do so in containers or virtual machines.

Even that timeline would mean that 32-bit versions will go gently in their sleep. To be sure, i386 would be sunsetted as the host architecture in April 2021, and legacy application security support would continue until April 2023.

“32-bit support doubles our testing burden and it also doubles our build load on OBS,” he added.

Whatever timetable is decided on, some are betting that i386 support will soon be on its way out, whether some like it or not. In any event, we will keep you posted.

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