ubuntu flavor logos including xubuntu and ubuntu mate

Some Ubuntu flavours are dropping 32-bit support

Both Ubuntu MATE and Ubuntu Budgie are dropping 32-bit installer images ahead of their next stable release.

Neither Ubuntu flavour will release a 32-bit ISO image for their ‘18.10’ releases in October.

They’re not alone in doing this; the regular version of Ubuntu dropped 32-bit ISO images in 2017.

What this change means (and what it doesn’t)

Both flavours have 32-bit installers available for their latest LTS releases

Ubuntu MATE and Ubuntu Budgie fans do not need to panic. This news does not mean the end of 32-bit support for either flavour.

Firstly, this will not stop anyone from being able to boot, install or run new versions of Ubuntu Budgie or Ubuntu MATE on a 32-bit machine.

Nor will it affect the ability to install software and packages on existing (or future) 32-bit installs.

What it does mean is that you won’t be able to download either flavour’s 18.10 release as a neatly prepared 32-bit installer image/live disc.

To be clear: there will be no 32 bit Ubuntu MATE 18.10 download and no 32 bit Ubuntu Budgie 18.10 download.

But as I said: don’t panic.

Both flavours have 32-bit installers for their Long Term Support releases which a) you can download right now and b) will remain supported until 2021.

Why drop 32-bit support?

Ubuntu MATE 18.04 New Default Layout

32-bit users can still install the latest LTS release

Why are Ubuntu MATE and Ubuntu Budgie dropping support for such a common architecture?

Well, Budgie say they “would like to concentrate on the 64bit ISO only” for the upcoming cycle, noting that “almost all” of its users already use 64bit ISOs,

Ubuntu MATE lead Martin Wimpress also provides some insight as to why his team “only wish to support amd64” going forward.

In a forum post he explains:

Less than 10% of Ubuntu MATE users run 32-bit images

“Less than 10% of Ubuntu MATE users are running the i386 (32-bit Intel) images. Of those who do, thanks to the recent introduction of an installation telemetry reports, many are choosing to install the i386 images on amd64 (64-bit Intel) capable hardware.” 

He also touches on the increasing trend of app developers and driver makers dropping support for 32-bit packages, as well as the ubiquitousness of 64-bit capable hardware.

And there’s a bonus, he adds: “[We want to use] the time saved by dropping i386 (32-bit Intel) images to better support ARM devices, such as the Raspberry Pi.”

This news only affects 32 bit Intel (i386) ISOs. The 64 bit (x86_64) images are not affected.

In 2016 we ran a poll asking you which version of Ubuntu (or official spin) you use. The results of that poll revealed that 92% run 64-bit Ubuntu. 

Will you be affected by this move? Is 32-bit Linux becoming a niche market like PPC? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.