The first beta candidate of LibreOffice 6.3 is out — and it brings some bad news for 32-bit Linux desktop users.

Ahead of an expected summer release, The Document Foundation has today issued a call for testing on the first beta of what will become the next major version of its free office suite, LibreOffice.

Are there even any 32-bit Linux users out there who’ll be affected by this?

Planned LibreOffice 6.3 features include further performance improvements, better tools, feature enhancements, and better interoperability and compatibility with other office formats.

But sadly the update won’t be available to everyone.

Nestled amidst all of the 6.3 beta release announcement bumf is word that LibreOffice 6.3 will not support 32-bit GNU/Linux distributions.

LibreOffice 32-bit Support on Linux

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If you’re a LibreOffice swot you might have had an inkling that this day was coming as TDF mentioned it in the release notes of the previous stable release, LibreOffice 6.2:

“Binary Linux x86 (32-bit) releases will be demoted. There will be no Linux x86 builds produced by TDF after 6.2. This does not mean that Linux x86 compatibility will be removed.”

LibreOffice 6.2 Release Notes

But before you (or anyone) panics let me reassure you of a couple things.

First, you can continue to use LibreOffice on a 32-bit Linux desktops — this news only affects the next version.

You won’t be able to download and upgrade to LibreOffice 6.3 when it’s released in early August 2019, but old versions remain available (some of which are still supported) for use.

The pseudo-LTS version, LibreOffice 6.1, will continue to get updates for 32-bit Linux desktops for a while longer yet.

Secondly, this is open source code. It’s possible that the wider Linux community could step in to maintain unofficial 32-bit builds which you can use on 32-bit Linux distros like Peppermint OS.

No surprise, though

The deprecation of native 32 support will surprise no-one. Like a well-timed demolition, more and more Linux distributions are dropping support for 32-bit builds. Xubuntu 19.04 is among the latest.

It’s not just distributions, either. Google Chrome axed 32-bit Linux support back in 2016.

Download LibreOffice 6.3 Beta

Interested in trying the latest beta?

Well, if you’re using Windows 7, a supported version of macOS or a 64-bit Linux distribution (sorry, too soon?) you can!

And while I haven’t tried it personally, you can apparently install and run beta builds of LibreOffice alongside the current stable version, which is pretty neat.

You’ll find downloads, installers and more details over on The Document Foundation wiki page for this release.

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