Canonical’s Ubuntu operating system is one of the biggest names in desktop GNU/Linux. But if you plan to play PC games on Linux, you might want to start looking around for a different Linux distro.

Ubuntu developer Steve Langasek announced last week that starting with Ubuntu 19:10, which comes out in October, Canonical would no longer provide 32-bit builds of applications and libraries. This being Linux, there will be workarounds — but many existing apps may not work out of the box anymore.

Case in point: a number of games from GOG cannot be installed on a pre-release version of Ubuntu 19:10. So it’s not all that surprising that a developer for Valve says that now that Canonical is dropping support for 32-bit software, Valve’s Steam game client is dropping support for Ubuntu.

That doesn’t necessarily mean Linux gamers need to switch right away: Valve will continue to support Ubuntu 18:04 LTS, for example, which is a year-old operating system that still has another four years of official “long term” support. And Valve plans to “evaluate ways to minimize breakage for exiting users” moving forward.

But the company also plans to shift its focus from Ubuntu to a different GNU/Linux distribution at some point.

Update: Canonical has responded to the backlash by announcing that it will continue to support select 32-bit packages in Ubuntu 19.10 and Ubuntu 20.04 LTS, and Valve, in turn, says Steam will continue to support Ubuntu.  This still appears to be a temporary solution though.

For now Canonical will work with members of the community to determine which packages to support.

In the long run, the company still plans to stop including 32-bit binaries, and will instead encourage developers who need them to package their software as Snaps or use LXD containers to include all the binaries necessary to run an application.

via Phoronix (1)(2)(3)(4)



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12 replies on “Ubuntu is dropping support for 32-bit apps and games, so Steam is dropping support for Ubuntu”

  1. To be honest if you plan on gaming on linux and don’t want to mess around too much Manjaro linux is a better choice than Ubuntu.

    1. Just keeping the old libraries is perfectly fine, until someone some sort of new video hardware gets released (which won’t offer acceleration under the old libraries) or someone finds a security issue in the old libraries or someone wants to install a new version of WINE that depends on an updated library.

      Losing the ability to update WINE will drive me off of the *buntus after 14 years of using one or the other of them as my primary OS.

  2. Steam’s been using their own “steam runtime” chroot based on a super old version of Ubuntu for a while now anyway, I thought; is this a real concern, or are they just piggy backing on the bad press?

    I am interested to see what they recommend next, though.

    1. To be honest, Linux is a better Operating System than Windows, OS X, iOS, and Android.
      However, its a case of “too many chefs ruin the soup”.

      There’s the likes of Valve, Debian, Ubuntu, Fedora, openSUSE, etc etc who all disagree on both little things and the fundamentals. There’s a great deal of fragmentation, and divided they fall.

      They need a for-profit company that’s very rich and generates a lot of money, they need them to spearhead the entire thing so that its consumer-orientated and friendly. And in particularly, it would be needed by a hardware designer/seller. The best candidate for this seems to be Nvidia. If Nvidia decided to (very very unlikely) help orchestrate a Linux framework that is best for their graphics architecture, as well as, be cross-platform with x86-64bit and ARM-64bit, you would find almost flawless port of Steam/Valve and its titles to that Linux OS. This would force the likes of openSUSE, Fedora, and Ubuntu to collaborate on the fundamentals, and only diverge at the small/inconsequential differences. And it would also bring in other big players into the ecosystem, and things will snowball from there.

      Then we could have actual SteamBox consoles, a lot of interest/development/adoption of Linux into people’s personal laptops and desktops, and a worthy successor to SailfishOS/alternative to Android. However, you really need a “why reason” (capitalism) as a driver to move these forwards rather than hoping for a “passive” (communism) means of keeping things going. But not to move too far to one extreme or the other, otherwise you either get stagnation and fragmentation, or you get a monopoly and closed-source/proprietary result.

      1. Nvidia deciding not to be evil? I’d think Microsoft would be a better candidate for a Linux distro creator… Jeez never thought I’d say that.

        1. Well, Microsoft has contributed to the GNU and has some linux involvement.
          But yeah, the gold standard would be to have Nvidia decide to be both greedy and charitable… like a digital Elon Musk.

          Especially with humans, where vision is one of our most important senses, graphics prowess becomes an important part of technology and one where it will never cease to be in-demand. Combine that demand, with the supply of the best hardware, and the charity of an inviting ecosystem (Linux)… then you have the makings of something truly great.

          AMD would have been a better choice, but they’re underdogs in the technology and what you want is the leader. And Nvidia can make code that works for both x86 and ARM, but AMD would not as they try to promote their own x86 architecture.

        2. I think the most likely way some Grand Unified Linux Desktop develops in the near future is if IBM decides they need a desktop OS for some reason and instructs Red Hat to go all in on it. That would be a company with a ton of Linux experience and community goodwill and ~$3 billion in annual revenue supported by a parent company with ~$80 billion in annual revenue and all sorts of R&D arms. IBM’s not working on major new consumer hardware projects or anything like that so it won’t happen, but I think it’s still more likely than Nvidia doing a 180 degree turnaround.

    2. I’m assuming this is for two reasons:

      1. A lot of older, semi-unmaintained Linux games on Steam are 32 bit.
      2. Steam offers support for seamlessly running many Windows games on Linux through Proton, their Wine fork. IIRC Wine is heavily dependent on 32 bit support; I it runs a lot of 32 bit Windows applications. They’d have to get that sorted out or else drop the (very popular) feature.

  3. It’s a problem for pretty much anyone who uses binary-only software on Linux, not only games. In my case, Altera/Intel FPGA tools, which contain a lot of 32-bit components. Ah well, it has seemed like Ubuntu have tried really hard to drop the desktop anyway, this is just one more step down that road.

    1. They won’t get far…I’ve already dumped Ubuntu for MX Linux and I’ll wait for Valve to decide who will take over as their preferred OS. Then move there.

      I didn’t actually move only because of this last nutso move by Canonical…it’s the sum of what I can only perceive to be “anti-user” friendly moves they’ve made over the last 5 years. Frankly, I can’t see how anyone can come to any other conclusion than this company is in bed with Microsoft. Although…I’m sure other’s have their own opinions…and I respect that. Albeit…that is mine.

      Canonical is in bed with Microsoft. The timing of this move…is perfect for that to be the case. Not to mention…when you add EPIC Games to the mix. I’m seeing an orchestrated move against linux and Valve here which tells me they’re afraid of losing more paying customers to a deadly combo of Linux/Valve/Vulcan.

      EEE is VERY much alive. It’s time to wake up from that sleep fella’s…

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