One of the things you often hear from fans of GNU/Linux is that Linux distributions can provide new life to old computers that aren’t powerful enough to run modern versions of Windows.

But it seems like not all that many people are using recent builds of Ubuntu to do that… because the developers have decided to make it a bit tougher to install the popular Linux distro on computers with 32-bit processors.

In a nutshell, you won’t be able to download an official 32-bit disk image of Ubuntu 17.10 or later.

That doesn’t mean you won’t be able to run new versions of Ubuntu on machines with older processors. The operating system will continue to support i386 architecture and the Ubuntu archive with security updates for i386 will continue to be functional.

If you’re already using Ubuntu 17.04 or earlier, you’ll be able to upgrade to the latest build of the operating system. And if you want to perform a fresh install, you still have options including the MinimalCD disk image or Netinst image.

I also wouldn’t be surprised to see third-party developers compile disk images that allow you to install Ubuntu 32-bit the same way you’ve always been able to… but a key reason Canonical is killing the 32-bit ISO is because there’s just not that much demand for it anymore, with most computers released in the last few years featuring 64-bit processors.

The reason the company isn’t pulling the plug on 32-bit Ubuntu altogether is that there are still some users for machines with i386 processors… they’re just more niche than they used to be. Canonical envisions these computers with legacy processors being used in single-purpose devices like Internet of Things gadgets.

via /r/Linux and OMGUbuntu

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14 replies on “Ubuntu to stop releasing 32-bit desktop ISOs”

  1. Most new 32 bit versions of Linux require PAE (Physical Address Extension), which is not supported on some older processors. I had an old Dell Laptop with a Core Duo processor for example (not a Core 2 Duo). I was only able to install really old 32 bit versions of Linux with no PAE requirement. Older versions of Linux like that are getting hard to come by.

  2. Computers “over six years old?!” I’m still using my Latitude D400 built in 2003. A very solid piece of hardware — and it’s running Linux Mint 17.1 without issue.

    1. Ditto for my Early 2006 32-bit Intel iMac, which runs Peppermint 8 (but perhaps not future issues, which build on Ubuntu). Still, with a LSR I should manage several more years of productivity out of it…

      1. Yeah, the first (Core Duo) and second generation (Core 2 Duo) Intel Macs are one of the reasons I’m going to miss Linux support for 32-bit CPUs. I understand 32-CPUs are a small niche now, so I’m not angry about it. I understand there are limited resources in open source software. The Core 2 Duos are technically 64-bit CPUs but because Apple crippled them with 32-bit EFI, it’s almost impossible to get 64-bit operating systems on them. I realize they’re over 10 years old at this point, but they’re still capable for light web surfing and office work if you have the RAM maxed. Plus, I really like the white polycarbonate design of the iMacs. As previously mentioned, Ubuntu 16.04 will be supported till 2021, so it’s still a while before I need to jump ship to another distribution.

  3. Seems like an artificial restriction. Oh well, I’m using Linux Mint. Hopefully they’ll continue releasing a 32-bit iso.

  4. The 64 bit distro’s will still have the 32 bit libs so can still run Steam?

  5. How far back in time do you need to go to find a 32 bit processor on a formerly Windows notebook?

    1. Unfortunately, in some sectors like education, we find them in use on a regular basis. Not that I think Canonical’s in the wrong here; that hardware needs to go.

  6. I can’t run Ubuntu on my router, either.
    I can run OpenWRT/LEDE, though.

    Sure, it’s perhaps, maybe, sad, well, really.. meh… that Ubuntu won’t support 32-bits.. and I feel exactly the same way about installing Ubuntu on my 386SX.. but there are other distributions… at least for 32-bits. And I was kidding about the 386SX.
    In fact, I can’t remember the last time I came across a 32-bit PC. Wow. That’s weird.

      1. Baytrail is 64-bits. So what does that have to do with 32-bit CPUs?
        Care to tilt at another windmill?

        1. Some of the non-desktop versions require a 32 bit bootloader. This is kind of a different problem unique to a very narrow range of hardware. There are some older single core Atoms that are 32 bit, but even those are over 6 years old, and they were ultra cheap devices.

          I have a Pentium 4 Socket 775 from 2005 that is 64 bit, so I think it is time for many people to move on. You can still use Ubuntu 16.04 with updates for a few more years if you are still holding on to something that old. Raspbian x86 is also 32 bit and can squeeze a bit more life out of ancient machines.

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