Ubuntu has officially announced about dropping the support for 32-bit (i386) systems going forward, starting with the upcoming Ubuntu 19.10 release.
The 32-bit architecture is used in many Intel and Intel-compatible CPUs. It’s refereed as i386 in Ubuntu, Debian and some other Linux distributions.
Many peoples prefer to use the more generic name called “x86” for 32-bit.
32-bit packages were designed especially for legacy hardware’s that only runs a 32-bit operating system, which isn’t popular anymore.
No manufacturers have produced any 32-bit computer hardware for desktop / laptop for last 10 years and it was made during the last decade.
Most of the major Linux distributions (Red Hat) and software vendors (lack of support in the upstream Linux kernel, toolchains, and web browsers) were already dropped support for 32-bit.
How they made a decision? What’s behind it?
Last year, there was discussion in the Ubuntu developer community about dropping the support for 32-bit architecture for future releases.
The discussion at the time was inconclusive but there was a strong possibility that they won’t be include 32-bit architecture in 20.04 LTS.
They took the proactive step and disabled the upgrades from 18.04 to 18.10 for i386 systems. As this interim release will only support for 9 months.
In February 2019, they had updated to the communicate saying that the final decision will be made in mid of 2019 about i386 support in 20.04 LTS.
The middle of 2019 has now arrived. The Ubuntu engineering team has reviewed the facts (The 32-bit userbase is just about 1% of the total user base) and made the decision that they will be dropping the support for 32-bit (i386) systems across Ubuntu infrastructure going forward, starting with the upcoming Ubuntu 19.10 release.
The real issue is the costs of maintainership. As Canonical had to spend huge amount to keep the infrastructure and base system working without any issue.
What is the best options are available for 32-bit users to upgrade their system?
If your hardware supports only 32-bit operating system and you can able to run the latest release of Ubuntu 18.04 LTS until 2023 with safe and secure.
If you still didn’t get an opportunity to migrate your system then go for Extended Security Maintenance (ESM) support, which will be supported for another 5 years until 2028.
This should give you plenty of time to migrate away from 32-bit legacy applications.