Fwd: Proposal: Let's drop i386

Valorie Zimmerman valorie.zimmerman at gmail.com
Wed May 16 23:17:13 UTC 2018

Hello folks, I'm forwarding the following email to Ubuntu-devel ML to
explain the thinking on the part of the Ubuntu developers as to why
they are discontinuing the i386 images. For us, this would mean that
the 18.04 LTS is the last i386 ISO that we will be publishing. I'm
reluctant to do this, however, I do not have the time or technical
knowledge required to do this on my own, and the Kubuntu Devels want
Kubuntu to stop issuing i386 images.

Therefore, we are going to do that. For those of you who still want
and need i386, you will have 3 years of support from us on the LTS.
This means that when we're ready for the point releases (18,04.1, 2
etc.) I will still be asking for testers and expect you i386 people to
step up and do that.

For now the i386 *packages* in the archive are not going away.
However, I think the clock is ticking for them as well. On the other
hand, this will mean more attention from devels on the newer ARM stuff
which will be useful for those with Raspi or little ARM

Discussion is welcome, but I'm afraid that the decision has been
taken, and we'll be moving ahead to 18.10 without i386.


---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Bryan Quigley <bryan.quigley at canonical.com>
Date: Wed, May 9, 2018 at 1:07 PM
Subject: Proposal: Let's drop i386
To: Ubuntu Developers <ubuntu-devel at lists.ubuntu.com>, Ubuntu Core
developers <ubuntu-devel-discuss at lists.ubuntu.com>
Cc: Dimitri John Ledkov <xnox at ubuntu.com>


Less and less non-amd64-compatible i386 hardware is available for
consumers to buy today from anything but computer part recycling
centers. The last of these machines were manufactured over a decade
ago, and support from an increasing number of upstream projects has

Ubuntu and flavors just completed the 18.04 release cycle. This
released version will either be supported until 2021 or 2023,
depending on the product, team, and willingness to support it. At that
point in time, the majority of these machines are approaching two
decades old.

>>Previous 2016 thread: And in 2018, the question will come if we can effectively provide security support on i386.
We can't.  Machines running i386 Ubuntu which are capable of running
amd64 Ubuntu are vulnerable to the critical Meltdown vulnerability
where they wouldn't be if they were running amd64. (Some actual i386
hardware simply isn't vulnerable, but some is).

We still have a relatively high number if i386 downloads but that
doesn't mean users machines are not capable of amd64. For the flavors
remaining today on i386 here are some i386 to amd64 ratios for 18.04:

Lubuntu cdimage - 0.87
Lubuntu tracker - 0.64
Lubuntu error (pcmanfm) - 0.11
Xubuntu cdimage - 0.49
Xubuntu tracker -  0.30
Xubuntu error (thunar) - 0.10
Kylin tracker - 0.30
Kylin error (engrampa) - 0.10
Kubuntu cdimage - 0.14
Kubuntu tracker - 0.12
Kubuntu error (kinit) - 0.07

The data retrieved from cdimage is for a limited time period on May
7th. All cdimage statistics included many hundreds to thousands of
downloads (except Ubuntu Kylin due to it using it's own CDN, so not
being included here). The torrent tracker results are available here:
The error tracker statistics come from comparing top bugs shared
between i386 and amd64 over last week. Bugs that affect multiple
flavors are not included.
It's not fully understood why there is a large discrepancy between the
error tracker and other sources - but it's possible apport doesn't
work as well in low memory.

With Ubuntu MATE, Ubuntu Budgie, and Ubuntu Studio joining Ubuntu
Desktop and Server in not offering i386 support in order to focus
their efforts, and these statistics in mind, we (flavors) should all
join them. Now is the ideal time to do so, because it's before the
Cosmic cycle is really under way, and if support were continued for
i386, we don't want users to meet a dead end with respect to upgrade
paths, and would support it until 20.04 (which means either five or
seven more years of i386). Users still have the support cycle of 18.04
to use their machines and get full support, so these machines will
still be able to function. But with no new machines being
manufactured, we have to deprecate support at some point.

The first step would be to all agree on dropping images/installers but
we should keep the end goal of dropping the port in mind ideally soon
as well.

On the list of known blockers for removing the i386 port are Steam and
Wine. Solus' snapped Steam is progressing nicely and Steam deb is
difficult to maintain as is [See removal bug]. That leaves coming up
with a good way forward for Wine.

Simon Quigley
Bryan Quigley

[2016 email thread]
(was Installation Media and supportability of i386 in 18.04 LTS Re:
Ubuntu Desktop on i386)
[removal bug] https://pad.lv/1759715

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