Ubuntu Desktop on i386

Dimitri John Ledkov xnox at ubuntu.com
Tue Feb 2 03:01:12 UTC 2016

On 2 February 2016 at 03:12, Bryan Quigley <bryan.quigley at canonical.com> wrote:
> The plan from the session we did over a year ago was:
> "Specifically the Ubuntu (x86_32) desktop CD will be moved to cdimage
> around opening of 16.10".   The argument is that it was easy to build
> the CD and it was cheap to do.  It would be a community build that
> wouldn't be promoted on the Ubuntu website or officially tested.
> It doesn't make sense to stop building the CD unless:
> * We make the unity packages x86_64 bit only (what's the point in
> having less easy to test latest 32-bit unity packages?)
> * We drop x86_32 bit kernel support (guessing not something to
> consider until after 18.04?)

Kernel support is a separate vector. E.g. in Debian it is common to
install 32-bit userspace with the 64-bit kernel. Thus using all the
CPU/kernel features, access all the memory, yet have lower memory

> I think it also makes sense to see if other derivatives want to go
> x86_64-bit only like  maybe Kubuntu (like I believe project Neon
> targets just 64 bit).  At some point we are going to want drop x86_32
> kernel support and just have 32-bit compatibility libraries, but I
> don't know when that makes sense.
> Also, does Valve Steam product rely on i386 multiarch binaries?
> Yes, it does, but it also downloads it's own Steam runtime with it's
> own libraries.
> And Netflix - does that run on amd64-only without i386
> multiarch?  I believe that runs completely with libs if you use Google Chrome.
> Oh, and also Google Chrome is dropping Linux x86_32 bit support.
> I'm also happy to revisit my survey [2] and see where people are today.

I'm not sure it's about where people are, but rather where we want people to be.

My argument for dropping .iso, but keeping the packages/archive is as follows:

* we would like to support upgrades, for those that have 32 bit install

* but we would like to prevent any new installations

* because any new installation is amd64 capable, or such is the Ubuntu
Desktop ISO installer requirement for 16.04 LTS

* reduce releases.ubuntu.com mirror costs by about a third

Otherwise, all survey results will remain constant.

Building images is cheap, however I do not believe we can actually
adequately support i386 ones for ubuntu desktop:

* there is no i386-only certified hardware
* image manual testing has a cost
* no ubuntu developers use them =)

Could we start the sunset period with removing flavour dropdown from
the ubuntu desktop download pages for 16.04? (But keep the i386 images
on releases.ubuntu.com?)


It has been switched to amd64 by default some time ago.



> Thanks for bringing this up again!
> Bryan
> [1] https://blueprints.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+spec/development-1411-drop-x86-32
> [2] https://bryanquigley.com/crazy-ideas/32-bit-usage-survey-results
> [3] http://summit.ubuntu.com/uos-1411/meeting/22353/when-should-we-stop-making-32-bit-images/
> On Mon, Feb 1, 2016 at 5:14 PM, Dimitri John Ledkov <xnox at ubuntu.com> wrote:
>> Hello,
>> Ubuntu has an i386 port which is fully supported.
>> There a bunch of 3rd party applications that rely on the Multi-Arch
>> technology to support/use i386 binaries on amd64 (e.g. Skype from the
>> partner archive). BTW, can we ask Microsoft to publish native amd64
>> binaries, rather than those that rely on multi-arch i386? Also, does
>> Valve Steam product rely on i386 multiarch binaries? or is it fully
>> amd64? (and e.g. downloads/bundles/ships any required i386 binaries
>> that it needs)? And Netflix - does that run on amd64-only without i386
>> multiarch?
>> However, it seems to me that this is done specifically on otherwise
>> full amd64 installations.
>> My guess is that: all currently shipped hardware, with enough support
>> to run full Unity (7) Desktop, is amd64. Tested with amd64 kernel, and
>> amd64 graphics drivers. And hardware validation is done on amd64 too.
>> In 2016, people with i386-only hardware are unlikely to be capable to
>> run Unity 7 Desktop, and probably run other Ubuntu variants.  I guess
>> there are some accidental i386 users, e.g. those that have installed
>> i386 variant on amd64 hardware.
>> Does it still make sense to build ubuntu-desktop-i386.iso? Validate
>> it? Test it on amd64 hardware? Ship it?
>> To me this seems like a futile effort. Imho, we should only test the
>> relevant multiarch i386 pieces that are there to support 3rd-party,
>> i386-only apps on amd64 desktop.
>> This is specifically about building, validating and shipping
>> ubuntu-desktop-i386.iso, specifically for the Ubuntu Desktop flavour.
>> Which I am suggesting should be dropped. Without any other changes to
>> the archive and/or publishing i386 binaries.
>> --
>> Regards,
>> Dimitri.
>> --
>> ubuntu-devel mailing list
>> ubuntu-devel at lists.ubuntu.com
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