i386 in focal: an update

Steve Langasek steve.langasek at ubuntu.com
Thu Nov 28 20:46:34 UTC 2019

Thanks to thorough feedback from our community, we now have a reasonably
comprehensive answer to the question of what 32-bit compatibility library
packages are needed on x86 for Ubuntu 20.04. 


Some developers will have noticed changes this week to the behavior of focal
builds in Launchpad.  Out of 30,000 source packages in focal, there is now a
whitelist of about 1,700 source packages which will trigger builds on i386
in Launchpad.  This means that other packages which previously built on i386
will need to have the binaries from the old version of the package removed
before they will be migratable from focal-proposed to focal.

As a side note, the implementation of this also affects PPA builds, because
the whitelist applies to the focal series as a whole.  In general, you
should not expect to need i386 builds of third-party packages in PPAs for
focal either, given that i386 in focal exists solely for compatibility with
legacy binary software.  However, if you have a third-party package that you
believe it's important to continue producing i386 binary builds of in
Launchpad for Ubuntu 20.04, please contact the Ubuntu archive admins
(ubuntu-release at lists.ubuntu.com, or #ubuntu-devel on freenode.net for best
results), and we can evaluate including your PPA package in the whitelist.

At the moment, I am doing some manual removals of the i386 binaries as I see
them show up as blockers on
and as I'm able to determine that the removals aren't going to cause
near-term knock-on problems.  But if some i386 binaries aren't being removed
fast enough and this is blocking your work, feel free to reach out to an
archive admin to ask for their removal.

In the slightly less near term, the plan is to do a mass binary removal of
all of the i386 binary packages in focal built from sources other than those
in the whitelist.  However, before pulling the trigger on this mass removal,
there are some changes that should be landed to our autopkgtest
infrastructure, so that we can continue to run autopkgtests for those
remaining 1700 packages.  In summary: the plan is not to retain the test
dependencies of those 1700 packages on i386, but instead to cross-test the
i386 libraries on an amd64 host, which ultimately means testing them in an
environment that better models the expected real-world usage.  The work is
in progress for this change and I'm currently anticipating landing it next

In the meantime, if you need any help getting packages migrating to the
focal release from -proposed, please reach out on #ubuntu-release on IRC.

Steve Langasek                   Give me a lever long enough and a Free OS
Debian Developer                   to set it on, and I can move the world.
Ubuntu Developer                                   https://www.debian.org/
slangasek at ubuntu.com                                     vorlon at debian.org
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