Ubuntu to drop 32bit Desktop ISO images from 17.10 release

Mike Turcotte-McCusker
Sep 29, 2017

Unsurprisingly, Ubuntu has planned to follow the same path that other major distributions have, and drop 32bit ISO images for upcoming releases.

Dimitri John Ledkov from Canonical, sent out a message through their mailing list to the release team, instructing them to not release a 32bit ISO for the upcoming Ubuntu release.

Ledkov says, “Dear Release team, Please action the below and remove Ubuntu Desktop i386 daily-live
images from the release manifest for Beta and Final milestones of 17.10 and therefore do not ship ubuntu-desktop-i386.iso artifact for 17.10. As a followup to this thread it has been confirmed that argumentation below is sound, and furthermore there is no longer any effective qa or testing of the desktop product on actual i386 hardware (explicitly non x86_64 CPUs). There are no other changes requested to d-i, mini.iso, archive, or the upgrade paths. Regards, Dimitri.”

Ubuntu Dropping 32bit Mailing List
Ubuntu dropping 32-bit ISO images

As I reported just a few days ago, Manjaro has also done the same thing, and we can be sure that more distributions will likely be following suit in the near future as well.

Current Ubuntu users don’t need to fear however as just like with Manjaro, you are able to upgrade your current installation to the newest release when it comes out, and still keep your 32bit system; this decision will only affect users looking to install Ubuntu fresh from an ISO from the website.

However, that being said, if you really want to run Ubuntu, and you really want it to be 32bit, you do have another option; install Ubuntu via the minimal install ISO. Granted, that will only give you the absolute base of Ubuntu and nothing else, so if you are not comfortable setting up a system from barebones, then perhaps it’s not for you.

The initial proposition that Ledkov sent out on May 3, reads,

“It is no longer the default, nor most widely used architecture on the traditional form factors: desktop, laptop, rack servers.

But i386 is becoming more of a purpose built architecture, similar to how in the past "embedded" devices label was applied. Today, I would call it an IoT; single purpose device; and a cloud/container guest architecture.

Ubuntu website download pages have stopped advertising traditional i386 images for either desktop, server, or cloud, without any significant backslash and without any noticeable drops in the download

Therefore I would like to propose the following change of scope for the i386 architecture".

Continue to provide for i386

  • The Ubuntu archive with security updates
  • Ubuntu Core snappy architecture images
  • Cloud images
  • Container images
  • Server subiquity img/iso
  • netinst

Discontinue to provide for i386

  • Server classic img/iso
  • Desktop live

So, as you can see, existing i386 installations will still receive proper updates.

Final Thoughts

With Ubuntu now jumping onto the bandwagon of discontinuing 32bit ISO downloads, it’s only a matter of time before more and more distributions follow suit. How long will it take? I personally give it a year, tops.

Ubuntu to drop 32bit Desktop ISO images from 17.10 release
Article Name
Ubuntu to drop 32bit Desktop ISO images from 17.10 release
Unsurprisingly, Ubuntu has planned to follow the same path that other major distributions have, and drop 32bit ISO images for upcoming releases.
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  1. Janice said on January 24, 2018 at 9:13 pm

    Such a shame, just encountered this problem today. I have been looking into replacing Windows XP with Linux as we have all heard over the years how much better it is supposed to be. Yes my machines might be a few years old but they are still perfectly decent except for XP support issues and more and more browsers no longer working on XP. They are crying out for something like what Linux promises. After a considerable period of time researching, I chose to try out Ubuntu. The first machine, it worked except for hibernate mode, which I understand is now a well known problem with 17.10. Yet hibernate worked fine on Windows XP. That was the first showstopper. Now I find my other computers with 32 bit processors are no longer supported. Yes there are alternative install/upgrade routes but clearly Linux are going down a certain path. A shame they are missing out of potentially a large number of possible converts that are finding the grass isn’t actually greener than Microsoft afterall and Linux is just as troublesome. Linux turned into a very short frustrating dead-end for me. Looks like my computers will be heading for the rubbish tip and be forced unwillingly into buying new computers with Windows 10.

  2. coakl said on October 3, 2017 at 12:10 am

    This eliminates a low-cost OS replacement for Win 7 users on old hardware (Pentium 4, old Celeron), when Win 7 end-of-support arrives in early 2020.

    A rather sleazy, pro-Microsoft, pro-Win 10 move by Ubuntu.

  3. Lookmann said on October 1, 2017 at 5:35 pm

    A degenerate move by Ubuntu. There may be millions of PCs with lesser power for new Windows versions but OK for linux.
    In Linux, unfortunately Ubuntu clones are the easiest to use and also with so many apps . They may not be able to install 64 bit OS.

    I wish someone put some sense into these people.

    1. AJ North said on October 1, 2017 at 10:20 pm


      There are still a not insubstantial number of people around the world using old [ancient, in today’s technology] hardware with XP x86 (many, if not most, utilizing the WEPOS updating hack; that updating ends in 2019). If the hardware continues to function, there will still be a demand for a 32-bit version.

  4. RPWheeler said on September 30, 2017 at 10:16 pm

    I checked with Linux Mint download page (Mint is based on Ubuntu). The current release Linux Mint 18.2 Sonya is LTS and supported until 2021.
    I use Linux from time to time, not extensively. Mint Mate (Gnome) and Cinnamon proved itself good enough for my tasks.

  5. AnorKnee Merce said on September 29, 2017 at 12:38 pm

    QUOTE: ……. “The initial proposition that Ledkov sent out on May 3, reads,
    “It is no longer the default, nor most widely used architecture on the traditional form factors: desktop, laptop, rack servers.””

    That’s because, since Win 8 in 2012, M$ have decreed to their OEM partners to implement UEFI computer technology = Secure Boot, TPM 1.2, GPT disks, 64bit-OS-only and a fat32bit EFI Boot Partition, replacing the simpler Legacy BIOS technology = MS-DOS disks, a fat16bit MBR Boot partition and 32bit/64bit-OS.

    In most cases, Linux or Ubuntu does not come by default or pre-installed in new OEM computers. Since 2012, most Linux users buy new OEM Win 8.x/10 64bit computers and then install Linux on them, either 32bit or 64bit.
    … It is foolish of Ubuntu to remove the 32bit option because of the above reason, ie default 64bit architecture.

    64bit OS/software and high-specs computer hardware are both needed by power-users, eg software developers, gamers and video-editors.
    … Average-users and average-specs computer hardware do not need 64bit OS/software which require more computer resources, eg RAM of 4GB or more. 32bit OS/software are sufficient for them.
    … In recent years, computer hardware development has reached near-maturation point, ie there is no longer the urgent need for users to upgrade their computers every 2 to 3 years like before 2010. IOW, there will likely be no need for 128bit OS/software, at least in the near future. 64bit OS/software have been around since around 2007.

    Seems, the Ubuntu developers like Ledkov are projecting their own need for 64bit OS/software and high-specs computer hardware onto all their customers/adopters. Hence, their eagerness to remove the 32bit option. Even M$ have yet to announce the removal of Win 10 32bit.
    … This development does not bode well for Ubuntu and its derivatives, eg Linux Mint.
    P S – Does this mean there will be no Ubuntu 18.04 32bit in April 2018.?

    P P S – In 2013, M$ and the OEMs even introduced cheap Intel Atom Win 8.x 32bit tablets which could only have a maximum 2GB of RAM and often came with only 16GB/32GB of internal eMMC Flash storage.

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