Do you know one of the main reasons why Linux is better than Windows? Because it has great support for older hardware.
You can bring back decades-old computers to life with Linux. I am not bragging here. It’s FOSS reader Roy Davies has already shared how he uses Linux on a 13 years old laptop.
Heck, there are specific Linux distributions for older computers capable of running a computer with just 256 MB of RAM. There is Damn Small Linux that can run with just 16 MB of RAM. Can you believe that?
The vanishing act of 32Bit Linux
But I am not going to talk about these specific Linux distros. Let’s talk about the more popular Linux distributions such as Ubuntu, Linux Mint, elementary OS, Arch Linux etc.
If you are a regular follower of Linux news, you might have noticed a trend. 32Bit is disappearing from the world of regular Linux distributions. Slowly, it’s only a 64Bit world.
Popular Linux distribution elementary OS doesn’t have a 32-bit version. Newer Linux distributions such as Solus Linux did not even bother to release a 32-bit version.
The matter doesn’t end here. Privacy focused Linux distribution Tails OS recently bid goodbye to the 32Bit version. Ubuntu has already hinted on retiring 32Bit version. On top of that, Arch Linux has also decided to stop supporting 32Bit versions.
The demise of 32Bit Linux is inevitable
You know that. I know that. With time, technology moves on.
Remember, even 32Bit was modern and a thing of desire once. But 32Bit processors are not being manufactured for regular computers anymore. I think it was around 2008 that 32Bit processors were phased out.
You cannot buy a new 32 Bit system anymore. It’s a thing of the past.
And this reflects in the development of applications as well. Many new applications are 64Bit only. Big enterprises that are releasing a desktop client of their popular applications, most of them are for 64Bit and you cannot really blame that.
Martin Wimpress, the lead of Ubuntu Mate, shades more light on challenges faced with 32Bit support:
There is however a security concern, in that some larger applications (Firefox, Chromium, LibreOffice) are already presenting challenges in terms of applying some security patches to older LTS releases. So flavours are being asked to be mindful of the support period they can reasonably be expected to support i386 versions for.
Google has already dropped support for Chrome on 32Bit Linux. And this trend won’t stop here. Get ready to hear more about 32 Bit support drops from various developers.
What are your options?
As more mainstream Linux distributions will stop supporting 32 Bit systems in the next two years or so, you won’t be left without Linux distributions for sure.
There are Linux distributions that still support older architecture and I am sure there will be some Linux distributions providing support for 32 Bit systems.
However, you won’t be getting the popular choices like Ubuntu, Arch, Debian, etc.
Are you still using a 32 Bit system?
As the future looks gloomy for 32 Bit systems, what do you feel about it? Personally, I haven’t used a 32 Bit system since 2008 and there is almost no chance that I’ll be using a 32Bit system anymore.
How about you? Do you use a 32Bit system? If you do not know, check if you have a 32Bit or 64 Bit system. And if you use 32 Bit Linux, what do you think of more Linux distributions dropping 32Bit support?