CANONICAL HAS CONFIRMED a U-Turn on the controversial decision to drop 32-bit support for Ubuntu users later this year.
The company has faced criticism from users who aren't happy with the plan to make Ubuntu purely 64-bit, which culminated at the weekend with Steam announcing it would pull support for Ubuntu. Many Steam games were never made in 64-bit and it would, therefore, devalue the offer.
However, Canonical confirmed on Monday that following feedback from the community, it was clear that there is still a demand, and indeed a need for 32-bit binaries, and as such, it will provide "selected" builds for both Ubuntu 19.10 and the forthcoming Ubuntu 20.04.
Canonical's announcement spoke of the highly passionate arguments from those who are in favour of maintaining both versions, thus forcing the team to take notice. However, it has made it clear that it's doing so under the weight of expectation, not because it agrees.
"There is a real risk to anybody who is running a body of software that gets little testing. The facts are that most 32-bit x86 packages are hardly used at all," the firm said.
"That means fewer eyeballs and more bugs. Software continues to grow in size at the high end, making it very difficult to even build new applications in 32-bit environments. You've heard about Spectre and Meltdown - many of the mitigations for those attacks are unavailable to 32-bit systems."
The company will work with the community to identify the need for a 32-bit build, and will release a range consisting of as few as possible to meet demand, but makes clear it is still working towards an all 64-bit future.
But despite all this friction, somehow Canonical has managed to come out of all this smelling of roses, by showing how seriously it takes the opinion of the open-source community and how it is willing to react and adapt in a way that Windows users could only dream of, spreading peace and harmony through the universe. Or something. μ
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