Canonical engineer Dimitri John Ledkov announced on Wednesday that Ubuntu does not plan to offer 32-bit ISO installation images for its new OS version starting with the next release — Ubuntu 17.10 (Artful Aardvark) scheduled for release on October 19.
The decision comes after month-long discussions on the dwindling market share of 32-bit architectures.
"It is no longer the default, nor most widely used architecture on the traditional form factors: desktop, laptop, rack servers," said Ledkov in an internal mailing list discussion that started in May.
"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 rates," Ledkov wrote in May, also pointing out that Ubuntu 32-bit distributions are currently mainly used for purpose-built architectures, usually IoT devices.
Hence, due to a declining market share in desktop and server, Canonical has made the decision to stop putting out ISO images for the 32-bit (i386) architecture.
Ledkov made it clear that Canonical does not plan to stop support for 32-bit architectures. The Ubuntu team plans to continue to offer security updates and bug fixes, but they won't be offering new ISO images.
Lubuntu and Xubuntu, which are Ubuntu offshoots created to run on older computers, will most likely continue to provide 32-bit ISO images, as this is their bread and butter.
The Manjaro team, another Linux distro, is scheduled to drop support for 32-bit architectures altogether by the end of November 2017.
"The decision means that v17.0.3 ISO will be the last that allows to install 32 bit Manjaro Linux," said Philip Müller, Manjaro OS Project Lead. "September and October will be our deprecation period, during which i686 will be still receiving upgraded packages. Starting from November 2017, packaging will no longer require that from maintainers, effectively making i686 unsupported."
Tails OS and Arch Linux have already dropped support for 32-bit ISOs with the release of Tails 3.0 and 2017.02.01. Even Google dropped support for Chrome on 32-bit Linux platforms, way back in 2015, predicting the overall trend.