32 bit hardware



There's a whole lot of legacy hardware out there.

So long as there are people willing to keep the hardware alive, they might as well.

I think it's past time to "expect" 32 bit support and time to be grateful that support still exists.

Those machines are horribly inefficient (in the consumer space, really). So, it's time to move on to more efficient devices - I think...
 
On the one side, no 32-bit PC’s have been made in the last 20 years, or so.
However, on the flip-side, there are still a lot of 32 bit machines in service, out in the wild.

So it’s a bit of a tricky one.

I mean, I’ve still got an ancient, 32 bit, RM Tablet PC, designed for Windows XP. Only 768Mb of RAM.
It’s got a completely unsupported, out of date installation of xubuntu on it ATM.
It runs pretty slowly, but it still runs!

Back in the day it used to run really smoothly, on some of the early Ubuntu and xububtu releases. But as the internet has gotten more and more complex and browsers are more like operating systems running inside operating systems - just opening Firefox is enough to completely cripple it with the version currently installed! Ha ha!

I probably aught to just scrap it. But it still works. I still use it from time to time. It’s a little lighter than my laptop. If I’m out and about and I want to do some work, I’ll plug in a USB stick with some code on it and will edit in Vim on my ancient, slow tablet pc.

I’ve been meaning to try something more lightweight on it. So in a way, it would be good if 32 bit support was extended.

But then, on the flip side of that, how long should we be supporting old, obsolete technology? The longer the better, but realistically, there has to be a limit!

Maintaining 32 bit and 64 bit versions of everything is a huge maintenance burden too. Maybe it is time to drop support, lose the maintenance burden and look to the future?!
 
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Other than having old hardware laying around you like to tinker with, I don't see a legit use case for 32 bit tech. Especially in the commercial space. If a corp still relies on such hardware it's sheer laziness and ineptitude.

Passed time to move on folks. Gotta draw the line! :-D
 
Other than having old hardware laying around you like to tinker with, I don't see a legit use case for 32 bit tech. Especially in the commercial space. If a corp still relies on such hardware it's sheer laziness and ineptitude.

Passed time to move on folks. Gotta draw the line! :-D
Okay. So how about this scenario? You run a powerful, top-end modern 64-bit desktop or lappie as your main rig. However, you still have an ancient lappie or desktop, from 25+ years ago, that you simply like messing about on in your spare time.....just for the hell of it, perhaps because you have some kind of sentimental attachment to the device in question!

What are you going to do? Tell folks it's time to find another hobby? Can't just arbitrarily dictate to people like that...though I wish you luck trying. You're gonna need it!!

I'm no 'green warrior'.....but I've never seen the point in trashing perfectly functional equipment just to comply with the dictates of the tech community. On top of which, I happen to LIKE playing around with elderly tech. Just to see what it's still capable of, like..!

(Mind you, you're perfectly right of course. Nobody in their right mind would try to use 32-bit-only hardware for anything mission-critical. And with the first commercially-viable 64-bit consumer CPU approaching its 20th birthday, we've now got an entire generation that have grown to adulthood having never known anything else...)

Gawd, where HAVE the years gone? I feel OLD.... :(


Mike. :D
 
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The beauty of catering to 32-bit is that users don't have to spend as much on hardware, and it's potentially better for the environment to cater to old hardware.

All of the major linux kernels still cater to newer stuff more so than the older stuff too, so obviously there's still enough 32-bit processors just laying around in working condition. A lot of new hardware is excessive in performance when you consider real human need.
 
Okay. So how about this scenario? You run a powerful, top-end modern 64-bit desktop or lappie as your main rig. However, you still have an ancient lappie or desktop, from 25+ years ago, that you simply like messing about on in your spare time.....just for the hell of it, perhaps because you have some kind of sentimental attachment to the device in question!

What are you going to do? Tell folks it's time to find another hobby? Can't just arbitrarily dictate to people like that...though I wish you luck trying. You're gonna need it!!

I'm no 'green warrior'.....but I've never seen the point in trashing perfectly functional equipment just to comply with the dictates of the tech community. On top of which, I happen to LIKE playing around with elderly tech. Just to see what it's still capable of, like..!

(Mind you, you're perfectly right of course. Nobody in their right mind would try to use 32-bit-only hardware for anything mission-critical. And with the first commercially-viable 64-bit consumer CPU approaching its 20th birthday, we've now got an entire generation that have grown to adulthood having never known anything else...)

Gawd, where HAVE the years gone? I feel OLD.... :(


Mike. :D

Like the snippet you quoted from me, I DO say >>Other than having old hardware laying around you like to tinker with<<

Other than a niche hobby, what's the point though? At some point we have to move on. I see no reason to expect developers to continue supporting 32 bit architecture. After all, I bet you don't travel via horse and buggy. We moved on along with the tech leading the way. Unless you're older than you're letting on. ;-)

I'm playing devil's advocate here. See how it works out for me.
 
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Imagine this scenario: somebody wants to do some word processing (write a novel or something), and cannot afford a computer. What's wrong if we donate him/her a working 32 bit laptop with XP on it ?
 
Imagine this scenario: somebody wants to do some word processing (write a novel or something), and cannot afford a computer. What's wrong if we donate him/her a working 32 bit laptop with XP on it ?
Friends don't give friends laptops with XP on it.
On a serious note, your scenario doesn't require someone to continue supporting 32 bit hardware. It's something you already had laying around. But still, XP? ACK!
 
Friends don't give friends laptops with XP on it.

But still, XP? ACK!
So what's wrong with Windows XP.
I use Windows XP with old versions of Microsoft Flight Simulators.
I keep my Flight Simulator desktops disconnected from the internet.
 
Oh, don't start, you pair. :)

I'm enjoying this Thread so far.

Chris
 
There are places like Fiji (Been there some years ago) who would be glad of old machines like the old 32 bit one.

Ideal to have Linux on them so still having 32 bit Distros is not a waste of time.
 
I've never seen the point in trashing perfectly functional equipment j
If it ain't broke, Don't fix it
I still have my 32 bit now 23 yr old acer travel mate, still in good working order, OK a bit slow by modern standards, but still well capable of doing the job it was made for.
I also have a 2006 acer ZG5 also 32 bit, also working as good as the day it was made [ no i lie there, it works better as it now runs Linux] it has travelled to every country with me and still goes everywhere when I am away from home, it fits neatly into the pocket of my countryman coat, and again does what it was intended for,
Long live 32 bit [well at lest for another 3 yrs or so]
 
My favorite OS'es Easy and MX still support 32bit.
I just gave my brother in law a 32bit Acer laptop with them dual booted. Yep, his shiny iPad sometimes is so restrictive for certain things.
 
I will say this about my ancient Dell Inspiron lappie.

Notwithstanding the fact that she finally croaked last year, after 19 years - NOT the CPU, the graphics chip gave up the ghost! - those P4s were near as dammit indestructible. I'm reminded of applying the SP3 update to Win XP; it took nearly 5 hours, with the temps and usage red-lining all the way.....but the thing just kept on chugging away, however long it took.

The replacement Latitude D630 is a far more capable machine, but I will always remember the Inspiron with affection.

I'm sentimental like that!! :D


Mike. ;)
 
At some point, the cost and effort of keeping 32-bit compatibility will be higher than it is worth, and few will be interested in maintaining or testing it. Linus or someone with enough clout may eventually make the decision to remove 32-bit compatibility when it starts to interfere with the mainstream code. Dying, poorly maintained code can introduce unexpected bugs in software and increase the cost and effort of regression testing. Those factors often drive the decision to remove it and let it go. The availability of 32-bit computers for testing may drive the decision. Is anybody still selling 32-bit only computers?

Multiple places where I worked had an explicit policy of "No dead code." (Sometimes I was the one who wrote that policy.)

Is anyone maintaining 16-bit processor compatibility in a modern, current Unix operating system? Can you run a modern Unix on ancient Intel 16 bit processors (think: 8086 or i286 or their equivalents from others like Motorola)? I do not have first-hand knowledge, but I would be surprised if it were true. Aside from museums and a few grizzled old hobbyists, who has the running hardware to test it? Who will use it? Besides, few developers have an interest in maintaining someone else's old, dying code for an obsolete platform. (Sometimes it can be very lucrative. Just ask the few experienced Ada or Cobol-on-mainframe developers, if you can find one.)

Apple and Microsoft dropped 32-bit support when they released macOS 10.15 "Catalina" (2019) and Windows 11 (2021) respectively.

My cracked and hazy crystal ball predicts:
Whether Linux will eventually drop 32-bit compatibility is a fair question, but I think it will eventually come. People will fork 32-bit compatible versions of Linux to keep it going, and those forks will slowly wither and die from lack of interest.
 
There are a lot of applications that are still 32 bit only, if I am not mistaken the Linux Steam client is 32bit software as well.
 

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