32-bit - Do you use it?

What's your 32-bit story?

  • Total voters


Well-Known Member

Reaction score: 140
Messages: 298

Hi all,

I'm posting this purely out of interest.

Last week Canonical said they were dropping 32-bit support in Ubuntu 19.10 (they've since backtracked on this, for specific packages).
Apple have announced that the end for 32-bit macOS applications is also coming in the near future.
For personal use, the last time I bought (new) x86 hardware was in 2006 when I bought my MacBook. Since then it's all been amd64. I've been in industry for a short 10 years, and don't think I've seen any 32-bit hardware racked up.

I'm not particularly interested in discussing Ubuntu and macOS. I'm interested to know whether people here use 32-bit software on their FreeBSD machines - mainly I'm interested in commercial use, I know some users here use older hardware for personal use and probably still count on 32-bit releases.
I am also interested, if anyone here knows, how much additional resource it takes to support and maintain both i386 and amd64 as Tier 1 platforms?

Personally, I install 64-bit FreeBSD on the machines where it is installed. I'm not sure if I need to. They all have amd64 CPUs with 8GB or more RAM...
I also install lib32 at installation - which I understand effectively enables 32-bit support? - but I don't know if I actually need to install it. Perhaps I'll not install it next time I do a fresh install…

I am not about to start campaigning for FreeBSD to drop 32-bit support! I'm just interested to hear that people are still using 32-bit software on FreeBSD and looking to fill some gaps in my knowledge.



Reaction score: 7
Messages: 37

In my case 32bit support is used for i386-wine only
Well all the packages in the repo are built for the main arch (in your case x86_64 a.k.a AMD64). There is only one exception in ports, its emulators/i386-wineIf you're have no plans to use it or some specific binaries which impossible to recompile for AMD64, you could freely deinstall lib32 dirs. Also 32bit support should be disabled in kernel config and kernel should be rebuild if you want to get rid of 32 bit support.


Well-Known Member

Reaction score: 168
Messages: 293

All (3) of my computers use 32-bit architecture. Yes, they are older; and yes I use them as an independent paralegal professional. Earlier in life I learned computer programming, but I use
those skills to maintain and enhance my systems hardware (by myself).


Aspiring Daemon

Reaction score: 306
Messages: 931

Please note, in Debian multiarch the library installation paths are adjusted so the packages built for various architectures can be installed side by side. The 32-bit packages for x86_64 Ubuntu are actually normal i386 packages built for i386 Ubuntu release. Presumably, Canonical just wanted to stop building packages for i386 Ubuntu repo, which is totally understandable considering that i386 Ubuntu installation images are also being dropped. That, however, effectively means dropping i386-on-x86_64 support, unless they do additional work on whatever building infrastructure they have, which might be quite unpleasant.

It's good to see an insane over-engineered Debian solution bite Ubuntu in the ass, but it's not particularly relevant to FreeBSD.



Reaction score: 1,043
Messages: 2,102

You need the 32-bit libraries to build virtualbox for instance; however if you build using ports-mgmt/poudriere the jail will have the libs and so you don't need them in the "actual" system, I don't.



Reaction score: 1,043
Messages: 2,102

I am also interested, if anyone here knows, how much additional resource it takes to support and maintain both i386 and amd64 as Tier 1 platforms?
I am not involved with src and so I can't tell anything specific but that bring some overhead. One of the issues I am aware is sometimes the code changes in x86_64 but the x86 code is forgotten. This is more of an annoyance than anything else but there is some work to unify both code base to avoid this kind of problem and lower the overhead.



Reaction score: 18
Messages: 74

I admin many boxes that are 64bit, but I have two Pentium3 laptops using 32bit I mainly use for diagnostics, etc. As time goes by I wouldn't be surprised if 32bit BSD becomes a kind of gateway introduction for people who want to tinker with old hardware, but don't have many (if any) options on Linux. Well there's Windows, but Win10 often performs pretty bad on fairly modern hardware..



Reaction score: 18
Messages: 63

I used to use 32-bit on an old notebook. But that notebook has since gone to the big docking station in the sky.

Now, all my FreeBSD usage is 64-bit.


Son of Beastie

Reaction score: 149
Messages: 3,146

I still occassionally used some old Thinkpads which won't run 64-bit FreeBSD. I was actually surprised to find my T60 was 32-bit, but my T61 which looks pretty similar is OK with 64-bit.



Reaction score: 1,270
Messages: 2,036

My main server at home is 32 bit. There is no need to replace it for several years.
The laptop I use every day at home is 32 bit (it doesn't run FreeBSD though, it is a Mac).
I have a handful of laptops I use for testing and prototyping, which are nearly all 32 bit (one of them may have a 64bit CPU).



Reaction score: 432
Messages: 2,110

It is not that simple.
Mostly I use 64-bit. But I have some older machines that are 32-bit only, but still capable of doing the job I want; these run 32-bit FreeBSD.


Well-Known Member

Reaction score: 23
Messages: 412

I am the only voter for option 4, I install lib32 out of habit but I am pretty sure the lib32 files dont actually get used for anything now on my systems. They there as a "just in case"

Although I remember a few years back one of my fellow admin's on a irc network I co-founded, asked me how I got lib32 installed as it seems one of the bits of software we use there does/did depend on them, but thats the only thing.