back to article Google to end updates, security bug fixes for Chrome on 32-bit Linux

Google has quietly announced it will end support for its Chrome browser on 32-bit Linux. This doesn't affect the 64-bit build. “To provide the best experience for the most-used Linux versions, we will end support for Google Chrome on 32-bit Linux, Ubuntu Precise (12.04), and Debian 7 (wheezy) in early March, 2016,” writes …

  1. Lars Silver badge
    WTF?

    Wile

    While my first language is not English, but still a Linux user, I cannot find any sense in this article.

    1. Keef

      Re: Wile

      My first language is BS but I managed to parse it okay.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Desktop linux may have a tiny market share among general audiences, but has a disproportionally high number of developers and testers. Of course developers don't tend to use 32-bit machines though.

    1. LaeMing

      Does anyone outside of the control space use 32 bit x86 Linux for serious computing *in the past decade?

      *I have 32-bit junker machines for playing arond with stuff, but nothing I would run anything serious on.

      1. big_D Silver badge

        There are still plenty of Atom based machines around which only run 32-bit software.

        Likewise I moved some family over to Linux on their old 32-bit hardware. The hardware still works fine, so they won't upgrade...

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        "Does anyone outside of the control space use 32 bit x86 Linux for serious computing *in the past decade?"

        Yes. I have some non-free 32-bit S/W I use frequently, maybe not quite daily but often enough. Ay a pinch I could convert.

        There's a fundamental problem with the human mind, an overwhelming tendency to generalise:

        I don't use 32-bit Linux therefore nobody does.

        I don't use the desktop to store WIP therefore nobody does (UX-designers I'm looking at you).

        I can't make Linux or Libreoffice work for me therefore nobody does (more likely they couldn't 15 years ago & haven't tried since).

        And on it goes.

      3. Julian Bradfield

        My life mostly runs on a 32-bit laptop, and will for as long as it continues to function.

      4. asdf

        >Does anyone outside of the control space use 32 bit x86 Linux for serious computing *in the past decade?

        Tails OS for example runs 32bit only but it uses Tor browser (FF). 32 bit OSs (*nix, BSD, etc) tend to fit better on things like smallish (2gig or less) usb sticks and boot on the widest variety of machines.

  3. John Klos

    Don't people ever write portable code?

    It seems that even almighty Google can't write any clean code. If they could, 32 bit versus 64 bit would never be an issue. It'd be an extra tiny bit of compile time, and that's it.

    We can have entire operating systems (NetBSD) that can be compiled on any architecture, for any architecture, with every single piece of the OS compiling and running just fine on a plethora of CPUs, but Google can't manage to find the energy to keep their code correct enough to compile for 32 bit x86. It's a sad world we live in...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Don't people ever write portable code?

      Compiling for 32 bit isn't a problem. Doubling the amount of time they have to devote to testing is. Nothing will stop someone else from grabbing the source and doing a 32 bit build; they will have to be responsible for their own testing, however.

      1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

        Re: Don't people ever write portable code?

        "Doubling the amount of time they have to devote to testing is"

        WTF? Don't they have any automated testing then? In which case its only another build machine and for someone of Google's size I doubt that is such an intolerable expense.

        Edited to add: Or is this down to the shitty inclusion of FlashPlayer, and the pain of supporting that?

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Don't people ever write portable code?

        "Compiling for 32 bit isn't a problem. Doubling the amount of time they have to devote to testing is."

        To quote the post you were replying to:

        "We can have entire operating systems (NetBSD) that can be compiled on any architecture, for any architecture, with every single piece of the OS compiling and running just fine on a plethora of CPUs"

        NetBSD can do this and, I'm sure, test. Maybe they use these new-fangles computers to automate testing.

      3. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

        Re: Don't people ever write portable code?

        "Nothing will stop someone else from grabbing the source and doing a 32 bit build"

        Except one can only get the source for Chromium not the source for Chrome.

        Most Linux users of 32-bit Chrome are probably end-users who know nothing about compiling from source, and it goes against the grain to direct people to download pre-built browser images from unofficial providers.

        They probably won't even notice the lack of security upgrades and will just keep on using Chrome as normal, exposing themselves and potentially everyone else to the consequences of that.

      4. Ken Hagan Gold badge

        Re: Don't people ever write portable code?

        The bugs that people are going to care about in a browser are going to be logical errors and algorithm-level foul-ups. These will show up on nearly every build target. There may be 32-bit-specific bugs to do with data formats and sign-extension or truncation.

        However ... if you are testing the 64-bit build and you are continuing to support 32-bit builds for things like ARM (all those Chromebooks, remember?) then testing the x86 build is really just a test of the code generator back-end for your compiler (probably pretty reliable by now, eh?) and any platform-specific layer (which is as thin as it can be, right?).

  4. Captain DaFt

    “To provide the best experience for the most-used Linux versions"

    For who? The users or Google?

  5. Chairo

    I wonder...

    ... if anyone actually used Chrome itself instead of Chromium. Is it even in the repositories? I suspect the answer is "no", so the decision of Google to stop supporting it makes a lot of sense IMHO.

    1. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

      Re: I wonder...

      It is the AUR repositories. I suspect there are very, very, very few Linux users with 32 bit boxes and Chromium is not affected. Chromium is the open source version. Plus other browsers use the same backend as Chrome.

      In Winbloat land, how many boxes running 7 or later are running 32 bit OSes? It is probably a higher percentage but I suspect a definite minority. XP and older are likely to be 32 bit only.

      1. Grikath

        Re: I wonder...

        "In Winbloat land, how many boxes running 7 or later are running 32 bit OSes?"

        I'd suspect quite a few actually. There's a serious amount of PC's used in production environments alone that by now run Win7 on "old" 32 bit hardware. Sometimes literally old, because of the hardware requirements of the machines, and the need to keep things alive by cannibalising the hand-me-downs from the Office Upstairs.

      2. Michael Habel Silver badge

        Re: I wonder...

        but I suspect a definite minority. XP and older are likely to be 32 bit only.

        Not unless they're running a P4 or older. We've had x64 since way back with the AMD Athalon ~2004/5 IIRC. And then with Intel's Core 2 Duos about a year or so after that. You'd have to be on so e really ancient hunk of junk to not be x64. MicroSoft however strangly never saw an opportunity to push a new OS *cough* Vista as an x64 OS only. Probably cause they were still running on PII's I guess.

    2. thames

      Re: I wonder...

      With Ubuntu, Chromium is what is in the repositories so that's what you see in "Software Centre". If you want the closed source "Chrome", you have to download it directly from Google. A lot of people simply won't touch anything that isn't in the official repos.

      If you go to download Ubuntu, they push the 64 bit version of the OS as the default. You can still get 32 bit Ubuntu desktop, but it's recommended only for machines with less than 2G of RAM.

      I don't think they even make a 32 bit version of Ubuntu server version any more, not that you would put a browser on a server. People went to 64 bits on Linux desktops and servers long before it was common for Windows.

      With Windows though, a lot of users are stuck with 32 bit because of compatibility problems with proprietary software. That just isn't a significant problem on Linux because almost all the open source software has been ported to 64 bits years ago.

      I can't really blame Google for phasing it out. It's a minority desktop (Linux) on a minority architecture (32 bit x86) with a minority version (Chrome versus Chromium). I can't imagine they were getting too many downloads.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I always kept hearing...

    about the installation of Linux to extend the lifespan of a device forced into expiration before it's hardware death. Guess it was just rumors.

    1. kryptylomese

      Re: I always kept hearing...

      You appear to have good hearing but it seems as though you may have problems with your eyes. This article is about google ending 32bit Chrome - you can still use 32bit Chromium.

      1. Grease Monkey

        Re: I always kept hearing...

        I have an old, old 32 bit box running Linux. The reason for using Linux is that Windows 7 had no support for the graphics card, not Microsoft's fault but the card manufacturers. I could have bought a new card, but why pay out when an old version of Mint would work? And no later Linux versions don't support that graphics card either.

        This is why I suspect some users of 32 bit hardware are running the likes of precise; they couldn't upgrade without forking out for new hardware. And why should they if their hardware continues to work? If these people are Chrome users they have two choices; continue to use Chrome unpatched or change browsers. No biggy.

        This is a problem a lot of people have with IT. The hardware far outlives the software. I continue to drive a 16 year old car and until it breaks expensively I will continue to do so. There is no reason to replace it while it still works. My laptop is almost ten years old and still does what want it to. The PC is older and still does what it needs to (it's mostly just media, file and print server these days) but sooner or later the lack of availability of software updates will force me to replace them.

        1. kryptylomese

          Re: I always kept hearing...

          I would like to know what model of Laptop you have that a later version of Linux doesn't support?

        2. Michael Habel Silver badge

          Re: I always kept hearing...

          Linux has better support for Graphics Cards lol! I wish! Then again it just might have been that shitey S3 Deltachrome IGP, in my Dads AMD x2 Shuttle and that chepo Laptop, that had it where I was either forced to install Seven, or live with software rendering on the Notebook.

          But plaese do not say that Linux has better hardware support. And yes I know its the Venders (i.e. S3), for neither building, or at the least releasing source for said Drivers. But it hardly changes the fact that it can not, and will never fully work under Linux.

          1. boatsman

            S3 ...... you got to be kidding..... Re: I always kept hearing...

            sadly S3 is one of the worst pieces of hardware ever produced, which ever version,

            and that was when it was new. which is 10+ years ago, if I care to remember.

            dump that stuff. it never worked properly then (on windows) and it wont now.....

  7. Richard Lloyd

    It's not 32-bit that's the issue

    I've been running 64-bit Linux desktops for 10 years now, so the death of 32-bit can't come soon enough. However, Chrome dropping support for 64-bit Linux distros that have 5 years of support left (CentOS 6 - though I have a workaround at http://chrome.richardlloyd.org.uk/ for that) and NPAPI plugins (bang goes Java applets, which stuff like VNC viewers use...e.g. Dell iDRAC/HP iLO) were far worse than dropping 32-bit support.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: It's not 32-bit that's the issue

      Chrome dropping support for 64-bit Linux distros that have 5 years of support left

      After 15 years of looking for a good reason to embed the browser with the OS, finally there's one.

      Hey, Microsoft... have a look at this little nugget!

    2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: It's not 32-bit that's the issue

      Why should Google support those 32-bit operating systems? They never promised to support them for that long. And for desktop it really is a bit overkill.

      TBH a lot of this LTS is hooey. RedHat et al. promise to support stuff but in fact you're often left in the lurch when upstream maintenance ends.

    3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: It's not 32-bit that's the issue

      "I've been running 64-bit Linux desktops for 10 years now, so the death of 32-bit can't come soon enough."

      Non sequitur.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    WTF?

    Good...

    .I mean you haven't been able to download 32 versions of Linux for over a decade now...wait! What?

    It's still available for downloaded and supported?

    But...it's MS that are evil for killing off software after only 5 years after EoL

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Joining the cartel?

    Not good for Linux this, Google seeming to be abandoning being a cross platform service

  10. Jess

    They did this on OS X ages ago

    32 bit support went ages ago. (fortunately it only needs a 64 bit processor on OS X, not 64 bit firmware or kernel, so only the earliest machines have a problem.)

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    2016 will be the year of...

    (64-bit) Linux on the desktop. You heard it here first folks ;-)

    1. Michael Habel Silver badge

      Re: 2016 will be the year of...

      So by your argument then 2016 will be the year of Windows 10 then will it?

  12. Michael Habel Silver badge

    On one way this is kinda F'ed up! On the other hand, I concede that this should have happend over ten years ago now. I susspect the only ones to get hit are those that still use Netbooks, with only 1GB of RAM, 2GB at most, and no DDR link. Sure the Intel Atom is purportedly a 64bit CPU, but I have my doubts about being able to run one.

  13. pmartin66

    Love to read all this nonsense in the comments. My freaking phone has a dual core 64 bit processor for crying out loud. BUY NEW HARDWARE every decade and stop whinging.

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