Wine Developers Concerned With Ubuntu Dropping 32-bit Support With Ubuntu 19.10

The news that Ubuntu will drop support for the 32-bit x86 architecture was discussed recently by the Wine developers, on the Wine-devel mailing list. The Wine developers are concerned with this news because many 64-bit Windows applications still use a 32-bit installer, or some 32-bit components.

In practice, the only cases where 64-bit only wine will be useful are when 64-bit applications are packaged some other way (such as a .zip, Steam Play, or packaging specifically for Wine) or for running Wine builtins like msidb. (Vincent Povirk of CodeWeavers)

Ubuntu's solution for using Wine on 32-bit going forward, which is to publish applications as snaps, or use an Ubuntu 18.04 LTS based LXD container that has full access to multiarch 32-bit WINE and related libraries, was also discussed by the Wine developers, with Vincent Povirk of CodeWeavers saying that there's no point putting much effort into this temporary solution. The maintainer of the Wine OBS repository also mentioned that he has no interest in maintaining so many libraries.

So what's the solution for all of this? Not building Wine packages for Ubuntu 19.10 and later releases, or using the Steam runtime for the Wine packages seem to be the answers, but no final decision has been made yet.

Ubuntu is not the first Linux distribution to go with 64-bit only releases. openSUSE leap did this as well, but it continues to provide all the 32-bit libraries needed to build and run Wine. From what the Ubuntu announcement and FAQ says about dropping the 32-bit x86 architecture, it's looks like there are no plans for doing something similar in Ubuntu.

It's also worth noting that Jens Reyer, the Debian Wine maintainer (Ubuntu gets its Wine package from Debian) has said that Debian has no plans to retire the 32-bit x86 architecture for now, adding that "I don't see us (Debian maintainers) changing anything in or for Ubuntu about i386".

The discussion about Ubuntu dropping the 32-bit x86 architecture and the plans for Wine regarding this can be found on the wine-devel mailing list (Click "Next message" to read the replies to the initial message).

You'll also want to check out the Ubuntu announcement about dropping the i386 (32-bit x86) architecture starting with Ubuntu 19.10 Eoan Ermine (it includes a FAQ with more details about it).

[Update] Alan Pope, Snap Advocate at Canonical, did some testing on Ubuntu 19.10 Eoan Ermine with all the 32-bit packages removed, and tried to run some GOG games using Wine.

Of the 6 games he tried, 3 failed to install (Wine complained that wine32 is not installed), one failed to launch because only a 32-bit binary was supplied, and two games that were 64-bit launched with a black window, but for these last two, Alan suspects it's due to poor OpenGL support in VirtualBox, which was used for this test.

He says that a couple of assertions were made, namely that games ship their own required libs and will likely work, and that WINE64 is sufficient for playing Windows games, and both were refuted by this simple test. "I would urge more testing and feedback", he adds.

[Another update] Thanks to the feedback received the past week, Canonical has changed its plans, and they will build selected 32-bit i386 packages for Ubuntu 19.10 and 20.04 LTS. The announcement also mentions that Ubuntu will work with WINE, Ubuntu Studio and the gaming communities to use container technology to address the ultimate end of life of 32-bit libraries.

via r/linux (u/Two-Tone-)