Canonical shows that they’re willing to walk the talk and show their humanity towards others by listening to their user-base. In a move to appease the community, Canonical has chosen to rescind their earlier comments regarding their plans to ditch 32bit support in the upcoming 19.10 release of Ubuntu as well as the 20.04 release.
In response to Canonical’s announcement to drop 32bit package support, Valve followed with dropping support for Ubuntu’s future releases that do not contain 32bit packages. This might seem like an incendiary retort, but it’s simply due to the lack of necessary dependencies to enable the porting of Steam and Valve’s Proton. The same would apply to any Linux distribution foregoing the mentioned requirements.
However, Canonical has received the community’s frustration with the news in good form and has opted to show respect for their user’s needs. A move that many companies can learn from.
This is welcome news to the community given that the abandonment of i386 packages would have left all those dependent on WINE functionality, which includes the entire Proton ecosystem that Valve has spearheaded development on, hanging high and dry. Given that the lack of gaming facilities on Linux is (apparently…) one of the biggest deterrents to Linux adoption in Windows gamers/power-users, this would be an incredible failure to seize— or keep hold— of the biggest Linux desktop user market.
Shortly following Canonical’s reconsideration, System76’s CEO, Carl Richell, expressed his and System76’s commitment to the community, stating that Pop!_OS would support the previously i386 packages for the foreseeable future.
Richell went on to explain that the i386 packages required for WINE and Steam would be hosted in System76 repositories should Canonical maintain their initial plans to exclude these packages in future releases. Richel went further to explain that he believes, and I agree, that it would be better for Canonical to implement this at the upstream level and that he expects that this will occur, leaving his team’s promise to pick up the slack unlikely to be necessary.Some have described Canonical’s behavior as backpedaling, but I think this is an insult to the open source community. Many Linux operating system providers move very quickly, in contrast to their proprietary counterparts, bringing more features and updates to several platforms back in addition to preparing for upcoming releases. The ability to move this fast while adapting to market and community needs is a cornerstone in open source. And that does not exclude taking community feedback with heavy consideration, even to the point of abandoning efforts into which countless hours have been invested (I’m looking at you, Unity Desktop).
I, personally, feel that Canonical did not for a single second stop moving forward (or in other words, backpedal) in the retraction of their originally announced plans. Canonical made a mistake that they then rectified instead of making excuses and has even pledged to assist in the development of alternatives and workarounds for these now legacy libraries.