As of the upcoming release of Ubuntu 19.10, the Linux distribution will stop supporting 32bit systems and software. Canonical has now made that decision final, after it was discussed earlier.
According to Canonical, about one percent of current Ubuntu users have a 32-bit system. Continuing to support the i386 architecture costs developers a lot of time and they don’t think it’s worth it due to the small number of users. New Ubuntu releases can only be installed on 64-bit systems from version 19.10 and 32-bit software no longer works in the new versions.
To ensure that users of a 32-bit system do not suddenly have an operating system that no longer receives updates, Canonical has already ensured that those systems cannot upgrade from version 18.04 to 18.10. The former is an LTS version that will receive support for five years. Ubuntu 18.04 LTS was released in April 2018 and will receive support until April 2023.
Virtually all hardware from the past ten years can handle the 64-bit version of Ubuntu. However, some software, including Steam, relies on 32bit support. Canonical says it is looking for the best solution together with Valve. According to the developers, it may be possible to play 32bit games via Steam in an lxd container running on a 32bit version of Ubuntu 18.04 LTS. The makers also suggest a similar approach for running other software, such as 32-bit programs via Wine.