You’ve searched high and low but can’t find an Ubuntu 32-bit ISO. That’s because it doesn’t exist. Canonical decided to drop support for 32-bit computers, so they stopped releasing 32-bit ISOs since Ubuntu 18.04. And they’re not the only ones.
Initially, this may sound strange since Linux is famous for supporting older hardware. And yet, it’s justified by the last 32-bit CPU being produced more than a decade ago.
If your PC is so old that it doesn’t support 64-bit software, you have only three possible paths forward. Let’s see your options.
1. You don’t have to move to 64-bit
If you think about it, nobody is forcing you to upgrade to the latest version of Ubuntu. It’s nice to have the newest software, but not if that means paying for an upgrade.
With Linux being more secure than Windows, even if you stay on an older version, you’ll be relatively safe. Linux was never the primary target of malicious individuals.
As time passes, though, your computer will keep falling behind, and progressively more software will stop supporting it.
Today it was Ubuntu, and tomorrow it will eventually be Firefox, LibreOffice, nano. It won’t be rational for developers to keep supporting PCs that exist only in museums.
2. Use Alternative Linux Distributions
While many Linux distributions have dropped support for 32-bit PCs, there are others that still offer 32-bit installation ISOs, and some of them plan to keep doing so as long as possible.
Although it’s always inconvenient moving to a different distribution, at this point, it’s probably your best option. The following are some of the best you should look into.
Debian is the alternative closest to the Ubuntu you know. Since Ubuntu is based on Debian, you can expect a similar set of tools that work in the same way.
After going through the tedious installation process, depending on the desktop environment you choose, Debian can feel pretty much identical to Ubuntu for day-to-day use.
What you may miss are the latest versions of software in Ubuntu’s repositories since Debian always prioritizes stability over bleeding-edge features.
Although its standard edition is available only for 64-bit computers, Bodhi Linux also offers a “Legacy” flavor, specifically for 32-bit older hardware. This version relies on an older 4.9.0-6-686 kernel that is optimized for similarly older hardware. Theoretically, it should even work on PCs older than 15 years!
At its core, Bodhi Linux is based on Ubuntu. It also borrows elements from others and mixes them with an original software selection. The result is an imaginative spin of how a modern Linux desktop should look and perform.
Moving to Slackware from a relatively modern version of Ubuntu may be a shock. Slackware still supports 32-bit computers because its latest release hit the Internet more than five years ago. 32-bit computing wasn’t obsolete yet back then.
Thus, by choosing Slackware as your next distribution, you will be – at least initially – going back in time. By default, you will have access to older software than what you were using, lacking modern features. On top of that, Slackware isn’t regarded as the king of user-friendliness.
Be a rebel: choose Gentoo and install Linux manually on your computer.
It’s the hardest path you could take, but you will learn more about Linux during the installation process than if you used the desktop on another distribution for months. And since you will be at the helm, making all the choices, 32-bit support will also be entirely up to you.
3. Upgrade your PC
The most realistic option is biting the bullet and upgrading to a newer computer. If your current PC only supports 32-bit software, it is obsolete. It’s painfully slow and eats electricity for hours while trying to complete what would take seconds on modern hardware.
As you can see, it is not a big deal when Ubuntu stops providing 32-bit ISO. If you finally decided that you need a new computer, check out our Hardware Buying Guide for the things to look for when getting a new computer.