Valve has announced that from the next version of Ubuntu (19.10), it will no longer support Steam on Ubuntu, the most popular flavor of Linux, due to the distro dropping support for 32-bit packages,
This all kicked off when Canonical, developer of Ubuntu, announced that it was seemingly completely dropping support for 32-bit in Ubuntu 19.10.
However, following a major outcry, a further clarification (or indeed, change of heart) came from the firm stating that there will actually be limited support for 32-bit going forward (although updates for 32-bit libraries will no longer be delivered, effectively leaving them in a frozen state).
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Following the initial announcement from Canonical, a Valve developer took to Twitter to let folks know that future releases of Ubuntu would no longer be supported by Steam.
Ubuntu 19.10 and future releases will not be officially supported by Steam or recommended to our users. We will evaluate ways to minimize breakage for existing users, but will also switch our focus to a different distribution, currently TBD.June 22, 2019
That doesn’t mean Valve is turning its back on Linux as a whole, though, because as the dev notes, the company is looking to switch its attention to supporting a different distro rather than Ubuntu.
That will be small comfort to the many users who are running Ubuntu, mind you, or another distro based on the OS.
So what’s the problem with 32-bit support falling away? Well, even if the Steam client itself isn’t affected, there are still a lot of older 32-bit only games on Steam, and all these will no longer work. And that’s a lot of titles that many folks still potentially want to play.
In Canonical’s blog post (opens in new tab) clarifying that there will be limited 32-bit support for future Ubuntu distros, the firm stated: “We will also work with the WINE, Ubuntu Studio and gaming communities to use container technology to address the ultimate end of life of 32-bit libraries; it should stay possible to run old applications on newer versions of Ubuntu.
“Snaps and LXD enable us both to have complete 32-bit environments, and bundled libraries, to solve these issues in the long term.”
Going with the Snaps solution could be a possibility for Valve, then, at least theoretically, but it’s not clear whether that’s an option which will be realized. Valve might just have been put off by Canonical’s overall stance on 32-bit, regardless.
Canonical, however, has previously said that it is in “discussions with Valve about the best way to provide support from 19.10 onwards”, and presumably that dialogue continues.
So, in short, watch this space, but going by that developer tweet, we can only assume for now that Steam is looking for a new Linux home away from Ubuntu.
Ubuntu 19.10 is set to be released in October 2019.
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