FreeBSD Continues Push Toward Deprecating 32-bit Platforms

Written by Michael Larabel in BSD on 13 February 2024 at 12:00 AM EST. 22 Comments
As noted in prior Phoronix articles for months, FreeBSD 14 is likely to be the last for supporting prominent 32-bit systems. On the FreeBSD mailing list more details on the FreeBSD 32-bit deprecation process was posted this week.

FreeBSD's John Baldwin laid out the 32-bit platform plans for FreeBSD moving forward: FreeBSD 15.0 is likely to do without ARMv6, i386 (x86 32-bit), and PowerPC platforms. Meanwhile the ARMv7 support will likely stick around until FreeBSD 16.0.

FreeBSD 14 bootloader

Dropping of the i386 support in FreeBSD for hardware support shouldn't be surprising at all given past communications. At least through FreeBSD 16.0 though they intend to continue retaining the ability of running 32-bit binaries on 64-bit kernels. Potentially that 32-bit user-space support will persist to FreeBSD 17 or longer depending upon how things play out in the next few years.

FreeBSD acknowledges that 32-bit hardware platforms are in a "state of decline in the marketplace" and there is a shrinking pool of developers actively supporting them. Only if there is demand and commitment for increased developer resources would FreeBSD explore keeping around the 32-bit architecture support longer. More details on these 32-bit plans via the FreeBSD-announce list.
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