Dropping support for older hardware is not the way to go

One thing Linux is known for is bringing new life to old hardware. That is, precisely, what got me into Linux and FOSS in the first place. One of my desktop computers is a 2007 iMac (7,1) that runs on an Intel Core 2 Duo and an ATI (yes, before it was bought by AMD) Radeon card. Abandoned by Apple, I settled on El Capitan (MacOS 10.11) and, for basic productivity and web browsing was just OK. But eventually some things just stopped working, including security certificates for even the web browser (Chrome at the time). So, in a desperate move, I made the jump to Pop!_OS. This was a couple of years ago (October, 2021)… and was the beginning of my journey.

I distro-hopped a bit and concluded that Ubuntu was the best distro for Apple Intel-based hardware, specially because of the WiFi card support (Apple being Apple, they took the proprietary approach). I not just currently run Ubuntu on this iMac (I’m writing these lines using it right now), but I rescued my old white MacBook that was stuck on Lion (MacOS 10.7) with Ubuntu 22.04 and gave it to a friend that needed a basic computer.

I know any Linux distribution (Community or company-maintained) should look towards the future, but the gift of resurrection for old hardware is what brings most of us into this. Specially in third-world countries (like mine: Venezuela) where buying a new computer is quite expensive. I love the idea of a light and more optimized Linux that can take advantage of new features on new CPUs, all I ask is that older hardware doesn’t get left behind.

Please, keep old PCs away from the e-waste junkyards.


What makes you think Ubuntu is “Dropping support for older hardware”?

You may want to read:

This thread

Specifically this comment

Again, quoted here:

I should have expected that given we didn’t say what our plans are for the future people would start to fill in the gaps a bit. But the reason we didn’t say anything about that is mostly that we haven’t decided where we’re going with this. We are literally just running some investigations!

What I can say with certainty is:

  • Nothing is going to change wrt the amd64 baseline in 24.04.
  • We are very aware of the issue of users who have hardware that can’t run v3 or even v2! Hopefully we can do something that gets the best of both worlds but like I said, no concrete plans yet.

Loud and clear, @popey, thank you!

I now stand relieved!


“Core 2 Duo” reminds me there have been some Intel graphics features slowly getting deprecated, but those are upstream decisions, not ours. I’m thinking of:

  • GTK 4 (and sometimes gnome-shell) using shaders that don’t fit into Core 2 / Atom GPUs, so then reverting to ultra-slow software rendering. I’ve tried to fix that where it hurt the most in the shell.
  • Intel Haswell and earlier being kind-of dropped from Mesa. But not really. Support for those chips just moved to a new driver a while ago. There have been some minor bugs on that journey but the regressions should be temporary.

Also Nvidia occasionally drops support for “old” chips in their drivers but you can find out if that includes you by looking up the Nvidia chip here. Unfortunately Ubuntu does also drop support for old Nvidia drivers over time (no choice if we want to stop shipping the old kernels they need), but there are more years of support left in 16.04, 18.04, 20.04 and 22.04 to cover that.


Well, you have to understand the latest and greatest… In which old hardware configs cannot run the software/OS… I lived this in the gaming world for over 10 years… Always having to buy new hardware and run the latest OS to create/dev games and run them! But, you must understand, the older hardware cannot be supported within the new builds… The newer builds would become too large to store/install etc…

I agree with you on keeping older machines alive. I still have older ubuntu versions isos saved for years. You could install an older version… ubuntu 12/14 and manually update it to your liken… But a lot of the older versions don’t have automatic driver support for NEWER hardware… I was so happy and thrilled when ubuntu became auto detecting printers and I didn’t have to manually mess with cups or something else…

Keep in mind, there are other flavors of Ubuntu that can support lower end hardware and it updated. I also did have ubuntu dual booted on an older Mac Laptop… loved it until it got stolen.

Hey, create a thread on a forum somewhere, or a website somewhere for free and push your thoughts… for that Ubuntu version on that Mac hardware… If you need updates to a certain app, manually update it and post on your thread. I think its a great idea to keep the older hardware alive!

Respectfully, “manually updating” an older version of Ubuntu is a really bad idea almost no matter how you come at it. As it doesn’t appear that there are any plans to remove support for old hardware, I don’t think we need to try to do things like this.

It is true that you can continue using an older version of Ubuntu for long and far, even after it stops receiving updates. I have done this very thing before. The issue is that the updates you used to get aren’t just newer software and bug fixes, they include security fixes. Without security fixes, you can end up with your entire device compromised just by clicking on the wrong website. (Indeed, this is one of the easiest ways for someone to compromise a system that is out-of-date since the web browser is generally the thing that processes the most untrusted data and is also one of the most complex apps on a computer.) Security fixes aren’t limited to web browsers - your browser, email client, kernel, etc. all need security updates to keep things from going very wrong.

If you only are intending to update a select group of apps, you will be leaving security vulnerabilities unpatched, and that puts you at a significant risk of getting hacked.

So why not just manually update everything you use - kernel, browser, email client, libraries, etc.? Technically you can do this (and depending on the situation this can sometimes be a perfectly fine solution), but you would need to have an immensely good grasp on how Linux works and do an insane amount of work to do this correctly. If you don’t know exactly what you’re doing, you’ll probably break something quite badly if an update goes wrong, and you may not be able to recover your system thereafter. Wiping and reinstalling wouldn’t be much of a solution since that would wipe out ALL your custom updates and you’d have to start from scratch. You’d also spend a lot of time compiling newer versions of things, and you’ll probably get stuck in dependency hell when the day comes that some app you’re updating needs a newer version of a library that needs a newer version of another library and so on.

The latest versions of Ubuntu work just fine on even very old 64-bit hardware, and 32-bit hardware is so old at this point that it’s very difficult to use and very cheap to replace even if you’re using an OS that still supports it.

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