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Dropping 32-bit builds #885

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gibfahn opened this Issue Sep 16, 2017 · 115 comments

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@gibfahn
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gibfahn commented Sep 16, 2017

This came out of discussion of #809 in the last WG meeting (#875, minutes at #881). Discussion paraphrased below.

Basically updating CentOS 6 to gcc 4.9.3 requires devtoolset-6, which means that we can no longer do 32-bit xLinux builds.

It's difficult to know how many people are currently using x86_64 32-bit Node. The metrics show it looking pretty stagnant, but it's difficult to know how many of the downloads are from CI.

@rvagg suggested that the best way to find out would be to drop 32-bit builds in an odd-numbered release and see how many people complain, that way we have the option of adding them back in a minor version. The question was whether 9.x is too soon to do this.

Rod also said that he thought CentOS6 and Ubuntu 14 no longer had a 32-bit version, meaning that anyone relying on a 32-bit OS had already been left behind by Node 8.x. If we could confirm that this is true for most Linux and Windows versions then that would make the decision much easier.

Todo (if we decide to drop 32-bit)

  • Update the jobs to skip 32-bit Intel for Node >8.x
  • Update the website to handle the lack of 32-bit builds
  • Update the Supported Platforms list to remove x86.
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gibfahn commented Sep 16, 2017

More info on the state of play at the OS level would definitely be useful (i.e. when/if major distros stopped supporting 32-bit OSs, i.e. who we'd be breaking).

  • Linux: maybe @rvagg or @chrislea would know off the top of their heads
  • Windows: @joaocgreis and @refack
  • SmartOS: @nodejs/platform-smartos would be good to know your thoughts, I assume we don't have to drop 32-bit on SmartOS, but if we're doing it elsewhere it might be a good time to do it here too.
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refack commented Sep 16, 2017

Windows 10 still supports 32bit and "cross compiling" from a 64bit host to a 32bit target is also fully supported.
Windows Server 2008R2 was not released as 32bit host, but Windows has side-by-side technology (WoW64) that allows 32bit applications to run natively on 64bit hosts, so there should not be an external limitation for building, testing and running node32 for the foreseeable future.

BTW: AWS/Azure/GCP doesn't rent 32bit VMs of our lowest supported Windows (Server 2008R2).

@chrislea

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chrislea commented Sep 17, 2017

There is absolutely still support for 32bit CentOS 6 / RHEL 6 Linux out there. Also, all Debian and Ubuntu releases still have 32bit versions, and Fedora still makes 32bit releases as well.

Red Hat dropped 32bit support with RHEL 7.

I don't have much of a sense of how many people are using 32bit builds in production. If I had to guess (emphasis mine there), I doubt many people are running 32bit Node builds on production servers, and I suspect the biggest impact might be not so much on production servers, but instead on appliances. For example, here's output from a Synology NAS that I have at home:

chl@DSPlay01:~$ uname -a
Linux DSPlay01 3.2.40 #15152 SMP PREEMPT Fri Sep 1 11:13:20 CST 2017 i686 GNU/Linux synology_evansport_214play

And yes, Node is an installable package should I choose to put it on this device. A lot of these appliance gizmos use 32bit chips because they don't have much memory and want to keep costs low, so older 32bit Atom or Celeron processors make sense.

Now, having said all that, if we assume I'm right, then I don't think we need to be too concerned about anything other than making sure that Node will in fact build on a 32bit system with a modern enough compiler, because from what I can tell almost all of these appliances have their own packaging formats and tend to build the things they need for those packages themselves.

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seishun commented Sep 17, 2017

@gibfahn I don't see any reason to drop 32-bit builds on Windows.

@chrislea

then I don't think we need to be too concerned about anything other than making sure that Node will in fact build on a 32bit system with a modern enough compiler

That shouldn't be a problem. We could just continue running CI jobs on 32-bit platforms where it's easy enough to install a supported compiler, e.g. Ubuntu 14.04.

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joaocgreis commented Sep 17, 2017

We shouldn't drop Windows 32-bit support. While our deps have support for it, it'll be easy for us to maintain. Windows and Visual Studio have full support for 32-bit.

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bnoordhuis commented Sep 19, 2017

Apropos Fedora, i686 is in a state of disrepair and has been for years: https://lwn.net/Articles/728207/

There is a Special Interest Group since a few months that fixed some things but I think it's safe to say no one runs Fedora i686 in production and it's not worth spending time on.

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chrislea commented Sep 19, 2017

Unfortunately I have seen people running 32bit Fedora out there in the wild (same for CentOS 6 and occasionally an older Debian / Ubuntu release). But generally I feel like all the major distros want to drop it and are sort of looking at each other waiting to see who does it first. I know Arch Linux (not one of the major ones, but important among the more hacker / bleeding edge types) is dropping it officially in November of this year.

So I still feel pretty comfortable with what I said above, which is that I think we'd be okay if we continue to "support" it in the sense that we make sure it will in fact build on a 32bit x86 machine, but we stop making official release tarballs for it.

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gibfahn commented Sep 19, 2017

So maybe the answer is to drop it to Tier 2 or Experimental rather than dropping completely.

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jasnell commented Sep 19, 2017

Some informal research shows that there are still a fair number of users using 32-bit builds on smaller IoT devices. I doubt this is a large group, but it's still worth bearing in mind.

I'm going to tag this with a tsc-review label.

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chrislea commented Sep 19, 2017

Yes @jasnell if you'd like my $0.02 on the "devices" thing (I'm sure you're just dying to hear) it's here.

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gibfahn commented Sep 19, 2017

@chrislea wrong link? That seems to point to my comment above.

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chrislea commented Sep 19, 2017

My bad, try this.

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seishun commented Sep 23, 2017

It's been a week and I see no objections to dropping public 32-bit Linux builds. Perhaps we can proceed with that for now and leave the discussion about dropping 32-bit support (or downgrading it to Experimental) for later?

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refack commented Sep 23, 2017

@nodejs/release did discuss this at the last meeting. @gibfahn what was the decision (I remember something about IoT, and maybe stop releasing, but keep testing..)?

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gibfahn commented Sep 24, 2017

@nodejs/release did discuss this at the last meeting.

Discussed here, there wasn't a decision, but @jasnell mentioned that he believed he knew of some embedded devices that were Intel 32-bit Linux, and that he'd had requests from people for us to not drop 32-bit builds. So more info on that would be good. James did say that he thought continuing to test but not doing releases sounded reasonable.

It's been a week and I see no objections to dropping public 32-bit Linux builds.

This was raised for tsc-review, but it looks like it got missed at the last meeting, nodejs/TSC#359 (or at least it's not in the minutes).

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gibfahn commented Sep 24, 2017

Perhaps we can proceed with that for now and leave the discussion about dropping 32-bit support (or downgrading it to Experimental) for later?

That seems like a good idea.

So, does anyone have an objection to us ceasing to do 32-bit xLinux releases from Node 9.x onwards? We will continue to run CI. cc/ @nodejs/build @nodejs/lts @nodejs/tsc

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mscdex commented Sep 24, 2017

Might want to update the original post if this is about Intel 32-bit only and not other platforms (e.g. ARM).

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gibfahn commented Sep 24, 2017

Might want to update the original post if this is about Intel 32-bit only and not other platforms (e.g. ARM).

It was originally supposed to be a more general discussion (including ARM). The xLinux discussion is just the most pressing matter.

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mscdex commented Sep 24, 2017

What is "xLinux?" Is it an IBM thing?

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gibfahn commented Sep 24, 2017

What is "xLinux?" Is it an IBM thing?

x86_64 Linux, as opposed to aLinux (ARM Linux), pLinux (Power Linux), and zLinux (z Linux).

Probably used more often in IBM, as we deal with more architectures than most, but I don't think it's exclusive.

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chrislea commented Sep 28, 2017

Ubuntu is going to stop making 32bit desktop ISOs with their next release, just FYI.

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rvagg commented Sep 29, 2017

That full context on the Ubuntu decision is actually pretty informative about their perspective on the future of i386

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seishun commented Sep 30, 2017

Still no objections. What next?

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gibfahn commented Sep 30, 2017

No objections raised by anyone in Build or TSC AFAICT, so I think this is agreed unless someone wants to put it on tsc-agenda and discuss there. @jasnell is that something you want to do?

Otherwise this is done, it's just a question of someone adding the correct if statements to the release build job.

@rvagg @joaocgreis you've done this more than most I think, if I come up with a diff can you review?

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seishun commented Sep 30, 2017

Do #797 and #809 need to wait until the release build job change is implemented?

@mhdawson mhdawson removed the build-agenda label Jul 31, 2018

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richardlau commented Jul 31, 2018

Just for awareness, the CI jobs for node-gyp are still running tests for it's v3.x branch on Node.js v0.10, v0.12 and v4. I'll open an issue over in the node-gyp repository for discussion about dropping support for EOL Node.js.

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gibfahn commented Aug 2, 2018

@mhdawson Would this mean x86 is going to return (at least for the time being) for 10.0 (and possibly 11)?

No, dropping x86 was done for 10.0 as a breaking change, so 8.x will continue to have x86 for the rest of its life.

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refack commented Aug 2, 2018

Just for awareness, the CI jobs for node-gyp are still running tests for it's v3.x branch on Node.js v0.10, v0.12 and v4. I'll open an issue over in the node-gyp repository for discussion about dropping support for EOL Node.js.

Just from the build support POV, supporting CI on EOL platforms is a non trivial investment. For the time being supporting CI with EOL node binaries is trivial 🤷‍♂️

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neroux commented Aug 3, 2018

No, dropping x86 was done for 10.0 as a breaking change, so 8.x will continue to have x86 for the rest of its life.

Thanks Gibson, though what was this agreement about then? It does not concern 10+ and 8.x came with x86 support and being an LTS version I wouldnt have expected it to be dropped anyhow. So there is no change from the current status.

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gibfahn commented Aug 3, 2018

You're asking about this?

On the Node.js front, discussed in last build wg meeting, agreement was to leave 32 bit machines in place until 8.x goes EOL. Closing this issue, please re-open if you disagree.

Well I guess we could have said that once 8.x goes into maintenance we might start removing machines or something. Also this suggests that we won't be keeping them around for a few months after EoL "just in case".

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neroux commented Aug 3, 2018

You're asking about this?

Yes.

Well I guess we could have said that once 8.x goes into maintenance we might start removing machines or something. Also this suggests that we won't be keeping them around for a few months after EoL "just in case".

Could you clarify what you mean by "removing machines"? Do you mean reduce the number of x86 machines or stop x86 builds altogether? The latter should not be "possible" in the LTS context of 8.x, should it?

But yes, my question was answered. No change in terms of x86 support.

refack added a commit that referenced this issue Sep 18, 2018

ci: no ubuntu1?04-32 since node 10 (#1498)
PR-URL: #1498
Refs: #885
Refs: #1499
Reviewed-By: Matheus Marchini <matheus@sthima.com>

fhemberger added a commit to nodejs/nodejs.org that referenced this issue Oct 31, 2018

Remove Linux 32bit download link for current release
32bit support has been dropped in 10.x
Ref: nodejs/build#885

fhemberger added a commit to nodejs/nodejs.org that referenced this issue Oct 31, 2018

Remove Linux 32bit download link for current release
32bit support has been dropped in 10.x
Ref: nodejs/build#885
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traumschule commented Oct 31, 2018

+1 for keeping 32bit
https://lwn.net/Articles/769732/

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fredericgermain commented Nov 1, 2018

I would need the x86 build on my Qnap, which has a Intel N270 CPU (but ok, it's old...)

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refack commented Nov 1, 2018

@traumschule and @fredericgermain hello,

As mentioned before the decision to downgrade 32bit linux support was made because we are volunteers, and we have limited virtual-ware support that is donated by our sponsors. Allocating and deploying 32bit linux build toolchains is getting harder, and we decided to recommend downgrading the support level now, so that it will be a semver-major change, and not at some arbitrary point in the future when we would be forced to stop providing the tools to properly support it, out of necessity.

There are subtle two points you could consider:

  1. Node.js core has only downgraded the support level of 32bit linux to "Experimental", which means there should not be any intentional code changes that break it, but just that there will not be continuous testing on 32bit linux to validate it has not broken. Node.js will most probably accept PRs that fix it, in case it breaks.
  2. The build WG is willing to assist a community effort to provide CI and distribution of 32bit linux node binaries, if anyone is willing to volunteer the effort.
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mitra42 commented Feb 4, 2019

Are there any workarounds for this, we've been trying to put some node based systems onto some combined wifi/storage/battery boxes for running in remote areas, and these are still 32 bit. We wouldn't mind running Node 9.x but the problem is that more and more of our dependencies are requiring node 10.x so its not the functionality in node 9.x thats the problem its the package dependence of other packages on the 10.x version.

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refack commented Feb 4, 2019

Hello @mitra42,
Support for Linux/x32 was downgraded to Experimental which means we are just not do CI testing, or releasing an official binary.
You should still be able to compile the binary on your own.

P.S. We are willing to help community driven efforts to publish independent x32 builds.

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mitra42 commented Feb 4, 2019

Thats unfortunate, since I don't have (or know anyone who does) have the expertise to do a build/cross-compile to a 32 bit binary, which pretty much rules out node as the platform on these small linux based boxes :-(

By the way ... the project is to put a stripped down version of the Internet Archive on these small boxes, for use in remote education settings with minimal internet access. That's a huge project, so trying to add to that building the underlying tools (specifically node) isn't really possible. If there's anyone around who knows how to build a 32 bit binary from the node repo I'd love to hear from them.

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chrislea commented Feb 4, 2019

@mitra42 I wrote a blog post about how to cross-compile Node for arm architectures on an amd64 box which you may find helpful.

I suspect building a 32bit Intel binary on a 64bit Intel machine should be considerably easier than what I outlined there, however. Most of what's needed in that article is there because when you compile Node, it builds some binary tools that are needed by the build process itself along the way, which complicates things going across architectures from Intel to Arm. That shouldn't be an issue in the situation you're describing though, the 32bit Intel binaries that will get built should work fine on a 64bit Intel machine as long as you have the correct 32bit support libraries installed.

Hope this helps.

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refack commented Feb 4, 2019

@mitra42 feel free to contact me directly (my email address is in the nodejs/node README).

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Daniel15 commented Mar 13, 2019

32-bit is still very useful for low-RAM systems... For example, there's very cheap VPSes with 128 MB or 256 MB RAM available. Node would run fine on these, but they're usually running 32-bit OSes, as there's no advantage of 64-bit in cases where such little RAM is available.

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