32-bit support (will continue) with Nextcloud 26

:warning: edit: this topic is outdated and the decision in this topic is reverted. Please see for the full update here


  • Nextcloud 26 will no longer support 32-bit and the upgrader will also block the upgrade to Nextcloud 26 on a 32-bit instance and show a warning.
  • Support for 32-bit infrastructures will continue in Nextcloud 25, until October 2023.
  • The critical bugs that made the earlier releases of Nextcloud 25 incompatible with 32-bit instances have been resolved in 25.0.2, which will be released beginning of December.

In this article we would like to share with you our reflection on how we earlier handled the deprecation of 32-bit support, and also share the next steps.

Context

The main reason that we cannot continue to support 32-bit is that we don’t test it. None of our engineers are running 32-bit engines and our automated tests also only run on 64-bit.

32-bit support has been in decline for several years thanks to the News app, Office CODE app and Matterbridge Talk not supporting it.

We don’t prioritise development efforts for 32-bit support because we don’t want to invest in infrastructures that are simply not optimal for running a Nextcloud. We strongly believe the experience of the users on your Nextcloud would be better when running a 64-bit infrastructure. Every functionality regarding the file handling works more reliably and this is the core functionality in Nextcloud.

Reflection

We reflected on the issues around 32-bit support for Nextcloud 25. We unknowingly introduced bugs into Nextcloud 25 that broke 32-bit instances and we did not provide warnings or an update blocker, but only silently removed it’s compatibility from the system requirements documentation.

Not to talk it straight, but to give you the initial reasoning why this happened: internally we were already insecure about us being able to deliver solid software for 32-bit for the Nextcloud 25 release and decided to document that we recommend a 64-bit infrastructure. We were insecure about it, because as we said no testing is done by our team or by the automated tests on 32-bit infrastructure, however we (falsely) thought the risk of breaking anything for 32-bit was low. This is why we didn’t thought it was necessary yet to explicitly drop the support for 32-bit. This backfired, because we introduced breaking bugs, and as a result of our lack of decision making we also didn’t warn users or blocked the upgrade in advance.

We reflected on this and decided to fix the breaking bugs so that all of you who have this issue now have the time to upgrade and have the time to prepare for this change in requiring 64-bit in another year. We also learned that this needs to be communicated clearly before dropping the support, so no one risks breaking their instance. We are very sorry that this happened.

Next steps

  • The critical bugs that made the earlier releases of Nextcloud 25 incompatible with 32-bit instances have been resolved in 25.0.2, which will be released beginning of December.
  • Nextcloud 26 will officially not work on 32-bit installations. The upgrader will also block the upgrade on 32-bit instances and show a warning.

How to upgrade your hardware

There is already an awesome guide published by @just about how to upgrade your 32-bit Raspberry pi hardware. He listed all the relevant information for Raspberry Pi users including a list of recommended hardware. (You can find all documentation of the Nextcloud Pi project at docs.nextcloudpi.com/.)

If you think you are on a 32-bit system, we recommend you to double check if you really have 32-bit hardware or unknowingly already have 64-bit hardware but run 32-bit software. For example, Raspberry Pi’s already come with 64-bit hardware for 6 years (like the Raspberry Pi 3 and 4) but recommended to use a 32-bit image as an operating system. The 64-bit software was just not available yet or not solid enough yet. So make sure to check this! Maybe you don’t need to buy new electronics and you only need to update your operating system. For Raspberry Pi users of Pi’s that already support 64-bit, there is a migration guide here written by @michuvon.

Then, once you got new hardware, or upgraded your operating system, you need to do a migration of your data. For this, we have a documentation page in our admin documentation. Always make sure to make backups first!

Depending on the project that you have used to deploy Nextcloud, you may have some migration paths that are not documented in this documentation. If you have links to documentation of other images on how to migrate, then please let us know, then we will add those to this article.

All the best,
Daphne

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Thanks for the honest heads up.

From my point of view Nextcloud is doomed by PHP lacking proper support for big integers on 32-bit here. I consider this a fundamental flaw in PHP and other projects like SabreDAV suffer from this as well. Some big integer libraries exist, but using them in PHP is probably cumbersome, especially compared to other languages where that just works. (Think of declaring a uint64_t in C on basically any system.)

Not setting up 32-bit test infrastructure is more a lack of courage, I don’t think it’s impossible to do that, but I understand this is more work for what seems to be minor benefit.

Focusing the armv7 view on RaspberryPi only seems a little vague, since a lot more 32-bit arm boards exist. Beaglebone, Odroid, Cubie*, and probably a lot more. And I don’t think some i.MX quad core with fast storage is actually too slow to serve a handful of users. Most users complaining run Nextcloud for themselves and their family only, at least my impression. So what will probably happen: those users will stay on NC 25 basically forever, even after 2024 …

Nevertheless, we know what to expect now and this is much better as silently breaking things and just crossing fingers. Thank you.

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I was also hit by the NC v25 issue even I waited until last weekend for the major release upgrade („should be safe now…“). Upgrade took me 3 hours, usually that’s a 1/2 an hour thing for major releases (including app info version hacking because many apps simply don’t get updated in an acceptable amount of time… e2ee e. g.).

First warning shot in July 2021 was the NC News app kicking 32 bit support, pretty straight and rough.

Unfortunately that will still cost me roughly 3 to 4 full days including migration planning and testing before, and for sure a bit of error fixing after the migration. Server was installed in 2013 with OwnCloud, migrated to Nextcloud (one of the best decisions ever by the way), „only“ upgraded the OS and hardware regularly. Installed bare metal, running few other services next to NC which adds a bit of complexity for the migration.

Thanks for linking the various „upgrading“ (there‘s no upgrade, OS always needs to be reinstalled) and especially migration how-to’s, that last one (Migrating to a different server — Nextcloud latest Administration Manual latest documentation) is pretty helpful und makes me more confident for the upcoming move. In addition, local Office editing will finally (hopefully) be possible too.

Now it’s very good to have a deadline (and assurance NC v25 will continue to work on 32 bit systems). All in all I really appreciate this announcement post. Making admins aware of the ticking clock is absolutely key to avoid (more) surprises for the masses (invoking security issues) starting in October 2023 according to Maintenance and Release Schedule · nextcloud/server Wiki · GitHub.

In short:

Fully agree.

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Thanks for clarifying!

Me and my family are the users of my system, and as @LeSpocky says this is probably so for many systems - especially 32 bit systems. I’m not on Raspberry Pi, but on ASUS Tinker board, which is 32 bit ARM only.

The monetary cost of upgrading might be little, the time cost might be overseeable (even though nearly all GPIO pins are used for custom LCD / IR / … stuff), but there’s one other thing I would like to bring in: the environmental cost of software-based obsolence is much too big already. Every machine replaced, is a new machine needing to be built from the already scarce resources of our earth.

I am very happy with Nextcloud as-is. I run it happily on this small machine now for exactly 6 years, and if it weren’t for security issues that could arise with dropped support, I would run it for 5-10 more years on this machine for sure.

So I am really hoping for a prolonged LTS, a fork, or some other way to safely keep using NC. I can’t pay a lot, but am willing to pay a little just for this.

5 Likes

Honest statement but still disappointing for the “home crowd” using single-board computers like a Raspi 4 in my case. I’ve spent hours trying to fix #34961 which is a showstopper for all 32 bit users.

I’m a little bit shocked that Nextcloud has not been tested on 32 bit systems at all. For such widely used software and from a QA engineer’s point of view, this is difficult to understand and irresponsible. The website describes that Nextcloud “scales from a Raspberry Pi with 2 users to globally distributed installations”.

Untested software should never be distributed. I wish it would have been mentioned in the Administration Manual earlier (has been added after Oct 22).

Thank you for the very loving clarification! Like this what I really like to read.

Absolutely understandable situation, also that you have no tests for 32 bit. We’re living the year 2022, that’s ok for such a big software. With such a annoucement the most should have enogh time to upgrade.

Same for me, as I’m also not able to provide tested software on 32 bit, I have none system for. When implementing new features I try to keep compatiblity with single-core machines aswell as 32 bit os, so it should™️work, but I don’t know exactly.

I’m really happy that since ~3 years I try to always install 64 bit OS (and systems) where it’s possible. Sometimes it’s good to spend just a little bit more money as you will get it back at some time.

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hey @pultis ,thanks for your message

Just to check with you, are you aware raspberry pi 4 is a 64 bit device already?

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There was quite some testing of NC25 with a lot support from the community here, e.g. Fourth Beta of Nextcloud 25
but there are so many systems out there, that it is impossible to test everything. I don’t know if there are raspberry testers and if they use 32/64 bit environments.

At some point, you want to upgrade the underlying system as well which will take additional time. And with 1 year announcement, it should be possible to upgrade to a new OS and migrate your Nextcloud to it. I’d happily invest that time rather than knowing to get strange bugs at some random point with a 32-bit OS.

Good point. On the other hand it is hard to develop software that is compatible with all the platforms … and how many are really stuck on 32-bit systems (25% of 31 voters: 32-bit Support is no longer available from Nextcloud. What are the Takeaways?)? And how long will they still run? Perhaps they can still serve as backup machine or something.

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I feel this so much!

I’m using Nextcloud because of it’s philosophy and I installed it for myself, friends and family on old 2nd hand hardware. Most of them are 32-bit. They don’t need any shiny new Nextcloud Hub features. All I need is a wallet to store and access files with user friendly apps and built in encryption.

All of the linked articles are from docs.nextcloudpi.com/

Yes, testing is from the NextcloudPi project. We have been testing and tracking this the entire time. That is why the linked documentation is coming from us.

This is true across the board. 32-bit testers have dropped off the radar, and the primary holdout has been from the Pi Foundation only recently offering 64-bit “officially”. Despite offering 64-bit arm since 2018 in terms of hardware. Some of us migrated to arm64 as early as 2017.

This confusion has been on the horizon for years, so understandable you are confused if you are only now realizing this.

We got roughly 7 years of 32-bit support. It is what it is. Not saying we have to be happy about it, but also it is understandable on all fronts. If curious for more info see docs.nextcloudpi.com as linked above.

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I’m going to add the link to docs.nextcloudpi.com to the main post too!

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A post was split to a new topic: Supported debian-based systems

Thanks for you reply! I know it it possible to run a raspberry pi 4 with 64 bit OS.

The point is how it has been communicated (or not) - it is absolutely clear the 64 bit only situation would come in the near future but that does not mean the 32 bit support has already been dropped “silently”.

I do not complain about dropping 32 bit support, it is more the way how the current 32 bit user base is being treated with it.

Untested or nearly untested software should be clearly marked in the update window.

Clear decision, clear statement, that’s all I want :slight_smile:

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That was an accident, solved with v25.0.2. It happened because there never were 32-bit environments for automated tests in place, which could have caught the issue, and because there are obviously not enough 32-bit system admins around, which do Nextcloud beta testing. I actually always do it (my home server is still a 32-bit Raspberry Pi 2 :sweat_smile:), was the first time in years I didn’t find the time to test the new major version before release, and exactly that one broke it, bad luck :smile:. At the same time interesting that obviously not a single other 32-bit system admin did test Nextcloud 25 before its release. I feel like a lonely rider.

The fact that this can happen any time again, that 32-bit users, especially beta testers, will become less (I’ll switch to a 64-bit server soon as well), I think it is the correct consequence to drop 32-bit support officially. Also, there were long standing other issues with 32-bit systems, problems with >2 GiB files in trash bin, > 2 GiB downloads via web interface etc, so the experience wasn’t great already, for users hitting these problems (I don’t store files that since on my Nextcloud, so never cared).

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Humm, I don"t remember having these kind of issues on my RPi 2…

It’s sad to have to change a working hardware :confused: May be I’ll try to find another server than Nextcloud, I’ve already a Syncthing working flowlessly on this RPi 2, so may be a Baikal server will come for the carddav and caldav features I’m using.

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32-bit support will continue.

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