[kwlug-disc] [Phoronix] Ubuntu 32-bit, 32-bit PAE, 64-bit Kernel Benchmarks

Chris Irwin chris at chrisirwin.ca
Thu Dec 31 12:00:46 EST 2009

On Thu, Dec 31, 2009 at 11:30, Khalid Baheyeldin <kb at 2bits.com> wrote:

> As I mentioned before, I have been using Ubuntu Server Edition 8.04 LTS 64
> bits since it came out and it has worked fine on.
> For desktops, I am typing this on a laptop with Kubuntu 9.10 64-bit with
> Firefox, Opera, Skype, Chromium, OpenOffice, ...etc. running without issues.
> Flash works, but is sometimes stable if left running for long.

I run entirely 64-bit systems now, and have for several years (on Linux,
anyway). I'm running Ubuntu 9.10 on my desktops without issue. Granted, I
don't really have any 32-bit compatability stuff installed since I haven't
the need. The only sticky 32-bit stuff is proprietary in nature, and the
nvidia driver, flash (64-bit beta) and broadcom wifi drivers are the only
proprietary bits I use and work fine on 64-bit (in the case of flash, I
should simply say "works as well as it does on 32-bit").

>From a brief look, it seems Fedora has a better 64-bit environment. Since
they put 64-bit stuff in a different prefix (eg. /lib64 vs /lib), you can
actually install plain, unmodified 32-bit RPMs. Using yum, you seem to be
able to specify whether you want the 32-bit version of anything in their
repository. You can say you want the 32-bit version of firefox, it will do
that and fetch the 32-bit dependencies. Since it fetching the actual 32-bit
RPM files, you get security updates for 64-bit and 32-bit packages at the
same time (right when they are built and published). I imagine they do not
do de-duplication, so you may have duplicate docs and resources, for

Debian and Ubuntu's "32-bit" packages are actually 64-bit packages with
32-bit binaries. There is a 32-bit compat package called ia32-libs which
contains numerous 32-bit libraries within it, and iirc, is manually
assembled by somebody (and thus may lag in security updates). I don't think
it is as easy to take any arbitrary 32-bit package and install it on a
64-bit debian/ubuntu system (short of having a chroot). Since both 32- and
64-bit packages want to install to the same prefix, it will take more than
apt simply understanding compatible architectures.. Also, ia32-libs is
currently a 'universe' package, meaning it is not covered under the same
support you expect from 'main' (again, important with regards to security).

Myself personally, if I really needed 32-bit compatability, I'd look more
seriously at Fedora. Since I don't, and I am more comfortable with Debian
systems, I stick with Ubuntu.

As an offhand non-Linux remark, don't judge 64-bit systems based on your
experience with Windows XP 64. If you were to judge based on Windows,
Windows 7 has an acceptable 64-bit environment similar it seems to Fedora in
that any arbitrary 32-bit package will work (well, not 32-bit drivers, but
that is to be expected). Granted the footprint of the system is somewhat
larger as all 32-bit libraries are always installed in addition to 64-bit
ones (whereas fedora and yum, for example, can fetch them on an as-needed

Chris Irwin
<chris at chrisirwin.ca>
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