Recently I’ve seen a good bit of discussion regarding 32bit vs 64bit installations of Ubuntu. We’ve even had long conversations at the office on the matter as well. For a long time I’ve simply installed 32bit on my Core2Duo machine, even though it supports the 64bit installation. I just didn’t see a lot of reason to make the step forward. Well, I thought I’d type up some of my thoughts on the matter and get some of the community thoughts…
The 32bit Ubuntu definitely get’s the most attention as it applies to the wider user base. There are more packages available for 32bit than there are for 64bit, but that gap is quickly closing. 32bit seems to run well enough on most machines, and a lot of people don’t really see the point for desktop use. I do hear a lot of arguments for 64bit on a server, but for a desktop most people just look the other way.
The 64bit Ubuntu install base seems to be slowly growing. I am one of the recent “converts” to 64bit Ubuntu. While I don’t immediately see any performance benefit I do see some benefit on principle. In the same way that more attention to an application improves the application, more attention to 64bit improves that platform as well. Basically, I think I’m in the 64bit camp right now simply because I believe it’ll never get “awesome” if nobody uses it, reports issues and resolves those issues.
So far I have not had any show stoppers with my 64bit installation. Everything seems to work the same way it did with 32bit. Again, I don’t think I see much of a performance increase, but on the principle of improving the platform I’ll continue to run it. Issues that were previous show stoppers such as flash not being available are now resolved. While Adobe still does not have a 64bit native flashplayer, Ubuntu 7.10 will auto-wrap the 32bit player for you in 64bit when it is needed for installation. So far I have not run into any missing packages for 64bit, although I’m sure they are out there someplace. Perhaps the more users we got on the 64bit platform the more quickly we’ll find the missing packages. Also, if you have 4G of RAM or more you’ll want the 64bit as it handles that amount of memory better.
Many of the Dell Laptop deals now include notebooks/netbooks that come pre-installed with Ubuntu 32-bit, but 64-bit redistributables are available for their higher end machines.
I suppose in the end it’ll come down to what the user is the most comfortable with but, again, if you’re already comfortable with potential issues with Ubuntu and feel like you can help improve the platform, why not run 64bit Ubuntu? It’ll only get better if you help us make it better..
Any other thoughts from the community on the topic? Any concerns you’ve run into? Any other pros and cons you might outline? The comment box is down ’bout two inches 🙂