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You can run 32bit programs from within a 64bit distro. At least you can in debian. You have to intsall the 32bit libs and run your 32bit stuff in a chroot environment. I looks kind of complicated to set up, and I haven't tried it yet.
My only problem so far with my 64bit is that w32codecs and real media codecs don't work on 64bit system (hence the w32), so you can't play windows (.wmv) or real (.rm) media files.
So each softwaere packages to have a 64bit version of it to work on a 64 bit distro? Are most major things updated to work on a 64 bit distro? I'm just trying to decide which I want to install. I use my computer as a personal computer. For everything from programming to text editing to games to downloading (azureus) to web browsing to image processing. What would you suggest I install?
I would say go for the 64bit debian or suse. I have heard that fedora 64bit is still a little buggy. I am using debian 64bit, and it is rock solid. I can't remember the last time I had to reboot. Everything works great except for the propietary media stuff mentioned above. If you think that you will need to use .wmv or .rm, then you can set up a 32bit chroot.
It's here http://cdimage.debian.org/cdimage/un...e-amd64/bt-cd/
I reccomend the net install CD which only has what you need to get a working installation. Then you can download the rest later. Or you can just get all 13 CD's if you want, but you really only need the first one (or the net install).
You don't have to download all of the CD's. Just download the netinstall. It's like 150MB. That's all you need. Ubuntu is just debian with fewer choices. Maybe good for newbies cause it is easy to install, but debian is still the champ IMHO.