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Old 12-15-2013, 09:06 PM   #1
maples
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32-bit or 64-bit? Which should I use?


I am considering installing, dual-booting or doing something similar with Linux on my laptop, and was wondering if I should use the 64-bit or 32-bit version of the distro I decide to install (if I end up installing it). Right now I have Win7 Home Premium 64bit installed.

First of all, what is the advantage of 64bit over 32bit? And what should I keep in mind while making this decision?

Something completely unrelated that's been bugging me: Windows says that I have 6 GB of RAM, but only 5.9 are "usable". What does this mean? Is my RAM going bad? (It better not, its only 2 years old). Or is it some sort of Windows scam trying to make me get new RAM?

Thanks to everyone in advance for sharing your time and knowledge with Linux wannabes like me.

It's a Dell Inspiron laptop
Specs:
Intel Core i3 2350M
6 GB RAM (5.9 "useable", according to Windows)

Last edited by maples; 12-15-2013 at 09:09 PM.
 
Old 12-15-2013, 10:02 PM   #2
Zyblin
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If you install a 32bit OS you will only be able to use up to 4GB of your RAM, probably slightly less. A 64bit OS you can use much more RAM. As far as your other question about 5.9 usable RAM I did a quick DuckDuckGo search and found this. This also applies to others, not just Windows 7.

Quote:
On a computer that is running Windows 7, the usable memory (RAM) may be less than the installed memory.

This is expected behavior on computers that are running Windows 7. The reduction in available system memory depends on the configuration of the following:

The devices that are installed in the computer and the memory that is reserved by those devices
The ability of the motherboard to handle memory
The System BIOS version and settings
Other system settings

For example, if you have a video card that has 256 MB of on-board memory, that memory must be mapped within the first 4 GB of address space. If 4 GB of system memory is already installed, part of that address space must be reserved by the graphics memory mapping. Graphics memory mapping overwrites a part of the system memory. These conditions reduce the total amount of system memory that is available to the operating system.
Also you might find this interesting, The following is from http://www.computerhope.com/issues/ch001498.htm

Quote:
What is the difference between a 32-bit and 64-bit CPU?

The two main categories of processors are 32-bit and 64-bit. The type of processor a computer has not only affects it's overall performance, but it can also dictate what type of software it uses.

32-bit processor

The 32-bit processor was the primary processor used in all computers until the early 1990s. Intel Pentium processors and early AMD processors were 32-bit processors. The Operating System and software on a computer with a 32-bit processor is also 32-bit based, in that they work with data units that are 32 bits wide. Windows 95, 98, and XP are all 32-bit operating systems that were common on computers with 32-bit processors.

64-bit processor

The 64-bit computer has been around 1961 when IBM created the IBM 7030 Stretch supercomputer. However, it was not put into use in home computers until the early 2000s. Microsoft released a 64-bit version of Windows XP to be used on computers with a 64-bit processor. Windows Vista, Windows 7, and Windows 8 also come in 64-bit versions. Other software has been developed that is designed to run on a 64-bit computer, which are 64-bit based as well, in that they work with data units that are 64 bits wide.

Differences

The main difference between 32-bit processors and 64-bit processors is the speed they operate. 64-bit processors can come in dual core, quad core, and six core versions for home computing (with eight core versions coming soon). Multiple cores allow for increase processing power and faster computer operation. Software programs that require many calculations to function operate faster on the multi-core 64-bit processors, for the most part. It is important to note that 64-bit computers can still use 32-bit based software programs, even when the Windows operating system is a 64-bit version.

Another big difference between 32-bit processors and 64-bit processors is the maximum amount of memory (RAM) that is supported. 32-bit computers support a maximum of 3-4GB of memory, whereas a 64-bit computer can support memory amounts over 4 GB. This is important for software programs that are used for graphical design, engineering design or video editing, where many calculations are performed to render images, drawings, and video footage.

One thing to note is that 3D graphic programs and games do not benefit much, if at all, from switching to a 64-bit computer, unless the program is a 64-bit program. A 32-bit processor is adequate for any program written for a 32-bit processor. In the case of computer games, you'll get a lot more performance by upgrading the video card instead of getting a 64-bit processor.

In the end, 64-bit processors are becoming more and more commonplace in home computers. Most manufacturers build computers with 64-bit processors due to cheaper prices and because more users are now using 64-bit operating systems and programs. Computer parts retailers are offering fewer and fewer 32-bit processors and soon may not offer any at all.
And finally. Both 32bit and 64bit Linux distro's seem just as stable as the other. I have run into no problems with 64bit at all. So whatever distro you want, just give it a try.

Last edited by Zyblin; 12-15-2013 at 10:29 PM.
 
Old 12-16-2013, 12:25 AM   #3
lleb
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i will make one note. if you are needing to run Wine under a 64bit distro you drastically increase update issues as you will be mixing 32 and 64bit packages. this on more then one occasion has caused major issues.

if you are not requiring Wine to run specific MS Windows applications, then the 64bit to me is by far the better choice. I run 3 Fedora 19 laptops and 1 CentOS 6.4 server in my home. Only on my wife's laptop do i have update issues caused by her requirement to run Wine for several of the applications she requires for work. She is a public school teacher and those applications only run under MS Windows and a very few run under OSx, none run native under Linux.

updates on her system get complicated at times due to the 32bit packages required by Wine. My laptop and my daughters, zero issues as we do not require Wine to run any application.

my cent server is 64 bit and is very stable. have not rebooted except to install kernel patches.
 
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Old 12-16-2013, 01:09 AM   #4
jamison20000e
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64-bit
 
Old 12-16-2013, 01:36 AM   #5
berndbausch
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I would go for 64 bit, especially since you have more than 4G of memory. If, however, you plan to run very specific applications, check if they run on a 64 bit system. They might not.
 
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Old 12-16-2013, 04:22 AM   #6
zhjim
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Also memory managment would be better with 64bit. Using a pae kernel you can use more than 3GB under a 32bit system memory size is no down vote for 32. Only reason for 32bit would be wine as mentioned before. Its just so much easier to get wine running just right under 32bit then it is under 64bit due to also mentioned multilib.
 
Old 12-16-2013, 05:11 AM   #7
Captain Pinkeye
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Generally, 64bit system is faster in numbercrunching tasks while everything takes more memory - in my experience 64 bit uses about 30-40% more RAM, consistently. Everything else is negligible (form the user experience point).

You can use 6GB of RAM with 32bit kernel as well, just use something with PAE kernel (it is probably good idea to check the liveCD at first, if the distro (of your choice) runs well).

The actual information is somewhat hard to get in the internets, because everyone tells you "64bit is better, it has more registers / it is newer" or something. But there is plenty of other things to consider: with 64bit memory consumption is higher (and that means your processor's cache is effectively smaller, too!), I/O bound tasks difference is probably null (as I/O isn't faster with 64bit - the tasks will execute faster, but they will have to wait longer), by all accounts pointers are slower on 64bit (that means data-manipulation-heavy programs (like firefox os virtualbox) will probably be faster with 32bit) and so on.

You could take a look at this graph. The computing/encoding/rendering tasks are a lot faster, while the Quake3 (let's say, the real world, complete application) is the same, and Apache (data manipulation?) is slower. And everything takes more memory.

I run 32bit Debian system on 2GB RAM computer. I can't see ANY diference in the desktop experience, but the Gnome3 i use (one of the 'heavy desktops') takes under 200MB of RAM (which means good) leaving me more space for actual programs i use.

On the other hand, 6BG of RAM is plenty for GNU/linux system. I would probably go with 64bit, but just because i could afford it with 6GB, not beacuse it is inherently better.
 
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Old 12-16-2013, 09:56 AM   #8
EDDY1
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Quote:
Windows says that I have 6 GB of RAM, but only 5.9 are "usable". What does this mean? Is my RAM going bad?
No RAM isn't going bad the system is using a portion of it to operate.
 
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Old 12-16-2013, 10:01 AM   #9
salasi
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Quote:
...and was wondering if I should use the 64-bit or 32-bit version of the distro...
The answer to that is 64 bit, but largely not for the reasons here. I'm not quite sure, given that the answer is clear, how much it is worth getting into the minutiae, but...


Quote:
Originally Posted by Zyblin View Post
If you install a 32bit OS you will only be able to use up to 4GB of your RAM, probably slightly less. A 64bit OS you can use much more RAM.
With PAE/32 bit, you can use more RAM than just 4G. PAE is, however, a bit of a mess, and it is reasonable enough to say that you don't want to get involved with that (just to be clear, that's not the same as messing around, just the code veers towards the kludgy, and you may suspect that that type of code is harder to audit and thus of lower quality...can't say that I've experienced a definable problem though).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zyblin View Post
Also you might find this interesting, The following is from http://www.computerhope.com/issues/ch001498.htm
That article contains some interesting errors and over-simplifications.

Quote:
Intel Pentium processors and early AMD processors were 32-bit processors.
Should be 'Early Intel Pentium...'. Apparently unknown to the author, the Pentium is still current, and current chips are 32/64 bits, and have been for quite a few years.

Quote:
The main difference between 32-bit processors and 64-bit processors is the speed they operate. 64-bit processors can come in dual core, quad core, and six core versions for home computing (with eight core versions coming soon). Multiple cores allow...
It would be very easy to come away from that sentence with the understanding that only 64 bit processors have multiple cores. This is, of course, wrong. The author then seems to go on to claim all of the gain in perf from multi-cores for 64 bit computing, which is a mysterious mistake to make, unless you really, really, believe that only 64 bit computers can have multiple cores. This is just weird.

Quote:
In the end, 64-bit processors are becoming more and more commonplace in home computers. Most manufacturers build computers with 64-bit processors due to cheaper prices and because more users are now using 64-bit operating systems and programs. Computer parts retailers are offering fewer and fewer 32-bit processors and soon may not offer any at all.
First sentence; fine. If only the author had stuck to that statement...

Second seems to state that 64 bit chips are cheaper than 32 bit ones. This would be both a surprise and wrong, and overlooks the following fact:

Most mainstream x86 chips that are available today are 32/64 bit chips. They have a 32 bit mode, in which they can be used by 32 bit software, and a 64 bit mode. in the 64 bit mode, they can be used by 64 bit software. So, practically everyone is selling chips which could be used as 32 bit, if anyone wanted to do that, and that's irrespective of whether they are called 32 bit chips or 64 bit chips. So, if you count all the processors which could run as 32 bits, if they were configured that way, you'd have to argue that:

'fewer and fewer'

should be replaced by

'more and more, but fewer people are interested'

and the 'and soon may not offer any at all' can only be rescued if you turn it in to 'and soon may not offer any that don't offer the choice'.

although, you could equally argue 'and more and more people are buying chips with both a 32 and a 64 bit mode, and are choosing to run in the 64 bit mode', although that's hardly a world-shaking revelation.

Even if the author has any understanding of what is going on, the explanation that is given is likely to be deceptive.

Quote:
Other software has been developed that is designed to run on a 64-bit computer, which are 64-bit based as well, in that they work with data units that are 64 bits wide.
What is 'which are 64-bit based as well' intended to mean and add to the sentence? Is it the computer or the software that is (or are) 64-bit based? I've no idea.

- it is true that software has been developed that is designed to run on a 64-bit computer. Of that there can be little argument. But, in some cases, it is only a matter of re-compiling the source for it to run on a different architecture (and that is irrespective of the size of data units that the software works with). Now that depends on the source language, the compiler, etc, etc, but it surely does not mean that 'it works with 64 bit data units' implies 'can not work on a 32 bit computer'.

@Captain Pinkeye
Quote:
You could take a look at this graph. The computing/encoding/rendering tasks are a lot faster, while the Quake3 (let's say, the real world, complete application) is the same, and Apache (data manipulation?) is slower. And everything takes more memory.
You could also look at the related
Ubuntu 12.04 LTS: 32-bit vs. 64-bit Performance
Published on 28 February 2012

and get different and more interesting information. In that (Apache) test, 32 bit (plain 32 bit) is slower, and 32 bit PAE and 64 bit are neck-and-neck. Now, you could easily come up with some scenario in which the limited memory handling of non-PAE 32 bit is a limitation, but unfortunately we are not given the info to tell whether that is likely to have happened in this test. More importantly, we aren't really given anything to tell why the 32/PAE and 64 bit performances have changed, relatively, quite dramatically between the earlier test and the later (except that one is earlier and the other is later).

If nothing else, that must cast doubt on what will happen next time out of the blocks (is it some kind of regression, does it depend on some other 'random' factor that we are just not aware of (Apache 'housekeeping' or some other task, or even the way the test is done) that makes this an unreliable test?). Really just don't know enough, based on the presented evidence, to be able to tell what is going on.

But actually, all you really need to know is, in the majority of cases, 32 bit and 64 bit from a normal user perspective (with speed differences of a few percent being irrelevant, for non-stop-watch-wielding benchmarkers) are the same speed, or 64 bit may just be a hair faster, so you might as well go 64 bit and get the other advantages 'for free'.
 
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Old 12-16-2013, 10:08 AM   #10
jamison20000e
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Plus, can use 32-bit software in a 64-bit OS but in 99.999...% of cases not the other way around.
 
Old 12-16-2013, 03:29 PM   #11
maples
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Thank you everyone for your replies! I think I'll go with 64-bit.

Thank you!!!

I'm marking this thread as "SOLVED"
 
  


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