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I'm planning on installing Ubuntu Linux to my new computer and I have a question about which ISO to download.
PC (Intel x86) install/live DVD
For almost all PCs. This includes most machines with Intel/AMD/etc type processors and almost all computers that run Microsoft Windows. Choose this if you are at all unsure.
64-bit PC (AMD64) install/live DVD
For computers based on the AMD64 or EM64T architecture (e.g., Athlon64, Opteron, EM64T Xeon). It is not necessary for all (even most) processors made by AMD -- only their 64 bit chips.
My processor is an AMD Athlon 64 3800+ and I currently use Windows Media Center 2005. The way I understand it, I have the option of using the basic PC image or the 64-bit image. The only problem is that I don't know the difference.
Are there any advantages to using the AMD64 version? Is it faster or something? I don't really see a point in having a 64-bit processor if there are no advantages to it...
The main advantage to installing a 64 bit distro is the ability to install more than 2 GB of memory. Because the AMD64 (x86_64) and also run 32 bit programs, you distro might install 32 bit versions of certain programs. For example, Firefox, so that the 32bit plugins will work. All 64 bit kernels have NX support which prevents code from executing on the stack. Depending on the processor, virtualization support is improved.
Actually, 32 bit systems are gppd up to 4 GB of RAM (actually a little less due to the memory used by peripheral devices). Realistically, unless you are running heavy mathematical applications you won't notice much of a speed boost from having a 64 bit distro running.
I have a 32-bit / 64-bit dual boot on my desktop, and 32-bit on my laptop. I use the 64-bit about 90% of the time. There are occasions when I really want to see a Flash9 video, or video that requires the w32codes, but for me, those times are fairly infrequent. My kids, on the other hand use the 32-bit OS exclusively for those reasons.
64-bit OSes will soon be the norm, and since Vista is optimized for 64-bit, I think the necessary plugins will soon be available. 64-bit does have advantages, especially in the hardware driver areas, but the actual processing speed improvement is pretty much invisible to the average user.
For Java apps, you can use Konqueror, which doesn't need a java plugin, and the FOSS Flashplayer, Gnash, works fine for older Flash movies. I can't honestly say there is an advantage to using the 64-bit OS, but since it doesn't inhibit my normal usage, I prefer to use it while watching it mature.