Originally Posted by jailbait
32 bit means that the hardware is capable of using 32 bit addressing. 64 bit means that the hardware is capable of both 32 bit addressing and 64 bit addressing. The 64 bit addressing is done with extra instructions that a 32 bit machine does not have.
If you use 64 bit Linux on a 64 bit machine then the software will take advantage of the 64 bit instructions and will run faster. If you attempt to use 64 bit Linux on a 32 bit machine then the software will not work at all.
If you use 32 bit Linux on a 32 bit machine it works fine. If you use 32 bit Linux on a 64 bit machine that also works fine but you do not get the speed enhancement that the 64 bit machine is capable of providing.
Using a mixture of 32 bit and 64 bit software on a 64 bit machine usually works.
you wont get a speed enhancement unless it uses 64 bit instructions...
i have run both 32bit and 64bit on a 64 bit cpu and other than the fact i was processing units that where capable of using the 64bit instructions, it made no difference...
64bit for the average user can be a disadvantage at the moment as some apps wont work correctly with apps that are 32bit..
example was a plugin for firefox, even tho you could install the 64bit version it was not functional for all web sites, only a sparse few...
if your a linux newbie i would suggest sticking with 32 bit at first, then migrate at a later stage, this way you wont have any dramas and be able to get fluent with linux, after then, its all fun, just to make 64 bit invincible...