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Old 12-14-2007, 07:11 PM   #1
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Question Installing 64-bit linux distros on 32-bit hardware

Are there any advantages or disadvantages to installing a 64-bit linux distro, such as SuSE SLES 10 or RHEL 4/5 on 32-bit hardware?

I believe that the 32-bit distro will install run-time libraries and kernel that will limit the maximum process size to 2^32 bytes, and kernel maximum addressable memory to 4GB.

Similarly, the 64-bit distro will install run-time libraries and a kernel that increases the maximum process size to 2^64 bytes and 4 exabytes (2^64) of memory.

I'm not sure about the accuracy of the last statement, and that's why I'm here ;-)

I know that the 64-bit kernel, along with a processor with PAE support will allow the kernel to address more than 4GB of memory, but not sure if the installation of the 64-bit run-time libraries on 32-bit hardware will allow a 64-bit executable to access more than the default 2^32 address space of the processor.

Any discussions, corrections or clarifications are appreciated.
Old 12-14-2007, 07:40 PM   #2
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You cannot run 64bit on a 32bit cpu. You can run 32bit(or 64bit) on a 64bit cpu.
Old 12-14-2007, 08:00 PM   #3
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The reason a 32-bit processor can only address 4GB is because there are physically only 32-bits. Presuming that you have an x86_64 machine, the 64-bit instruction set is larger than the 32-bit instruction set. A 32-bit processor will not have the slightest idea what to do if it gets one of those instructions. The x86_64 architecture also has additional registers and the registers are wider (2 times in fact) that those in x86 processors. Depending on the 64-bit architecture you have a 64-bit processor may run 32-bit as well as 64-bit, but not all are multilib.

To answer your question, the disadvantage of installing a 64-bit distro on a 32-bit machine is that the machine won't work. The advantage is that you can use it as a doorstop.

Last edited by weibullguy; 12-14-2007 at 08:02 PM.
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Old 12-14-2007, 08:36 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by weibullguy View Post
The reason a 32-bit processor can only address 4GB is because there are physically only 32-bits.
Using PAE the (32-bit) processor can address 64 Gig (real).

No argument with the rest.


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