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I recently gave my mother an .iso of Ubuntu 11.10 x64 and installed it for her, on her 32-bit system. I didn't realize my error till the installation was complete. Will the installation of a x64 OS on a x86 system cause significant problems? Also, why wouldn't the installation just end when the system is identified as a 32-bit system?

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It's quite apparent your mother does have a 64-bit compatible processor, or you wouldn't have even been able to start the install. – Breakthrough Mar 3 '12 at 21:57
That is what I'm thinking as well. But it just seems too good to be true. Her computer is about 4 years old and it came with Windows Vista x32 preinstalled. Is the installation somehow intelligent enough to use PAE? – Nyx Mar 3 '12 at 22:00
it's a different instruction set, so it has nothing to do with PAE. Check her processor, but it's literally impossible for a 64-bit program to run on a 32-bit processor - different machine code. – Breakthrough Mar 3 '12 at 22:01
Ok, thank you for your help. I'll get back to you as soon as i have access to the machine. – Nyx Mar 3 '12 at 22:04
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It's impossible for x32 machines to run x64 code, no matter the conditions. And even if it could, it would be kinda pointless, since x64 code requires more computing power and more RAM. It would be like wasting rocket fuel on an old Ford T engine. It just can't do justice to it.

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If it installed, she has a 64-bit system. A 32-bit only CPU simply cannot run 64-bit code at *all*. The installer wouldn't even have started.

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