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I'll be receiving a new notebook in a few days and was planning on running Ubuntu on it as it's compatible and the notebook has no OS pre-installed. The specifications are: Core 2 Duo, T6600, 4 GB RAM, Intel integrated graphics.

I know a year or two ago, running a 64-bit version of Ubuntu was not advised due to much of the applications and plugins (e.g. Flash) only running on 32-bit. Is this still the case? Would I get better performance with 64-bit Ubuntu since I have 4 GB of RAM? Are there any downsides anymore?

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Plus sides:

  • It will be slightly faster. While 64bit vs 32bit apps don't make a huge performance difference, developers can make assumptions about speed-related features being present in 64-bit processors that they can't with 32bit apps.
  • You can use all 4GB of RAM, as opposed to roughly 3.2GB. (There are ways around this for 32bit systems, but it's not simple)

Negative sides:

  • While nowadays you won't find many apps that just don't work on 64bit, there are some (Adobe Air comes to mind), that do require more effort to install.
  • What about drivers? Are most hardware drivers usable on a 64bit Ubuntu setup? – nitbuntu Jan 16 '10 at 23:57
  • @nitbuntu: I'm sure there might be one or two proprietary wireless card drivers which are 32 bit only, but I've never come across any 32-bit only drivers since I started using x64 6 months ago, and both the ATI (fglrx) and nvidia drivers definitely work on 64 bit. (for Intel integrated graphics, the default drivers are fine) – Macha Jan 17 '10 at 1:05
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I've been using 64-bit Ubuntu for about 4 version now. It's my primary desktop and there's not much I haven't been able to do with it.

Adobe has a 64-bit Flash player - only for Linux - that you can download here: http://labs.adobe.com/downloads/flashplayer10.html

  • +1 my experience too. I still have the ia32-libs, but only for Skype now; everything else is 64-bit. (Bah, stupid Skype.) The 64-bit Flash plugin is way better than the nightmare with wrappers and despite being “alpha” is as stable as any other platform's Flash I've ever run (which is to say, not particularly). – bobince Jan 13 '10 at 19:34
  • @bobince Do you mean that I can install 32bit apps by installing ia32-libs? – nitbuntu Jan 16 '10 at 23:59
  • @nitbuntu: Yes,you can. – Macha Jan 17 '10 at 1:01
  • Yes. ia32-libs depends on a bunch of commonly-required lib32- packages. For some apps you may still need to install further lib32- packages that aren't dragged in by ia32-libs. Hopefully you'd have a .deb package that would sort that out for you. If not you'll have to seek out the required lib32s yourself. – bobince Jan 18 '10 at 2:18
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Ubuntu desktop is available in two images: 64-bit PC (AMD64) and 32-bit PC (i386). Which version of Ubuntu to choose depends on how much RAM your computer has.

A computer that has <=3GB RAM will run better with Ubuntu 32-bit because 64-bit programs use about 50% more memory then their 32-bit counterparts. You'll also get longer battery life with Ubuntu 32-bit if you are using a laptop that has only 2GB RAM.

If your computer has 4GB RAM it is better to install Ubuntu 64-bit, and your computer will perform faster when running large workloads with a 64-bit OS. Ubuntu 64-bit also supports some applications that Ubuntu 32-bit does not support, for example Google Chrome support for 32-bit Linux has been discontinued since March, 2016.

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