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I have a laptop with a Core 2 Duo processor, and I'm going to install Linux. What advantages (speed or others) are there in using the 64-bit version of my favorite distro, vs using the 32-bit version ?

Some specifics:

  • This answer states that "Programs may run a bit faster." How much faster ?

  • I have 4GB of ram (or less), so the 4gb memory limit of 32-bit is not a problem.

  • This is a Core 2 Duo, which is somewhat old, but would a newer processor be different ?

I'm asking because I'm deciding between having compatibility with my even older 32bit systems (using compiled binaries, swapping hard drives, and such), and possible speed or other advantages.

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If your main concern is to have compatibility with other systems, then perhaps staying on a 32-bit OS is good enough.

The only real reason I could see a benefit with 64-bit OS in this particular case is that some software, specifically designed for 64-bit OS's don't work on 32-bit OS's.

This doesn't seem like an issue for you, if you're not interested in any 64-bit software to begin with.

An interesting read from howtogeek on 32-bit vs 64-bit Ubuntu.

  • @Ramhound fair enough. Although there are workarounds, but I can't be bothered to go into those in detail on this answer. I guess the main point should be that you SHOULDN'T RUN 64-bit software on 32-bit at all. – Leathe Oct 27 '15 at 12:44
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https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/64-bit_computing Pros and cons

(I'm providing a summary)

Pros:

  1. Encryption benefits with larger registers.
  2. 3 GB Barrier may be present for 32bit OS: "exact barrier varies by motherboard and I/O device configuration, particularly the size of video RAM; it may be in the range of 2.75 GB to 3.5 GB" Misconception that 32 bit OS is restricted to 4GB - PAE unless you have chipset/mobo issues.
  3. 'more general-purpose registers than their 32-bit counterparts' 'leads to a significant speed increase for tight loops'
  4. Java programs that run on a 64-bit Java virtual machine have access to a larger address space.

Cons:

  1. 'same data occupies more space in memory (due to longer pointers and possibly other types, and alignment padding). This increases the memory requirements of a given process and can have implications for efficient processor cache utilization'

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