No One Uses 32-bit Anymore... Right?

by Susan Linton - Sep. 30, 2011Comments (14)

The 64-bit computer architecture has been around much longer than most laypersons think. In fact, its history goes all the way back to the 1970's. But for most personal computer users it became available affordably around 2003. Over eight years later most people have left 32-bit behind, right?

The results of the latest poll at give us a possible answer. While the advantages are clear for many people, the number of people still using 32-bit might surprise you. Among other advantages, 64-bit processors with their larger register size can keep and use more data than the smaller 32-bit counterparts, allowing the use of more physical memory. These factors speed up the works by cutting down the back and forth referencing and cycling in and out of data. The performance boost is quite noticeable with multimedia and graphic applications, games, and databases.

While this is almost a criminal oversimplification, one can get the gist of why many users moved on to 64-bit as soon as software caught-up. Linux distributions usually offer both 32-bit and 64-bit version these days, but there are some that still don't. So, just how many people are still using 32-bit? According to the poll, 44% of the visitors who responded are using 32-bit versions of Linux.

Judging by some of the discussions I've seen on the subject, some users aren't convinced there's a significant advantage.  Where ever you land in the discussion, it appears you are not alone. A 44 to 56 split could almost be a statistical tie. Did you know it was still pretty much half and half? I expected lots more 64-bit users.

Khürt Williams uses OStatic to support Open Source, ask and answer questions and stay informed. What about you?


Don't forget the large number of smaller 32-bit machines, particular with ARM hardware (ex. beagleboard or the sheeva plug).

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And don't forget about all of us netbook owners.

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I have a 32-bit system. It is on a external device, and I want it to work everywhere, not just specific machines.

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I use 64-bit as much as possible, except for two very old machines that don't support it, and one server which needs to run a certain application that doesn't play well on 64-bit. That last one really bugs me but there's nothing I can do about it.

I saw the poll too, and I was really startled that so many people are using 32-bit. There must be a lot of people out there running on old hardware, or who like distros without a 64-bit version like Bodhi or Lubuntu.

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And don't forget us PCLinuxOS users running a fast, stable 32-bit system. We're also testing a 64-bit version (currently test4). While Texstar & Co. iron out the wrinkles, many packages are being compiled. Tex never releases anything before it is ready, but I would look forward to a 64-bit PCLOS shortly. Stability first.



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don't forget about netbook as well. In my notebook i uses 64, but for my netbook i need to use 32 bit

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I just switched over this weekend to 64-bit Slackware and loving it...

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Well, considering how slow Linux distro developers have been - and some still are! - in offering 64-bit versions, I am not the least surprised. For years the users have even been told that the difference is negligible. Some have even maintained it to be a matter of 'taste'. Fanbois can make themselves say anything.

While I'd hate to give up Linux, the sad fact is that the Linux 'community' is not at the technological forefront.

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One of the benefits of linux for me is that I don't have to buy new hardware to run it. 32-bit remains the most popular architecture for several distros. Here are some more statistics:

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Personally, I've had stability problems with the 64-bit releases on some older 64-bit architecture systems. At the same time, on more recent, but not "new", 64-bit machines I've found disparities in driver performance in favor of the 32-bit variant.

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Running both 32 and 64 bit Linux and Windows. For 99% of what I do 32 bit is entirely satisfactory. Rarely use more than 512 MB of memory, spectroscopic accuracy is usually irrelevant, and I don't edit video. 64 bit seems a wast. If a problem comes along that requires 64 bit I have it available. Did calculate mathematical Pi to 3 million places using specialist software. Quite useful for passwords selecting a 64 or 128 decimal digit sequence and displaying it to base 64 [0-9,a-z,A-z,£$]. Numerical calculations often need 64 bit to get 32 bit precision in the results.

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I'm also 32-but Linux user with 64bit computer. Due to the lack of applications fully utilizing 64-bit potential I gave up some time ago. Are you trying to say that things has changed?

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2 factors keep me using 32-bit:

Skype seems to only be available for Linux as 32-bit

64-bit flash seems to continually have issues, or get left behind in the fixes when a security flaw is found

I ran Debian stable for a while with 64-bit and had no other issues - but both of the above are biggies, so I now stick to Debian stable in 32-bit.


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1) Poll results - access denied.

2) Only one laptop which I have access to is capable to run 64-bit OS. And it is not going to migrate to Linux, I am afraid. So I am tied with 32-bit architecture.

As for bigger memory requirements, I still use laptop with 1GB and it is enough for my daily activities.

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