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My Debian kernel is linux-image-2.6.32-5-amd64, and the command uname -m returns x86_64. However, apt-get does get i386 packages (those /var/cache/apt/archives/*_i386.deb), and never gets amd64 package.

I want to install virtualbox, but neither -i386 nor -amd64 work for me.

I have tried to install virtualbox-4.1-amd64.deb, but it was said the version incorrect, then, I can only install virtualbox-4.1-i386.deb. But after installed -i386, virtualbox couldn't launch the client VM, system mismatch error.

I'm confused what the true arch type my system indeed is, i386? amd64? or x86_64?

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maybe first you need to add more info of your machine: take a look a this askubuntu.com/questions/47623/… – maniat1k Apr 29 '12 at 21:26
up vote 1 down vote accepted

You are running an amd64 kernel on an amd64 processor (x86_64 and amd64 are synonyms). You are running an i386 distribution. In other words, you are running 32-bit binaries with a 64-bit kernel. See Linux command to return number of bits (32 or 64)? for some background.

On Linux, you can run i386 executables on an amd64 kernel, but not the other way round. So you could install an amd64 VirtualBox binary, however it cannot come from your current distribution, which has only 32-bit executables and libraries.

An i386 VirtualBox binary can run an amd64 image, but only if your processor has CPU virtualization extensions (Intel VT-x or AMD-V). If it doesn't, you need to run an amd64 VirtualBox, which you can install independently (but you'll need to have all the libraries that the VB executables require) or in a distribution that you install in a schroot.

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I have reinstalled Debian OS with the amd64 DVD, and now it's okay! – Xiè Jìléi May 3 '12 at 12:55

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