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I'm working on setting up a minimal Debian install on a USB stick, and am just trying to wrap my head around debootstrap and differences in architectures. I want to create a system to run on AMD64 (AMD Sempron 145) from i686 (Intel Atom N450). As far as I understand, the atom is a 64 bit processor, so can I just do this:

debootstrap --arch=amd64 wheezy /mnt/foobar

Or do I have to follow one of the more complicated cross-debootstrap procedures?

extra info:

$ lscpu
Architecture:          i686
CPU op-mode(s):        32-bit, 64-bit
CPU(s):                2
Thread(s) per core:    2
Core(s) per socket:    1
CPU socket(s):         1
Vendor ID:             GenuineIntel
CPU family:            6
Model:                 28
Stepping:              10
CPU MHz:               1666.444
L1d cache:             24K
L1i cache:             32K
L2 cache:              512K
share|improve this question
You could possibly use one of the higher level systems like sbuild instead of using debootstrap directly. – Faheem Mitha May 8 '13 at 16:50
@FaheemMitha Thanks, I didn't know about sbuild, I'll keep it in mind for next time. I chose to use debootstrap mostly for the learning experience. – Gordon Bailey May 9 '13 at 13:40
up vote 2 down vote accepted

debootstrap needs to be able to run executables in the target system. If that'll work, then it'll be fine. If not, it'll blow up obviously.

I'm pretty sure it should work as long as you're running a 64-bit kernel. You can run a 64-bit kernel with a 32-bit userland (but not vice versa). So, worst case, you may need to install a 64-bit kernel on your current Atom system.

Also, note that deboostrap may not make everything 100% ready to boot. E.g., I'm not sure fstab will be set up, or a bootloader installed, etc. If possible, it'll likely be easier to run the Debian Installer on your Sempron box instead.

Or, if you're trying to build a live "CD", see http://live.debian.net/

share|improve this answer
This was pretty much exactly right. The kernel I had installed was 32-bit, but installing a 64-bit kernel was as easy as sudo apt-get install linux-image-2.6-amd64. After rebooting and using the 64-bit kernel, debootstrap worked basically perfectly. And I know there are simpler ways to do an install, I chose this method mostly for the learning experience. – Gordon Bailey May 9 '13 at 13:39

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