I have a server with Quad-Core Intel Xeon Processor 5300 Sequence. I would like to install the latest stable release of Debian on it.

But I'm confused by the number of installers available for download:


I would like to install 64-bit system (there is enough RAM), so surely not i386, but which one? I know I should probably choose amd64 but this comes from what is more-heard-of, not from actual understanding.

I have found nothing in Intel's datasheet. On Xeon's wikipedia page it says that both IA-32 and x86-64 instruction sets are supported and names a number of microarchitectures like Haswell, Nehalem, etc. None of these names resemble anything from the list. I tried to google them individually but again no luck.

What is additionally confusing is the presence of "multi-arch" option which is said to cover both i386 and amd64. If so why are there are separate options in first place?

  • 2
    AMD and Intel 64bit go under amd64 - Source: Debian's Hardware Info. The others are usually either Supercomputers or mobile phone sized processors.
    – FelixJN
    Aug 26, 2015 at 20:46
  • @Fiximan Thanks, I think this answers my question in full. Would you post it as a full Answer so that I could accept it?
    – xaxa
    Aug 26, 2015 at 21:21
  • It's a shame that this link is not on the page with installers...
    – xaxa
    Aug 26, 2015 at 21:22
  • A FAQ is linked from the CD page. It should answer your question. Aug 28, 2015 at 6:41

2 Answers 2


You could use i386 (because your processor supports the IA-32 instructions) or amd64 (because of the x86-64 instruction set). If you want 64bit, you should use amd64.

There is a description of the different port on https://www.debian.org/ports/index.en.html:

amd64 - 64-bit PC (amd64)

First officially released with Debian 4.0. Port to the 64-bit AMD64 processors. The goal is to support both 32-bit and 64-bit userland on this architecture. This port supports AMD's 64-bit Opteron, Athlon and Sempron processors, and Intel's processors with Intel 64 support, including the Pentium D and various Xeon and Core2 series.

i386 - 32-bit PC (i386)

The first architecture, and not strictly a port. Linux was originally developed for the Intel 386 processors, hence the short name. Debian supports all IA-32 processors, made by Intel (including all Pentium series and recent Core Duo machines in 32-bit mode), AMD (K6, all Athlon series, Athlon64 series in 32-bit mode), Cyrix and other manufacturers.

The multi-arch installer is just an installer which supports the installation of both i386 and amd64 systems.


The multi-arch installer is also useful for setting up an amd64 installation on some esoteric machines which have a 64-bit capable CPU, but a 32-bit UEFI (the computer's boot firmware). Normally such systems might be able to fall back to legacy BIOS mode to complete an install of the amd64 architecture, but that can be further complicated by the lack of legacy BIOS support on some UEFI implementations.

The multi-arch installer can get past this limitation by booting an i386 UEFI version of grub, which in turn is capable of loading amd64 kernels.

Most users wouldn't need this, but for those who do, the existence of the multi-arch installer is an essential step.

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