I've previously added i386 support in order to install wine32 with:

sudo dpkg --add-architecture i386

Now I don't need wine32 anymore and removed it, then wanted to remove the i386 architecture again, but it states:

sudo dpkg --remove-architecture i386
dpkg: error: cannot remove architecture 'i386' currently in use by the database

I assume that I could remove all i386 packages shown by dpkg --list | grep i386, but I'm not sure whether this may impair my systems functionality or not.

My question is, if its safe to remove the listed i386 packages, considering that I removed wine32. Or on the other hand if it may interfere with my system in any way, if I keep the i386 architecture.

Debian Stretch 4.1.0-2-amd64

1 Answer 1


On a debian amd64 system, the i386 architecture is an optional extra. No i386 packages are required for the system to function.

If you are not using any 32-bit programs, you can safely remove all :i386 packages, and the i386 architecture.

Personally, I wouldn't bother removing them unless disk space was extremely tight. The i386 packages do no harm and you may want to run 32-bit software again in the future.

  • thank you for the advice. Will aptitude install i386 if I don't explicitly tell it to? For instance when I sudo apt-get install something and something offers i386 packages? Oct 8, 2015 at 12:11
  • Generally not. The exception is when you install a 32-bit package that depends on 32-bit libraries - they will get installed too. It won't install i386 packages at all if you've removed the arch with dpkg --remove-architecture i386
    – cas
    Oct 8, 2015 at 12:15
  • I would just add one thing - I was having similar problem for a long time and I unknowingly installed a lot of quite essencial packages as i386, so I didn't have them in amd64 form - this led to a lot of problems, because attempt at removing all i386 packages led to removing almost everything - after much despair and some googling, I resolved it by installing every package which didn't have it's amd64 counterpart and only then removing i386 packages and architecture - which now proceeded without any problems at all.
    – Jan Spurny
    Jun 4, 2016 at 16:22

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