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I am about to decide on a Linux distro with a choice of a 32-bit PAE kernel and a 32-bit Non-PAE kernel. I am/will be using a 64-bit processor. I can see that either the PAE or the Non-PAE version works. My question is, is there an advantage in using the 32-bit PAE kernel over the 32- bit Non-PAE kernel? Or there is no difference at all when it comes to a 64-bit processor?

Yes, yes, I know. The best scenario is using a native 64-bit distro, and I don't have/will not have any problems testing some of them. In the meantime, I am still interested in getting an answer to my original question, please.

  • Got 64-bit. 32 non pae is limited to 3GB, 32-pae memory management is a mess, and if you are using Linux 32 bits, 2038 will be a mess and John Titor travelled in vain. – Rui F Ribeiro Dec 17 '17 at 9:38
  • Rui, do I take it that it doesn't matter when choosing PAE vs. Non-PAE? – Disco Makberto Dec 17 '17 at 9:41
  • see @johan answer ; related IT folklore telegraph.co.uk/news/science/11945420/… – Rui F Ribeiro Dec 17 '17 at 9:55
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With a PAE kernel you will be able to address more than 4 GB physical memory. If you only have 4 GB or less RAM, there will be no difference. Process address space is limited to 4 GB (3 GB user space) in both cases is the processor is running in 32-bit legacy mode.

  • Johan, just to be completely clear, with a 32-bit PAE kernel I can access more than 4GB physical memory (if there is that amount or more installed) even if the processor is 64-bit? If so, then there is an advantage in using a 32-bit PAE kernel vs. using a 32-bit Non-PAE kernel with a 64-bit processor. Yes, I know about the process address space in 32-bit legacy mode. I appreciate your reminding me about it. Thanks! – Disco Makberto Dec 17 '17 at 9:59
  • A 64-bit processor supports PAE in 32-bit legacy mode too, so there is an advantage in using the PAE kernel if you have lots of RAM. Using a 64-bit kernel gives you even more advantages, like more registers and an improved instruction set. – Johan Myréen Dec 17 '17 at 13:09

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