What exactly are the implications? Can a 32 bit linux run applications that are compiled as 64 bit? Or vice versa?

I just got a new machine with an i5 processor, I installed a copy of Ubuntu 10.10 which seems to be i686 which I new realize is 32 bit, but I think I have some 64 bit apps installed. Can this be right?


You need a 64bit Operating System to run applications compiled for 64bit systems. You will, however, be able to run 32bit applications as well. It just doesn't work the other way around.

  • 4
    That's true of Linux, but not of all OSes, e.g. OpenBSD amd64 can't run i386 binaries, and Solaris amd64/i386 can run both kinds of binaries on either kernel architecture. Jan 26 '11 at 0:56
  • 1
    Exactly, but the question explicitly mentions Linux.
    – user4135
    Jan 26 '11 at 10:20
  • You MIGHT be able to run 32bit applications. It depends. Ubuntu is really good at including 32bit libs so I've never had a problem. But something like arch, getting 32 bit shared libraries on a 64 bit system isn't trivial. However if the binary doesn't have dynamic library dependences you should be fine. Unless you're building it from source.
    – Falmarri
    Jan 26 '11 at 18:13
  • @Gilles Not all forms of Linux support that, either. You need to install certain things to make Linux capable of doing it. I imagine you could program the ability to do it for other operating systems. Apr 20 '18 at 21:48
  • @Shule Linux supports it, all you need to do is install the libraries used by the program you want to run. OpenBSD doesn't support it, if you wanted to do it you'd need to do a large amount of programming. Apr 21 '18 at 8:44

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