I have been using a virtual machine (Xubuntu 12.10, with VMWare on a windows host) for all my programming work, which I am trying to transition from a 32-bit install to a 64-bit install. I am hoping to be able to automatically re-install all the packages I have been using in the 32-bit VM in my new 64-bit VM.

Reading these instructions, I ran sudo dpkg --get-selections to get a list of installed packages, but many of the packages have an :i386 suffix.

Is there an easy way to install the corresponding 64-bit packages? Am I safe to replace :i386 with :x86_64 or something similar in my package listing before trying to install them?

  • It seems the suffix I would need is :amd64. – Ben Apr 3 '13 at 11:40
  • :i386 "should" mean that it's not the native architecture. So your VM would actually have been x64 and the question is a moot point. – RobotHumans Apr 3 '13 at 12:49
  • Would that be the same if I have an x64 CPU in the VM but I used the x86 install disk and so I have a 32-bit kernel? – Ben Apr 3 '13 at 13:52

The first answer to this question uses what you suggest, and handles missing packages afterwards. Among the answers some people suggest this is a bad idea. Note as well that if the selection adds a :i386 it may be because some other package explicitly requires a package for this architecture. If you want to check before, here is a suggestion.

In your system, you should find lists of available packages per repository in /var/lib/apt/lists. You could check the list of packages with a :i386 against these lists to ensure that they are present for both i386 and amd64 architectures. The following script is an example of what you could do


#iterate on installed packages with a :something in their names
for package in $(
                   dpkg --get-selections | 
                   grep ":" | #comment to check all the selection
                   grep -v deinstall | 
                   cut -f1 |
                   sed s/:.*// | 
                   sort -u
  #find all occurences in repository package lists
  grep "Package: $package$" /var/lib/apt/lists/*  2>/dev/null |
    #translation and sources are not usefull
    grep -v Translation |
    grep -v Sources |
    #put the distribution as a prefix
    sed 's/^\(.*\)_dists_\([^_]*\)\(.*\)/\2  \1\3/' |
    #put the architecture difference in the repository file name as a prefix
    sed 's/^\(.*\)-\(amd64\|i386\)_\(.*\)/\2  \1_\3/' |
    #count consecutive identical lines ignoring the architecture prefix
    uniq -c -f1 |
    #print architecture distribution and package if some line is not duplicated
    awk '$1!=2{print $2 " " $3 " " $5}'

On a lubuntu install this gives me nothing, and on a debian one, the packages libc6-i686, libwine-bin, libwine-alsa, libwine-gl are only for i386 architecture for instance

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  • Thanks! To be clear: this displays a list of the packages installed where there is an i386 version but not amd64 installed [or available?], correct? I get over 500 lines of output (mostly big sets of library packages like Qt, but some "standard" stuff like openjdk). – Ben Apr 3 '13 at 14:01
  • Nearly, it just doesn't check installed packages which don't have a specified architecture in dpkg --get-selections. You can check for all installed packages by removing the grep ":" | line in the filtering of the packages iterated on. – Vincent Nivoliers Apr 3 '13 at 14:06
  • openjdk seems to exist for all of the architectures in my case. Maybe the versions you have come from non-standard repositories, or you don't have both i386 and amd64 repositories installed ? In the last awk line you could also print $4 which contains the address of the repository, and see whether the lines you get come from repositories you don't care about. – Vincent Nivoliers Apr 3 '13 at 14:24

This generates a list of the installed packages:

aptitude search -F '%100p' '~i!~M' > softare-list

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