How to Check if Your Linux System is 32-bit or 64-bit

By Lori Kaufman on October 15th, 2014

00_lead_image_ubuntu_desktop_XXbit

It’s always a good idea to know some basics about the operating system you’re running on your computer. For example, you may need to know whether you’re running a 64-bit or 32-bit system so you know which file to download for a program you want to install.

There’s a lot of software available for Ubuntu in the Ubuntu Software Center. However, you can also install software from outside the Software Center and they may offer separate 32-bit and 64-bit versions of the software.

We will show you several different ways of checking whether your Ubuntu system is 32-bit or 64-bit. Some provide additional information beyond whether the system is 32-bit or 64-bit.

The first two methods involves the “uname” command, which prints system information to the screen. If you want more information than just whether your system is 32-bit or 64-bit, type the following command and press Enter.

uname –a

The following information is printed to the screen in the following order: kernel name, network node hostname, kernel release, kernel version, machine hardware name, processor type, hardware platform, operating system. You can find out what the Linux kernel is and what it does at How-To Geek.

The machine hardware name lists whether your system is 32-bit (“i686” or “i386”) or 64-bit (“x86_64”). Notice that the processor type and hardware platform also indicates 32-bit or 64-bit.

01_uname_a_command

To use the “uname” command to only find out whether your system is 32-bit or 64-bit, type the following command and press Enter.

uname –m

This displays only the machine hardware name and indicates, as above, whether your system is 32-bit (“i686” or “i386”) or 64-bit (“x86_64”).

02_uname_m_command

The “arch” command is similar to the “uname -m” command and prints to the screen whether your system is 32-bit (“i686”) or 64-bit (“x86_64”). Type the following command and press Enter.

arch

03_arch_command

You can also use the “file” command with a special argument (“/sbin/init”) to find out whether your system is 32-bit or 64-bit. Type the following command and press Enter.

file /sbin/init

The following output is printed to the screen. The text outlined in red indicates whether your system is 32-bit or 64-bit.

04_file_sbin_init_command

If you would rather use a graphical tool to find out whether your system is 32-bit or 64-bit, you can use the “System Settings.” Click the “System” menu button (gear button) in the upper-right corner of the screen and select “System Settings” from the drop-down menu.

05_selecting_system_settings

On the “System Settings” dialog box, click “Details” in the “System” section, as shown below.

06_clicking_details

The “Details” screen displays. On the “Overview” screen, the “OS type” is listed as either “64-bit” or “32-bit,” along with other basic information about your Ubuntu system.

07_closing_settings

If you’re running Windows, you can also easily check if your system is 32-bit or 64-bit.

Lori Kaufman is a writer who likes to write geeky how-to articles to help make people's lives easier through the use of technology. She loves watching and reading mysteries and is an avid Doctor Who fan.

  • Published 10/15/14
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