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For a while, I have been using a 32-bit version of Ubuntu, and I have been considering switching to the 64-bit version. Because I am not too familiar with the ins and outs of Ubuntu yet, I was wondering if it's possible to directly upgrade to the 64-bit version, or will I have to uninstall Ubuntu, and then re-install it?

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Have a look at this (unanswered) question for an idea how a switch might work: askubuntu.com/questions/192980/… - apart from this, you only other reasonable option is to reinstall. –  Sergey Jan 14 '13 at 3:59

2 Answers 2

There is no convenient way to upgrade from 32-bit to 64-bit Ubuntu. You have to reinstall.

If you don't need the 64-bit version for some special reason then I'd suggest that you save yourself the trouble for now; stick with the 32-bit version until you have some other reason to reinstall, e.g., you acquire a new computer.

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You never uninstall an operating system, you simply reformat the partition and it's gone. If you want to do everything in one session, you pretty much can.

  • Grab Ubuntu 64-bit
  • Boot it up in a live session
  • Back up everything to an external hard drive or really large USB key (ideal), alternatively run GParted and reduce your Ubuntu partition to minimal space, create a backup partition and copy over all your files, even your entire home directory if you like. You also have the option of migrating your home directory to its dedicated partition
  • Install Ubuntu 64 bit over the previous OS partition (reformat), if you created a backup partition, you can mount it to a specific folder like /media/backup/, then reboot
  • Then all your restore your files or just leave them in the backup partition (either on your hard drive or external storage)
  • Now you have 64 bit Ubuntu. Although you reinstalled the OS, especially if you keep your home directory on its dedicated partition, after reinstalling the apps you use, you'll hardly notice the fact that you reinstalled your OS!
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