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How do I upgrade from x86 to x64 without losing settings?

I installed Ubuntu at a time when I did not know whether my laptop was 64bit compatible. Stupid of me not to check. I currently run 32 bit Ubuntu 10.04. The issue is that I wish now to migrate to Natty 11.04 64 bit. I know that I will have to uninstall and reinstall.

Can someone list down the steps also how do I do a seamless migration where all the applications which I have so painstakingly installed get retained also what about the little customizations I may have done. Fundamental question what will I gain with 64 bit or is it wise to stick to 32 bit with PAE. I have 8GB RAM on my machine..

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marked as duplicate by Oli Aug 9 '11 at 20:48

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

What do you do with your machine? There may be little or no benefit to using 64bit. – djeikyb Aug 9 '11 at 17:49
I am going to agree with djeikyb. Migration can be a very messy issue. – Christopher Stansbury Aug 9 '11 at 18:00
never did this before, but you may try as suggested in the last "User Stories" entry on this page - guess you'd have to first upgrade to ubuntu 11.04 32bit and then run the commands mentioned in the MultiArchSpec article – Roland Kohn Aug 9 '11 at 18:09

There is a way to do it using apt and dpkg (there was a debian tutorial which can be adapted), but it's isn't worth it (it's mostly for very advanced users and there is a lot of risk involved).

If your /home/ is on another partition just reinstall the system and use home directory to keep all your settings. If it isn't - backup your settings and install 64bit version.

As for the programs you have. The combination of:

dpkg --get-selections > /backup/installed-software.log

and on your new system:

dpkg --set-selections < /backup/installed-software.log

(with a few minor modifications for 32bit libs) will do.

Is it worth it? Yes it is, not because it's faster, but because in a few years 32bit version will become outdated, deprecated and ultimately - abandoned. Let's face it - having 4-8 GB RAM isn't that much nowadays, I'm writing this using 16GB RAM computer, which wasn't all that expensive. Netbooks are suddenly capable of using 64bit distro and the market of 32bit-only intel/amd processors is shrinking.

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+1 for being the first person I saw that recommends to use the 64-bit version. – Rafał Cieślak Aug 9 '11 at 18:47
I agree with @rafalcieslak! It's rather silly to keep saying 64bit has no advantages, because it does (and this has been covered even on this site many times). – RolandiXor Aug 9 '11 at 18:52
+1 whats the point of having it if you don't use it to its potential – Allan Aug 9 '11 at 19:00
I like to compare 32 to 64 bit migration to ip4 to ip6 migration. It might be postponed several times (by NAT and PAE respectively), but it will happen. And it has been around for a long time, so it's ready for its prime time. – Krzysztof Hasiński Aug 9 '11 at 19:59
@Geppettvs D'Constanzo: If you use real-time audio processing software you can get much lower latency on a 64-bit system, as most such software will make use of additional 32 bits and perform calculations in a more efficient manner. – Rafał Cieślak Aug 9 '11 at 20:30

I would suggest you to take in consideration the comment of @djeikyb and perform some research before switching. The information provided over the net and answers like those documented in this question: Should I install 64-bit Ubuntu if my hardware supports it? should be also considered.

I haven't noticed a major benefit when switching to a 64 bit version, for the Desktop usage (home and office), there are probably some benefits for multitask and gaming but in my needs and experience using both 32 and 64 bit versions, the difference is not such a major prize. And in my experience I found that several software that I was used to didn't work in a 64 bit version.

Good luck in your migration!

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