I was trying to get a game working. But I have Lucid Lynx on amd64 running while the game binary was 32 bit (no 64 bit version available and nobody was in the mood for recompiling). It lacked libfsml-windows1.5 to run, and apt-getting it failed. So I have to manually download the i386 packages and force install them. (No, not part of ia32libs.)

Now I'm wondering if there is an automated way to have x86 packages downloaded at least on a 64-bit installation. apt-get -o apt::architecture=i386 did not work. (If you switch the architecture mode it doesn't find the package or assumes missing dependencies for existing packages all around.)

Is there another tool to automate that? Possibly one which downloads the i386 packages and relocates contained libraries into /usr/lib32/ implicitely?

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  • I could think of only ia32-libs using apt-get install. – Jamess Mar 9 '11 at 16:44
  • Probably not (seeing how old it is - before 12-04 ia32-libs was needed) – guntbert Dec 8 '13 at 13:11

Solution for Ubuntu 11.10 or Later

Since Ubuntu 11.10 it shouldn’t be necessary anymore to use getlibs or some other workaround. The package system on 64 bit systems is now able to manage 32 bit libraries in parallel to the 64 bit libraries. You can even easily install complete applications with all their dependencies now!

Simply add :i386 to the name of the package you would like to install.

For example, I needed a 32 bit version of Java 7 and could install it (along with all its dependencies) simply by running:

sudo apt-get install openjdk-7-jdk:i386
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  • 1
    as of the particular ubuntu version, this should be the correct answer – Peter Butkovic Nov 11 '13 at 13:44
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    Aren't you missing dpkg --add-architecture i386, as shown in this answer? – Jonathon Reinhart Jul 19 '17 at 2:15
  • @JonathonReinhart No, this doesn’t seem to be required. I have just run dpkg --print-architecture on my Ubuntu 16.04 system and it printed amd64. Then I successfully installed an i386 package as described in my answer. – Chriki Jul 22 '17 at 11:28
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    @Chriki this is 100% required on Ubuntu 14. Apt won't even check i386 packages if you didn't add the architecture when you try to apt-get update – John Hamilton Sep 26 '17 at 5:38

Yes, having a chroot environment is the way to go, it allows even to have previous releases side by side your existing Ubuntu.

It is simple to do it;

sudo apt-get install debootstrap schroot

Edit /etc/schroot/schroot.conf and add a new schroot config:

description=Ubuntu Lucid 32bit

Then install the chroot environment:

sudo debootstrap --variant=buildd --arch i386 lucid /chroot/lucid32 http://nl.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu

Then enter the chroot with:

schroot -c lucid32

Or for root tasks e.g.: run apt-get tasks:

sudo schroot -c lucid32
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  • I already have two chroot setups, but considered it a bit overkill for the task at hand. But thanks for the howto! – mario Mar 9 '11 at 22:10

Silly me. That's indeed a solved problem.


As the name implies it can only install libraries, not applications. But it works exceptionally well for bolting 32-bit libraries onto a x86-64 system. It automates the download and installation into /usr/lib32 (let's assume it does the path substitution internally.)


Some documentation (getlibs doesn't seem to have a current homepage):
http://wiki.ubuntuusers.de/getlibs (in german)

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  • 1
    Why-oh-why does Ubuntuforums require to login to see that page? :( Thank goodness there's Stackexchange! – Joril Jul 4 '12 at 8:10
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    Oh, that registration s**t is new. And. Overly. Redundant. – mario Jul 4 '12 at 14:25
  • After registering: Not allowed here Sorry, you don't have permission to access this page or the information in this page is not shared with you. – exic Oct 6 '12 at 17:02
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    Does not exists! – Anwar Oct 13 '15 at 13:42

Force installing the 32 bit libs on a 64bit system will break your system. You need to setup a 32bit chroot. See http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=24575.

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  • Thanks for the idea. Already have a /hardy and /maverick chroot, but 64bit too. It seems a bit overkill for this issue, but it's certainly an option to keep in mind. – mario Mar 9 '11 at 22:11

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