Linked by jarkkot on Tue 26th Jul 2011 21:44 UTC
Debian and its clones Debian announced that they are going to introduce multiarch support for Wheezy (7.0) in 2013. Well, nice, but aren't they a little bit late now that problems are mostly sorted out and systems moved to 64-bit? This would have been great news at the time when Lenny (5.0) was released, but does it even matter in 2013? Are they just going to make things more complicated for no reason?
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More useful than you think
by obi_oni on Wed 27th Jul 2011 02:17 UTC
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Those who are saying it's too little too late:

- the i386 -> x86-64 transition isn't finished yet. A lot of machines are still 32-bit or running 32-bit Debian. An in place upgrade from 32-bit to 64-bit would be very nice to have.

- there's other transitions out there, and there will be more in the future. If you think the x86-64 is the last architecture you'll ever see, you're quite mistaken.

- you can use Debian's multiarch even with software emulators: running QEMU's user space emulation with an appropriate Debian userland would rock for some use cases. Imagine you're developing ARM software: crossbuilding and testing on the same machine would be a cinch!

- you can have more than 2 archs on the same machine. So it's way better than just lib32 vs lib64.

- Debian won't have to provide separate difficult to maintain ia32-libs packages any more: just install what you need from the i386 repository.

- easier support for ISVs: skype for instance, which exists only as a 32-bit binary will now be able to depend on what it really wants instead of "ia32-libs".

So, yes, Debian took longer to support 32bit/64bit, but in return you get any-arch on any-arch; a much better, more flexible and long term solution.

And like I mentioned before, who knows what chip makers will come up with in the future. If there's a fancy new CPU with extensions, and certain programs would benefit from being recompiled to take advantage of these new CPU features, then Debian could easily introduce a new subset/partial repository containing optimized binaries just for these aforementioned programs.

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