Make installing 32 bit (ia32) applications on 64 bit (amd64/ia64) systems trivial.

Registered by Andrew Fuchs on 2007-08-19

Currently installing 32 bit (x86) applications on the 64 bit version of Ubuntu is non-trivial. This is important, since various 3rd party applications such as Google Earth and Skype are only available in 32 bit versions. When a user attempts to install such an application, the installation will fail, and the user will give up and possibly go back to Windows. The problem is caused because the package manager is not properly equipped to handle libraries from multiple architectures being installed in the same environment.

This is partially solved by the ia32-* packages, which contain selections of 32 bit libraries. These however are referred to as a "lame hack" in "/usr/share/doc/ia32-libs/README.Debian". They do not contain all the libraries that an application might use.

In "/usr/share/doc/ia32-libs/README.Debian", a way to make packages from multiple architectures coexist is mentioned. A developer should get in touch with the Debian project and find out if the said method is being used or if an other one is. Whatever is being done at the Debian project should be done here.

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