As a Linux user, sometimes it becomes significant to know if you are running a 32-bit or a 64-bit flavor of Ubuntu on your system. There arises the question about how to check the flavor of your Operating System(OS) and also the architecture of the underlying CPU.

This tutorial will answer the following questions for you:

  • Am I running a 32-bit Ubuntu or a 64-bit flavor of the same?
  • Am I running a 32-bit Ubuntu on a 32-bit CPU architecture?
  • Am I running a 32-bit Ubuntu on a 64-bit CPU architecture?

OR

  • Am I running a 64-bit Ubuntu on a 64-bit CPU architecture?

First, let us start by understanding what 32-bit and 64-bit means for a CPU. In the early 90s, the processors used to come with 32-bit specifications; which means that the data bus had the capacity to transfer 32 bits at a time. With the advancement of hardware technology, the capacity of the data bus improved and they are now able to carry 64 bits at a time; these are called the 64-bit processors. These fast processors can perform twice as much as their predecessors.

The 32-bit processors could only support the 32-bit operating systems, whereas on a 64-bit architecture, you can run both 32-bit and 64-bit OS. In order to make the best use of the improved hardware technology(64-bit CPU), it is best to use the 64-bit version of the OS(64-bit Ubuntu OS in our case).

How to check the if you are using 32-bit or 64-bit Ubuntu?

Ubuntu provides you with two ways to check the flavor of your operating system:

  • Using Ubuntu GUI
  • Using Ubuntu Terminal

Note: We are running this tutorial on Ubuntu 18.

Using Graphical Interface

In order to test if you are running a 32-bit or a 64-bit Ubuntu operating system:

  1. Open your system settings through the following two ways:
  • Click the down arrow drop-down located at the top right of your screen. The following window will open:

How to check the if you are using 32-bit or 64-bit Ubuntu

Now click the settings button located at the down left corner of the window.

OR

  • Open the Settings application from the Ubuntu application menu as follows:

Open the Settings application

The following Settings window will open, displaying various system settings in tabbed form. The default tab open would be that of Wi-Fi.

Settings window

  1. Click the Details tab from the left panel.

The following Details tab will open in the Settings window with the About details displayed in the right panel as follows:

Details tab

Here you will be able to see your system details including the OS type. This field tells you if you are using a 32-bit or 64-bit Operating System.

Note: Please note that this window will not provide any information about the underlying architecture of your CPU. In order to view that, you will need to use the command line(the Terminal)

Using Command Line

You can also test the flavor of your Ubuntu OS through the command line-the Terminal.

  1. Open the Terminal.
  2. Use the following command to fetch CPU details from the files sysfs and /proc/cpuinfo:

$ lscpu

This command will display the following output:

lscpu command

The following entries are important for you to check the type of OS and the architecture of CPU:

Architecture: This entry tells you about the architecture of your CPU; x86_32 means you have a 32-bit processor and x86_64 bit signifies that you have a 64-bit processor. In the above output you can see that it is a 64 bit CPU.

You can also use the following command to only display the architecture of your CPU:

$ arch

CPU op-mode(s): This entry tells you about the flavor of Ubuntu you are running on your system; 32-bit means you are running a 32-bit Linux OS, 32-bit, 64-bit signifies that you are running a 64-bit OS. In the above output you can see ‘32-bit, 64-bit” op-modes because the CPU architecture of 64-bit can run both of these flavors.

You are now able to know exactly what Ubuntu flavor and CPU architecture you are on!

Is your Ubuntu a 32-bit or a 64-bit OS?

Karim Buzdar

About the Author: Karim Buzdar holds a degree in telecommunication engineering and holds several sysadmin certifications. As an IT engineer and technical author, he writes for various web sites. You can reach Karim on LinkedIn