Multi-arch on Debian/Ubuntu suck

Yes, in the real world, we all have to run applications that are not provided via the excellent universe of Debian software packages. Some of these, even have to be binaries that you download via the Internet.

But with stupid error messages like these:

[-(~/Downloads/skype-> ./skype 
bash: ./skype: No such file or directory

It sure makes one wonder, doesn’t it? Thats right, this is 64-bit Ubuntu trying to run a 32-bit application. In fact, these failures will apply to upstream Thunderbird (because in Ubuntu’s infinite wisdom, its stuck at Thunderbird 1.5), GizmoProject and so on. On Fedora, multi-arch is handled a lot better – RPM actually brings in useful 32-bit libraries, and you can run upstream Skype, Gizmo, Thunderbird, with no worries. Its all transparent.

I just wish there was better error reporting. So I don’t have to fire up strace (I sure as heck don’t expect my mother do to so) to see what the real problem is.

Note to Debian-based-distros (Ubuntu in particular): You’re a big boy now. Dell is going to ship you. Most likely on Core 2 Duo machines. People are not going to want to run 32-bit Ubuntu on them, because they bought an advertised 64-bit processor. Laptops (mine even) support 4GB of RAM out of the box (yeah, except 2GB chips cost an arm and a leg).

I’m told that a 32-bit chroot is what I need to set up to make my life better again. Is that so?

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  1. James says:

    apt-get install ia32-libs is a good start, there’s quite a few other 32bit libs in the amd64 archive. A chroot (with /home, /dev etc. bind mounted into it) is your next option. Finally, you can often be dirty and dpkg –install –force-architecture i386 packages on amd64.

    True multi-arch is planned for dpkg, but I don’t know of a timeline for it.

  2. l3v1 says:

    Me being a huge Debian fan for many years, I still suggest you try 64 bit gentoo for a change, I’m running ~amd64 on a mechine for more than a year now, and it handles itself well, emul-linux is your friend, but I have to tell the only 32bit necessities I ran into were flash related.

  3. byte says:

    Hey James. Yeah, I could install all the ia32 libraries, and then force-architecture, but figured that its probably not what I wanted to do. So I went the chroot way.

    @l3v1: well, I guess once you get past the quirks, it all just works out for you. Its just that you get spoiled by Fedora and RPM

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  5. Irwan says:

    Why don’t you just use the static binary with pre-compiled Qt version? It’s so easy and painless.