Originally published at: http://www.howtogeek.com/165144/htg-explains-should-you-use-the-32-bit-or-64-bit-edition-of-ubuntu-linux/
Until Ubuntu 13.04, Ubuntu recommended all users use the 32-bit edition of Ubuntu on its download page. However, this recommendation has been removed for a reason — users of modern PCs are better off with the 64-bit edition.
We are using the 64 bit edition of Debian for one reason, Minecraft. It works much better with the 64 bit JVM. It works with no work around or issues. I just installed the base OS, saw that the open source JDK was there and then downloaded the JAR and started it. The machine had Vista on it, and I wasn't going to pay for 7 just for a machine for my kids to play games on.
I've been using the 64 bit version of Linux Mint for some time now with excellent results.
Why anyone bothers with 32-bit OS's on current hardware is beyond me.
If you ever want to do some layer 2 virtualization using vmware or virtualbox, your host machine needs a 64 bit architecture if you want to virtualize a 64 bit OS.
The biggest drawback to using the 64-bit version of Ubuntu is support for WINE. From what I've read, there are incompatibilities between the binaries, and WINE doesn't work properly with (at least) Ubuntu 12.04.
There are workaround, but I haven't had a chance to test them (yet).
That has not been my experience. I use a system76 ubuntu 12.04 laptop and it is 64-bit. On it I have installed the entire 2010 MS Office set and they work perfectly. I also use it for League of Legends and the Amazon Kindle reader software. So far my success rate has been even better than on my older 32-bit system with getting software to work with wine.
One problem I have encountered with using 64 bit Ubuntu (and related distros) is related to running 32 bit programs that need to make use of gstreamer to play various types of media, since there is no 32 bit compatibility library for gstreamer (AFIK at least) these programs do not function properly. The main program I have this problem with cannot be recompiled as 64 bit because a few of the key libraries do not have 64 bit versions available from what I understand. The program is a client (viewer) for the online virtual world of Second Life, and the issue affects both the Official Viewer from Linden Labs (makers of Second Life) and most 3rd party produced viewers (in my case it's a 3rd party viewer known as Firestorm that is exhibiting the problem). This is just about the only reason I haven't made the switch from 32 bit to 64 bit Linux and also one of the reasons I keep a Windows 7 installation active on one of my computers.
I have been using 64-bit versions of Ubuntu for a long time now and haven't had any issues with them. I am now using Ubuntu 13.04 64-bit and am completely satisfied with it.
Well I've found performance of Ubuntu 13.04 64 bit on low end pc's to be very sluggish. My 3 years old laptop came installed with Windows 7 64 bit, but only has 3GB RAM. In the past I used the 32 bit version of Ubuntu because that was recommended, but since 13.04 I moved to 64 bit and everything was so much slower even on a clean system. The laptop was pretty close to overheating all the time. After a few months I decided I've had enough and installed 13.04 32 bit and it's back as smooth as 12.04 32 bit (what i'd been using before 13.04 64 bit).
So I'm suggesting: even if you have a 64 bit cpu, if your amount of RAM is less than 4GB, I'd still recommend the 32 bit version.
@sudbash: I know for a fact that you need to create a 32-bit wineprefix to install the dependencies for MS Office (2010) on a 64 bit machine. It's not impossible, but there's more hassle with the installation on 64 bit than there is on 32 bit. Installing Office with Wine on Ubuntu 32 bit is almost as easy as installing it in Windows, and it isn't with Ubuntu 64 bit.