Running 32-bit Linux distros on 64-bit CPUs

Q I have the latest Ubute AMD64 processor, and every version of Linux I have tried with it so far gives the message 'out of sync' after the welcome screen. I presume that is because Linux is a 32-bit operating system and is incompatible with the 64-bit machine. Is that true, especially of Sun Java Desktop System 2? The Solaris system on the website mentions 64 but when I proceed with it, it only shows x86. FreeBSD has a download option for AMD64, but the only option of payment is a credit card (which I don't possess). Could you please help, as I'm desperate to have Linux running and am so fed up with Windows XP Pro that I feel like chucking the whole thing out the window. Do I have to go to the extent of purchasing a second x86 machine (which I presume 64-bit isn't) and installing Win98 on it, which will at least make boot disks?

A AMD64 processors are backwards-compatible with x86 binaries, so you can run a standard x86 Linux distribution on them. You can always download AMD64 versions of distributions such as Debian, SUSE and others and run 64-bit binaries on the system. Linux will run happily on both 32-bit and 64-bit processors, although you should be aware that to run 32-bit binaries, the distribution will need some libraries to allow them to run on a 64-bit based distribution. 'Out of sync' sounds like a video problem, so you may want to try to force a text install, or specify a video resolution at boot time. Distributions will have help screens when they boot up to indicate how to do this. I've had success with SUSE for AMD64, as well as Debian, so I would be interested to hear what progress you make.

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