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Applies to SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 15 SP2

16 32-Bit and 64-Bit Applications in a 64-Bit System Environment

SUSE® Linux Enterprise Server is available for several 64-bit platforms. The developers have not ported all 32-bit applications to 64-bit systems. This chapter offers a brief overview of 32-bit support implementation on 64-bit SUSE Linux Enterprise Server platforms.

SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for the 64-bit platforms POWER, IBM Z and AMD64/Intel 64 is designed so that existing 32-bit applications run in the 64-bit environment out-of-the-box. The corresponding 32-bit platforms are ppc for POWER, and x86 for AMD64/Intel 64. This support means that you can continue to use your preferred 32-bit applications without waiting for a corresponding 64-bit port to become available. The current POWER system runs most applications in 32-bit mode, but you can run 64-bit applications.

Note: No Support for Building 32-bit Applications

SUSE Linux Enterprise Server does not support compilation of 32-bit applications. It only offers runtime support for 32-bit binaries.

16.1 Runtime Support

Important: Conflicts Between Application Versions

If an application is available for both 32-bit and 64-bit environments, installing both versions may cause problems. In such cases, decide on one version to install to avoid potential runtime errors.

An exception to this rule is PAM (pluggable authentication modules). SUSE Linux Enterprise Server uses PAM in the authentication process as a layer that mediates between user and application. Always install both PAM versions on 64-bit operating systems that also run 32-bit applications.

For correct execution, every application requires a range of libraries. Unfortunately, the names are identical for the 32-bit and 64-bit versions of these libraries. They must be differentiated from each other in another way.

To retain compatibility with 32-bit versions, 64-bit and 32-bit libraries are stored in the same location. The 32-bit version of libc.so.6 is located under /lib/libc.so.6 in both 32-bit and 64-bit environments.

All 64-bit libraries and object files are located in directories called lib64. The 64-bit object files normally found under /lib and /usr/lib are now found under /lib64 and /usr/lib64. This means that space is available for 32-bit libraries under /lib and /usr/lib, so the file name for both versions can remain unchanged.

If the data content of 32-bit subdirectories under /lib does not depend on word size, they are not moved. This scheme conforms to LSB (Linux Standards Base) and FHS (File System Hierarchy Standard).

16.2 Kernel Specifications

The 64-bit kernels for AMD64/Intel 64, POWER and IBM Z offer both a 64-bit and a 32-bit kernel ABI (application binary interface). The latter is identical to the ABI for the corresponding 32-bit kernel. This means that communication between both 32-bit and 64-bit applications with 64-bit kernels are identical.

The 32-bit system call emulation for 64-bit kernels does not support all the APIs used by system programs. This depends on the platform. For this reason, few applications, like lspci, must be compiled on non-POWER platforms as 64-bit programs to function properly. On IBM Z, not all ioctls are available in the 32-bit kernel ABI.

A 64-bit kernel can only load 64-bit kernel modules. You must compile 64-bit modules specifically for 64-bit kernels. It is not possible to use 32-bit kernel modules with 64-bit kernels.

Tip: Kernel-loadable Modules

Some applications require separate kernel-loadable modules. If you intend to use a 32-bit application in a 64-bit system environment, contact the provider of the application and SUSE. Make sure that the 64-bit version of the kernel-loadable module and the 32-bit compiled version of the kernel API are available for this module.