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Migrate/Upgrade Debian 7 Wheezy GNU/Linux from 32 bit to 64 bit HowTo

This HowTo converts a working 32 bit installation into a 64 bit system. You keep all programs, settings and data. You start with a 32 bit system that can run 64 bit programs, and finish with a 64 bit system that can run 32 bit programs. We firstly demonstrate an upgrade from 6.0 Squeeze 32 bit to 7 Wheezy because Debian 7 is a pre-requisite.

With the recent release of Debian GNU/Linux 7.0 Wheezy, a new feature called multiarch has been introduced. The facility permits the installation of executable files (such as libraries and programs) from multiple architectures simultaneously on the same system. The primary use of this is to allow 32 bit programs to be run on a 64 bit system, but there are more interesting possibilities. We can turn this on its head, allowing 64 bit programs to run on a 32 bit system, then ultimately replace all 32 bit programs with their 64 bit equivalents. No other operating system can provide this flexible feature.