The Raspberry Pi Foundation is currently developing a 64-bit version of the Raspberry Pi operating system.
Want to try it? Well, you’ll see in the details of this article.
The Raspberry Pi operating system is only available in its 32-bit version. A 64-bit version is in development, but is not yet stable.
If the processor is compatible, the 64-bit operating system improves program performance.
Let’s start with a brief introduction to the 64-bit version, then try it out, and finally I’ll finish with my thoughts on it.
What is the 64-bit operating system of the Raspberry Pi?
What is a 64-bit operating system?
The 64-bit operating system is designed to better utilize the power of the 64-bit processor and improve overall performance for a variety of reasons. alt=width=800 height=46 data-ezsrc=http://server.digimetriq.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/Raspberry-Pi-OS-64-bit-vs-32-bit-Which-One-To-Install.jpg data-ez= />
If you are running a 64-bit operating system on a compatible device, you can expect a performance gain of about 25%. And some applications will benefit even more.
It also makes better use of the available memory, especially on a Raspberry Pi 4 with 8GB.
In short, it’s very simple. If you have a 64-bit processor, you must use a 64-bit operating system. However, the Raspberry Pi Foundation only offers a 32-bit version of the Raspberry Pi operating system on its website.
What are you supposed to do?
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Introduction Raspberry Pi OS 64 bit
In May 2020, Raspberry Pi announced a new variant of the Raspberry Pi 4 with 8GB of RAM.
At the same time, they announced a name change from Raspbian to Raspberry Pi OS, as well as the release of an early beta version of a 64-bit operating system for this new Raspberry Pi model. alt= width=697 height=310 data-ezsrc=http://server.digimetriq.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/1615417756_242_Raspberry-Pi-OS-64-bit-vs-32-bit-Which-One-To-Install.jpg data-ez= />
Almost a year later, at the time of writing, this version is still in development and doesn’t seem to be a priority for the Raspberry Pi Foundation.
We got an update in August 2020, but nothing since.
Why is the Raspberry Pi fund not highlighted?
It seems odd to release 64-bit chips without offering a 64-bit operating system that uses those chips. But, as James Hughes explains, there are several reasons for this:
We only need one distribution, and it works on all devices. This means much less maintenance work – we are a small team. […] It’s a huge effort to convert the entire distribution to 64-bit, including some pretty tricky work on the GPU, which is 32-bit.
James Hughes is the lead software engineer for Raspberry Pi Ltd.
So we have to keep it simple, for them and for us. While there are still many Raspberry Pi’s running on a 32-bit chip, 64-bit development is underway, but an early release is not a priority.
In the next part, I’ll show you how to try it. Since this is a beta version, you should expect some bugs and that they will not be fixed soon. You can try it as an experiment, but I wouldn’t do it in a production environment.
How to install Raspberry Pi OS 64-bit
Download Raspberry Pi OS 64-bit
On the official website and in the Raspberry Pi imager, you will only find the 32 bit version. Follow this link to find the latest available versions.
Click on the folder with the latest available version and download the ZIP file from there.
After downloading, you can flash the image file to the SD card as you are used to do with the Balena Etcher or the Raspberry Pi Imager.
Check out my Raspberry Pi operating system installation tutorial here if you need advice on this.
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On first boot, you will not notice any difference with a 32-bit installation. The welcome wizard appears as usual and you will find the same pre-installed applications as on the Raspberry Pi OS desktop.
As the image is more than 6 months old at the time of writing, there are many other updates for the 64-bit version. I upgraded from 10.5 to 10.8 (with the 32-bit operating system already present on 10.8). alt= width=800 height=137 data-ezsrc=http://server.digimetriq.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/1615417757_272_Raspberry-Pi-OS-64-bit-vs-32-bit-Which-One-To-Install.jpg data-ez= />Despite the upgrade, there is no doubt that we are on a 64-bit operating system
You will also notice that several applications are missing from the list of recommended software. For example, there is no Minecraft Pi or Mathematica that you can install directly from there.
No 64-bit operating system assembly is available for these programs.
Other than that, the feedback depends a lot on the apps you use on a daily basis. Some will be faster, some will be buggy, and for the most part, you won’t notice any change.
So try it and see how it goes for you :).
Should I use the 64-bit operating system on the Raspberry Pi?
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It makes no sense to install a 64-bit operating system on a 32-bit processor.
The first thing you need to do is check if your Raspberry Pi model is compatible.
If you have a Raspberry Pi 3, 4 or 400, you shouldn’t have any problems.
For older versions, you probably have a 32-bit processor, so there’s no point in upgrading to beta.
As I mentioned earlier, the 64-bit Raspberry Pi system is still in beta.
As mentioned on the official forum, it has some known problems:
- There is no hardware video acceleration in VLC or Chromium.
- libraspberrypi0, libraspberrypi-dev and libraspberrypi-doc have been moved from /opt/vc/* to /usr/* (making them more standard). All code built with these libraries should point to the default location (/usr/lib/, not /opt/vc/lib).
- As a result, many packages expecting libGLESv2.so, libEGL, etc. must be rebuilt.
- The Raspberry boot loader and the Raspberry kernel contain unnecessary non-64-bit binaries and avoid minimizing the delay between installable and uninstallable files in /boot.
- There is no Wolfram Mathematica system built for AArch64.
- The waterproof layer must be rebuilt
- VLC needs to be recreated (not available)
- The VNC server has not yet been modified for 64-bit.
Depending on the applications you use, you can also expect other errors.
Depending on what you plan to do with your installation, you will have to make a choice between stability and potential performance.
To be honest, I haven’t seen any problems with YouTube on the 64-bit version. I don’t have a 1080p home center. So I don’t know if this list of errors is really relevant or not.
If you find another issue that isn’t listed here, you can check to see if it’s already been reported on GitHub. If the problem has not been reported yet, please write a new post – this will help the developers to improve the system.
If you have a current Raspberry Pi model and don’t mind the known issues and other bugs, the main benefit of this version is the performance you can expect.
The problem is that most applications in the 64-bit Raspberry Pi operating system were still developed for the 32-bit system. So even with a 64-bit processor on a recent model Raspberry Pi, the performance increase will likely be minimal.
In theory, performance should be slightly better on a 64-bit operating system, even with 32-bit applications. Don’t expect a big boost, though.
You will get better results with applications that require multiple calculations, but it won’t make a difference if the limiting factor is the available RAM or the speed of the SD card.
The 64-bit version was 10% faster to load – it only made a few seconds difference, so that’s good.
As you may have noticed, I’m not currently excited about this version of the Raspberry Pi operating system. I hope they improve it soon so we can use the full potential of the latest Raspberry Pi models. However, this does not seem to be a priority for the developers.
If you’re looking for a 64-bit operating system, you should probably try one of these great options:
All links are to my tutorials on these systems. You can find a stable 64-bit version of each of them on their official sites and really benefit from better performance.
By the way, I also compared Manjaro, Ubuntu, Raspberry Pi OS and Twister OS in this YouTube video if you want a quick overview:
Twister OS is based on the Raspberry Pi OS, so it is not yet available in 64-bit version.
frequently asked questions
Is it better to install a 32-bit or 64-bit system?
With a 32-bit operating system, the operating system or any of the installed programs can typically use up to 4 gigabytes of RAM. A 64-bit operating system allows for much greater memory access and storage capacity.
Which version of Windows should I install, 32-bit or 64-bit?
Windows 10 64-bit is recommended if you have 4 GB or more of RAM. Windows 10 64-bit supports up to 2 TB of RAM, while Windows 10 32-bit can use up to 3.2 GB. The memory address space of 64-bit Windows is much larger, which means that some of the same tasks require twice as much memory as 32-bit Windows.
Which Raspberry Pi operating system should I use?
Raspbian is the best all-in-one operating system Raspbian is the official operating system of the Raspberry Pi, and therefore most people will want to start with it. Raspbian is a version of Linux developed specifically for the Raspberry Pi.
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