Running 32-bit applications

This applies to: Debian Linux and derivatives such as Ubuntu Linux.

First of all, you should read what Adam Trickett writes about this. Note that a suggestion he makes is to use apt-file which (at least in Lucid) seems a little buggy. His instructions may also be incomplete (see my comment). I will look into the possible bugs soon I hope.

Once you locate what package to install, one possible route would be to download it (e.g. from or and then just extract its contents with:

dpkg --extract $DEB $DIR

Note that —unpack not only extracts the files, but does other things such as installing them in your system.

If you want a more "managed" installation you can of course try:

dpkg --force-architecture --install $DEB

although this may be inelegant or problematic in practice since would be preferable to have it installed in a /lib32 directory etc. So, for those files not provided by ia32-libs (see Adam's page), consider extracting them manually per above, then placing them in an isolated directory, then symlinking to them from the appropriate directory.

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