Install bundled 32-bit system in 64-bit system

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This article presents one way of running 32-bit applications, which may be of use to those who do not wish to install the lib32-* libraries from the multilib repository and instead prefer to isolate 32bit applications. The approach involves creating a "chroot jail" to handle 32-bit apps.

Tip: Xyne has created a package that installs a minimalist 32-bit chroot as described below. See [1] and [2] for details.


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Reason: Why not just use pacstrap as here? (Discuss in Talk:Install bundled 32-bit system in 64-bit system#)

1. Create the directory:

# mkdir /opt/arch32

2. Generate temporary pacman configuration files for chroot:

# sed -e 's/\$arch/i686/g' /etc/pacman.d/mirrorlist > /opt/arch32/mirrorlist
# sed -e 's@/etc/pacman.d/mirrorlist@/opt/arch32/mirrorlist@g' -e '/Architecture/ s,auto,i686,'  /etc/pacman.conf > /opt/arch32/pacman.conf
  • These files would conflict with the normal pacman files, which will be installed in the later steps.
  • For this reason they must be put into a temporary location (/opt/arch32 is used here).
  • Remember to delete/comment the multilib repo, if you have enabled it, in the /opt/arch32/pacman.conf file

3. Create the directory:

# mkdir -p /opt/arch32/var/{cache/pacman/pkg,lib/pacman}

4. Sync pacman:

# pacman --root /opt/arch32 --cachedir /opt/arch32/var/cache/pacman/pkg --config /opt/arch32/pacman.conf -Sy

5. Install the base and optionally base-devel groups:

# pacman --root /opt/arch32 --cachedir /opt/arch32/var/cache/pacman/pkg --config /opt/arch32/pacman.conf -S base base-devel

Optionally add your favorite text editor and distcc if you plan to compile within the chroot with other machines:

# pacman --root /opt/arch32 --cachedir /opt/arch32/var/cache/pacman/pkg --config /opt/arch32/pacman.conf -S base base-devel sudo vim distcc

Optionally move the pacman mirror list into place:

# mv /opt/arch32/mirrorlist /opt/arch32/etc/pacman.d


Key configuration files should be copied over:

# for i in passwd* shadow* group* sudoers resolv.conf localtime locale.gen vimrc mtab inputrc profile.d/; do cp -p /etc/"$i" /opt/arch32/etc/; done

Remember to define the correct the number of MAKEFLAGS and other vars in /opt/arch32/etc/makepkg.conf before attempting to build.

Daemon and systemd service

Description=32-bit chroot

ExecStart=/usr/local/bin/arch32 start
ExecStop=/usr/local/bin/arch32 stop


## User variables.

## Set MANAGEPARTITION to any value if /opt/arch32 resides on a separate
## partition and not mounted by /etc/fstab or some other means.
## If /opt/arch32 is part of your rootfs, leave this empty.

## Leave USEDISTCC empty unless you wish to use distccd from within the chroot.

## PIDFILE shouldn't need to ba changed from this default.

start_distccd() {
	[[ ! -L "$MOUNTPOINT"/usr/bin/distccd-chroot ]] &&
		ln -s /usr/bin/distccd "$MOUNTPOINT"/usr/bin/distccd-chroot 
	DISTCC_ARGS="--user nobody --allow $DISTCC_SUBNET --port 3692 --log-level warning --log-file /tmp/distccd-i686.log"

	[[ -z "$(pgrep distccd-chroot)" ]] &&
		linux32 chroot "$MOUNTPOINT" /bin/bash -c "/usr/bin/distccd-chroot --daemon $DISTCC_ARGS"

stop_distccd() {
	[[ -n "$(pgrep distccd-chroot)" ]] &&
		linux32 chroot "$MOUNTPOINT" /bin/bash -c "pkill -SIGTERM distccd-chroot"

case $1 in
		[[ -f "$PIDFILE" ]] && exit 1

		if [[ -n "$MANAGEPARTITION" ]]; then
			mountpoint -q $MOUNTPOINT || mount LABEL="arch32" $MOUNTPOINT

		dirs=(/tmp /dev /dev/pts /home)
		for d in "${dirs[@]}"; do
			mount -o bind $d "$MOUNTPOINT"$d

		mount -t proc none "$MOUNTPOINT/proc"
		mount -t sysfs none "$MOUNTPOINT/sys"
		[[ -n "$USEDISTCC" ]] && start_distccd
		touch "$PIDFILE"

		[[ ! -f "$PIDFILE" ]] && exit 1
		[[ -n "$USEDISTCC" ]] && stop_distccd

		if [[ -n "$MANAGEPARTITION" ]]; then
			umount -R -A -l "$MOUNTPOINT"
			dirs=(/home /dev/pts /dev /tmp)
			[[ -n "$USEDISTCC" ]] && stop_distccd
			umount "$MOUNTPOINT"/{sys,proc}
			for d in "${dirs[@]}"; do
				umount -l "$MOUNTPOINT$d"
		rm -f "$PIDFILE"
		echo "usage: $0 (start|stop)"
		exit 1

Be sure to make the init script executable:

# chmod +x /usr/local/bin/arch32

Start and optionally enable arch32.service.


Chroot into the new system:

# /usr/local/bin/arch32 start
$ xhost +SI:localuser:username_to_give_access_to
# chroot /opt/arch32

It is recommended to use a custom bash prompt inside the 32-bit chroot installation in order to differentiate from the regular system. You can, for example, add a ARCH32 string to the PS1 variable defined in ~/.bashrc. In fact, the default Debian .bashrc prompt string contains appropriate logic to report whether the working directory is within a chroot.

First-time Setup

Fix possible locale problems:

# /usr/bin/locale-gen

Initialize pacman:

# sed -i 's/CheckSpace/#CheckSpace/' /etc/pacman.conf
# pacman-key --init && pacman-key --populate archlinux


Install schroot to the native 64-bit installation:

Edit /etc/schroot/schroot.conf, and create an [Arch32] section.

Warning: This next step is very important if non-standard mounts are to accessed from within the schroot command!

Optionally edit /etc/schroot/arch32/mount to match the mounts created within /usr/local/bin/arch32. Failure to do can result in errors like:

E: Failed to change to directory ‘/foo’: No such file or directory
I: The directory does not exist inside the chroot.  Use the --directory option to run the command in a different directory.

Using Schroot to run a 32-bit application

The general syntax for calling an application inside the chroot is:

# schroot -p -- htop

In this example, htop is called from within the 32-bit environment.


Compilation and installing

Ensure the desired options are set in the local /etc/makepkg.conf.

Some packages may require a --host flag be added to the ./configure script in the PKBUILD:

$ ./configure --host="i686-pc-linux" ...

This is the case when the build makes use of values (for example, the output of the uname command) inherited from your base system.

Video problems

If you get:

X Error of failed request: BadLength (poly request too large or internal Xlib length error)

while trying to run an application that requires video acceleration, make sure you have installed appropriate video drivers in your chroot.

Sound in Flash

To get sound from the flash player in Firefox, open a terminal and chroot inside the 32-bit system:

# chroot /opt/arch32

From there, install alsa-oss as usual with pacman.

Then type:

$ export FIREFOX_DSP="aoss"

Every chroot into the 32-bit system will require this export command to be entered so it may be best to incorporate it into a script.

Finally, launch Firefox.

For Wine this works the same way. The package alsa-oss will also install the alsa libs required by Wine to output sound.

Tips and tricks

Java in a chroot

See Java. After installation, adjust the path:

$ export PATH="/opt/java/bin/:$PATH"

Allow 32-bit applications access to 64-bit PulseAudio

Additional paths have to be bind-mounted to the chroot environment:

# mount --bind /var/run /opt/arch32/var/run
# mount --bind /var/lib/dbus /opt/arch32/var/lib/dbus

Unmount them when leaving the environment:

# umount /opt/arch32/var/run
# umount /opt/arch32/var/lib/dbus

Optionally add the commands to the /usr/local/bin/arch32 script after the other bind-mount/umount commands. See PulseAudio from within a chroot for details

Sound in Firefox

Create /usr/bin/firefox32 as root:

schroot -p firefox $1;export FIREFOX_DSP="aoss"

Make it executable:

# chmod +x /usr/bin/firefox32

Now you can make an alias for Firefox, if desired:

alias firefox="firefox32"

Add this to ~/.bashrc and source it to enable it. Or you can just change all your desktop environment's launchers to firefox32 if you still want 64-bit Firefox to be available.

3D acceleration

You need to install the corresponding package under your "native" arch for 3D support.

For information on how to set up your graphic adapter refer to:


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Reason: The wine-hacks package does not exist anymore. (Discuss in Talk:Install bundled 32-bit system in 64-bit system#)

In order to compile wine, you need a 32-bit system installed. Compiling wine is needed for applying patches in order to get PulseAudio working. See also wine-hacks from AUR.

Add the following alias to ~/.bashrc:

alias wine='schroot -pqd "$(pwd)" -- wine'

The -q switch makes schroot operate in quiet mode, so it works like "regular" wine does. Also note that If you still use dchroot instead of schroot, you should use switch -d instead of -s.


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Reason: The note below contains a link to this very page, making it very unclear. (Discuss in Talk:Install bundled 32-bit system in 64-bit system#)
Note: If you have a 64-bit base installation with a 32-bit chroot environment, explicit installation of CUPS is not necessary in the 32-bit environment.

To access installed CUPS printers from the chroot environment, one needs to bind the /var/run/cups directory to the same (relative) location in the chroot environment.

Simply make sure the /var/run/cups directory exists in the chroot environment and bind-mount the host /var/run/cups to the chroot environment:

# mkdir chroot32-dir/var/run/cups
# mount --bind /var/run/cups chroot32-dir/var/run/cups

and printers should be available from 32-bit chroot applications immediately.