32bit vs 64bit for a low end vps

low end vps are getting cheaper and cheaper nowadays and everybody with basic knowledge of Linux is preferring them over shared hosting. On a low end vps things are a bit more complicated than with high end ones, ram is precious. For every service needed for the vps, the first thing you think about is ram. What about the operating system architecture? Most of us are preferring 32bit versions for the operating system because we’ve heard that they are better at saving ram, but what is the difference?

is it a couple of MB? or hundrends of them?

In the following post i’m testing the  32bit version of centos 5.5 against the 64bit to find out. I’ll be installing virtualmin GPL version for each architecture, with all services enabled at post installation wizard, except postgres. For this test i used a not so low end vps, it is an openvz with 512guaranteed/1024burstable ram

this is the 32bit centos distribution after a fresh minimum installation

[root@city ~]# free -m

total       used       free     shared    buffers     cached

Mem:          1024         18       1005          0          0          0

-/+ buffers/cache:         18       1005

Swap:            0          0          0

this the 32 bit version after the virtualmin installation and a reboot

[root@city ~]# free -m

total       used       free     shared    buffers     cached

Mem:          1024        458        565          0          0          0

-/+ buffers/cache:        458        565

Swap:            0          0          0

 

this is the 64bit version of centos after a fresh minimum installation

[root@city ~]# free -m

total       used       free     shared    buffers     cached

Mem:          1024         22       1001          0          0          0

-/+ buffers/cache:         22       1001

Swap:            0          0          0

 

this the 64bit version after the virtualmin installation and a reboot

[root@city ~]# free -m

total       used       free     shared    buffers     cached

Mem:          1024        596        427          0          0          0

-/+ buffers/cache:        596        427

Swap:            0          0          0

pre virtualmin ram usage after virtualmin ram usage
32bit 18MB 458MB
64bit 22MB 596MB

 

 

So i guess if you’re on a low end vps then 32bit is the way to go by all means. A 138MB difference for a low end vps is huge

  1. Nice comparison, I’ve just purchased VPS plan and I’m trying to find the best solution to host multiple websites.

    So I’ve searched for “virtualmin” and “ispconfig” but found this post, that is also important at this stage.

    You didn’t take into account other calculations, what about the speed of the server? As far as I understand, apache works a lot faster under 64bit architecture. see:
    http://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=article&item=ubuntu_32_pae&num=1
    http://www.21andy.com/blog/20100227/1719.html

    After reading these benchmarks, I’ve decided to go with 64bit although the RAM usage, but I’m still unsure that this is the right decision.

    Waiting for responses…

  2. if you’re after speed and you’re low on ram you should install nginx instead of apache with no control panel. All control panels consume resources.

    if you’re not sure about doing everything via ssh and you’re between virtualmin and ispconfig I would suggest virtualmin, it’s easier to install and configure. at the post installation wizard configure everything for low ram usage, you will have slightly slower mail delivery but you will gain about 130-200mb of RAM. also try to disable all unneeded services eg. mailman

    if you’re really low on ram and you’re after a cpanel you should also try kloxo

    as for the 32bit vs 64bit, if you’re on a vps with 512MB or less and you want to run a control panel with all services (web mail spam database dns….etc), you should go for 32bit version. but it depends from a lot things, even the virtualization technology you’re on matters

    PS. apache will be faster on 32bit than in 64bit optimized for low ram consumption ;)

  3. By my experience, i found that a 64bit linux system works better than a 32bit if the available memory is 1GB or more. So for vps i suggest 32bit.

  4. Hi again,

    I’ll explain my needs, I want to be kind of a reseller. I’ll purchase VPS with 1 or 2 GB RAM. Intended to host many small sites, I’ll develop & manage most of the domains, I know personally most of my customers. But I want the customers to be able to manage their sites by themself while limiting them to their domains, preferably limit also RAM,CPU etc. if it’s possible. The host is running ESX server.

    Any further opinion will be appreciated.

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