Programs and packages available for Ubuntu generally come in both 32-bit (“i386”) and 64-bit (“amd64”) versions, and Synaptic will only look for those that suit your hardware architecture. But occasionally you may hear of a good app or game that you need to download from the author’s site, only to find there is no 64-bit version available.
If there is a source version that you need to compile manually (it will usually have a .tar.gz extension), then that is your best option for a 64-bit system. But increasingly developers are packaging their programs directly for Ubuntu (ie: as .deb installers), but only in 32-bit. If you try to install a 32-bit program in Ubuntu, you will likely get the following error message:
Error: Wrong architecture ‘i386’
At this point the installation will halt, but there is a way to install 32-bit programs on 64-bit systems. You can force install them by opening a terminal in the folder with the package, then entering the following command:
--force-architecture -i filename.deb
Just remember to replace the last bit with the actual file name, which you can avoid typing by dragging the file to the terminal after typing the bulk of the command.
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