Last year ended with quite a lot of movement in the raspberry company. In November threw the version of Raspberry PiOS based on Debian 11, and later announced that they would continue to support the previous version, that is, there would be “normal” version and a “legacy”. But some users had been waiting for something else for a long time: a 64-bit version. It was years in beta, but today announced its general availability.
The company famous for manufacturing the most famous single board on the market had been working on this since 2016, more specifically on the ARMv8 architecture that encompasses the AArch64 architecture and is associated with the A64 instruction set. From that moment it was possible to use an operating system 64bit on the Raspberry Pi, but the main system and the only one that offered full guarantees was the then 64-bit Raspbian.
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64-bit Raspberry Pi: a question of compatibility
But we have realized that there are reasons to choose a 64-bit operating system instead of a 32-bit one. Compatibility is a key concern: many closed source applications are only available for arm64, and open source ones are not fully optimized for the armhf port. In addition, there are some intrinsic performance advantages to the A64 instruction set: today, they are more visible in benchmarks, but it is assumed that they will translate to real-world application performance in the future.
As you can read in the text above, one of the reasons for this move is compatibility, since many closed source applications are only available for arm64. Also, 8GB RPI has been available for a long time, and the 32bit version only allows you to take advantage of 4GB.
If someone decides to remove their operating system to install this new version, the company warns that libwidevinecdm0, which makes it possible to play protected content from the Chromium browser that is installed by default, it is not available for the 64bit version. To solve it, you would have to write two commands
sudo apt install chromium-browser:armhf libwidevinecdm0
sudo apt install chromium-browser:arm64 libwidevinecdm0-
Taking into account how things are and the use that we usually give to the Raspberry Pi, I would recommend not taking the leap, or not yet. Over time, all of this will be working after a fresh install, and I won't upgrade unless something goes wrong. Incidentally, I have installed Twister OS, which is Raspberry Pi OS with some cool additions, and I'll update when they say so. Right now they have to be excited as they didn't want to release two versions (32 and 64) because their dev team isn't big enough to keep both options. From today they will start working on it, but we still don't know when there will be a 64bit version of Twister OS. What we do know is that 64-bit Raspberry Pi OS is already a reality, and anyone who wants to can install it in a stable version.