Raspbian, the Debian-based linux operating system, is the popular OS of choice for the Raspberry Pi single board computer users. Despite Raspberry Pi boards have supported 64-bit addressing through the compatible ARM processor for awhile now, the OS has only supported 32-bit operations, until now. In a forum post earlier this month, a Raspbian engineer announced an early version of Raspbian OS that supports 64-bit kernel.
Why is it important?
While 64 bit support is not necessary for regular Raspberry Pi users at this point, it might become more important when boards with more than 4GB RAM are released down the road. Although there are software trickery that can be employed to add support for more RAM access through 32-bit operations, it will be a cumbersome experience to support long term.
How to install the alpha release?
You can follow the instruction on the post to install the neccessary component to add support for 64-bit kernel. But, I am also including a concise instruction here as well:
Execute the following commands:
$ sudo apt-get update
$ sudo apt-get upgrade
$ sudo rpi-update
The last command will ask you to allow pre-release firmware. Press “y” if you would like to proceed.
Next, edit the config.txt in /boot directory:
$ sudo nano /boot/config.txt
Add the following to the end of the file:
Now, restart the Pi using the following command:
$ sudo reboot
If everything goes well, your system will boot into a 64-bit mode. This can be confirmed using:
$ uname -a
64-bit support is a certainly a welcome add-on to the Raspberry Pi OS!