Shall we recommend 32-bit or 64-bit install on 64-bit Windows?

I’m writing installation instructions for the new Windows installation procedure that I’m going to publish as an article here at the forum initially and when we’ve gotten enough feedback and made updates we can transform them into the official documentation if we prefer.

I’m going to have two sections in the article. One for less experienced users with a minimum of options and one for more advanced users with all options and all the gory details.

My questions is: Provided that the less experienced user knows that they have a 64-bit computer;should we recommend them to install the 32-bit or 64-bit version? I don’t know if there is any benefit for Graphviz in particular with one or the other. If there isn’t or there’s a benefit to install the 32-bit versions, we could skip that discussion totally and just tell them to install the 32-bit version.

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AIUI on Windows you have the following options for a Graphviz binary:

  • MSVC-compiled binary
  • Linux binary via WSL
  • MinGW-compiled binary

and then the following architectures:

  • x86 (32-bit)
  • x86-64 (64-bit)

The cross product of these gives you 6 variants.

My recommendation would be to use a 64-bit version unless you’re on 32-bit Windows. The only downside I’m aware of is slightly greater memory usage (due to pointer widths, alignment, …) but I would assume this is far outweighed by the convenience of not having to find 32-bit versions of all dependencies.

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In this case it’s always a MSVC-compiled binary which leaves only 2 variants.

Maybe my ignorance is so great that I don’t understand that you have understood what I’m asking about and given me an accurate answer, but I can’t help thinking that you maybe are talking about another situation than the user just downloading and installing a bunch of executable that they can directly run. Why would they need to find 32-bit versions of all dependencies. Aren’t everything included in what we distribute?

As an example, I just downloaded and installed graphviz-install-2.44.0-win32.exe and ran dot without any problems on my 64-bit Windows 10 laptop.

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Ah, OK, I guess we ship a package containing all the dependencies. Sorry, I had assumed that the Graphviz Windows package also required you to install some other supporting libraries.

I think we should still advise people to use the 64-bit version whenever possible, but maybe the only technical motivation is that they can create graphs that require more than 4GB of RAM.

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Thanks. I’ll include the selection between 32-bit and 64-bit also in the section for less experienced users and recommend 64-bit if they have a 64-bit computer.

This is how it turned out: