Premise: 64 bit has now an extensive range of applications working but still one may want/need something peculiar with no 64 bit support, why should he renounce to it?
I've just read a guide on a blog about how to have any 32 bit application run on a 64 bit ubuntu installation and it is awfully baroque for average Joe, so here's the idea:
Ubuntu 64 bits could have a built in option to manage 32 bits applications, libraries and repositories as well.
If I am fine with 64 bit only I keep it off (or I do not even install it if I am given the option during the installation).
If I know that I need a 32 bit app I go to System > Administration and enable the whole thing.
At this point I should be able to install 32bit apps normally trough synaptic, and the system should take care of:
- letting me know (either by hilighting or UI separation) if the app I am installing is 32 or 64 bits, if it is 32 and there is a native 64 bits version it should prompt me so I do not "pollute" the system unnecessarily.
- installing their 32 bit libraries in a separate folder and take all the necessary steps to make them work and keep the system clean.
- managing 32 bit repositories so they do not get mixed up with 64 bit "main" repos, thus the system stays clean.
I think that having friendly tools to handle smoothly the 32 to 64 bit transition phase would, as we say here, save the goat and the cabbage, allowing a better user experience by not forcing the user to chose between an extensive range of applications and the full performance their hardware can express.