Unix vs. Linux (http://onetipperday.blogspot.com/2014/07/unix-vs-linux.html)
Which version of tools I should install? i386 vs. x86_64, and 32bit vs. 64bit kernel (http://onetipperday.blogspot.com/2013/02/software-vs-hardware-i386-vs-x8664-and.html)
However, this can still be confusing sometimes... for example, when you visit the SRA toolkit download page: http://trace.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/Traces/sra/sra.cgi?view=software
OK. Here is the short answer.
1. How to tell my CPU architecture is 32 bit or 64 bit?
$ uname -aIf the output is i386 or i586, it's 32 bit. If it's x86_64, it's 64 bit.
2. How to tell my OS (operation system) kernel is 32 bit or 64 bit?
Note that the OS kernel can be different from the above hardware architecture. Usually the OS changes version following the update of hardware, but the 32bit version can work in a 64bit machine (not the other way around), so it might not be consistent. The Macbook Pro I am using is running a 32-bit kernel on a 64-bit processor (see my previous post).
3. How to tell which OS I am using? CentOS or Ubuntu?
In my case, I used:
$ ls -d /etc/[A-Za-z]*[_-][rv]e[lr]* | grep -v "lsb" | cut -d'/' -f3 | cut -d'-' -f1 | cut -d'_' -f1
## For more detail, please refer terdon's answer in http://askubuntu.com/a/459425