I am using openSUSE 11.0 i586. All the rpms that i have are of i586 except for ffmpeg, libaudio2, libavcodec52, libffmpeg0 and other associated packages which are of i686. I am not sure if during the upgrade process i accidentally clicked the i686 option as the i586 builds are also available. Should i remove the i686s and install the i586s? Will there be silly problems if i do so?
In the most part, I believe they are interchangeable, unless your PCs are really old. I always try go for the i686, where the i686 is available. Sometimes you will find only a .i586 or .i386 rpm available, in which case, install what is available. At least that is the strategy that I employ, and it appears to work for me.
I thought that i586 was more of a generic version vis-a-vis i686 which is why openSUSE provides i586 for 32-bit systems. My system is a 32-bit one (3.5+ yrs old, P4 2.66GHz). Fedora offers i386 for 32-bit systems.
My question is: if Mplayer, Smplayer, vlc etc are i586, then is it not wiser to have ffmpeg etc as i586? i686 is not causing audio kind of problems though.
I think if the i686 is available, you should go for it. One needs a really old PC for a .i586 to be necessary. My oldest PC currently, is an athlon-1100 (9+ years old) and I always put the .i686 on it, when they are available.
Essentially only the first generation Pentiums are i586 or P5. Also some AMD CPUs which are missing the CMOV instruction, like the K6.
So if you see a i686 package available, go for it. As you can see, it really is only significant for computationally intensive libraries. openSUSE is actually fairly conservative. There are distros that have dropped i586 support and require i686. Such distros would disappoint people who might have the odd K6 based notebook or something.