posted by Robert Minvielle on Tue 16th Dec 2003 20:00 UTC
IconThis is the second installment of the "Linux on the Opteron, are we ready?" article. Basically, it is a "where are we now?" article, noting that what once did work now does not, and others that did not work now do. The first article was published on OSNews almost three months ago. Since that time not too much has happened publicly in regards to the amd64 Linux situation, but a lot of people mailed to tell me that I should have checked out SuSE or the new Mandrake which was "about to be released" at that time. Also since that time I have upgraded the RAM and acquired a larger hard disk for the machine. I will give a brief rundown of the system as it stands now, what I tried to install on it, and what works.

The system now: Basically it is the same as before with some minor changes and a BIOS update:

Motherboard: Asus SK8N, BIOS upgraded to 1004
CPU: AMD Retail Opteron 240 (1.4GHz)
RAM: two 512MB sticks of Kingston (ASUS recommended 333MHz dual channel DDR, ECC registered)
DISKS: One Maxtor 7200rpm 80GB UltraATA drive, One Liteon CDR/RW drive.
Network: One $5 Linksys PCI 10/100 NIC
Video: ATI FireGL, AGP, 128MB ram.
Case: Lian-Li PC-7, with optional Coolermaster white cold cathode fan in the back (makes it easier to see in the case when working on it)
Power Supply: Enermax 460Watt, fan monitor controlled.

Click for a larger image Recall from the previous article, that this is the same setup with a new case, new ram, bigger drive, different video and bios update. Also the 3COM NIC is now in another machine.

So, first, a super quick rundown of my previous experience with this setup (mostly from the first article, and more observations from time spent with the machine about a week after the article came out):

Mandrake Beta2 for AMD64 worked, sluggish drive performance, KDE worked like a charm, intermittent lockups, but mostly only when writing large files to the drive (e.g. a Linux iso).

Red Hat Taroon beta for AMD64 worked also, X worked slowly and again, had intermittent lockups similar to the Mandrake install. Gentoo for AMD64 worked great and fast, but no X windows. (you could run X in twm mode but no other window managers) SuSe 8.2 for AMD64 worked, but again sluggish IDE performance and compilation of 32bit software would fail badly. KDE worked. Red Hat 9.0 for i386 worked fully, but X acceleration was not supported.

Note that in all of the above setups with the exception of Mandrake that compilation of 32bit applications failed. Precompiled binaries worked as far as I could tell (with the limited number of binaries I loaded). Keep in mind that all of the above was with the Nvidia Geforce4, which has been replaced by the ATI FireGL. After the article was said and done, I installed Red Hat 9.0 for i386 and used it until I switched back to my old AthlonXP so I could have accelerated X windows. Note that I did try the FireGL in the original Opteron setup also.

Having a 64 bit machine sitting around collecting dust is not my idea of a good time, so I decided (since the semester is over :) to have another go at installing again, and also to see what improvements were made in distributions since some new releases have come out. Specifically, I have installed (or tried to) the following (all of which are the 64bit version, also known as amd64 or x86_64):

Gentoo LiveCD beta (10-24-2003)
Gentoo LiveCD beta (11-09-2003)
Mandrake RC1
Suse 8.2 beta2
Suse 9.0 (ftp install, no iso files)
Red Hat Taroon (again, to see on the FireGL)

Table of contents
  1. "Linux on Opteron, Page 1"
  2. "Linux on Opteron, Page 2"
  3. "Linux on Opteron, Page 3"
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