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.
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 Keep in mind that all of the above was with the Nvidia Geforce4, which has been replaced by the ATI FireGL.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)
Suse 8.2 beta2
Suse 9.0 (ftp install, no iso files)
Red Hat Taroon (again, to see on the FireGL)