posted by Robert Minvielle on Tue 2nd Mar 2004 20:28 UTC
IconContinuing with the Linux on the AMD64 series of articles, this installment is to be a summary of two new distributions, and the changes that have been made to Gentoo since the last installment. Here I review the installation of TurboLinux 8 (both with and without the update CD), the installation of Fedora Core for x86_64, and more news on Gentoo for the AMD64.

For those that missed the previous articles, my AMD Opteron system consists of the following: (The system is the same as in the previous articles with the exception of the power supply and NIC)

AMD Opteron 240 CPU, retail version with AMD heat sink and fan
ASUS SK8N motherboard, with latest bios update
1GB Micron DDR ECC Registered ram (333MHz, ASUS recommended)
ATI FireGL AGP video card with 128MB of ram
Maxtor 20GB UDMA drive, 7200rpm
Maxtor 80GB UDMA drive, 7200rpm
D-Link DFE-538TX NIC
Enermax 420W PS
Lian-LI PC-60 case

A small aside:

I note that on some discussion boards a lot of AMD64 users are having better luck (performance?) with the VIA KT800 chipset based motherboard. I have not been up to speed much with the entire 64FX line from AMD, but it seems that some motherboard manufacturers are migrating to the KT800 for the FX line. My digression is really to point out that many have observed better support for the KT800, regardless of using an Opteron or a 64FX. Since I do not have a 64FX CPU, nor a KT800 motherboard I can not comment directly. YMMV.


Installing TurboLinux was not as straightforward as Fedora or Suse (although Suse was an ftp install, it was without real problems). The first attempt caused a kernel OOps, and glancing over the documentation, I noted they state that if this happens, try to boot with the kernel option no1394 (to disable firewire). This worked, but then the installer would hang detecting the hard disks. This problem was overcome by using the kernel option noapic. OK, we are ready to go, almost. The installer comes up and everything seems to work, until I get to the drive partitioning. If I try to do anything to the disk other than add a new partition, it fails, tells me it can not write or read the drive and asks me to reboot.

This is _very_ similar to the Mandrake AMD64 beta install problem I had. Simple solution was to fdisk the drive with Gentoo, do not create partitions and then boot the TurboLinux installer. (note, this seemed to be fixed (mostly) in the update) Another two reboots and I am on my way. The installation was without problem (other than the aforementioned drive problems) from then on, only minor annoyances. First, for those interested in security, I was paying attention to the installer options when I noted this: at the bottom of the "Installing boot loader / options" screen, a little check box which read: "Use root password for Grub password" was checked. From a security point of view, this is bad. Apart from that, Xwindows would not do 1280x960, which is my preferred setting on my monitor. Oddly, when I modified the XF86Config file by hand, it _still_ would not do 1280x960. This is very strange considering that four other distributions do it perfectly on the same hardware, running the same XFree server!

Since we are on the topic of installation, I must mention that I installed TurboLinux twice. The first install was straight from the TurboLinux for AMD64 CD's. The second installation was done using the update CD. The kernel was updated (still in 2.4 however) as well as the XFree server and a few other minor packages. The install itself was identical with the exception of swapping the CD's for the update CD and then back to the install CDs. I noticed no real performance increases or issues between them with the exception of the firewire being recognized. TurboLinux claims that the update CD fixes some Nvidia Nforce3 chipset issues. I suppose it did, but from an end user perspective I did not notice anything new being supported (except firewire).

TurboLinux felt much like the Suse for AMD64 in the respect that it was clean and everything just worked. 32-bit binaries are supported and 64 compilation is there right out of the box. I did not run across any packages that did not work. TurboLinux is using KDE as the window manager, and it is fairly unmodified with the exception of icons and the background. Not a whole lot to say about the window system here. ext3 is the default filesystem (I note this as it has occurred to me that Suse defaults Riser, while Fedora, TurboLinux and Mandrake default to ext3), 2.4.20-1 is the default kernel on the default install and 2.4.21-2 is the default kernel on the upgraded system. One more thing to note about TurboLinux that some may find nice: Boot service selection. When TurboLinux boots, after grub loads the kernel and it starts to load, a message appears at the top of the screen informing the user that if they hit 'S' you can load services individually. I do not think this is anything new in operating systems as I think I remember people being able to do this in windows ninety-something or other and DOS, but this would be the first time I have seen this in a Linux distribution. I think it is not needed, as if I (or you) do not want a service to run we would just disable it in the initscripts or rc directories, but I suppose new users may find it useful in some way. On one last eye candy note, TurboLinux has no flashy splash screens at startup and does text only until the window manager loads (if you have it defaulted to initlevel 5). Suse, Mandrake and Fedora go into a graphics mode just after GRUB and stay there until X is fully loaded, showing the kernel output in a window (if you click "show details" or somethingof that nature in Mandrake and Fedora). I find this behavior disturbing if you want a server machine, but it can be turned off (choices, this is why we use Linux, no?)

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