Fedora Core x86-64 Hints ‘n’ Tips

The following article summarizes my experience with AMD64 and Fedora Core x86-64 in desktop systems. In a few years all new computers will be 64 bit. Microsoft and Intel are positive about the 64 bit direction, and Linux seems to be ahead of Wintel for now.

Note: The author is not a native english speaker, please excuse any awkward syntax.


The AMD64 is a good CPU. People use them for compilation and cryptography. Their main advantage is not the fact that they can address more memory (as many authors claim). Actually some desktop AMD 64 motherboards use up to 2/3GB of memory. The advantages are:

Feature Benefit
More CPU registers performance
Built in memory controller performance
L2 cache optimizations performance
Cool and Quiet lower voltage and lower noise
Stack execution protection security

My personal hardware configuration is as follows:

  • AMD 64 3200+ 2.2 GHz, 512 L2 cache, Newcastle,socket 754, boxed fan
  • Asus K8N E nForce3 motherboard
  • 80GB SATA Seagate Barracuda, 8 MB cache
  • NVIDIA GeForce 2 64 MB/GeCube ATI Radeon 9550GU-C3 128MB
  • 512 Kingston RAM

64 bit systems generally require more memory, but I think 512 RAM had been enough for me.

Fedora x86_64:

Fedora was one of the first Linux distributions that made an AMD64 version. Assume everywhere you see Fedora that I mean Fedora 3 X86_64. Fedora seems stable, keeping in mind the new AMD 64 achitecture. I had no problems concerning reliability – no sudden crashes. I think that the binaries are well optimized as there are no such differences as i386, i586, i686. Also exploits for 32 bit Linux won’t on work on 64 bit Linux.

Useful Fedora links:

Cool and Quiet:

The powernow-k8 cpufreq driver is activated by default in the latest Linux kernels, but requires a recompile in olders ones. In the kernel it is called CONFIG_X86_POWERNOW_K8. Note that you must first activate this feature in yout bios before using it. The CPU runs at 1GHZ usually and this is good as this is enough for everyday work and when the computer is idle. This feature has distinct advantages when you sleep in the same room and keep your computer running.

The clock frequency goes up if you need more speed. See /proc/cpuinfo to check the CPU frequency. I used lm_sensors to monitor my CPU and motherboard temperatures. They were in the range of 33-34C(91.4-93.2F) when just browsing or doing nothing, which is quite satisfactory.

NVidia Video drivers:

Nvidia drivers are fine. The install executables have many options. You may need to point kernel source or extarct the drivers. Once I needed to apply a patch – not from NVIDIA to make them work with the new kernels. Usually the installer precompiles and installs a module called nvidia. You have to go to runlevel 3 and reinstall the driver for every new kernel you try.




ATI Linux drivers:

It must be said: the ATI Linux driver situation used to be very bad, but now it is getting better.

I downloaded the ATI drivers and tried to install and configure them withount any luck. This was probably due to the fact that I did not know that I had to remove my previous NVIDIA drivers. I lost 24 hours trying to get it working. In the end I reintalled Fedora. I never keep something that matters on that partition. I followed these instructions (see below). I got them from Fedora Forums and FedoraFaq. The diver name is fglrx and it is a kernel module.

1) Set your default runlevel to 3.

2) Remove your previous drivers - NVIDIA also!

3) You need to add following in your yum.conf

[livna-pending] name=Livna.org - Fedora Compatible Packages (pending)

[livna-testing] name=Livna.org - Fedora Compatible Packages (pending)

4) Run the following command :
yum install ati-fglrx kernel-module-fglrx-`(uname -r)`

It will install respective ATI drivers.

Also do :
yum install kernel-module-fglrx-`(rpm -q --queryformat="%{version}-%{release}\n" kernel | tail -n 1)`

just to make sure that you install the newest ATI driver before you start the new kernel.
To install the driver in your new kernel before you restart.

5) Add following line to your /etc/xorg.conf :
Option "UseInternalAGPGART" "no"
your device section should look like shown below.

Section "Device"
Identifier "Videocard0"
Driver "fglrx"
VendorName "Videocard vendor"
BoardName "ATI Radeon Mobility 9600 M10"
Option "VideoOverlay" "on"
Option "UseInternalAGPGART" "no"

6) Reboot

7) To see if you have OpenGL working - type glxinfo.

Video card configuration panels:

After a thorough search, I never found a Nvidia configuration utility. I recall that once I found one - for NVIDIA and ATI, but I can't find the url any more.
Now I have a ATI configuration panel in the start menu, but it is almost useless as it provides almost no tuning capabilties. Comments are welcome.

Network drivers:

forcedeth is an open source network driver for nForce3 motherboards. It's part of the kernel.

nvnet is the NVIDIA driver which come along with the audio driver provided by NVIDIA

YUM install/update tool:

Try GYUM www.fedoranews.org/tchung/gyum/2.0/ . A feature that is missing form synaptic is that GYUM has no categories. There are other graphical frontends that you can read about on the same site. Another question is how to manage the 32 bit and 64 bit rpms. Everything should be in one yum.conf or you should have two yum.confs for 32 bitand 64 bit rpms? It might me just because of me but I have to admit that I often go to rpm.pbone.net. There you can specify the needed library which is part of a rpm, also quite many distros are supported.

Fedora 64 bit repositories:

  • Fedora base - core,updates
  • freshrpms.org
  • dag.wieers.com
  • rpm.livna.org - base,stable,unstable, testing

Flash player:

Probably the most annoying thing in the AMD64 world is that even though years have passed since AMD released Athlon 64, Macromedia, as far as I konw, has not released any Flash player for AMD 64 (neither Linux, nor Windows). You can try mozilla-swfdec with yum, but for me it worked only once and it didn't show everything. But that's better then nothing, I guess.


Sun has released java for AMD 64. Go to java.sun.com/j2se/1.5.0/download.jsp and look for jdk-1_5_0-linux-amd64-rpm.bin, 39.14 MB. Blackdown has some AMD 64 bit Java: www.blackdown.org/java-linux And here is a guide to installing a java plugin in Firefox . Does it work for you?

32 bit compatibility:

Theoretically Fedora should be like every other 32 bit Linux. Keep in mind that by default 64 bit libraries are preferred. A helpful command is "linux32." It is a shell script that makes the environment look like a standard i686. Suppose you want to compile something to 32bit not 64 bit - you use linux32. Also use it when a program refuses to install saying your system is unsupported.


Games are important indicator (we talking about a desktop system) as they push system, video and audio resources to the limit. I played UT2004 64bit with nvidia geForce2 64MB and the performace was good. It's hard to make comparison as this is OpenGL and not Direct 3D. The Unreal engine is just good and I think more dependent on the CPU than most engines. Loki Quake3 for Linux was fine too, except for the missing sound. Use linux32 to install quake3. I bought an ATI video card (see above) - for the money it is a good card. I set up the drivers and installed UT2004demo 64bit. It just runs too fast! All weapons are like machine guns and all bots are extemely fast as you are too. I also tried DOOM3 Linux demo just to see how it works. The first time everything crashed but it was maybe due to the fact that I configured everything to maximal. Next time I changed the settings to medium details and it worked. Sound was missing again: "/dev/dsp failed: Input/output error" as in Quake3. !
I tried all sort of hacks but it just didn't work, but I'm sure someone has gotten it to work. In some respects, ID software are to blame.

Recommendations about Fedora Core:

  • Faster booting process
  • NFS service is in the default instalation running. This is not a good security practice as most people do not use NFS!
  • Still no graphical installation tool. That fact is ridiculous in some respects. All other distros have I think. GYUM is probably the best candidate. It’s high time that such a tool be part of the OS.
  • Where is the help (the hell)? In the start menu there MUST be a section called HELP. And if it is not built in, there should be links to: www.fedorafaq.org and www.fedoraforum.org and a few more uyseful resources.
  • Why are ATI and NVIDIA drivers are NOT included in the CD installation and installed by default? Also xorg.conf should be configured. The drivers should be in rpm format in order to be easier to update. livna.rpms have them in testing. If you install a new kernel - the drivers should be reinstalled automatically. They should have a dependency to the new kernel (?) or at least you should be warned that they are not yet available. Is it copyright laws or what is the problem in this case?
  • Fedora AMD 64 specific:

  • YUM should have a options for 32 bit and 64 bit updates. When there is no 64 bit package it should ask you whether you want to install the 32 bit package.
  • People should somehow learn about the linux32 command and maybe this command should be improved. It should be added to the startmenu as “Execute a 32 bit application” and "Tar.gz source to compile 32 bit".
  • Some cosmetic issues, etc:

  • The red notificacation area (Red Hat update tool) in the taskbar(panel) should not be only red and blue. It should be red for critical updates like kernel and selinux and other security patches, green for updates that add new faetures rather than security issues. Blue is fine for everything else.
  • YUM is still slow. Shouldn’t it be compiled native by the python compiler or it is already?
  • There must be a startup menu entry that install mp3 plugin, flash, java, mplayer. The user to be responsible for using and downloading this software if RedHat are so strict about that. (this is not mine idea actually)
  • A Samba service running by default is not a good idea, but if it were so, it might be very useful every user to have a directory in his home directory called "Shared Documents." The samba service to have a read-only access only to each user's "Shared documents" folder. The idea is, people who are not familiar with Linux to share their documents easier.

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