Home > Linux > 64Bit Linux – Just for Geeks? 64Bit Linux – Just for Geeks? Submitted by Corey Touchet 2004-06-19 Linux 29 Comments Corey Touchet just finished up my review of the state of 64bit Linux on the desktop. He is focused on the problems he experienced and the total user experience while usable, does leave a bit to be desired. About The Author Eugenia Loli Ex-programmer, ex-editor in chief at OSNews.com, now a visual artist/filmmaker. Follow me on Twitter @EugeniaLoli 29 Comments 2004-06-19 2:59 am If the biggest complaint was hardware problems, it would be helpful to know what specific hardware he was using. Having the question “Just for Geeks?” in the title and including Gentoo doesn’t make much sense, since Gentoo is a geek distribution by definition. Including Debian-Stable64 might have been a better choice, and would likely have given him fewer problems than the three more-cutting edge distros he choice. The biggest thing I’d like to know about a 64-bit desktop is whether and with what I’d see a performance boost. I may have missed that, but I don’t think it was there. Oh hell, it was just three uninformative reviews. 2004-06-19 3:04 am I doubt hardware really does not matter. I used a AMD 64 based system.. The Shuttle version. All of it has pretty much the same stuff.. nforce3 is pretty much standard for lots of people. At work we have a few dual opteron’s and they scream. We can recompile a kernel in less than 2 minutes. 2004-06-19 3:04 am Boy this was a weird read. Fedora Core a budding gem of an OS? I already question his judgement. And when did he plan to get to the subject of running it on a 64-bit platform? He barely touched on it. “…and 2004.2 I believe is just around the corner so I may be playing with it again here soon.” Is he aware that Gentoo versions are really little more that the version of the installer? Installing a year old version and doing an “emerge sync && emerge -u world” is going to give you the same result as installing the very latest. Hell, if you install the whole thing off the net (which you should if you can), you install the very latest in the first place, no matter what the age of the install cd. I use Gentoo, and when a new version is release, you know what that means? Not a damn thing. Theres only really ever one version of Gentoo, the latest. “ALSA seems to break if you try installing any compilers along with the default install for some weird reason.” Thats… vague. Its also a good example of what this article is full of. Is it just me, or is this… whatever it is (review? yeah right)… a bit lacking in, well, anything? Pointless ramblings of a linux newbie. 2004-06-19 3:30 am I used a AMD 64 based system.. The Shuttle version. So what’d you build it yourself? All of it has pretty much the same stuff.. As what? nforce3 is pretty much standard for lots of people. Are you absolutely sure that the NVidia driver is supposed to come on the CD, and that no update or download is available? Did you try to do YAST Online Update? Because I know that for my installation of 9.0, I did not get it with the distribution, but had to use YAST. By the way, the sound problem seems to be a known bug. 2004-06-19 4:02 am “By the way, the sound problem seems to be a known bug.” And with more than just 64 bit versions :p http://www.informationweek.com/story/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=18… 2004-06-19 4:26 am I’ve installed and tried out both the 64 bit and 32 bit versions of Fedora Core 2 (among other systems). The 64 bit version is noticably faster than the 32 bit version. It’s not night-and-day different, more like icing-on-the-cake different. The trade off is that a variety of 64-bit packages aren’t quite ready. xmms installs (via up2date) and works great. Things like mplayer and xine do not. apt is not working right in 64 bit either. About half the stuff I do was working great, and the other half wasn’t. I could probably MAKE it work, but I prefer to give it a little time for someone else to work it out. Once a few issues with 64 bit and a few more packages are ready, it will be a nice upgrade. In the meantime, the 32 bit version works very nice on my Opteron system. It’s better than XP at this stage. I haven’t run into any of the problems many reviewers whine about. I can see some noobie complaining about the 64 bit version, but you’d really have to be helpless to complain about the 32 bit version. 2004-06-19 4:37 am Exactly J.F. I’m not exactly a n00b but I’d rather not deal with dependency hell. If someone is complaining I’m not explaining it better do a default install of Suse 9.1 64bit and then try updating gaim to version .78 In any case updated packages are pressured by the community. The 32bit community is HUGE compared to the 64bit community and it reflects a lot in server development becuase you’ll see more updates in server centric packages vs user desktop centric packages due to the $$$ factor. Now I’m sure if some company said that gaim was critical to their needs there would be a quicker update. I’ve gone back to Core 1 and 32bit where things are extremely stable. And I still consider Core 1 to be a gem compared to older RHx desktop installs. Considering it works 99% with a HP Ze4430 US laptop where the others all had weird problems is saying a lot. 2004-06-19 6:24 am “total user experience while usable, does leave a bit to be desired.” That sounds like linux in general unfortunantly 2004-06-19 6:45 am — “I do think my hentai plays faster in Linux, though – there could be some specific kernel optimizations for this not present in the NT kernel.” Ah yes, the Hentai Acceleration patch. One of my favs. 2004-06-19 7:20 am lack of focus, I don’t see how much of that had to do with 64-bit computing outside of hardware issues, several he said also showed up in their 32-bit counterparts. Expected, but what was that rant about? The title is all wrong, outside of marketing hype attracting some 64-bit computing is still a geek thing – a reality to those who need it (large simulations, huge databases, etc etc) and just a geek toy fetish for those who don’t need it but want it (me included…my G5 and UltraSparc). Memory usage is climbing faster then I would have expected, maybe the masses will need 64-bit sooner then they think…we shall see. 2004-06-19 7:23 am You may actually be right. O’course it’s not the Hentai per se, just the fact that it’s non-live action, non 3d animation. The thing is, because 3d accelerator support is so bad on Linux (especially SuSE, as the reviewer points out), the kernel hackers have to work overtime to get non-3d-accelerator graphics support subsystems working. This often actually means better 2d rendering on Linux as compared to Windows. So your what-have-you fetish has nothing to do with it. 2004-06-19 7:38 am I wish I had a 64 bit system to be able to comment on the artical more appropriately. One thing I do know, is that, if I has a 64 bit system I would use gentoo on it – coz gentoo it awesome. 2004-06-19 8:18 am Im using both Suse 9.1 and Gentoo on my amd64. I do have nvidia drivers installed and UT2004 rocks with it. Now Suse 9.1 did take some getting getting used too. But i really do like it. It is the first rpm based distro that really works on Amd64. Thanks Suse and Gentoo. 2004-06-19 9:00 am “For 89 dollars I would expect Suse to cough up some dedicated patch servers for their paying customers.” I don’t have a 64 Bit system — but I highly doubt that updates via Yast don’t work the same way as with the 32 Bit version, so what’s the deal here?! Shouldn’t there be a server already pre-configured with more mirrors to chose from? “First Suse will not update the package per my customer support since they only support what’s on the CD/DVD and secondly any package you try to install you will end up in dependency hell if you could find it.” Well, last time I read the support coverage, I had the impression that is it basicly a support for setting up a new installation and it even says to what kind of system config this applies. It is not even a support fot all problems you may encounter with any package found on the discs and is is certainly not a support for packages beyond the discs. This has never been the case for the last 10 years — did the author eventually install Suse previously at all? Go read what your support actually entitles you to, don’t moan about what you thought it is. And please don’t start the fortune-telling here, that is where I stopped reading, because it makes the author look like he installed Linux first time: How would he know that if he *had* found an RPM he *would* end up in dependency-hell — and makes this sound to be a general rule for any and all packages?! Get off the crack pipe or else I can’t enjoy my break-fast coffee, thanks. I really can’t bear the “reviews” any more where teh author disses an entire ditro for he didn’t find the desired point revision of his favorite whatever-unimportant RPM package. 2004-06-19 9:59 am Alphalinux has been running 64 bits for years now. So if your favorite programm is not 64 bit clean take a look at this community they might have a fix. Good news is people will have one more reason to code properly, so programs will be easier to port to non IA32 architectures. Ludo — http://6URL.com/00P 2004-06-19 11:20 am Just for refreshing 1000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000bit computer is out today! of course this is not true. 2004-06-19 1:00 pm No problems he mentions seems to have anything to do with amd64. He complains about packages being too old and his distros’ problems with 2.6 kernels. Is it only me that he mentions no real amd64 problems, like unregisterised ghc, no assembly acceleration on some multimedia packages and a segfaulting synaptics driver? 2004-06-19 1:02 pm Well, last time I read the support coverage, I had the impression that is it basicly a support for setting up a new installation and it even says to what kind of system config this applies. It is not even a support fot all problems you may encounter with any package found on the discs and is is certainly not a support for packages beyond the discs. This has never been the case for the last 10 years — did the author eventually install Suse previously at all? Go read what your support actually entitles you to, don’t moan about what you thought it is. My beef with Suse is that from what I’ve seen through 8.2 9.0 and 9.1 is that once Suse releases a version packages are not updated. It only seems that way with me maybe becuase I’ve thrown Suse out the window in disgust each time I’ve asked Suse when certain apps I believe are critical to the user experience and all I get are canned answers bla we support installation bla bla go to this unsupported site *wink* *wink* Like I said the documentation is probably what I’m paying for. RTA people I didnt do this review for benchmarks or fancy pictures of superkaramba for your pleasure though I do have a 64bit version compiled into .src.rpm’s for those who may need it. All my article is stating is there will be some hard times ahead for joe linux if he happened to have a 64bit machine and was tired of running 32bit windows on it and tried to run 64bit Linux. And I’ll still say that Gentoo is still the most complete and has the most supportive community available for help with 64bit Linux. Somone also asked if 64bit Linux was faster. I would say to my eyes it is much faster but that’s compared between a Nforce2 system with a AMD 2000+ on 7200 Rpm drives and a gig of ram vs a AMD 64 2800+ on SATA 150 RAID 0 1 Gig DDR 400 and ATI 9700 Pro Graphics.. But I’m currently running Fedora Core 2 32bit on it and it’s a bit slower but nothing to worry about it’s still much faster than the AMD 2000 system. 2004-06-19 2:14 pm COOL! Where do you get this new 1000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000 bit computer? I am on a _very_ limited budget, so I am thinking about downloading and installing the free version of Mandrake 50.0 on it w/ the 10.0 kernel! 2004-06-19 3:18 pm “My beef with Suse is that from what I’ve seen through 8.2 9.0 and 9.1 is that once Suse releases a version packages are not updated.” Well, you always get bugfixes/security updates via YOU, no matter what revision of Suse. But if you are reffering to updates in the way that you always get the latest or newer revisions of the respective apps bundled in SuSE, then your understanding of “update” is going somewhat astray… If you would get updates to “latest-everything” for your SuSE 8.0, then there wouldn’t be anything beside 8.0 to sell in the first place. The update for SuSE is the next revision of SuSE, delivered 6-monthly. Can you explain why SuSE should sell 8.0 + latest patches if this would be the same as 9.0?! Since 9.0 is the update to 8.0, it makes an awful lost of sense to sell 9.0 CDs instead of 8.0 CDs + updates, don’t you think? If you love your 8.0 handbook or at least that is why you bought SuSE, you can and could always have the FTP version as a free upgrade-path. And be honest: Don’t you think it is craziness man-power and time-wise to maintain + offer free updates up to the current state from any given revision of SuSE? If I may ask your opinion, what do these people at SuSE do all day long with their time? What should they be doing all day long if you were to decide about it? I highly doubt that you can do that with other distributions + that this always *works well* at all (if I took 3 year old Mandrake ISOs, would I be able to make everything 10.0-like via update and be a happy man afterwards?!) What would happen, if I called Mandrake support and told them that the latest gaim-RPM doesn’t like my Mandrake 7.0? Will they setup a 7.0 test server and fix this for me? Or will they tell me to knock it off and go download 10.0, since it’s free for Christ’s sake… (additionally, they will think: “Lame ass, 7.0 or what?! I didn’t even work for Mandrake before 8.2…”) Of course I am aware that there is such thing like the Gentoo-way or BSD-way of updating a system, but quite frankly: I read far too many comments by people complaining how they busted their oh-so-cool-unbreakable-always-up-to-date Gentoo system after updating to be trustful to that end. I will highly doubt that many *serious* admins will call in here and state that they are brave enough to update their entire critical production server from FreeBSD 4.0 to 5.0 via online-update. Instead, I will tell you what will happen: They won’t touch it at all, except for security patches and will only change to 5.0, if they reaaaally desperately need a new feature. Is there somebody in this forum who started out installing FreeBSD 3.0 and is running the exact same production-server up to 5.0, having made all available steps of the upgrade path inbetween and did not bust the system somewhere along the road? Is there somebody who started off with the ealiest incarnation of Gentoo and still stays current up until today without a hitch?! I would love to have that witnessed. Point is: What you demand from SuSE is livelong updates from any given point + support. Fact is, you can always have the *entire* thing for free from the FTP. Looking back to your question, it seems rather strange. Each new SuSE revision is the update to the previous one — how can you say there are no updates? Because they didn’t pay enough attention to your gaim-RPM this time round?! This sounds a bit crazy to me, maybe I am kinda dumb here, maybe everybody but the SuSE users actually install Linux only once for the rest of their lives and are happy campers ever since because all their distributions offer such a great upgradability. I am not a Linux guru by any measure, but I have never read anything during the past years that would have given me an indication of the availabilty of such marvelous system. Surely, the gazillion threads about how people messed up their systems on a daily basis makes me believe otherwise and I cannot see how this would be unique to SuSE. This is not to make a point for Suse here — I too complain that SuSE is even bad from updating from DVD revision A to B, so much that I instead prefer to make a clean installation. Even if updates work here and there, I want to witness an update in person, where you perform a major update including a step in a major kernel revision, compiler revision, etc… with working systems afterwards as a general rule. After that, I will not use Suse ever again — so, which distribution would that be? 2004-06-19 4:09 pm For a better review of SuSE Linux 9.1 Professional 64-bit please see here ( http://www.thejemreport.com/modules.php?op=modload&name=News&file=a… ). The reviewer at this link provides a more thorough analysis of SuSE for 64-bit systems by indicating such things as performance comparisons during tests. 2004-06-19 6:20 pm What’s not to understand. In Fedora you could upgrade from the shipped version of gaim 0.74 to .78 very quickly. In Suse there is virtually no community for 64bit users. Bundle that with the guesswork of having to install the compilers then go through required lib’s it asks for then to only find out there are no 64bit versions of one or two libs so you nab the source of those and they require more libs which are also not included you can hopefully see where I was going with that. I could of tried APT-Get but I get the feeling that it would try to resolve lib problems using the 32bit versions and that will not work. I chose Gaim becuase that’s the package I had the most hell with, yahoo would crash it, and you couldnt get around that issue using Kopete because kopete would refuse to connect to yahoo and I’m not a kopete fan. So now if I’m having such hell with just one app where the 32bit version has a rpm available but nobody bothered to compile a 64bit version or they ran into the same issues I ran into and gave up then why would I try to install any other packages? Linux will never have a desktop future if the companies hawking it to the public do not support what packages they include in it. Selling a set of software and then letting the “community” support it with updates for the packages while you toss in security fixes does not win you any converts from Microsoft or any other OS for that matter. For that reason I’ll point out a Linux distro that is succeeding though it’s largely unavailable to the masses due to it’s price of entry. OS X. You can argue down the walls but this is a Linux OS and Apple does fix problems and support ALL of the software they include on the CD. Given that much of it is not community based OSS but other companies such as Lycoris and Linspire have followed suit by forking OSS projects and fixing problems they find before including it into their products. And at least they will listen to their customers if there’s a problem and AFAIK they fix those problems. If they didnt both companies would quickly dissapear becuase their customers would leave them. Novell does not depend on a Linux revenue stream from desktop sales to support their business but as their plans seem to rely heavily on Linux elsewhere hopefully that type of support will show up there. I’d rather pay for a distro with few apps that were supported IE the Web, Email, Chat and support for the undrelying system vs a distro that came with 30 of each and none of them were supported. 2004-06-19 7:29 pm Corey — Correction. OSX is based on BSD Unix.. not linux. but I agree with your other statements about Linux in general. Linux will continue to be for the geek-types and power users, but it won’t have a successful jump to the desktop until some distro cleans up all the frazzeled edges and provides some really good support. Right now, its a crap shoot to see what distro works with the hardware you have. 2004-06-19 9:20 pm Well AMD has had a 1000000 bit CPU on the market for while. Of course, that is binary for 64 :p 10000000000 would be 1024 bits 2004-06-19 11:31 pm Common, don’t link to a review by a guy who thinks OSX is Linux (and claims not to be a newbie)?. It’s an insult. 2004-06-19 11:45 pm To OS X or Linux? Both are great Operating Systems, but this “review” is pointless how about a re-write and maybe you could include some actual information? Like how well the hardware is supported out of the box, what you needed to do to get stuff to work – I spose you’d call it a review? 2004-06-20 12:05 am As long as I need to know the number of “bits” my processor handles in one cycle and the corresponding code of my operating system then yes, it’s for geeks only. When I can say “my os? how many bits? dunno…” then it’s not for geeks only. Meanwhile we can shorten the header to “Linux – for geeks only” 2004-06-20 12:07 am Noone writing software in a sensible language should run into problems when switching architecture. 2004-06-21 6:36 am The article seems uncomplete. It does not even mention ppc64 architecture and sparc ones. People should keep an eye on ppc-centric sites as http://www.penguinppc.org and http://www.ppcnerds.org to understand how linux is rapidly attaching 64 bit platforms, being used not for gaming..