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Old 08-27-2011, 02:18 AM   #1
Dogman2
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New 64 bit distro


I am part way through building my own 64 bit machine. I did have try with 32 bit distro's a few years ago but gave up when I couldn't get the systems to run for me. Eg no printer, scanner, difficulty upgrading software etc. I would like to know if the distros available are capable of running on 64 bit machine if so which ones. The only two who I have found is Ubuntu and Suse. There are others which I have not tried to use such as Centros, Mint, Yellow dog.
I am looking to replace Windows for everyday use rather than go for windows 7. Such as web browsing email photo handling but nothing sophisticated which would require Photoshop, playing dvds and cds
Any advise please
 
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Old 08-27-2011, 03:13 AM   #2
jdkaye
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Hi DM2,
I think almost all distros have 64 bit versions these days. I'm running Debian amd64, a distro which you didn't mention. Check out Distrowatch and click on various distros. That should be a quick way of verifying if they come in 64bit versions or not.
ciao,
jdk
 
Old 08-27-2011, 03:20 AM   #3
EDDY1
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Running Debian here also with hp deskjet f2430 printer that worked out the box.
 
Old 08-27-2011, 06:25 AM   #4
cascade9
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Yellow Dog is PowerPC or PS3 only. Unless you've got an older apple (power PC) or have a PS3 that you want to run a linux distro on (dont know why you would bother myself) then yellow dog is not for you. The last release was a few years ago anyway, and its based on RHEL/CentOS/Fedora, which all run on normal x86 computer hardware.
 
Old 08-27-2011, 07:23 AM   #5
johnsfine
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dogman2 View Post
I am part way through building my own 64 bit machine. I did have try with 32 bit distro's a few years ago but gave up when I couldn't get the systems to run for me. Eg no printer, scanner, difficulty upgrading software etc.
I don't think much of that has gotten easier in the last few years (unless you mean more than a few). None of that is easier in 64-bit Linux than in 32-bit Linux. Most of it wasn't very hard anyway, so if you try a little harder and ask a few detailed questions here, you should be able to get almost everything to work (I'm not certain about your printer and scanner. Some models are pretty solidly tied to Windows).

Quote:
I would like to know if the distros available are capable of running on 64 bit machine if so which ones.
Most of them. I use 64-bit Mepis (which is one of the choices you should consider) and 64-bit Centos (which I don't recommend for you).

Ubuntu is the popular choice among beginner friendly Linux distros. Mint is another popular and fairly beginner friendly choice.

I think Suse and Centos are significantly less beginner friendly with (for your needs) no compensating benefits.

Fedora has better support than Ubuntu/Mepis/Mint etc. for some hardware. It is significantly less beginner friendly than those, but at some point a struggle with incompatible hardware defeats all the benefits of beginner friendly. So you should try something like Ubuntu/Mepis/Mint first, but if it has problems with your display/printer/scanner etc., you might try Fedora (or you might ask detailed questions here. Almost any hardware that any distro can support can be enabled in Ubuntu, Mepis or Mint with a little extra skill and effort).

Also there is no reason to assume you'll need to deal with any hardware incompatibilities. Most distros install into most computers correctly the first try with no incompatibilities.

Last edited by johnsfine; 08-27-2011 at 07:29 AM.
 
Old 08-27-2011, 08:32 AM   #6
cheddarcheese
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I've been using 64-bit Fedora 15 for the past few weeks, and have found it quite decent. I'm using it as a server rather than a regular desktop machine, but have had no problem finding 64-bit software for it. A few small bugs/odd features, but most of these were down to the fact that Fedora 15 comes with Gnome 3 by default (opinions vary widely on Gnome 3), but that can easily be swapped out with KDE or XFCE etc.

Haven't really had any need to hook up printers or scanners, etc, so I can't comment on support for those, but my general impression of Fedora 15 64-bit is favorable, and is simple enough to install.
 
Old 08-27-2011, 04:11 PM   #7
jefro
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There is still a much larger support for 32 bit systems. I'd start there. If you had trouble with it before I doubt it will change much. Use live cd's of various distros to see how well they handle your system.

Consider also a virtual machine. They allow a user to learn and use linux safely and easily without a lot of driver attention. Your Windows does all the work and you just use linux.

Unless you NEED some very unique programs and use very large files in memory you don't need 64 bit. It is not really better, it just doesn't have legacy issues. Those legacy issues may be what you still need.

Last edited by jefro; 08-27-2011 at 04:15 PM.
 
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Old 08-27-2011, 05:04 PM   #8
johnsfine
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dogman2 View Post
I am part way through building my own 64 bit machine. ... I would like to know if the distros available are capable of running on 64 bit machine
Just wanted to make sure you also understood that "64 bit machine" means 64 bit hardware. That gives you your choice of 64 bit or 32 bit software. So if you want some obscure distro available only 32-bit, that is a valid choice. Or you might choose the 32-bit build of any distro available both ways.

Up to 12GB of physical ram, there is probably no compelling reason to choose a 64-bit Linux instead of a 32-bit Linux. Either should run quite well. A lot depends on how you intend to use the system. Maybe 32-bit Linux would be significantly worse or better than 64-bit for your use. But more likely the difference will be small. (Above 12GB physical ram, a 32-bit kernel is likely to exhaust its internal virtual memory limit trying to manage all the physical ram itself plus all the things the physical ram is being used for, even though in theory a PAE kernel handles 16GB physical ram and PAE hardware supports up to 64GB for a 32 bit kernel).

I disagree with Jefro about the probability of compatibility issues (where a 32 bit distro would work and 64 bit not work). *I* would use a 64 bit distro in (what I estimate is) your situation. But I also don't think selecting a 32 bit distro instead is likely to be a big error.

Last edited by johnsfine; 08-27-2011 at 05:11 PM.
 
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Old 08-28-2011, 09:29 AM   #9
Dogman2
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Thanks everyone for your replies. The machine I am getting will eventually have a Gigabyte 870A motherboard with an AMD Athlon x2 3.00 Ghz CPU and a Gigabyte 8400 graphics card 500 Gb Hdd and LG DVD +RW. I do not want to go to Windows 7 mainly because of the problems with other Windows versions, system freezing, blue screen of death etc.I want to use Linux as a direct replacement as I have been informed it much more stable. Unfortunately the last time I tried Linux I simply did not have the time then to try to sort out any problems which arose. I now a little more time available to spend.
I may be seeking a perfect world and hoping I will find one.
 
Old 08-28-2011, 09:52 AM   #10
cascade9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dogman2 View Post
The machine I am getting will eventually have a Gigabyte 870A motherboard with an AMD Athlon x2 3.00 Ghz CPU and a Gigabyte 8400 graphics card 500 Gb Hdd and LG DVD +RW.
Nice board, entry level CPU (nothing wrong with that!), but unless you've already ordered the system, change the 8400GS to a G210.

The G210s are only a few quid more, and the minor price difference would be paid in power savings in a very short amount of time (the G210 uses about 3/4s of the power of 8400GS at peak usage, and a fair amount lower than that at idle). They are also slightly faster than a 840GS, and a lot faster than a 8400GS ver2 (that would only matter for gaming though).
 
Old 08-28-2011, 10:09 AM   #11
Dogman2
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Thanks for that I'll see what boss man says next Wednesday. He's supplying I'm doing the work but I will put it to him. Would 32 software run ok on 64 bit hardware I think it will have only 4gb ram so I don't think there would access difficulties to the ram like a 32 bit system upper ram access limits.
 
Old 08-28-2011, 10:24 AM   #12
cascade9
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x86 64bit CPUs are actually 32bit/64bit capable. Running 32bit software on a 64bit x86 CPU is no problem. I perfer to use 64bit, for some of the tasks I do ofen 64bit is faster.

32bit (without PAE) would probably give you 3.something GB of RAM. The PAE kernel will let you use the 'full' 4GB (though I will tell you that you wont get 4GB, you will probasbly get 3.9something GB due to memory reserved for system usage, and for onboard devices).

PAE wiki page just in case you are interested-

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Physical_Address_Extension

Dont worry about PAE, most distros will install a PAE kernel if it detects enough RAM, and some distros are moving to PAE as the defualt kernel, even with less than 3GB of RAM.
 
Old 08-28-2011, 11:19 AM   #13
johnsfine
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dogman2 View Post
Would 32 software run ok on 64 bit hardware
Yes.

On 64 bit hardware you can run a 32 bit Linux with only 32 bit applications, or you can run a 64 Linux with any mix of 32 bit and 64 bit applications.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cascade9 View Post
32bit (without PAE) would probably give you 3.something GB of RAM. The PAE kernel will let you use the 'full' 4GB (though I will tell you that you wont get 4GB, you will probasbly get 3.9something GB due to memory reserved for system usage, and for onboard devices).
To clarify that a little: A small part of the first 4GB of physical ram is unusable regardless of the OS. A 32 bit PAE kernel can use the same amount (which is almost all) of 4GB (or 8GB or 12GB) as a 64 bit kernel could. A non PAE 32 bit kernel has an upper limit significantly lower than the part of 4GB that a PAE kernel can use. So with 4GB, if you want a 32 bit kernel you should choose 32 bit PAE.

Last time I tried several 32 bit Linux distros (which was pretty long ago) they all installed non PAE by default and switching to PAE was an easy operation after install by selecting the PAE kernel from the package manager. I have read in other threads at LQ that many 32 bit Linux installers now install PAE by default on a 4GB system, but I haven't tried that myself.

All the above refers to physical ram. You might also care about virtual memory.

Most applications never hit the virtual memory limit, so for most uses of a Linux system you shouldn't care. If you do care:

Each 32 bit process on a 32 bit Linux (with or without PAE) is limited to 3GB of virtual memory. (Notice the "each". Multiple 32 bit processes running at the same time can use a total far more than 4GB of virtual memory).

Each 32 bit process on a 64 bit Linux is limited to 4GB of virtual memory.

Each 64 bit process on a 64 bit Linux has nearly unlimited virtual memory.

Some (but very few) applications have good reason to use virtual memory far in excess of the system's total physical memory. So the fact that you expect to have only 4GB of physical memory doesn't guarantee you won't need far more than that for a single process virtual memory. It really depends on what the system is for: For typical uses no single process would use over 3GB virtual even if the whole system uses over 12GB physical. For some unusual uses a single process might need over 8GB virtual even while the whole system is using under 4GB physical.

Last edited by johnsfine; 08-28-2011 at 11:21 AM.
 
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Old 08-28-2011, 04:16 PM   #14
jefro
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We can't guarantee that linux will be stable. Don't assume that Windows 7 would have failed either. Each case is a case by case issue. Some very good systems will never run linux since they were never made from the factory to run linux. Remember, linux uses different paths and timings in the machine code. A different OS can only be tested good or bad.

Here is my issue with the 4G mark. While you might gain a very small amount in possible use, you also loose almost a gig in real ram due to each word and each command being twice as large. Even the most trivial command needs 64bit. I know it doesn't cost more since the bits are free and there is no bit bucket. It is just a rotten number to argue about. Neither point of view is wrong.

I think you should try a number of disto's in live cd or live usb and then make a choice. Better to be happy and technically wrong then unhappy and technically right. I did say to run 32 bit but I tend to select and use 64 bit but I know the limits.
 
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Old 08-28-2011, 06:14 PM   #15
johnsfine
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jefro View Post
you also loose almost a gig in real ram due to each word and each command being twice as large. Even the most trivial command needs 64bit.
None of that is accurate. Each pointer is twice as large in 64-bit, but most other data types aren't.

Integers in 64-bit (x86_64) are 32 bit, just as they are in 32-bit applications. Floating point values are 32 bit or 64 bit (depending on the precision chosen by the programmer) exactly the same in 32 bit and 64 bit. Text is the same size in 64 bit as 32 bit.

Instructions average larger in 64 bit mode than 32 bit mode, but no where near two to one. In addition, the compiler typically generates slightly fewer machine instructions for 64 bit mode vs 32 bit to represent the same source code. So fewer instructions partially balances larger instructions and the net size of binary code is only slightly larger in 64 bit mode than 32 bit mode.

A 64 bit Linux is likely to use significantly more disk space than a 32 bit Linux, primarily because multi lib support (to allow 32 bit applications in a 64 bit system) takes space, but also because the executable code is a little bigger. But all that is not likely to add up to one GB on disk.

In ram, only a small fraction of that on disk extra will be in memory at once, so that is a pretty trivial amount. Pointers being double size is added to that, but you still are very unlikely to get anywhere close to a full GB extra for 64 bit out of 4GB.

Choosing 64 bit instead of 32 bit does cost some ram. So on a system with half a GB or less of ram, you should probably choose 32 Linux to avoid wasting a resource you are seriously short of. But with 2GB or 4GB of ram, the extra ram needed for 64 bit is too trivial to worry about.
 
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