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Old 07-12-2009, 12:08 AM   #1
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64 bit linux flavors

So apparently I have to upgrade to 64 bit to take advantage of the RAM upgrade I just got. What are you LinuxHedz' suggestions and why? :-)
Old 07-12-2009, 12:52 AM   #2
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According to your profile, you're using Mint so why not try 64-bit Mint? If you don't like Mint, go to and pick something from the top 10 that offers a 64-bit version. I bet most do these days.

Otherwise I would recommend Cross Linux from Scratch. Why? Because that's what I use and I like it and this is simply another "Which distribution" thread in which most everyone replies with their favorite distro..
Old 07-12-2009, 07:24 AM   #3
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You should definitely run Linux for this.
Old 07-12-2009, 08:30 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by BeacoN View Post
apparently I have to upgrade to 64 bit to take advantage of the RAM upgrade I just got.
When making a statement like that, especially since it is incorrect, it generally helps to provide a link to the thread or other sources that caused you to form that conclusion.

You could switch to 64-bit. Maybe you should switch to 64 bit. But switching to a PAE 32 bit kernel would be easier.
Old 07-12-2009, 09:24 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Hern_28 View Post
You should definitely run Linux for this.
I agree you should run Linux, but I cannot see how this relates to OP's question.....
Old 07-12-2009, 09:28 AM   #6
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I have tried a couple of 64-bit installs lately---only to discover snags with flash and java Firefox plugins. Perhaps they are available, but they are not yet mainstream. I don't have any applications where the theoretical speed advantage of 64-bit would make any difference---so I am not motivated, and I will stick with 32-bit.

You don't say exactly how much RAM you have---32-bit supports up to 4GB, which is a LOT.....
Old 07-12-2009, 02:23 PM   #7
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It is not necessary to use 64-bit Linux unless you have more than 64GB (64 Gigabytes) of RAM installed. Intel and AMD 32-bit CPUs can address up to 64GB of RAM using PAE (Physical Address Extension). That feature has been in Intel 32-bit CPUs since the Pentium Pro (released in 1995).

Windows has a software (not hardware) limitation and only supports up to 4GB of RAM on a 32-bit CPU. Linux does not have that software limitation. You may have to build the 32-bit kernel with different options to support 64GB but you do not need to use a 64-bit version of Linux. I am using Slackware 32-bit on my ASUS P6T motherboard with 6GB of RAM. It sees all 6GB with no problems.

If your 32-bit Linux kernel does not see more than 4GB of RAM then it was probably not built with the option to support 64GB of RAM. Rebuild the kernel or find a different kernel on the installation CD that supports 64GB of RAM.

There are some advantages to staying with a 32-bit kernel instead of using a 64-bit kernel. There are less available 64-bit distros and they are often special distros with more problems than comparable 32-bit distros.

Some people will tell you that using a 32-bit kernel with more than 4GB of RAM is slower than using a 64-bit kernel. That is essentially not true. The only thing slower (very slightly) is creating page tables used for processes. That only occurs at initialization when you start up a program and is an insignificant amount of time compared to reading the program from the disk. Accessing memory pages during software execution is no slower so there is no observable difference between a 32-bit and 64-bit kernel.

The reason for all the 64-bit mania is mostly marketing. AMD used 64-bit as a marketing ploy to trump Intel by releasing a 64-bit CPU first. Microsoft uses 64-bit as a marketing ploy to have another different version of Windows that they can sell as an upgrade for existing computers.

Microsoft could have supported 64GB of RAM when they released Vista 32-bit but, Microsoft chose to continue giving their customers a hobbled OS so that they could sell more 64-bit versions of Windows.

Before 64-bit CPUs Microsoft made money selling server versions of Windows that could access more than 4GB of memory using a special memory API. In addition to forcing customers to buy more expensive server versions that also locked them into Microsoft's proprietary memory API, forcing them to run any software on server versions of Windows in the future.

When Microsoft realized that 64-bit would kill their stranglehold on large server applications they quickly scrambled to produce a 64-bit version of Windows. They made money on their 64-bit lab rats by selling Windows XP Professional 64-bit (it has all but been abandoned by third party hardware and software developers).

Linux enthusiasts quickly joined the 64-bit frenzy and began work on 64-bit versions of Linux for Intel and AMD CPUs. Here Linux has an advantage over Windows because Linux is inherently platform neutral. Linux has been implemented on 8-bit, 16-bit, 32-bit and 64-bit architectures for other CPUs besides AMD and Intel. Since Linux fully supports PAE (Physical Address Extension) on 32-bit CPUs (unlike Windows), Linux can access up to 64GB of RAM. There is very little need for a 64-bit Linux OS on Intel and AMD CPUs.

Most individual programs do not require more than the 2GB to 3GB of virtual address space provided by 32-bit CPUs. Programs can map and un-map memory in their virtual address "window" and access much larger amounts of memory. Only some very specialized applications really require the larger virtual address "window" provided by a 64-bit OS.

Calculations are also not an issue, since 32-bit CPUs can perform 64-bit calculations by performing two instructions instead of one. Because of the optimization done in modern CPUs the difference between two 32-bit caculations and one 64-bit calculation is insignificant. Also, Intel and AMD CPUs have had 128-bit calculations using MMX and SSE instructions for a very long time. Anything that performs large numbers of 64-bit (or larger) calculations can use those instructions and do them faster than either 32-bit or 64-bit instructions.

As 64-bit CPUs become more prevalent and 32-bit CPUs are eventually retired, 64-bit will become the defacto standard. At that point using a 32-bit OS will not make sense because it will be older and less compatible. At the moment, I think that 32-bit versions of Linux are a better choice even on systems with more than 4GB of RAM. Windows users have no choice and are forced to deal with the 64-bit compatibility issues if they want to support more than 4GB of RAM. That's another very good reason for using Linux, since one can continue using well established 32-bit distros and still take advantage of more than 4GB of RAM on newer systems.

I probably have a unique perspective since I started out on 4-bit CPUs. The difference between a 32-bit and 64-bit CPU is nowhere near as dramatic or important as the difference between 16-bit and 32-bit. Now it's a case of going from more than enough to way more than enough

Only Microsoft's failure to catch up to 1995 era hardware in Windows 32-bit has made 64-bit a necessity. Microsoft had the opportunity in Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7. You would think that by now Microsoft could have finally supported the full capabilities of 32-bit hardware. Apparently Microsoft would rather force users to buy more expensive versions of Windows rather than letting them get the most out of their existing hardware and applications.


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