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Caldus 01-23-2008 11:11 AM

What to install if I have a 64-bit processor?
I have a 64-bit processor (from AMD I believe). I am new to Linux and trying to figure out what distro I should use first. Does Linux work well with 64-bit processors in general? Does it actually take advantage of it? How does it work? Just curious before I switch over.


MS3FGX 01-23-2008 11:50 AM

It runs on 64 bit processors very very well, much better than you are going to do on Windows.

Since the programs in a Linux system are generally built from source, they can each be individually set to compile with X86_64 optimizations, leading to some very impressive performance enhancements.

If you want the best possible performance you would want to look into building Gentoo, but really any 64 bit compiled distribution is going to perform well on the hardware.

DotHQ 01-23-2008 12:02 PM

I've loaded Red Hat 64 bit OS (RHAS4x-64) on some of our servers. For admin tasks I did not notice any gain, performance testing will happen over the next few weeks. But RHAS4x-64 is a paid version of Linux.
Should be interesting to see what distro's you all like in 64 bit versions.

philwynk 01-23-2008 12:21 PM

I first installed Fedora Core 7 for 64-bit when I got my Linux box. I discovered pretty quickly that there are a lot of applications that don't have 64-bit support, and that limits how you can enhance your web browser, among other things.

You can install a standard 32-bit Linux distribution on a 64-bit processor and it runs without a hitch. When I switched from x64 to i386, I did not notice any particular performance hit, although in truth I didn't run anything that would qualify as a benchmark.

Do as you please, but my experience has been that it's easier for a beginner to use the 32-bit distro than the 64-bit. Just my pov. ymmv.

Phil W.

weibullguy 01-23-2008 12:30 PM

Make sure you use a distro that provides a multilib x86_64 OS rather than a "pure 64-bit" OS. Multilib is the standard for the x86_64 architecture and will allow you to run 32-bit and 64-bit binaries side by side. This eliminates the need for workarounds like wrapper programs to use Flash or Java in your web browser.

Caldus 01-23-2008 12:33 PM

So, basically, if the software supports 64-bit, then it will run really really well? I'm even more indecisive about this now, haha. I would love to take advantage of my processor for a change but at the expense of dealing with software issues? Not too sure about that.

Is there anyone (or a group) out there that is creating a way for 32-bit applications to take advantage of the 64-bit processors? Would this theoretically even be possible? This could be an interesting challenge if so.

weibullguy 01-23-2008 01:36 PM

If you are using your machine for mundane tasks like e-mail, web-browsing, test editing, etc. you're not going to notice a difference in performance between 32-bit and 64-bit. If you are doing something computationally intensive, you will notice a difference. Keep in mind that there are other factors than the number of bits influencing the performance of an application. It is definitely possible to have a 32-bit version outperform a 64-bit version of the same package.

Generally you take the source code and build it as a 64-bit binary. Based on my experiences, most packages will build with no changes necessary. Some, generally older or poorly written packages may need some hacking to get them built as 64-bit binaries. However, just because they build as 64-bit binaries doesn't mean that they are taking advantage of the other hardware changes that the x86_64 architecture introduced. That would really be up to the development team for the individual package to exploit rather than a third-party.

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