Linux and AMD64
November 26, 2004 11:11 PM   Subscribe

Are any flavors of Linux currently more adept at exploiting the AMD64 chip than others? I know that Gentoo has a robust package available. Last I check with Debian, they had one version better suited for the Intel, but were working on AMD-specific one. To compound my problem, I hope to add VMWare once it's up and running (to run WindowsXP as a virtual 32-bit OS).
posted by RavinDave to Computers & Internet (9 answers total)
Are you planning on using the default kernel that comes with the distribution? If so, most of the distributions pack a ton of stuff into the kernel to ensure maximum compatibility with as many devices and configuration types as possible. Some of them use modules, but you still have a kernel that has a lot of support for different hardware and software that you probably don't need.

By using a 2.6.x version of the kernel, and compiling it yourself specifically for your configuration, you'll see the maximum speed for your particular architecture and configuration. Otherwise, most of the distributions will likely be similar in terms of performance. Most distributions have a precompiled kernel that you can use for the AMD64.

For Debian, the AMD64 specific kernel images are in the testing and unstable releases. There are kernel images for AMD64 Generic, K8, and K8-smp. There are also kernel header files if you want to compile your own.

Take a look at the Debian packages list for more info.
posted by stovenator at 12:00 AM on November 27, 2004

Response by poster: stovenator:

My experience is strictly with Debian and it's been a while since I've done a fresh install. I assumed I would be grabbing some pre-packaged ISO, install that and tweak from there. I have no problems recompiling the kernel after I get the initial base installation configured. Nonetheless, I'd have to start with a 64-bit kernel right from the beginning, right? I mean, I can't use the 32-bit version and apt-get up, can I?
posted by RavinDave at 2:01 AM on November 27, 2004

Ubuntu has an AMD64 version as well. (Ubuntu is also Debian-based.)
posted by brettcar at 6:14 AM on November 27, 2004

Ubuntu link works now.
posted by brettcar at 6:15 AM on November 27, 2004

Suse has an AMD64 version, but if you like debian you might not like suse's differing concept of user-friendliness.
posted by mosch at 10:16 AM on November 27, 2004

Fedore Core 3 has a 64 bit version, but again, you're going to end up recompiling spefically for you if you want max performance.
posted by SpecialK at 10:50 AM on November 27, 2004

After getting some sleep, it seems to me that you are probably looking for all of the apps to be 64 bit too, not just the kernel. That being the case, as far as Debian is concerned, you probably want the Alioth port. This has almost every Debian package (97% is the number given) ported to a 64 bit environment. Its still considered beta, but Debian's idea of beta is often times different than other distros.

The ISOs are available to boot into the new Debian installer (much much friendlier thanprevious Debian versions) wth the AMD64 kernel architechture. I think the ISO you want for the install is in the monolithic directory, but read the FAQ linked above for more info. I haven't tried the pure64 yet, so I can't really comment one way or the other how it will work with VMWARE, but you shouldn't have any problems that I can think of.
posted by stovenator at 11:55 AM on November 27, 2004

Response by poster: Very nice, stovenator. Those links muchly appreciated. Not sure how I missed'em, but I surely did. Thanx!
posted by RavinDave at 11:34 PM on November 27, 2004

Let us know how it works out for you. Also, make sure you look at the bottom of the FAQ, where it mentions that in order to run VMWARE, there is a patch you need to install.
posted by stovenator at 1:58 PM on November 28, 2004

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