only certain Linux distros can use AMD 64 bit processor

Discussion in 'NZ Computing' started by Daeron, Feb 7, 2004.

  1. Daeron

    Daeron Guest

    MS Opens up XP 64 Beta
    Pedro Hernandez Feb 04 2004

    AMD's desktop 64-bit CPU has already begun to appear in PCs from
    several computer makers. Despite the processors' prowess at running
    32-bit operating systems and applications, only certain Linux distros
    could make full use of the chip's 64-bit potential.

    Now thanks to Microsoft, early adopters of AMD's Athlon64 and Opteron
    can run a beta version of XP 64 was previously only available to
    members of MSDN.
    Daeron, Feb 7, 2004
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  2. Daeron

    David Preece Guest

    Y'know, I'm not sure if this is entirely true. It's apparently a common
    bootstrapping technique amongs the Linux x86-64 crowd to take a bog
    standard 32 bit install and just load a 64 bit kernel onto it.

    Sounds like a bit of a nightmare though,

    ....and I'm reasonably uncertain of the gains from doing this, to be honest.

    Certainly only some Linux distibutions come with out of the box 64 bit
    support. Suse Enterprise Linux, for example.

    Note, however, that this is final ... shipping ... tested ... supported
    software. Not a beta. Not "beta! beta! won't be released for at least a
    year! beta even by our standards!!!".

    David Preece, Feb 7, 2004
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  3. Daeron

    Adam Warner Guest

    Hi David Preece,
    The subject heading was a nice troll. The fact that SuSE is already
    shipping a tested and supported AMD64 Linux distribution is due to the
    prevalence of open source drivers. If people needed hardware manufactures
    to release 64-bit Linux binary drivers then many of the AMD64 boxes would
    have only been useful as x86-32 computers.

    There's talk of a Wintel conspiracy to not retail x86-64 Windows until
    Intel is ready with a clone. It's much easier to believe that Microsoft
    requires OEMs to do their own driver development, and until the OEMs do a
    quality job x86-64 Windows will remain buggy and beta software.

    I enjoyed this description of the issues involved in building a
    bi-architecture Linux distribution (it's not yet archived by Google
    Groups so I took liberty in posting it below).


    Subject: Re: only certain Linux distros can use AMD 64 bit processor
    From: Tony Hill <>
    Date: Sun, 08 Feb 2004 01:53:38 GMT

    MUCH more than the kernel is required, at least if you want it to be
    halfway useful as a 64-bit processor. Sure, you COULD just throw a
    64-bit kernel on a 32-bit machine, but you wouldn't be able to run any
    dynamically linked 64-bit applications (pretty much all applications
    beyond "Hello world" are dynamically linked these days).

    AMD64 introduced a rather new problem to Linux and *BSD; it's a
    bi-arch system. The Athlon64 and Opteron support both AMD64 code and
    IA32 code natively, and while there have been a few other processors
    that could do this natively (UltraSparc and Itanium jump to mind
    here), usually the Linux folk haven't bothered supporting the "legacy"
    architecture. With the Athlon64 and Opteron, they do.

    What this means, in terms of Linux, is that to get a fully functional
    AMD64 system you need two sets of libraries, one compiled for AMD64
    and one compiled for IA32. You also need a kernel and a bit of glue
    to get this all working together. Linux now supports this fairly
    well, but it took a little while to get there. If you look at many of
    the distributions out there you'll find that they started out as
    64-bit only for the AMD64 platform for just this reason.

    So, while it is theoretically possible to role your own AMD64 port
    from an existing IA32 port, it's not a very easy task, especially if
    you want to make it a bi-arch (AMD64/IA32) port. Since there are
    still some common apps that aren't 64-bit clean (eg KDE) and some
    fairly important binary-only packages that aren't available for AMD64
    yet (eg a Java JRE until about 3 days ago), a bi-arch port is a REAL
    good thing to have.
    Adam Warner, Feb 8, 2004
  4. Daeron

    Gordon Guest

    For now, the Penguin is working on it. I have read that the 2.6 kernel is
    Gordon, Feb 8, 2004
  5. Daeron

    Lennier Guest

    Indeed it is! That is what my box has got under the bonnet.

    Lennier, Feb 8, 2004
  6. Daeron

    Daeron Guest


    Yes it struck me as a new form of distro fud. I just was not
    sufficiently qualified to refute it. Thanks for the response.
    Daeron, Feb 8, 2004
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