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  • TrogdorJW - Tuesday, July 13, 2004 - link

    Great comment, KF. I wasn't bashing on AMD for releasing a 64-bit CPU, but more commenting on the difficulty of getting 64-bit OSes to work properly. The basic install of 64-bit SuSE 9.1 works, but it doesn't include many features that are really desirable. DivX/Xvid decoding and encoding, sound (at least on the systems I've tried, which included integrated Via Envy and Soundblaster Live 5.1), and 3D accelerated graphics are all missing with the initial install. Since I was trying to setup a HTPC system using Linux as the basis, you can imagine what a PITA that was.

    There are of course people that swear that 64-bit Linux is faster at virtually everything in comparison to 32-bit Linux, but then there are also people that swear their RAID 0 setup is significantly faster than a single hard drive in general use. 64-bit right now for *home* computing is pretty much like RAID 0: it's faster in a few specific benchmarks, often significantly so, but in general use it is really not that important. :)

    For business uses (and high-end scientific, etc. computing), 64-bits is great. But then, you really need an Opteron and Opteron motherboard (or at least Athlon 64 FX on an Opteron board) for that type of 64-bit computing environment. Getting hardware out and available now will allow MS and Linux (and whatever else) to actually get to the state where "laymen" can use the enhanced functionality in two years.

    The same thing happened with 32-bit computing: the 386 was released in 1986 or so, and yet we didn't really get a fully functional 32-bit OS for it until four or five years later (OS2). Windows 3.1 actually used various hacks to take advantage of some 32-bit features, and even that didn't debut until about 1990/1991 (IIRC). Compared to 32-bit x86, I have to think that 64-bit x86 is progressing quite nicely, and we should be able to make good use of it in the consumer segment "only" three or so years after its release.
  • KF - Tuesday, July 13, 2004 - link

    I have a feeling for what frustration the reviewer must have gone through attempting to get things to work "the easy way" on Linux, and I congratulate his fortitude. I always try to do it "the way it is supposed work" at first too. A surprising property of Linux is how things that defy solution for the first dozen guesses ultimately yield when you find the right magic wand to wave. If you voice a complaint on a Linux afficianado forum, some superbrain will always chime in that it would be obvious if you weren't misinformed, a whiner and a fool, so STFU. Then you can get into a long discussion of why or why not. The experts will tell you that, with all the shells, tools, scripting, and free compilers inluded, Linux has built in all the facilities to automate whatever took you so long to guess a solution to. There is even a POSIX (general UNIX) standard to conform to. Automating what are long and error prone processes for people is work properly done by computers. Instead you are given a list of gibberish commands and switches to type in at the console, and if that may not work -as is not infrequently the case- you are on your own to guess why. The retailers of software long ago concluded that the major hurdle to acceptance (and profits) was installation, but the premise being that software is free for Linux, Linux authors don't like to get involved with bullcrap for girlie-boys like auto-installation. Just study the man pages.

    In spite of all the things the reviewer had to compromise on, or because of it, the review gave me a clear overall picture of the state of 64 bit home computing. Still, there are abundant testimonials elsewhere from people pleased with 64 bit Linux and Windows, probably because the scope of their use is more limited. When you focus on solving one thing, it is easier.

    To people who say this proves 64 bit computing should have been postponed a few years, I say: No. Until real hardware exists, you can't work out things like this. It is tough on the initial adopters, yes. That makes it easier for the mainsteam that will come onboard in a few years.
  • Myrandex - Tuesday, July 13, 2004 - link

    I have downloaded SuSe 9.1 64bit edition just fine on my eMachines m6805 and my Athlon64 3200+ ps just fine (desktop easier to accomplish then laptop though). 64bit kernal should have been included I thought. And it was free to boot through YaST. Reply
  • TrogdorJW - Monday, July 12, 2004 - link

    Having recently tried to get 64-bit Linux up and running on a system, I can certainly feel the pain. Try getting sound to work properly for added fun, especially with a Via Envy 24-bit sound card! However, that said, I have to strongly disagree with the way these benchmarks were conducted.

    RPMs, while a nice "out-of-box" experience, are really quite a poor way to distribute Linux applications. Sure, they're equivalent to Windows installs, but Windows is one OS, where Linux is about 2000 flavors of the same base OS. I certainly don't see Linux as a viable alternative to Windows for most people right now, but if you do want to use Linux, you should at least use Linux on its own terms.

    What would I do? First, you have to recompile in Linux. Or more specifically, I'm not so concerned about *re*-compiling as I am with compiling in the first place. Getting numerous applications to work properly pretty much requires you to compile the source code. ALSA drivers and libraries for sound are a great example. If you want an "out of box" experience, then downloading and compiling the source code with default options (i.e. "make all; make install") would probably be the best example.

    Funny thing is how you end up trying to conclude with such a positive spin on 64-bit Linux, though. Encoding was pretty much a wash, as was 3D rendering (considering the application used). Database work went to Linux while gaming went to Windows. Several of the tests were even run with 32-bit binaries under a 64-bit OS, which makes the whole comparison virtually meaningless.

    Reality is pretty lousy in 64-bit land - that should have been the conclusion. 64-bit Windows is VERY much Beta right now, and usually consists of running 32-bit applications on a 64-bit OS. 64-bit Linux, on the other hand, is going to suck up weeks of your life as you try to get it working properly, and it still might not beat Windows, unless you're looking to run a database or web server. Woohoo! Sign me up.
  • sprockkets - Monday, July 12, 2004 - link

    That windows lite version which of course is not being sold here in the states would be good. I would use that version in all my computers I sold as well.

    Unlike also with SuSE 9.0, 9.1 doesn't have a kathlon kernel, but then again compiling it from source will fix that quick like, or then again, the only processor to compile for in 64 bit SuSE at the time is for an AMD Athlon 64.
  • Miguelito - Monday, July 12, 2004 - link

    I would highly recommend that you consider doing an addendum to the article with the linux applications recompiled. I'd also use the better windows applications that are available as well to compare best to best.

    I've done some testing with applications at work, and even something simple like openssl sees huge increases in speed when recompiled vs using the binaries from the RPMs. I made some quickie graphs comparins openssl speed tests on itaniums, opterons and even 32bit xeons/opterons: and you can see that simply recompiling the same version made a big difference on all the platforms.
  • Locutus4657 - Monday, July 12, 2004 - link

    So when do we get to see an AMD vs. Intel 64 bit comparison? Reply
  • Gatak - Monday, July 12, 2004 - link

    19# You can disable those services. You can enable firewalls, routers and other things. If you do not like the eye candy you can remove that too.

  • Drayvn - Monday, July 12, 2004 - link

    to post 19: they are making a windows gaming OS, where it is totally optimized for games and stuff, go look around im sure ull some information about it somewhere Reply
  • sprockkets - Monday, July 12, 2004 - link

    Would be nice if the games that are developed on non windows machines would then run on non windows machines. It's nice to see UT2k4, but I guess all the hype and rage (perhaps even rightly so) is DirectX instead of OpenGL.

    If they made a version of windows strictly for gaming I would go for it, since that's all I need it for, and since it would do only gaming, it wouldn't be so vunerable with no unecessary running services in the background.
  • KristopherKubicki - Monday, July 12, 2004 - link

    tsadowski: Its actually pretty clean. I wouldnt compare it to Gentoo at all. Thats probably also why it has an RPM repository - so you CAN work with it out of the box.

  • tsadowski - Monday, July 12, 2004 - link

    I find it interesting that you test Fedora Core 2 and expect it all to just work perfectly. Is Fedora not the bleeding edge code, hack it yourself, hobbyist version of RedHat? Not unlike Gentoo? To expect it to just work "out of the box" without some hacking is foolish at least, and at worst perhaps an intentional attempt to slander Fedora/Redhat? I have played around with Fedora Core 1 and while I wouldn't say that it is the best distro I have ever used. I wouldn't bad mouth it without acknowleging it's hackerish, homebrewish nature either! Reply
  • jspaleta - Monday, July 12, 2004 - link

    along with the flags, the specific versions that you compiled would be good to know. Actually since its compiled I would be interested to know if you had to install/compile any additional build requirements beyond what is available in Fedora Core as well.

    I would also be interesting if you could rerun the
    lame encoding benchmark against the lame build currently available in the stable x86_64 fc2 repo, as a comparison.

  • KristopherKubicki - Monday, July 12, 2004 - link

    #8, 14: lame and mplayer are compiled. I will get the exact flags and details posted soon.

    #8 again: SuSE gives you two options for installing the drivers - manually, as we did or via YAST. I just chmod 0 /usr/X11R6/bin/X, ctrl-alt-backspace and then run the driver. You can also hit F2 during startup and tell it to go into "failsafe" mode.

    #10: Thanks Matt, id like to work closer with MS to get that. I have a feeling Intel's compiler will show up for x86_64 soon, being as nocona is available now.

  • jspaleta - Monday, July 12, 2004 - link

    I would like to know from where the reviewers
    got fedora binaries for memcoder, mplayer and lame for fedora core. These untilies do NOT come as part of Fedora Core, are not built by the Fedora Core buildsytem, and can be obtained from a number of different repositories. I would personally like to know if different builds of mplayer/mencoder/lame from different locations experience different results.

  • lopri - Tuesday, April 28, 2009 - link


  • Term - Monday, July 12, 2004 - link

    Out-of-the-box the video-drivers for Linux from NVidia have Fast Writes disabled, but you have enabled it right?

    damn good article btw
    // Term
  • Possessed Freak - Monday, July 12, 2004 - link

    Errors on graphs:

    Why are the key color orders reversed. Shouldn't red/64bit be on top in the key?

    Why does the order of the OS's change seemingly randomly in the graphs? I thought it might deal with performance, but I could not see a relation.

    Regardless, good article.
  • LostInSpace927 - Monday, July 12, 2004 - link

    I am thinking someone needs to a little research before typing an article.
    "Unfortunately, you can't even try the Personal version of SuSE 9.1 without forking the $90 because the Personal edition does not ship with a x86-64 kernel."
    I downloaded SuSE 9.1 free od charge from
    All the longer it took me to find this was a few seconds googling.
  • Matthew Daws - Monday, July 12, 2004 - link

    To say that there is no 64-bit compiler for Win64 is slightly untrue: a article uses a beta VC++ 8.0 from the "Microsoft DDK for Windows Server 2003" CD. Sadly, it produces awful code from C++ and cannot optimise less common FPU functions. So, in that sense, there isn't a compiler capable of compiling a whole application: simple benchmarks are possible though (and show 5-35% speed increase, due to more registers mainly).

    Thanks for a good article! --Matt
  • Gatak - Monday, July 12, 2004 - link

    Why do you not test Gentoo Linux. Sure, it needs to be compiled from scratch, but gives execptionally good performance.

    I realize it doesn't give a single equal platform to test over different hardware if you recompile all the time. However, you can make your installation to a A64 machine and then save the diskimage and use the same image on each machine you will use.

    Good attempt to a 64bit Linux test =). There aren't many out there!
  • sprockkets - Monday, July 12, 2004 - link

    I'm not sure how you are saying that you used RPMs for Lame that came with each distro. I use SuSE versions 8.1 - 9.1 and it has NEVER come with LAME by default. Neither is Mplayer bundled with SuSE 9.1, but I'm usually forced to use an RPM install of Mplayer since for some stupid reason it keeps complaining on configuring that I don't have the dev files of gtk installed, which I do. At least it would configure and install sometimes in SuSE 8.2.

    The only thing also I could at is with an Asue nForce 220 board SuSE worked ok with the drivers from nVidia installed by YaST in 8.2 (ver 9.0 would give me a nice blinking light on my monitor with the LiveEVAL cd), but with version 9.1 and the drivers for the 2.6 kernal, when I installed the drivers the whole computer would freeze seconds after just starting an 3d OpenGL screen saver. Couldn't kill X, only could hit the reset button.

    Could you say how you installed the nVidia drivers, at least for SuSE 9.1?
  • roostercrows - Monday, July 12, 2004 - link

    imo, linux needs a reality kick in the a**. there are millions of us that would like to use this "os" but over the last two years i have started and stopped repeatedly, it's just not ready for the masses of regular users. ie:
    # 2 "support fixes it USUALLY within a week or so". i agree, it's such a wasted opportunity for linux! just ask yourself what percentage of windows users are going to "recompile all of their source"?
  • OddTSi - Monday, July 12, 2004 - link

    You guys conclude that "encoding, database, and rendering tests" show a distinct advantage with Linux over Windows after running a couple of tests that used programs that are more optimized for Linux. Wow, I'm speechless. Reply
  • jacob0401 - Monday, July 12, 2004 - link

    Error on page 5? the second graph shows 2 fedor core labels, i tihnk one whouls be suse. Reply
  • KristopherKubicki - Monday, July 12, 2004 - link

    ViRGE: Ill get back to you on that answer when i can make a more informed decision as to why the numbers were different.

    jiulemoigt: I was not blasting linux. i simply wanted to run benchmarks that we could all replicate. I would love to do an "AT Optimized" linux review, but i have a feeling it would be outdated quickly with the volitility of the OS.

  • jiulemoigt - Monday, July 12, 2004 - link

    I'm confused by one thing that stands out more than anything else... I thought the whole point of Linux is you can recompile all of your source, yet the whole review blasts linux for not being perfect out of the box? I run both w2k and redhat (yes the expensive version) and most of the software works out of the box or support fixes it usually with in a week or so, but I have recompiled all and all source I had because you write an optimised complier once and use that on everything and makes things much more uniform. When I consider this takes less work that buildeing an image with all of the patches MS requires to function, is this not apples and oranges or at least bias toward windows? Yes I realize I'm not a normal user but how many hardcore gamers do NOT know how to install their own OS at least? Reply
  • ViRGE - Monday, July 12, 2004 - link

    Kris, how(if at all) can you explain the differences in LAME performance between this set of benchmarks, and Anand's initial A64 benchmarks from the A64 launch( Anand's numbers show a 30%+ boost in performance in LAME, so why aren't we seeing any such boost here? Reply
  • tribble - Monday, July 12, 2004 - link

    The nVidia graphics driver incompatibility with Fedora Core 2 has been fixed with the latest driver (1.0-6106) released on June 30. The Fedora Core 2 kernel uses a 4K stack size (as opposed to the usual 8K stack).

    From the release highlights of the latest driver:
    # Added support for 4k stack kernels.


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