Sunday, January 21, 2007

AMD64 Dual Core, HP, Linux and VMWARE

How nice (if at all) to the above play with each other?

I work two jobs. I program using C++ on Windows as my day job, and I am working on my own Linux-based startup at night (doubles as my hobby, too). In both worlds, 64-bit computing is the growing trend. But while at work the Windows 2003 Server 64-bit edition runs happily on the dependable Opteron-based workstation from HP, my private experience is not as successful.

I have a Pavilion a810n that I bought in January of 2005 (added 512 MRam since) and it runs Fedora Core 5, x86_64 edition. So far, so good. Stable as a rock. On top of it, I run VMWare so that I can simulate 32-bit environments running Fedora 4, 5, and 6, respectively. All stable and fun.

But I cannot run a 64-bit machine in the VMWare, because the CPU is not "version D, or later"... whatever the heck that means, it is not related to the D Programming Language (which I hope to fully support in Zero, one day).

[cristiv@newfoundland ~]$ cat /proc/cpuinfo
processor : 0
vendor_id : AuthenticAMD
cpu family : 15
model : 12
model name : AMD Athlon(tm) 64 Processor 3300+
stepping : 0
cpu MHz : 2400.000
cache size : 256 KB
fpu : yes
fpu_exception : yes
cpuid level : 1
wp : yes
flags : fpu vme de pse tsc msr pae mce cx8 apic sep mtrr pge mca cmov pat pse36 clflush mmx fxsr sse sse2 syscall nx mmxext lm 3dnowext 3dnow up
bogomips : 4823.30
TLB size : 1024 4K pages
clflush size : 64
cache_alignment : 64
address sizes : 40 bits physical, 48 bits virtual
power management: ts fid vid ttp

So I hit the coffers and bought a dual core laptop, to build my product on it (I just want to support as many distros as possible). Mandriva 2007 is the only distro that runs without hanging randomly on my HP dv6000z lappy. So far, point for French Engineering, and bad bad karma for Fedora and Ubuntu (which utterly suck on said laptop, both hanging tight as a drum).

VMWare seems to emulate 32-bit architectures fine on top of Mandriva on the HP dv6000z laptop, but 64-bit architectures hang badly during install (tried tweaking the Options, did not work). I had consistently bad results while trying several versions of Open SUSE and one RHEL 4 AS 64-bit.

Because I am trying really hard to get out a build of the Zero Debugger for the x86_64 versions of Suse, I bit the bullet one more time, went to FRYS this Sunday and got a HP Pavilion a1600n... Between waiting for AMD's Barcelona chip to come out and getting an unexpensive machine that will become obsolete the next month, I chose the later.

While I am ranting here, the jury is still out, running memory tests:) I am anxious to see how well 64-bit Suse installs natively on this machine.

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