[LAU] Pros and cons of 64 bit Linux

Patrick Shirkey pshirkey at boosthardware.com
Fri Aug 14 01:20:42 EDT 2009

On 08/14/2009 06:12 AM, Ismael Valladolid Torres wrote:
> I am setting up a new system, running an ATI Radeon video card and a
> RME PCI sound card. My box can run a 64 bit Linux operating system,
> and I already have an Ubuntu 9.04 x64 installer ready. I wonder what
> are the pros and cons of running a 64 bit Linux system nowadays. This
> machine will not be used only for audio and video work, also for
> blogging so I need that the Firefox web browser and all extensions run
> flawlessly. Any info will be very useful so thanks in advance. Compiz?
> Java? Flash?
> Cordially, Ismael

I recently (1 week ago) did a comprehensive QA on Fedora 11 x86_64 from 
a "normal" users perspective. Here's my findings in brief...

- Beware of the 64 bit version of libflashplayer. It is hardcoded to use 
/usr/lib so it will not work with pulseaudio on a 64 bit distro unless 
you have your 64 bit libs in /usr/lib instead of the more usual /usr/lib64/.

If you don't want pulseaudio and go direct to the alsa layer then it 
will not release the sound device can be a hassle as you need to 
shutdown firefox before using any other sound apps if you have 
previously been using flash with audio (ex. youtube)

If you do go with flash(64)+pulseaudio on 64 bit you will not be able to 
use 32 bit apps with pulseaudio (realplayer, skype) as the libraries for 
32 bit are found in the same location /usr/lib/ and replacing them with 
64bit libs will mean they cannot work with pulseaudio.

So, if you get good performance from the 32 bit flash plugin then 
everything should be smooth sailing regarding sound over pulseaudio. 
FYI, many people have found the 64 bit flash plugin is faster and more 
stable than the 32 bit plugin.

- In addition if you want to use jack you will need to disable/kill 
pulseaudio before starting up. There are several methods available for 
this now which have been recently discussed on this list or you can 
install jack2 which has internal logic for this process but currently 
just bypasses pulseaudio instead of reconnecting it to jack.

- If you want to use pulseaudio with jack and get the best of everything 
then you should use v0.9.16 or later for stability and the methods 
referenced above.  IIUC, no distros are currently shipping that version. 
If you choose to upgrade manually you will find there is very little 
build documentation and you may have trouble building the 32 bit version 
of the libraries for compatibility with 32 apps (realplayer, skype).

- There is a 64 bit beta version of helix and realplayer avialable as a 
nightly build but in my testing they didn't work for streaming audio. 
That could be a known bug (probably) and might change quickly or it 
might not be part of the current dev cycle in which case it could take a 
while to be fixed.

- A lot of people have issues with skype over pulseaudio and if you use 
it over alsa it hogs the device so if you want to use it you should look 
at getting a usb phone to save hassles. Just make sure it is usb-1.0 as 
the usb-2.0 drivers are not well tested with many devices yet and to 
make things more frustrating, many usb-2.0 devices are not standards 

- My camera, printer and dual monitor setups worked out of the box with 
Fedora 11.  I had some trouble with my scanner but got it to work 
eventually with the "sane" drivers and apps.

- I had to install the manufacturers version of the driver for my wifi 
card manually to get it to work. Otherwise wifi is a breeze to work with.


Patrick Shirkey
Boost Hardware Ltd

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