New Hardware: 64 Bit

AMD released their first X86 based 64 bit processor over 3 years ago. While the original processors, Opterons, were for servers, the desktop variants, Athlon 64, soon followed. Due to the open nature of the Linux kernel, distributions of Linux supporting the 64 bit architecture were readily (and freely) available before Windows.

In the past year, the Athlon 64 has made its way into laptops and more users are finding 64 bit versions of their favorite Linux distributions satisfactory for their needs. Hence I finally upgraded to 64 bit hardware. My delay in upgrading was primarily due to the common problems faced by early adopters. Often Linux users are hurt much worse than Windows users in this arena.

In any event, the original hardware for the Athlon 64 included features such as AGP 8X Video, Serial ATA (SATA) and Gigabit Ethernet. All of which are no longer considered “new”. The advent of Dual Core Processors, PCI Express and DDR2 Memory has further lowered the cost of older hardware.

I swapped out my previous motherboard (Asus A7V8X-X) with a Asus A8V. And the previous Athlon XP 2500+ CPU (1.8GHz) was replaced with a Athlon 64 3800+ CPU (2.4GHz). This decision allowed me to reuse the 1 gigabyte of Dual Channel DDR 400Mhz RAM and a Nvidia GeforceFX AGP Video Card.

Linux booted up perfectly fine on the first try – all drivers properly detected and there was absolutely no manual changes in configuration required. However for Fedora Core I may need to revisit the required running services. (Windows on the other hand required multiple reboots with uninstalls and re-installs of driver packages.)

I plan to revisit most of my guides and instructions in the next few weeks to address any differences between 32 bit and 64 bit Linux.

Linux Kernel Documentation

Within every release of the official kernel source from kernel.org there is a provided /Documentation directory. This directory contains various notes, guides, tips, documentation, explanations and otherwise useful information. Majority of this content is provided in pure text format.

I thought it would be convenient if I could navigate through this infomation on the internet. So I decided to host it myself.

Information on my Kernel Documentation pages

Linux Kernel Documentation

I converted every file into web formatted pages with the following features:

  • All URL’s are converted to clickable links (anchors). (There are some bugs)
  • All email addresses have been (simply) obfuscated.
  • Every page is connected to the directory in which it resides.
  • All files have line numbers to easily point to specific content.
  • Line numbers can be temporarily disabled to allow for east cut-and-paste without numbers. (Javascript required)

I know that others have done this before, but I wanted to do this for my own personal usage and convenience. I wanted to be able to link to content easily from my own Linux Resources guides and documentation.

I tried to put in as many features as I thought would be helpful for myself as well as others. However I wouldn’t mind adding more features for others.

I will try to update with every new kernel release that has updated documentation files.

Finally I want to express my appreciation and respect for every person who has contributed to the Linux kernel and to open source projects in general. The content provided is from the official kernel source and copyrighted its respective authors.

Kernel 2.6.15 Released with NTFS Write

For the average user, a new kernel release usually makes no difference. If everything is already working fine, there there typically only 2 major reasons anyone should update their kernel. The first is for necessary or critical security problems (most people aren’t affected by every vulnerability). The second is the need for new features or hardware support, which is probably my primary reason to test a new kernel.

The release of 2.6.15 mentions a limited form of NTFS Write support.

NTFS write support: NTFS finally implements write support so “vim /ntfs/foo.txt” works. You can write(2) to a file even beyond the end of the existing file. Resident non-resident files and are supported. Sparse files can also be written and holes will be filed appropriately. truncate(2), ftruncate(2) and open(2) with O_TRUNC flag also works. There’re some limitations with heavily fragmented files which you won’t be allowed to change. Also, notice that creation/deletion of files and directories is still not supported and mmap(2) based writes is still not complete

Previously write support was incredibly “experimental” which means risky. I am still not willing to try this, but it seems very useful for me. However in the end, I am still not able to freely utilize the gigabytes of free NTFS disk space in Linux, which is what I require.

The standard kernel works perfectly with NTFS read. There is the Captive FS project which uses Windows XP files to read and write NTFS. I’ve used this with some success. Additionally there is the commercial Paragon NTFS which works somewhat better than Captive, but costs $70.

Toying with Kernel 2.6.13

Since the 2.6.13 kernel was released some time ago, I’ve heard plenty of negative commentary about changes within it. From referring to the Fedora-list mailing list, it appears as though there were plenty of rough edges. Anyways, using my FC4 Kernel Notes, I followed through my procedure and installed version 2.6.13.2 from source.

The first observation I noticed was that it didn’t seem much different from my last 2.6.12 kernel or my last 2.6.11 FC4 kernel. The only major thing was that my ACPI was broken for S3. I can enter Suspend to RAM (STR) but it won’t resume properly. Normally on previous 2.6.9 and previous kernels, the OS would resume, but I lost input, screen, mouse or some other hardware. In this case not even the PowerButton works correctly. I need some more experimentation here.