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A debian newbie installs 32/64 on a dual opteron

A semi-rambling note that may encourage others to take the plunge.

And just to make this more interesting, I'd never built a PC from scratch before. Off to Fry's to buy a case, motherboard, power supply, two processors, 2G of registered ECC memory, a 250G ide disk, a cdrom, and a floppy drive. I also stuck in a tulip based ethernet card so I wouldn't have to depend on getting gigabit drivers right for network connectivity during the install(s). 4 hours later the machine is together, up, and running woody on the default 2.4.18 i386 kernel; not too impressive, but it's a start.

Another 24 hours and the box is running a testing+32/64 bit kernel with a couple of chroot environments. The first chroot is a minimalist woody (plus libdb1-compat) to which has been added libc6 and lib64c biarch libraries plus the same 32/64 kernel as used in the base system and modutils so I can load kernel modules (notably tulip and tg3 ethernet). The second chroot is testing upgraded with the biarch tool chain from arndb plus other goodies which I can thrash without hurting the rest of the system. chroots created with debootstrap with proc mounted on each on for good measure.

I've also installed a 2.4.22-1-smp-k7 kernel in the base system as an alternate to the 2.4.21-amd64-smp kernel that is currently running in case I do something real stupid like break the woody chroot that gives me modutils/network access on 64 bit kernels.

All in all relatively painless. I only ran into two gotchas. One obvious and the other not so. First, was accessing more 137GB on the 250G disk. A little reading told me that I needed a 2.4.20 or better kernel. And since there was one in woody I gave that a try; no dice. Problem was that the AMD chipset wasn't recognized as LBA48 capable until 2.4.21. Upgrading to 2.4.22 got the full 250G. Also the tg3 drivers for the gigabit ethernet drivers were working in both the 2.4.21 and 2.4.22 kernels so I got that working for free in process. The second not so obvious thing was that installing the 2.4.22-1-k7-smp kernel seemed to make enough changes so that even after subsequently installing the 2.4.21-amd-smp kernel that 64 bit _amd64 modutils wouldn't install cleanly complaining about unknown x86-64 architecture. I didn't figure out why, I simply created the simple woody chroot and went directly from the default kernel to the 32/64 bit there installed modutils on top of that and decided to leave well enough alone.


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