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Concerns about AMD64 port


I recently decided it was time to retire the Alpha I have been using as
my desktop workstation since about 1997 and get a new machine.  I
decided on an Athlon 64 after reading some reports on linuxhardware.org
that show its 32-bit performance to be excellent and 64-bit performance
to be just phenomenal.  And of course Linux runs on the thing.

But after reading about the Debian AMD64 port, I have some serious
concerns.  As a disclaimer, I'm perfectly willing to accept that I'm
missing some vital bit of knowledge here, but I can't see it at the

On the AMD64 Ports page[1], it says "a pure 64bit port seems to be
academical and of little use."  I am totally shocked by that statement.
The information I've seen suggests that the AMD64 is faster by no small
margin when running 64-bit apps than 32-bit apps (on Linux).  Debian has
run on 64-bit-only platforms for years (my Alpha is a prime example) and
is a solid performer there, with the vast majority of packages working
on 64-bit platforms unmodified at this point.

The only reason I can see for even bothering to support 32-bit
applications at all is for binary-only proprietary software.  And that
is not such a concern; it takes all of about 10 minutes to set up a
32-bit chroot with debootstrap to run those things in.

So it seems to me that the great benefit to many people of having a
native 64-bit userland has been sacrificed for the questionable benefit
of being able to run proprietary software without making a chroot.  I am
still a little shocked about that.

Can someone explain what is going on here?

-- John

[1] http://www.debian.org/ports/amd64/

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