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Broken applications: Could we be honest?

I have been writing to the list about two applications that
are so broken on the AMD64 distribution that they render the
box pretty useless. I'm sure one could say that two measly
applications are no big deal. However, if you do scientific computation 
for a living, and two of the primary tools are broken, you now have
a rather clumsy paperweight where a computer should be. You could
argue that we should simply learn new tools, and we could, but we 
should really be doing science instead.

This brought up the question, who uses 64 bit Linux anyway?
Surely gamers do not drive the 64-bit linux community. It can't be the desktop
community, seeing that the standard office tool doesn't really 
work for 64-bit. I would think that scientific and engineering 
users would drive this community. Besides the instruction set, which 
can probably give some speed, but wouldn't justify the cost, the address
space in 64-bit OS's mean that we can solve much larger problems. Unles you're
not doing some heavy-duty, memory-intensive computation, 64-bits seems
to be simply a status symbol.

For compute servers the amd64 distribution is fine. All you really need are 
languages (compilers), libraries and decent MPICH. We run our small, 32 bit
Beowulf on debian with abandon, and from my experience, I look forward to
converting it to amd64 ... with a 32-bit node where things actually work.

Unless such core pieces as the debugging tool (ddd) and the data display tool
(xmgrace) are working, it is dishonest to pretend that the 64-bit version 
is ready for testing. It would be very nice if you, and other distro's, were 
to put appropriate caveats on the websites, saying that 64-bit is really not 
ready for the prime-time desktop. That way, we could make better purchasing 

Art Edwards

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