AMD64 Desktop Support

Mark Kane mark at
Tue Jun 20 06:56:47 UTC 2006

On Mon, Jun 19, 2006, at 22:35:15 -0700, Michael Collette wrote:
> Bit of a dilemma here with my primary desktop machine suddenly up and 
> dieing on me.  I'm now in the market to slap together a new PC
> I've started with looking at picking up an AMD64 based system.  After 
> Googling around for a while I still have some concerns I haven't been 
> able to address.  Probably just not looking the right places.
> Mostly I'm worried about some of the proprietary stuff like Flash, 
> Acrobat, nVidia Drivers, Java, and the like not working.
> Is anyone out there actively using the AMD64 processor as a desktop 
> machine?  Are any of these 32-bit apps going to prove to be a show 
> stopper for me?
> The alternative appears to be the P4 with all the motherboards I've
> seen using audio devices that aren't supported.  Still, I'd rather
> buy an old sound card and have all the software at least functional.
> Any advice out there?
> Thanks,

Hi. I'm using an Athlon64 3000+ (and the amd64 version of FreeBSD) as my
main workstation. I also have another workstation with the same CPU
running the i386 version. Here's my opinions:

Flash - The 32 bit Linux binary of Flash 7 works in linux-firefox or
linux-opera fine in i386 or amd64. The 32 bit Linux version of Flash
6 works somewhat with linuxpluginwrapper and the native Firefox on
the i386 version of FreeBSD, although I've found it to be somewhat
unstable and crashed quite a bit. There's also a project Gnash that is
an open source Flash player, but I have not tried that one yet.

Acrobat - The Linux binary of Acrobat 7 works for sure in the i386
version of FreeBSD. I have not tested it on my amd64 one (I just use
xpdf), but the port's Makefile says it works and I don't see why it
would have a problem.

nVidia Drivers - Work great in the i386 version of FreeBSD. Does not
work on the amd64 version yet
( ).

Java - Got it to work on i386 version of FreeBSD (interfacing with
browser not attempted, just for OpenOffice), but have not needed to or
attempted on my amd64 box. I'm not sure if it's even possible for amd64
or not (as the Makefile I looked at shows only for i386), but someone
else will know.

For my purposes, there really isn't much that the amd64 version cannot
do that the i386 version can. I would like the nVidia driver to work
since I have a decent video card, but the Flash and Java I don't really
care about much anymore. I use the native Firefox compiled from ports
for my browsing and just fire up linux-opera whenever I need to see a
Flash site.

Me personally, I prefer AMD hardware over Intel and would get the
Athlon64 regardless of if I run in i386 or amd64 mode FreeBSD. However,
be sure to check your AMD64 hardware against the compatibility list
before buying. I had to buy a replacement motherboard real quickly one
day after one failed and I didn't fully check out the list before
buying. When I got it, it turns out the onboard NIC and sound didn't
work with FreeBSD in i386 or amd64 mode. I already had a NIC and sound
card ready to go from the previous machine, but now both PCI slots on
the Micro-ATX motherboard are taken and unfortunately I can't put in a
SCSI card.

The amd64 motherboard list is here. Note that "amd64" in this case
means the hardware itself and not the OS version, so if it's not
listed here then the i386 version probably will not work either with
that hardware (I found that out the hard way):

For sound cards, I have found the Sound Blaster stuff to work well with
FreeBSD so far. I'm running an Augidy 2 Platinum in my main machine and
it works better than on Windows (had tons of skipping problems that
never could be solved -- thought it was a bad card but moving to
FreeBSD eliminated them). The cheaper SB LIVE cards work too, and some
of my machines have onboard which work great also.

Hope that helps. :)


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