Debian 64 Bit Linux Overview

I wanted to see Linux in action in 64 bits. It seems there are only a few choices, Ubuntu and Debian were the only distributions I found using 64 bit software. I thought I would give Debian a go first planning on installing Ubuntu afterwards. Ubuntu is/was derived from Debian, and many programs could be interchanged between repositories without issue.

Debian Linux is unique in Debian only uses software that meets certain licensing requirements. In general this is software that is not proprietary, or restricted. If you are curious you go to the Debian website, as the explanation tends to get a little convoluted and I do not wish to give the wrong explanation.

Going to Debian’s home page is always an experience. Debian home page is no frills, and makes no claim to being simple to use, with hordes of people ready to help you if you have problems. Debian’s web site tells you about Debian and directs you to options you may choose concerning Debian.

Selecting ‘Getting Debian’ brought me to a page of download and installation options. I chose to download the small image file and copy it off to cd. This option downloads and installs most needed programs via internet connection. One caveat about this install, it does not support a wireless connection for the install.

The installation other than being hard wired to the net is about the same as any other installation. You need to have free space on your hard drive if you are going to dual boot. You need to create partitions. I use three partitions, Root, Home, and Swap. Debian installed painlessly, taking about twenty minutes or so, which is about average for an install.

Debian 64I now had a usable Debian install with a basic Gnome desktop. I could not see or hear an online video, listen to an mp3, or watch some other videos. I did not yet have a wireless connection according to the installation documentation I read.

This brought me to the interesting part of using Debian. Using Debian as general users use computers, you need to hunt down what you need, and sometimes it is not apparent what you need, or where to find it. While Debian’s website has excellent documentation, it assumes that the reader knows what they are looking for.

My wireless connection is a good example. To get the drivers and programs needed to set up my wireless card, I needed to know exactly what my laptop wireless card is. Knowing what connection types it supports, or who makes it is not enough, an exact model number is required.

Finding this information means going to the manufacturer website and searching for my a parts list. I was fortunate in I found my wireless card listed, some computers are not that simple because the manufacturer uses whatever works for that day, and may not be consistent week to week with parts it uses.

I had my wireless card information. Now I had to locate new repositories to download drivers and programs from to enable my wireless. The documentation I found directed me to specific Ubuntu repositories. I added the repositories (another few steps using a root terminal or Synaptic), and installed the programs. A quick reboot and I had a wireless connection.

What I know as Windows codecs is about the same process. My web cam was another trip into the documentation and guessing what kind of camera it was. My laptop manufacturer was in a cost savings mode for web cams, and only admitted to using a usb web cam. I located and installed more drivers and programs. Using a program named Cheese, it works. For other uses, I do not not know yet.

Debian 64 bit appears to boot and shutdown faster than what I have experienced with 32 bit versions. All the software I need or want is available. After a number of shutdowns and reboots, everything works as advertised.

Debian has always been a rock solid Linux. Two of Debian’s ongoing criticisms are lack of friendliness for new users, and the difficulty of finding what you need for general computer use that does not fit Debian’s licensing requirements. These two criticisms deserved or not, have not changed for the 64 bit version of Debian.

If you want a Linux Distribution where you pop in the CD and sit back, Debian is not for you. If you want a solid system having some control over what is on it, and you don’t mind doing a little searching, Debian is a good choice. Debian gives you freedom to tweak, change, add and subtract as much or as little as you choose. With thousands of packages in the repositories, your options are endless.

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19 thoughts on “Debian 64 Bit Linux Overview

  1. Er, who told you Ubuntu and Debian are the only distros with 64bit version? openSUSE, the latest version of Slackware (13.0), Fedora, Linux Mint, and plenty of others have 64bit releases. Are you referring to some “greater” 64bit version (like more optimized binaries)?

    Just curious.

  2. Hello Daniel,

    Suse was my very first Linux Distro some years ago, I bought it at a borg store. I think it was version 5.x or somewhere around there. I moved away from it for whatever reason, although I imagine it is as good now as it ever was. I am not sure which if any distribution I prefer over others, they all have there great points and a few minor annoyances. That is probably why I jump distros faster than the seasons change. Thanks for your comment.

    Michael

  3. There’s far more than just Debian and Ubuntu supporting 64-bit. The very latest Slackware (13.0), which is only a couple days old has a 64-bit version–but long before then, Bluewhite64 and Slamd64 were there providing “unofficial” 64-bit versions of Slackware. Arch, Fedora, Foresight, Frugalware, Lunar Linux, Mandriva, Mepis, openSUSE, Paldo, Parsix, and Sidux… they all have 64-bit versions. And I know I’m missing some (several on purpose for various reasons, actually).

  4. Hello Zak,

    I was going on what I knew from playing with those Distros I tried out. Thanks for your comment on “openSUSE, the latest version of Slackware (13.0), Fedora, Linux Mint, and plenty of others… I hope anyone reading this post, looking for 64 bit distro’s reads your comment. I saw Slackware 13 on Distrowatch the day I posted this. Slackware may in the future somewhere perhaps, but not this week.

    Michael

  5. Thanks for your comments, I hope anyone who reads this post looking for 64 bit Linux also reads your comment as it gives many other distro’s to try out. I have posted on both Sidux and Pardus (32 bit), both excellent distros, but I was then installing on a netbook, so I was not curious anout 64 bit Linux until recently. I may get Pardus 64 bit, I was very impressed with Pardus 32 bit – 2009 International. Perhaps I will try a few of the other distro’s you mention in the future.

    Michael

  6. Just a quick clarification: I don’t think Pardus supports 64-bit yet. But Parsix, a completely different distribution, does. It seems that you might be confusing the two. If you haven’t tried Parsix, you might want to check it out sometime. It’s basically Debian-based installable live CD featuring Gnome, and it reminds me of Ubuntu. They usually have some pretty nice default themes/wallpaper, too.

  7. Yep, you did write Parsix, thanks, I would have went to the website and wondered why I could not find it.

    Michael

  8. Thank you, I will keep Mandriva in mind, perhaps someone reading this will try it out after reading your thoughts.

    Michael

  9. You should have done more than a cursory search as yopur first paragraphj makes 64bit seem an esoteric exception. It is now very common, with acrobat reader, flash, vlc/codecs and all the normal packages working very well. I find in Arclinux 64, the multitasking appears much smoother on 1 & 2GB RAM machines.

    You should really give Arch ago. Much more flexibility than Ubuntu (which is agreat place to start). Openbox/LXDE make a great, lightweioght fast window & desktop manager combo.

  10. Hey !

    I just started to read your post, and I’m sorry to notice you that’s, for more than 3 years just few GNU/Linux distros dosen’t support 64bits.

    I ran Gentoo Linux 1 years ago with fully 64 bist support, and there was no drivers issue. Only software like flash (nonfree) dosen’t work. But even Gentoo has the same installation method whether 64bit or 32 bits.

    List of 64bits Linux Distros :
    Ubuntu
    Debian
    Mandriva
    SuSE
    OpenSUSE
    Fedora
    Gentoo <-My favortite
    etc. (And I don't speak about the *BSD family)

  11. For the advanced users who would like to have control over their system ArchLinux is your choice and their first idea was 64bit Linux :) so there you go. The best 64bit Linux is Arch.

  12. In fact most distributions have 64 bit versions (all the major distro’s do)

    I am writing this from Archlinux amd64 – the most up to date stable (rolling release) distro (its more up to date than debian sid,etc (which isn’t even stable)

  13. Thank you for your comment. If you look at my Pardus Linux post on August 8, I made mention it was my first Linux in a while not installed on a netbook. My fault for not mentioning in this post that while 64 bit is not new to most of the Linux world, it is to me. Of the recent distros I have used, only Debian and Ubuntu had a 64 bit version. As the post is on Debian 64 bit, and not 64 bit distro’s in general, it did not seem important at the moment. I also used Gentoo a few years ago, it is a good distro.

    Michael

  14. “Debian 64 Bit Linux Overview:” what’s the point of this article? that you poped in the CD got a gnome desktop and had to lookup your wireless card!!!

    What’s going on here?

    Surely 64 bit Debian is more than this. Even as an “overview of Debian” you have not said anything about Debian.

    Please try to be informative … If I am taking the time to read your “article” at least have the courtesy to say something significant.

  15. Well, sounds like I did not meet your standards of what you consider an overview. Perhaps if you head over to distrowatch.com and click on Debian on the bottom right where it reads ‘Page Ranking’ there are a number of in depth comprehensive reviews for you to look over. Perhaps one of the more in depth reviews listed will have what you are looking for?

  16. Have been using slackware64 for about the last two weeks with no problems at all apart from the usual “oh, this didn’t quite work like this before” that goes with any transition into a new OS, apart from that stable as, well as slackware.

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