Running a 64bit Linux desktop has a few bumpy areas. I've been running a 64bit Linux desktop for the past year to take advantage of the 8GB of RAM that my T61p laptop now has. The bumpy areas are:
- 32bit applications require all the 32bit libraries to be installed. This primarily concerns proprietary apps like Adobe Acroread since virtually all open sources apps are compiled to 64bit binaries already. This isn't a huge issue, just a little more bloat on the hard drive and package updates have to be pulled down for both architectures.
- The old trick of having mplayer (or similar apps) use DLLs from Windows for some codecs such as WMV9 no longer work. There are workarounds (such as having a separate 32bit version of mplayer installed), but I don't encounter much WMV9 video on the internet -- most sites use Flash video or H.264 nowadays.
- Linux Flash support. Two ways to address this. Use the 32bit Flash plugin with nspluginwrapper, or use the new (not production quality yet) 64bit Flash plugin (with or without nspluginwrapper).
- 64bit Java Applet support. Even though Sun has been shipping 64bit Java JVMs forever, there has been no 64bit Java Applet plugin for 64bit browsers. The request has been tracked in the Sun java bug database as bug id 4802695 (bug created in Jan 2003). In 2008 there was some progress outside of Sun to bring 64bit applet support to fruition as part of the IcedTea project's gcjwebplugin with partial success. Finally, on February 20th, 2009 Sun released JDK/JRE 1.6.0_12 with "64-Bit Browser Support for Java Plugin and Java Webstart".
My next blog post will cover how to install and use the new 64bit Java applet support.