Nice article. I, too, was faced by the question which distro to choose for the first dual opteron I ordered for our lab. At that time (a few months ago), among "well known" (to me) distros only SUSE officially supported amd64, RH was at beta, but both would cost considerable $$. Not that I'm against commercial distros, but when kinda _forced_ to pay for Linux, I felt offended ;-). Debian/amd64 was even at a scarier state than now (yep, I have an a.out->elf conversion experience as well, and, too, with years such an entertainment seems less attracting...), so I decided to give Gentoo a try. It was at beta then, as well. Surprisingly (it was my first Gentoo experience), the installation was reasonably smooth (and, I dare say, reasonably fast, due to the power of the system). Not without some rough edges, of course. A lot of apps/utilities were masked so I struggled quite a bit with emerge. On the other hand, the box was intended for numbercrunching tasks, so not much beyond base system was needed. Once configured, it runs nicely, updates are easy etc. And Gentoo/amd64 doesn't have the dreadful /lib64 issue.
So, when the time came to installing Linux on my new shiny dual-opteron _workstation_, I hardly hesitated. Well, I haven't been disappointed. But there were issues specific to the workstation install. Many apps are masked, indeed, but most of them are rather "not unmasked" since no one yet reported success. Masks can be easily overriden on the command line (and in the case of success, everyone's encouraged to report to the Gentoo's bugzilla, which usually results in an almost-instant unmasking of the package in the CVS). So now I'm running an almost-pure full-blown 64bit desktop (OO being the only 32bit exception). Mozilla is 64 bits, so the only thing missing is flash in web pages (those who need it badly can run 32bit mozilla/firefox/... builds). For me, it quickly added to the reasons why one should hate closed-source software, and I'm constantly updating my black list of sites whose owners hire brainless web designers putting a flash as the entry page navigation (and these "designers" deserve to be put in the hell forced to program under Windows 2.0 on a 640k AT). The only issue I spent a lot of time was the NVidia (propriety) driver - which resulted in swapping the FX5200 thingy with a Radeon 9200 card supported by XFree out of the box. OpenSource scores one more. (Can't resist temptetation to share my experience with the so much worshipped NVidia support. It seems, all they're doing is accurately redirecting bug reports to /dev/null with a few occasional comments on the BB forums of the kind "be happy Nvidia bothers with you filthy linuxists at all".)
Wow, quite a lengthy comment... Hope it helps others.
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