My shiny new AMD64 system arrived on Wednesday. Last night I got a chance to play with it. I was a little nervous because the nForce chipset has had problems reported with the SATA interface. In fact I thought this was a problem the first time I ran the Ubuntu installation. It turned out the SATA IO cable was not connected (tsk tsk CCL). However once that was plugged in it all went well.
The hardware is nice compact gloss black box with sliding panel to access the CDROM slot and pop-out front panel for USB and sound. The panels are quick to remove and the inside is neat and tidy. Its a nice change from my normal monster tower systems I usualy have and it makes it easy to lug about. First impression of system speed are good, although I haven't really stressed it yet.
The Ubuntu distro installed easily enough. However its still a version of Debian's text mode install. It holds no fear for me but I suspect its something that needs sorting for your average consumer. The graphical install of Mandrake is a lot friendlier to people that aren't penguin heads like myself. The package manager is nice though and it happily auto-configures to use network install sources so you only need the one install CD (and a big fat broadband connection ;-). Unfortunately it failed the multimedia test. There are good reason why they don't package some of the media players in the base distribution (patents and trade secrets being two of them). Mandrake has the same problems which fortunately is easily solved by adding the href="http://plf.zarb.org/">PLF archive to your urpmi sources. I've toyed with re-installing it with the 64 bit version of Mandrake but the PLF only support x86_64 with cooker (the development branch of Mandrake). If I'm going to have to live on the bleeding edge I may as well go the whole hog and go for a source based distro.
You know that stress testing, tonight its going to href="http://packages.gentoo.org/archs/amd64/">get it ;-)