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i am trying to build a server for one of my customer.

the hardware is a HP ProLiant DL165, with an 8 core AMD Opteron 6128 and 4GB RAM. the server MUST run under Debian 5 (Lenny) due to a software dependency.

the standard Debian kernel does not support the 8 cores of the opteron and i am forced to use the nosmp boot option, which renders the processor quite useless by using only 1 core...

i read somewhere that i need a bigsmp kernel in order for my distro to support the 8 cores. is it true ? where can i find a bigsmp kernel for Debian 5 ? if i can't find a ready-made one, how do i build a bigsmp kernel ? which config options are relevant ?

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up vote 1 down vote accepted

A 64-bit kernel shouldn't have this problem. It will support all 8 cores. If you're stuck with 32-bit for some reason, the BigSMP kernel is what you'll need to make it work.

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is there any compatibility problems with a 64 bit kernel and any package available in the standard package repository ? are all packages available in a 64-bit build ? – Adrien Plisson Apr 1 '11 at 12:47
@AdrienPlisson These days everything except certain web-browser bits are 64-bit fine. For server technologies, 64-bit has been fine for a couple of years now. – sysadmin1138 Apr 1 '11 at 17:52
thanks, i tried an amd64 kernel and it works like a charm. unfortunately, i discovered that one piece of proprietary software that we use is not available for amd64 kernel... – Adrien Plisson Apr 2 '11 at 7:23
@AdrienPlisson Proprietary software would be the one area where 64-bit is not as prevalent. – sysadmin1138 Apr 2 '11 at 12:25

bigsmp kernel is a kernel with PAE (4GB RAM) and SMP. If you not use bigsmp kernel, you will have only one cpu core and only 3.2Gb RAM

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