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I'm running windows server 2008 64, but all open-source stuff (mysql, ruby, python, R) is either not that well-tested or has problems. And of course, if you have to compile packages, you are on your own.

I guess it's obvious that FOSS will run better on linux; maybe OSX too. But there are wide differences in terms of distros. Which one has the best reputation for x64? This is for a desktop use (doing scientific simulation, needs lots of ram).

I don't particularly like macs, but could consider it if they have demonstrably better x64 support.

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They're all fine for doing what you want to do. Pick one that someone you can ask for help knows.

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We might need a tag "religious war" hehehe

Do you just need access to the RAM? A PAE kernel might fit the bill (Linux).

Overall answer: Each OS + Hardware platform has its strengths and weaknesses. Use the tool that works best for the task at hand. Spend time evaluating each platform and give it a non-biased hit list of "must haves". A clear winner will emerge.

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I've supported users with both CentOS and Ubuntu for x64 scientific workstations. CentOS was slightly easier to get working (some commercial software gives all documentation presuming it's running on Red Hat). Ubuntu was a much more pleasant desktop OS. Both were perfectly reliable/stable.

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Presumably if CentOS works nicely for scientific applications then Fedora would be just as good? The new version is pretty awesome I'm told. – kaerast Jun 30 '10 at 11:40
I'd not consider Fedora personally. The patch support lifecycle is too short, and rebuilding a machine just because you can't get patches is a poor situation when you want that machine up for running long analyses. – xenny Jul 1 '10 at 8:52

If you know Linux go with your Favorite distro; if you don't know Linux then Ubuntu is a nice easy starter distro but the hassles of learning a new OS may outweigh the benefits you gain.

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