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I have been dabbling in Linux for a little while now, but unfortunately I am still learning the finer points of program installation. What the heck is the difference between ...
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  1. #1
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    RPM differences: i386, i586, i686, x86_64, PPC, etc etc


    I have been dabbling in Linux for a little while now, but unfortunately I am still learning the finer points of program installation.

    What the heck is the difference between i386, i586, i686, x86_64, PPC, etc etc ? Too many times I have been on the hunt for an RPM for Fedora Core 3, which I have running on an Intel P4 1.5ghz. I downloaded Fedora with the i386 architecture, which I assumed was correct. Does an i586 or i686 RPM work on this system? I have deduced that PPC = PowerPC architecture, and that x86_64 is the 64bit systems like Athlon and the G5. I have been struggling with Fedora just trying to get a basic understanding of what I am installing.

    Mandrake and SuSE seem to be very well supported by the devel community, something that I don't see to be true with FC3. I am frustrated, so please don't mind the ranting.

    TIA
    snake

  2. #2
    Linux Guru dylunio's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by techieMoe
    To give a little more information on that, the X86 processors started with the Intel 8086 processor way back in 1978. They were incrementally improved (80186, 80286) and then Intel released the Intel 386 (i386) in 1980. That was then followed by he 486 (i486), the Pentium (i586), and the Pentium 3/4 (i686) and AMD's Athlon/Duron/T-bird (also i686).

    Since all these processors were based on the same architecture (basically they read/wrote 1's and 0's in the same way), and their names all contained "86", the whole family was collectively called "X86". All the X86 processors were 32-bit.

    The recent trend has been to move toward 64-bit processors, and several different architectures popped up. DEC's Alpha and Motorola's PPC chips have been 64-bit for a while, but Intel's Itanium and Xeon and AMD's Athlon64 are the new kids on the block.

    The difference between the Itanium and PPC versus the Athlon64 is that the Itanium and PPC have completely different architectures (they speak different 1 and 0 languages), whereas the Athlon64 speaks the same language as the 32-bit X86 processors, but adds 64-bit registers. Therefore the name of the Athlon64 in generic terms is "X86_64".

    Intel, not to be outdone, has since redesigned its 64-bit Xeon processors to use the same kind of architecture as the Athlon64, calling it "Intel 64-bit with Extended Memory Technoloty". Basically they couldn't say they copied AMD without being laughed at in irony (since AMD got its start by simply copying Intel's chips).

    And I'm sure that's much more information than you care to know.. but now you do. Amaze your friends.
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    Linux Guru Flatline's Avatar
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    And yes, i586 and i686 rpms will work on a P4.
    There are two major products that come out of Berkeley: LSD and UNIX. We don't believe this to be a coincidence.

    - Jeremy S. Anderson

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    Quote Originally Posted by Flatline
    And yes, i586 and i686 rpms will work on a P4.
    Excellent, thank you both.

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    Linux Guru dylunio's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Flatline
    And yes, i586 and i686 rpms will work on a P4.
    as well as i386, i486, since they as well as i586, and i686 are all intell based and will work on the P4, though i686 will have the best optimations
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    Below is the output of 'uname -a' from my Athlon machine:

    Linux amd.pickeringst 2.6.9-42.0.3.ELcustom #1 Tue Dec 5 20:03:38 EST 2006 i686 athlon i386 GNU/Linux

    - the i686 is 'machine hardware name' and
    - the i386 is 'hardware platform'

    Can somebody put this in perspective, please?

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    Lightbulb Answer

    Then there's the choice between i386, x86_64, and ppc. Here's how to figure out which one you need:

    * i386 - If you have a Pentium or Celeron (meaning any Pentium or Celeron, including a Pentium 4, Pentium M, etc.) or the original Core Duo (not a Core 2 Duo).
    * x86_64 - If you have a Core 2 Duo, Core Solo, Opteron, Athlon 64, Turion 64, or Sempron. (This also includes the new "Intel Mac" machines.)
    * ppc - Any modern Mac that's not an Intel Mac.

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