64-bit computing ... the new Y2K problem

When buying new server hardware these days its very hard not to buy a machine that has a 64bit CPU. All that power eh? All the memory addressing eh? Well sadly the reality of 64-bit of computing seems to be a far cry from the glossy advertising.

I have been wrestling with servers all weekend. They are all DELL servers running Fedora4-64. I have been running Fedora-64 for some weeks now, but have been experiencing a huge amount of kernel-panics with absolutely no explanation of what is going on. What are they these machines running? Apache and mod_backhand. That's it. This weekend we decided to move up to Fedora4 to see if that would make any difference. Did it hell. Infact, our time to kernel-panic has reduced from days down to hours now thanks to the new kernel. Sadly when it does go into kernel-panic it freezes up the machine to a point where we need to power-on/off. Not very handy if you aren't physically at the machine let me tell you.

Now the software we are installing, we are using the correct downloads and making them on the machine. Yet we are still experiencing major problems. I can feel the bank of 32-bit Fedora Servers sitting there laughing at us, gloating at how wonderful and reliable they are. I have looked around Google for people with similiar problems and I see a number.

There are various help documents out there, stating that you should be careful and expect some teething problems. There is a good piece on RedHat "64-bit computing: Co-existing in a 32-bit world" that highlights some of the issues you may encounter.

Doesn't really help me and my continuing 'kernel-panic' problem. I think it's down to either Apache, mod_backhand or a combination of the two. We've removed everything else from the machines so there is nothing else to go wrong! It seems to happen in high-traffic so everything is pointing towards that. It's not hardward related as we can reproduce on both machines with no problems.

Is there a way to throw the 64-bit machine into 32-bit mode? I don't want 64-bit ... I chose stability.

Update: Having bitten the bullet, I can confirm that you can indeed install a 32-bit operating system on a 64-bit machine. Fedora went on with no problems and to date, there has been no problems reported with the machine in question. Apache+mod_backhand is running beautifully with no nasty errors or more importantly, no Kernel Panics.


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