Sparc status/my two cents
I've been reading this list for a while now, so maybe I can answer a few
questions about Debian/sparc's status. I may be wrong about the status of
a few things, but if I am the main developers will probably hurry to correct
me, so here goes.
Debian sparc has some degree of problems with the kernel, libc, basic
utils, and compilers. Most of these problems are fairly minor, but it helps
to know that they're there. I don't know much about bootdisks or the tftp
image (other than what's already been mentioned), but the main developers,
Jonnie Ingram, Anders Hammerquist, Miguel, etc., would probably know more.
If you search back in the mailing list logs a month or so you should find a
lot of talk about uploading new bootdisks.
The kernel works in most cases. I've had some problems in low-memory
situations on my SS4 (sun4m) and a few people have reported serious problems
with the kernel on ftp.debian.org and a Sparc20. As of the 2.0.34 snapshot
on vger.rutgers.edu (there's a 2.0.35 out now) the FPU emulation has been
fixed up, so those few machines that are short a couple FPU ops should work.
Unfortunately, this doesn't magically fix everything; programs like emacs
have been known to have some issues with FPUs, even with FPU emulation.
Libc is much better now, but has a few lingering problems. First of all,
Debian's libc is actually a modification of glibc-2.1 and is therefore
incompatible with RedHat 5.1 for sparc (which uses glibc 2.0, I think). But
it does seem pretty stable nonetheless.
Compiling things against it is another problem; last I checked (which
admittedly was a while ago) a few header files were not included. If you are
trying to compile something with network (socket) code in it and get errors
involving #includes for linux/rose.h and netatalk/at.h, these files should be
in the libc-dev package on ftp.debian.org. A few weeks ago one of the main
programmers was talking about uploading a version with the appropriate
headers, but I don't know if this was done. linux/rose.h can be found in an
unstable kernel source tree (linux/include/linux/rose.h) and netatalk/at.h
can be found in the netatalk-dev package (you'll probably need to get it from
the x86 package). If you don't want to go to all the trouble you should be
able to just comment out the offending lines in sockunion.h to make things
compile. I'd suggest getting the headers before building anything that you
intend to upload, though, just to be safe.
The basic utils (things like mount, psutils, util-linux, etc.) work well,
in most cases, but could use some rebuilding since none of them are at the
latest version. In particular, someone should look into rebuilding mount.
That would fix several dependency problems. Also, something should (I think)
be done about fdisk and util-linux. I wasn't able to find source for the
fdisk package on ftp.debian.org; I'm not sure where the debian source is.
The upstream source for util-linux normally compiles fdisk but this fdisk
will not work on a Sun (it doesn't know about Sun partition tables). If
someone wants to patch the latest version of util-linux to make a newer
fdisk, that would be swell. :-) The current sparc fdisk bus errors if you
try to make a new DOS partition table and should probably be built by the
main source anyway. If you're looking for fdisk patches to make it work on
a Sun, look at UltraPenguin's util-linux SRPM. The sourcepackage for RH
5.1 will not compile.
Like most things, the compilers (in general) work. Gcc works fine for
me (and most people). G++ has a few bugs, particularly with exceptions
(which is one reason why the menu package is hard to build), but works for
Several large packages have been built and are known to work. TeX is
available and X has been built (just not uploaded yet). However, there are
still lots of packages to build. If you're a developer and can get your
favorite missing package to compile, test it and upload it. If you hit a
big problem, post something about it here; maybe someone can help you
with it. If enough developers start uploading packages we just might be
able to get a sparc distribution rivaling RedHat's, which I think would be
pretty darned cool.
Mike "No .sig for you" Shuey
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