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Re: Sparc32 Love?

Steve Yeats wrote:
Hello one and all,

as I've come into the ownership of quite a few Sun4m SPARC32 machines
in the past few weeks, I've gotten an old install of Sarge with a 2.4
kernel running on one and have been painfully compiling some necessary
files to get newer programs working on the old and crufty system to be
able to play nicely with it.

I'd be surprised if you get anything later than 2.4 for sun4m or sun4d. You can get up to 3.x for sun4u, but in practice the latest Debian that will run reliably is Lenny. I've wasted a lot of time on this over the last year or so.

so, I'm calling anyone out... anyone at all, willing to do an
unofficial Sparc32 port of Wheezy or Jessie to the long-abandoned,

There are quite simply too many components that won't work any more, starting off with recent versions of GCC which don't support 32-bit SPARC, moving on to the kernel and various middleware libraries which are picky about the version of GCC they require, and so on.

And even if you could build a complete distro and were to burn it to CD, finding a working CD-ROM drive which was both compatible with an SS5 and would read recent media would be a major pain... I've been through some of this with an IPC that somebody gave me, in the end I capitulated and put Solaris (8?) on it which runs as well as would be expected.

closet-dwelling dusty machines that should actually be capable of
something instead of sitting around just getting more expensive on
auction sites... if they're that valuable, they should be actually
able to DO something! even if the port goes ahead and targets only the
OpenSPARC and Leon cores, it's still a good start!

If they're that valuable then I'd expect somebody to be bidding for them. The only thing of that age that would attract actual enthusiasm would be a Cray CS6400, or possibly a SPARCcenter in VGC.

My advice would be to not waste time with hardware that old, and to not expect anybody remotely competent to waste their time with it unless given the incentive of lots of beer tokens. If you want to do something useful then get hold of a more recent system (we picked up 2x V880s for £2 a year ago) and try to contribute to the Debian 64-bit SPARC port; alternatively investigate OpenSXCE which looks like it needs all the help it can get.

Mark Morgan Lloyd
markMLl .AT. telemetry.co .DOT. uk

[Opinions above are the author's, not those of his employers or colleagues]

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