Re: Has anyone attempted a recent kernel build on Sparc or Power ?

From: Juhan Leemet (
Date: 07/01/04

Date: Thu, 01 Jul 2004 01:59:44 -0200

On Wed, 30 Jun 2004 15:50:50 -0400, Dennis Clarke wrote:
> On Wed, 30 Jun 2004, John Hasler wrote:
>> Jack writes:
>> > There is/was Debian on SPARC.
>> Sparc, Ultrasparc, and PowerPC are among the many architectures Debian
>> supports. See <> and
>> <>.

I did manage to boot and install Debian Woody on an Ultra2. I haven't yet
"got the hang" of the package management stuff in Debian. I'm used to RPM.
BTW, I was not able to install on a Tadpole Cycle U60 (like UltraSPARC
Ultra2 with PCI bus), but maybe that was too strange a machine?
> Well, I see that there is a Sparc port within the SUSE world also.

I think it's ancient, and abandoned? Was it 7.3?

> That wasn't the point however. I can download the iso's and probably be
> up and running in fairly short order. The idea was to build a custom
> kernel ( with or without modules ) with a recent kernel rev. I have had
> limited success with the linux-from-scratch process when using a Sparc
> based machine. I was also curious if anyone had attempted to build
> glibc 2.3.2 on anything other than x86 architecture.

You mean "re-port" the new Linux kernel to SPARC one more time?
Then port the granddaddy glibc library for all GNU tools?

> Also, and this may seem odd, I was curious to see if anyone had attempted
> to build anything within a Solaris zone. The idea that I have is to
> create a Linux like environment within a Solaris zone where the kernel is
> the Sun Solaris kernel but everything else was GNU Open Source based. This
> means that device drivers and kernel modules would be from the Sun world
> but the rest would be from GNU.

I have actually tried, with this in mind, some time ago. I didn't have
that much energy to apply and persist, unfortunately. I became mired in
what I would call Linux'isms, such as heavy dependencies in automake and
autoconf which seem to be coming from the Linux sphere and seem to be
inimicable to Solaris, or maybe any other *nix?

Years ago, I used to be able to pick up tarballs (such as RCS from Purdue,
etc.). It was a relatively simple thing to configure and build them for
SunOS (Solaris 1.1.1) on Sparc-1, etc. Then ./configure came along and
that seemed to make things much better/easier. Less reading of README
files and INSTALL files and various arcana. At that point, it seemed to me
that much of the open source software was being done on SunOS systems,
and therefore I had few problems. Life was good.

Unfortunately, it seemed to me that once the Linux crowd got started, and
built up some critical mass, things changed again. Now it seems that most
open source is being developed on Linux, using tools that have creeping
Linux'isms, that sometimes seem to only work on Linux, without extensive
patching. The dependencies grow like crazy: you can't build anything
without lots of other packages already built and installed. Bootstrap?

Don't get me wrong. I love Linux. I think I love Solaris more (fickle?).
Life is still good, but complicated: like having bickering girlfriends.

Obviously, some people can do it, since your BlastWave stuff and the
SunFreeWare site distribute GNU packages, of mixed ancestry. I wonder how
much effort it takes, though? I admit that I was very discouraged. At one
point, I thought I would take your approach, with SunOS kernel on Sparc-1,
avoid Y2K issues by replacing everything with GNU stuff. However, SunOS
3.x and 4.x lacked that good multithread suppport of Solaris that was
added in SunOS 5.x. Once I moved to Solaris 2+ (actually 7,8,9) there
seemed little point in running only GNU/kernel. I run a mix GNU + Solaris.

I might be interested in helping with that kind of thing, pending some
billable work to pump up the corporate coffers again. I don't have Sun
compiler, but I guess that would not be a restriction? You guys are real
"heavy hitters" though. I would feel intimidated. Maybe help with testing?

Juhan Leemet
Logicognosis, Inc.

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