Current support for Xserve G5

Paul Mather paul at
Fri Jun 11 19:40:14 UTC 2010

On Jun 10, 2010, at 8:41 PM, Nathan Whitehorn wrote:

> On 06/10/10 13:20, Paul Mather wrote:
>> In our lab we have two Xserve G5 servers.  We'd like to keep using these, but, because of EOL issues with Mac OS X, I am looking for an Open Source replacement.  My preference is for *BSD---preferably FreeBSD or NetBSD.  When I looked a while ago, it seemed that the Xserve G5 was either not supported or not very functional under these two OSes.  (NetBSD, for example, had no support for the onboard SATA controller and so could only run diskless via netbooting.)
>> I just looked at the FreeBSD/ppc project Web page and was happy to see the Apple Xserve G5 as reported as running for FreeBSD 8.1.  Can anyone tell me whether this runs fully for the stock Xserve G5 hardware, or does it have some serious limitations to deployment, as mentioned for NetBSD above?
> It is fully supported, and we use G5 xserves for building PPC binary packages, so they are quite stable.

This is excellent news!  I'll be able to use FreeBSD after all. :-)

> The only caveat is that 64-bit PPC support will first be appearing in the 9.0 release series, so you will only be able to use 2 of the 4 GB of RAM in your machines with 8.1.

Is this 2 GB per process of user addressable space or 2 GB of physical RAM usable across all processes?  I remember having to mess around with kernel address space size to increase it on a ZFS-based FreeBSD/i386 system.  Is this something similar, or is it some hardware limitation?

When you say, "64-bit PPC support will first be appearing in the 9.0 release series," does this mean it is not currently in HEAD?  I'm not averse to running FreeBSD-CURRENT (I've done it in the past) to try it out if support is already in HEAD.

> I have put a more recent install guide at Thanks for pointing out the old link on the web site -- I'll try to get that fixed. You should also be aware that the GENERIC kernel on PPC does not have SMP enabled by default, so you will likely want to build a new kernel after installation.

Thanks for the info and the link to the updated install guide.



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