revision 341006 quite unusable

Paul Mather paul at
Wed Nov 28 17:48:00 UTC 2018

On Nov 28, 2018, at 11:43 AM, Dennis Clarke <dclarke at> wrote:

> On 11/28/18 11:15 AM, Paul Mather wrote:
>> On Nov 28, 2018, at 10:33 AM, Dennis Clarke <dclarke at> wrote:
>>> On 11/27/18 7:09 PM, Mark Millard wrote:
>>>> On 2018-Nov-27, at 11:47, Dennis Clarke <dclarke at> wrote:
>>>>> On 11/27/18 2:28 PM, Mark Millard wrote:
>>>>>> On 2018-Nov-27, at 01:26, Dennis Clarke <dclarke at> wrote:
> Looking at BUILD(7) and RELEASE(7) there are piles of secret knowledge
> all over the place in various bits and the handbook is not all that
> useful. One needs to sit down and read for hours and hours and then
> reference here there and everywhere and run days of experiments to watch
> things "not work" over and over and over until maybe someday arrive at a
> process and procedure that works.  I think I have installed FreeBSD at
> least twenty times in the last two months and there are always little
> problems to sort out. Every time. The ppc64 bits are a fun experiment
> and I'd like to see that working given all the great stuff happening at
> IBM and with the new "Summit" supercomputer. Makes one think that Power9
> has a life for a while yet and I don't have to run Debian on ye old
> IBM970 ppc64 boxen. However getting a build to actually happen in the
> secret sequence and install the secret bits takes a lot of patience. I
> have just accepted that I will just keep on plugging away over and over
> and eventually arrive at a machine with all cores working and a recent
> up to date kernel and other bits. Getting there is like crawling through
> the swamps of Mordor with one core and one thread working.

Welcome to the world of the Tier 2-supported architecture. :-)

Seriously, though, I feel your pain.  I don't currently use FreeBSD/powerpc64, but the last time I did was on Xserve G5s that had no graphics card.  (See  I remember having to use cryptic button-push sequences on the front panel of the system just so I could get an OpenFirmware prompt to install via serial console.  Oh, and there wasn't any Handbook instructions covering installation at that time, just a file of instructions that Nathan Whitehorn had on his part of

I used FreeBSD on those G5s until, first, one died, and then the other one was surplussed.  Even up to the end, FreeBSD ran solidly.  I had various teething troubles along the way with FreeBSD on that hardware (as various mailing list postings will attest), but the mailing list and developers were always helpful where they could be.  Fortunately, I had a lot of prior experience with FreeBSD on a Tier 1 platform, and so was very familiar already with things like running -CURRENT; rebuilding the system; applying custom patches; debugging, etc.  That gave me a solid footing to run a Tier 2 FreeBSD architecture on non-mainstream hardware.

Having said that, I have an iBook G4 that I've tried several times to install FreeBSD/powerpc on, but I can never get the installer to run.  I eventually gave up and ran Debian on it.  Then, Debian appeared to have given up on PPC and so now it's running Ubuntu Xenial (which, Ubuntu have said will be the last version to run on PPC).  Sometimes, your hardware setup is too niche for even the developers to be able to help.

Running a Tier 2 platform is a hard row to hoe sometimes.  I have had similar experiences running FreeBSD on various ARM platforms.  A long time ago I used to run NetBSD/pmax and NetBSD/alpha as my main desktop systems.  None of these are what I would consider a turnkey environment, and I've found that I sometimes have had to put in quite a bit of work to get things to work in a stable fashion.  Such is the downside in inhabiting a niche.  The upside is the community is friendly and helpful.

I hope your experience of FreeBSD/powerpc64 improves.



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