FreeBSD viability on Sparc platform

Miles Nordin carton at Ivy.NET
Wed Nov 23 15:03:00 PST 2005

>>>>> "nv" == Nathan Vidican <nvidican at> writes:

    nv> run FreeBSD on them, or am I stuck with Solaris.

If you use the SunPro compilers with Solaris I have heard rumors it
could be like ~2x faster than gcc on sparc64.  Also, on Solaris there
are not bugs with the thread support which may or may not matter with
mysql and multiple CPUs.  On Solaris Java environments are available,
while for free Unix you are lucky to have any recent native Java much
less any Java at all on non-i386.  Although I don't know this from
experience I would expect better handling of certain hardware
redundnacy stuff like reporting ECC memory diagnostics and redundant
power supply failures to syslog from Solaris, because in free Unix
that stuff seems to be mostly left unimplemented and untested.  I do
know that FreeBSD doesn't let me get to my Netra's LOM from userland
while Solaris has man pages about how to do that.  ZFS is total
vapourware but Solaris does have a normal modern logging filesystem
like all the other non-BSD Unixes.

Finally, I believe Solaris will support interrupt mitigation on the
gem/eri interface if you have one, while AFAIK FreeBSD doesn't support
device polling or interrupt mitigation on any network card that works
on sparc64, so if you need high-pps routing I would bet on Solaris.

If you need slow routing for an Internet firewall on a small pipe, I
use FreeBSD/sparc64 for that, because PF > *.  ipfilter is really
totally unacceptable.  Also Solaris in general is a pain in the
ass---root filesystems don't function as rescue partitions, all the
tools are ancient, you end up with like 30 directories in your
PATH/LD_LIBRARY_PATH/MANPATH and then find that 'man' doesn't work
with non-Solaris man pages, there's no decent packages collection
except NetBSD pkgsrc where many packages are broken, 'format' and
their Sun UFS have all these infuriating quirks with EFI vs SMD
disklabels, the physical geometry of disks, feechurs that work on SCSI
but not on IDE, disks that it thinks are ``removable'' vs ones that
aren't, missing Firewire drivers on the install CDs.  There are no
'securelevels' on Solaris so it is heaven for rootkit writers.  The X
servers are all closed-source and don't support the RENDER extension.
It is a very awkward and infuriating system, but do I use it because I
am so sick of regressions and old bugs that never get fixed in the
free Unixes.

I haven't bought a PeeCee since 1999, and I've gotten to watch free
Unix turn into a total disastrous embarassment for anyone who refuses
to use i386.  I still refuse to buy that silicon garbage myself, but
if you are trying to get work done for others and collect money for
it, honestly that is what I have to recommend you use.
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