Looking to help with the sparc64 port.

alexmcwhirter at triadic.us alexmcwhirter at triadic.us
Thu Jul 30 17:21:08 UTC 2015

Hey Guys,

First off i want to introduce myself. My name's Alex McWhirter and I'm 
president of small IT consulting company located in Ohio. Most of our 
business in through word of mouth so we really don't have much of an web 

Anyways we do server hosting, maintenance, etc... for a lot of small 
businesses in our local area. Of these business, a few are local credit 
unions. Before we got involved they were using Oracle DB on Sun 
hardware. Generally this was all set in place before the Oracle 
acquisition. Long story short, with oracle EOL'ing solaris 10 in the 
next few years as well as becoming ever increasingly expensive and hard 
to deal with we have moved them over to a custom solution using 

That being said we still have a lot of sparc hardware, mostly ultra 
sparc III and IV stuff. We've migrated all of these machines to FreeBSD, 
which we have found to be quite stable regardless of it being a tier 2 

We don't have any plans to abandon sparc any time soon as we find it 
better suited to handling certain IO tasks compared to all but the most 
recent x86 servers. That being said we would like to help contribute to 
the port. I would like to get some feedback on what some other projects 
people may be working on so we don't end up stepping on anyones toes per 

As of now we want to work on some of the LOM specific drivers and 
interfacing utilities. One specific case is the hardware clocks on newer 
sparc machines. Most newer LOM's control the RTC and inject a date from 
the LOM itself on boot. FreeBSD can correctly set the RTC, but not the 
LOM. This causes the LOM to inject an incorrect time into the RTC on 
boot. ntp can reset the RTC on boot as a workaround, but actually being 
able to set the LOM clock would be more elegant.

Secondly i want to work on porting sun4v from OpenBSD to FreeBSD. 
OpenBSD has nearly every aspect of sun4v operational, but lacks critical 
features for us like ZFS and Jails. From the digging I've done on sun4v, 
the instruction set is identical to sun4u as in they both use sparcv9. 
The differences come in the boot process (which may require a completely 
different boot loader or at least a major redesign) and in the hardware 
drivers, specifically the virtual drivers used in ldoms. We would also 
need a utility to push ldom configuration to the LOM/OBP of the system. 
I realize that there is a separate mailing list for sun4v, which I've 
also subscribed to. I just wanted to verify with anyone else here 
whether they were currently working on either of these two portions of 
the project. I figure if anyone is currently working on either of these 
two issues we could collaborate and not have to reinvent the wheel.

On a side note we have some machines we could provide access to for 
build purposes. Specifically a sun fire V890 with 8 1.5ghz procs and 
64GB of RAM. As well as a few T1000's and other smaller machines. We 
also have a Sun E6K that i haven't tried FreeBSD on yet, but it has 26 
USII procs and a large amount of RAM.

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