Sparc64 doesn't care about you, and you shouldn't care about Sparc64

Craig Butler craig001 at
Wed Nov 11 20:17:47 UTC 2015

----- Original Message -----
> From: "John Baldwin" <jhb at>
> To: freebsd-arch at
> Cc: "Anna Wilcox" <AWilcox at>, "Marius Strobl" <marius at>, "Sean Bruno"
> <sbruno at>, "Jordan Hubbard" <jkh at>, sparc64 at, "Warner Losh" <imp at>
> Sent: Wednesday, 11 November, 2015 6:32:08 PM
> Subject: Re: Sparc64 doesn't care about you, and you shouldn't care about Sparc64
> On Wednesday, November 11, 2015 04:07:35 PM Brian McGovern wrote:
> > I have to step in on Jordan's side on this one. As a
> > recently-former lab admin (June), we were - and I assume continue
> > to - chucking Sun Sparc hardware as fast as we can EOL the
> > products which run on the platform, and to the best of my
> > knowledge, we haven't bought new gear since Oracle bought Sun. I
> > think I still have an SB150 sitting in a closet collecting dust
> > for the emergency case which is predestined to emergency at some
> > point, but we're not even considering giving the boxes another
> > life as second tier hardware - the x86/64 space offers far
> > superior metrics in terms of price/performance/support/replacement
> > parts.
> > 
> > This, of course, means that our customers will be eventually follow
> > suit as they do their next round of upgrades. While this means
> > there will be a ton of Sparc64 hardware around at low prices, I
> > have no doubt it'll be a niche community, like BETAMAX, Laserdisc,
> > and HD-DVD before...
> > 
> > If there is someone who loves this platform enough to keep it going
> > single-handedly, or nearly so, that's one thing. If the discussion
> > is to divert project resources to keep it alive just because its
> > one more platform, I have a laundry list of things that I suspect
> > will have a bigger impact on the broader x86 (and even ARM)
> > community; then again, I expect just about everyone has such a
> > list.
> This last question is an important one I think.  What is the actual
> cost to
> the project to let sparc64 remain Tier-2?  That means we aren't
> committed to
> building packages, so that mostly lets Sean off the hook.
> The biggest hang up I can see is the question of toolchain.
> On the question of toolchain I think GCC 4.2 continues to become
> incredibly
> less useful.  If we could have an 11 without GCC 4.2 that would be
> ideal.
> However, clang is only production-viable on x86 right now.  Even lldb
> doesn't
> work on i386 and only works on amd64.  If your argument for tossing
> sparc64
> is GCC 4.2 then if you are logically consistent you have to toss a
> whole lot
> of other stuff as well.  (Even clang on amd64 is still using binutils
> ld)
> Realistically I think FreeBSD needs to support two sets of
> toolchains:
> clang and modern (GPLv3) GCC/binutils.
> I think it is a laudable goal to have the option of a GPL-free base
> system,
> but I think we should also make it an option to use a modern GCC
> toolchain.
> For platforms that depend on GCC 4.2 I think we should be moving them
> to
> using newer GCC in some fashion.  That is relevant for several
> architectures
> that we definitely want to keep going forward, not just sparc64, and
> it's a
> problem we need to solve regardless.  Once that is addressed it is
> not clear
> to me what drain on project resources sparc64 is.
> --
> John Baldwin
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Just to raise something else as well, port maintainers seem hesitant to push sparc64 fixes in.  I have raised a few fixes PR (specifically around the compat[789]x ports) that are still open.  There are also some other PR's open that could do with more experienced eyes to help.

It would be a shame to see sparc64@ killed off on FreeBSD.  I would be keen to keep working on it if someone want a n00b under their wing.

Kind Regards

Craig Butler

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