Debian on Sparc

Debian has been supported on SunSparc machines since the release of Debian GNU/Linux 2.1 in March 1999.

This page is supposed to help in tracking various Sparc-related issues, including current critical bugs (with relevant links and work arounds), installer issues and the like.

Installation notes for various machines and methods: SparcInstallationNotes

Running Sarge on sun4c machines: SparcSun4c

Updating OpenBoot PROM: ?SparcUpdateOBP

Tracking the porting progress: SparcPorting

Tracking the status of the kernel: ?SparcKernelStatus

Tips and tricks for running X ( on Sparc: XorgOnSparc

Packages currently supporting only 64-bit Sparcs: Sparc64Only

Current open problems for the port:

Major Bugs

Like all ports there needs to be work done to keep things running. Sparc was dropped from Jessie on April 27th. dropping sparc message. In this section will be a list of the show stopping bugs that are preventing sparc from being a fully supported port. Many of the bugs right now come from using outdated versions of the kernel or just simply bugs in the build processes. Hopefully these can be corrected and sparc can continue to be part of the debian ecosystem.

SILO/kernel hang

There is a bug either in kernel or SILO, which, when tripped, prevents the machines from booting. Symptoms: kernel hangs or machine returns to the PROM 'ok' prompt immediately after messages Remapping the kernel... FP Disabled. There is an old RC bug 267428. Common workarounds are to use older version of SILO (1.2.5 version from woody), or to build the new SILO with gcc-2.95 instead of the current compiler. This does not, however, eliminate the problem in all cases, as demonstrated in this message. The message about remapping the kernel really comes from the kernel, so it might be a kernel problem after all.

One possible reason for that is that the floating-point instruction is encountered somewhere in the execution path of the inherit_prom_mappings() function. I have asked for more debugging information.

Support for sun4c machines

See also: SparcSun4c

The sun4c architecture lacks a couple of important instructions (unsigned multiply and unsigned divide are probably the most important) so if everything is compiled for sun4c machines (gcc -v7) it's a major performance hit on newer platforms. Support was begun to be phased out in woody (3.0). This post is a good summary of the issues / status.

Support for UPA graphics cards on ultrasparc machines with onboard graphics

Some ultrasparc machines (eg. Ultra 10) have both onboard graphics and a UPA slot which can hold a graphics card (eg. Creator 3D). The default debian kernel/initrd contains all the graphics drivers which are in the linux kernel. This may result in the prom using a different graphics card for the console then the linux kernel. Worse, the graphics card chosen by linux for the console display may not have been initialized by the prom, which may cause the card to output a wrong video signal or no video signal at all. A workaround for this problem is to disable the onboard graphics in the prom if an UPA graphics card is installed. This can be done as follows :

1) Enter the prom (eg. by pressing stop-A)

2) Enter the following commands at the ok prompt :

ok nvedit

 0: probe-all install-console banner
 1: " /pci@1f,0/pci@1,1/SUNW,m64B@2" $delete-device drop
 2: ^C (Type control-C)

ok nvstore

ok setenv use-nvramrc? true

 use-nvramrc? =        true

ok reset-all

3) Note that there might be 'devalias ...' lines in the nvramrc already. Just keep them in by pressing enter.