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Debian SPARC Port


These pages are meant to assist users and Debian developers running Debian GNU/Linux on the SPARC architecture. In these pages, you will find information about the current status, currently known problems, information for and about Debian porters, and pointers to more information.

Current Status

Support for pre-UltraSPARC machines was dropped with the end of service life of Debian Etch (see https://wiki.debian.org/Sparc32). After that, the 32-bit port required an UltraSPARC CPU and ran a 64-bit kernel.

This 32-bit port was eventually dropped with the end of the service life of Debian Wheezy.

Currently, there is no official Debian port for SPARC, but a full 64-bit SPARC port called sparc64 is supported by the Debian Ports team.

About 64-bit SPARC support

The Debian SPARC port, as mentioned above, does support the sun4u (Ultra) and sun4v (Niagara CPU) architectures. It uses a 64-bit kernel (compiled with gcc 3.3 or newer), but most of the applications run in 32-bit. This is also called a 32-bit userland.

The Debian SPARC 64 (a.k.a., UltraLinux) porting effort is not currently conceived as a full porting effort like other ports. Rather, it is intended to be an add-on to the SPARC Port.

In fact, there is really no point in having all applications running in 64-bit mode. Full 64-bit mode involves a significant overhead (memory and disk size) with often no benefit. Some applications really can benefit from being in 64-bit mode, and that is the purpose of this porting effort.

Compiling kernels for sun4u

To compile a Linux kernel for Sun4u, you'll need to use the Linux 2.2 or newer source tree.

We highly suggest you also use the kernel-package package to help with the installation and management of kernels. You can compile a configured kernel in one command (as root):

  make-kpkg --subarch=sun4u --arch_in_name --revision=custom.1 kernel_image


Some of the common problems with fixes or workarounds can be found on our Errata page.

Who are we? How can I help?

The Debian SPARC port is a distributed effort, just as Debian is. Countless people have helped with the porting and documentation efforts, although a short list of credits are available.

If you'd like to help, please join in the <debian-sparc@lists.debian.org> mailing list as described below, and chime in.

Registered developers who would like to actively port and upload ported packages should read the porter guidelines in the Developers Reference, and see the SPARC porting page.

A Debian Wiki page is dedicated about Debian Sparc64 port.

The best place to ask Debian-specific questions about the SPARC port is on the mailing list, <debian-sparc@lists.debian.org>. Mailing list archives are browsable on the web.

To subscribe to the list, send a mail to debian-sparc-request@lists.debian.org, with the word `subscribe' in the subject line, and no body. Alternatively, subscribe on the web with the Mailing List subscription page.

Kernel questions should be addressed to the list <sparclinux@vger.rutgers.edu>. Subscribe by sending a message with body subscribe sparclinux to the address majordomo@vger.rutgers.edu. There is also a Red Hat list, of course.