Hi Connor,

you touch a delicate subject. You touch both endianness and SPARC cpu in

On 11/6/21 5:05 PM, Connor McLaughlan wrote:
Hello All,

i would be very interested in getting Firefox and Thunderbird (and possibly Seamonkey, but this isn't available at all with debian it seam) running, if possible at all for the newer versions.

yes, SeaMonkey is for me a missed package for both Debian/Devuan and FreeBSD. I just love it. I like the classic interface and can't stand the chrome-like of Firefox.

SeaMonkey up to 2.49 was FF 52 based, so very portable and no rust. It should be a decent candidate to get it running on SPARC, since a specific Mac PPC G5 version was maintained for a long time. Current SM is FF 60 based and so has rust

Rust seems not to be an issue any more for sparc64/linux, but the general upstream neglect of sparc64 seems to be the major problem.

Rust is evil... however as you write it does not to be the biggest problem here.

The major issue is endianness - current FireFox runs on PPC64 but is totally unusable. Everything in the UI has mangled colors, endianness is broken at about every level. E.g. FF relies now a lot on skia and officially it will never support BE. And so a lot of other issues, including Mesa.

Add to endianness issues that SPARCs are sensitive to memory alignment and issues and you get the crashes.

I follow the Big Endian issues closely, since I am interested in getting a usable browser on PPC, but it is an uphill road. I have been in contact for a long time with Cameron Kaiser who maintained TenFourFox (winding down activity right this year) and which as an excellent browser on MacOS PPC. Some of his patches were accepted upstream, but several not. His browser fork however is heavily MacOS 10.4 optimized (hence the name).

I am working since a long time on ArcticFox and intend to keep it as much as possible cross-platform, close to Firefox, but incorporating as many fixes done for TenFourFox as I can. Currently, it is quite usable on PPC, although there are endianness issues with image composition operations. I can browser Wikipedia and even watch a youtube video with audio. That is already impossible with standard Firefox.

I would like to hear opinions on how to proceed or if you think this is a lost cause?

It is not a lost cause, but it is a hard cause, not well supported by upstream. I intend to generalize a lot of TenFourFox patches in ArcticFox, but it requires work.

NetBSD should have a working FF (I think FF 52) on SPARC.

I was finally able to compile ArcticFox on NetBSD/SPARC64 and Linux/SPARC64. It will start, show a window but crash very soon. That's already an improvement compared to crashing immediately as it did one year ago!

For this cause, I need help - I am working alone and I have no real Gecko knowledge. I need to port patches from Gecko to improve certain parts, so I need somebody how knows Firefox code more than me to help me understand why certain give issues. Not specific SPARC, but I work mostly on amd64 and arm64 and then "test" on PPC and SPARC (my netra T1 takes 20 hours to compile ArcticFox....) So if you know somebody who can help me with some specific issues please ping me. I have some blocking issues I need to solve so that ArcticFox doesn't die out and can evolve, specifically some JavaScript and JIT issues, currently verified on Intel.

I have the hardware, I can test and often GDB stacktraces are quite meaningless if a debug is not used. I need real "code" help, if you know somebody, please point him.


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