Hi Riccardo,

thank you for your reply and insights into the matter.

I have Firefox52 and Thunderbird52 up and running on NetBSD9.2/Sparc64
compiled from pkgsrc.
Now i wanted to do the same on Debian/Sparc64, but the pkgsrc patches seem
to be custom created for NetBSD by Martin Husemann, and they will not build
on Debian ootb.
While NetBSD is a fine system, i can get more software to compile and run
on Debian/Sparc64, like Libreoffice, xrdp-server and others. NetBSD is also
missing rust and ada on sparc64.

On Debian I tried to apply various sparc64 patches i found left and right
on the internet, could get pkgsrc's firefox52 and thunderbird52 to build
but they will not run and bus error out in libxul.so.
So i will try soon to rebuild firefox50 from debian source package as
Adrian told and try to apply some patches i found for the "[GFX1]: Unknown
image format 1" errors and others that
are filling up the console.

But as these versions are old and not security fixed, it makes less and
less sense to use those for anything on the internet. This led me to the
fitting of Raspberry-Pis 3 into my workstations which will display their
up-to-date browsers on the screen via ssh x forwarding. But of course this
is cheating, i would rather have them do it natively on their own.

So I will also try to build your ArcticFox. Somehow i did not come across
it yet, thank you for the suggestion.
Unfortunately i am an intermediate end user in this regard. I can apply
patches, work around certain library problems and get stuff to compile, but
i can't help with coding.
So if it helps at all, if someone compiles and tests it, let me know.

Sparc64 as a platform is almost dead and i know that as a result most
projects still doing something for it are mostly one-man shows.
But it is still fun to have the boxes running and i am also still planning
to get some of those beefier T3-T8 servers once they are cheaply available
on ebay and when i have more experience in quieting them down without
killing them.


On Sun, Nov 14, 2021 at 6:06 PM Riccardo Mottola <riccardo.mott...@libero.it>

> 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.
> Riccardo

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