Subject: Re: Changing to NetBSD
To: Christian Baer <>
From: None <>
List: netbsd-users
Date: 10/23/2007 13:28:47
On Tuesday 23 October 2007 11:30:59 Christian Baer wrote:
> I need to be able to run the following apps:
> - Firefox & Thunderbird, both 2.x
> - Keepassx
> - mutt
> - slrn
> - tin
> - inn
> - some IM client (either Pidgin or Kopete)
> - LaTeX
> - OpenOffice
> on *all* of the platforms (currently only i386 and sparc64). Not all of
> the machines will actually run all of the software but I don't really want
> to choose what computer I want to use for what (yet). Do all of those apps
> run on both (all) platforms? On FreeBSD I had problems with Keepassx and
> Pidgin, Firefox and Thunderbird have been broken for a while now. I didn't
> try inn, LaTeX, tin and OO on sparc64 yet.

I have a few things to say about sparc64 platform. I have Ultra 10 and I used 
NetBSD and Solaris on this machine. NetBSD on sparc64 used to be pretty 
unstable with threaded applications, I think this has been fixed and threaded 
applications don't crash anymore. The other problem with sparc64 is the fact 
that 32-bit emulation is flaky, i.e. I couldn't get threaded 32-bit 
applications to compile and run. There are many packages in pkgsrc which are 
not 64-bit clean, and there is really no need for userland to be 64-bit, 
unless you need access to huge amounts of memory, which is not even an option 
for UltraSPARC II hardware. I pretty much doubt if you can run OpenOffice on 
NetBSD sparc64, since OpenOffice is not 64-bit clean yet and the last time I 
tried to build it on sparc64, I couldn't get past compilation errors, etc.

Also, from what you described, you have a group of users who need access to 
the same set of applications. It looks like your ideal  solution would be to 
deploy SunRay thin clients. This way, you have one or more central servers, 
on which you can configure your applications. The users then run those 
applications remotely via SunRay thin clients. It's a pretty robust 
infrastructure, which can also support encryption of data. SunRay Server 
Software only runs on Solaris and Linux, but Solaris would be a much better 
choice. Personally, I prefer Solaris over NetBSD on SPARC, it has a lot of 
nice features which NetBSD does not, e.g ZFS and Zones. It's pretty easy to 
build many software packages on Solaris by using pkgsrc.