First, I’d like to tell that I’ve managed to build and run Ardour on the Sun. For some reason the default target of scons detected the system to build for as i686, hence forcing a build including SSE. Of course, that had to fail on anytheng else than Intel. The solution was to give “DIST_TARGET=none” to scons, then things went fine. (For whatever reason one should want to build a package for no target at all, anyways…)
Total build time was round about 4h, with CPU usage up to 95% and system load of >6, due to lack of sufficient memory. Browsing the web became a PITA from time to time, but the system was still responsive in some kind.
Now that Ardour itself is up and running, the next tasks will be to prepare the H/W, jackd and eventually build a Debian package. The former directly leading to paul’s posting:
the SPARCs have lousy audio interfaces in them and no driver support for anything better.
That’s not entirely correct; of course the sparc’s onboard audio interfaces are poor devices, but since “newer” SPARC systems have PCI, they should generally be able to support any audio H/W that is supported by GNU/Linux. E.g., there are .ko-files for S/B-live or RME out of the box, other modules can most probably compiled effortlessly or with few adjustments.
Second, RISC systems in general an SPARC systems in particular are well known for their nice I/O-throughput and floatingpoint performance–things that a DAW should directly benefit from, I assume. According to the system requirement, Ardour should be usable on any iron above a pentium 400MHz “equivalent”. The CPU in my very system runs at 500MHz and is considerably faster than a P400. Many other sun4u-based systems run at much faster speeds and/or have multiple CPUs. I’m totally aware of certain limitations, but as I wrote above, I do not need thousands of tracks or plugins.
The last but most important point for me to run Suns at all is one particular personal experience: PCs are quite a bunch of computing power for few bucks. That is OK for me, but as a tradeoff, these machines are prone to brake after a few years. i simply like it, if I can rely on something working. Of course, I also run PCs, but with the exception of the really old ones, I have to replace them frequently due to H/W failure.
To make things short: a reliable but limited DAW entirely fits my needs better, than a fast but fragile one. Maybe it turns out that this particular machine is too slow at all–no problem, I know where to get a faster one ;o)
Nevertheless, you where right: Ardour does compile on Sun4u indeed.