Linux on sparcstations (was Re: [H-GEN] linux box just went dead)

Paul Gearon gearon at
Wed Apr 26 09:12:49 EDT 2000

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James McPherson - Customer Technical Support Engineer wrote:
> > Ah, just a quick diversion.  Is anyone on the list aware with issues
> > running X on a sparcstation 5?   I got hold of one recently (yes, Mark,
> > I'll pay you soon :) and X will simply not start, complaining about an
> > inappropriate ioctl when initialising the mouse (I don't have the exact
> > error on me, but can produce it on request).
> that would be handy indeed.
> > It's a sparcstation 5, with a standard optical sun mouse and a cg6
> > framebuffer, running a 2.2.14 kernel and X 3.3.x for some high value of x.
> > I've done the requisit web search for details but the only pages that
> > return are annotated copies of the kernel sources.  Bah.
> which kernel sources btw? I don't believe that we (ie Sun) supplied the ss5 with
> a type-4 mouse - I think we'd totally gone to supplying the type 5 instead. The
> types 5 and 6 are entirely mechanical. It's possible that the optical mouse is
> not responding in the "correct" manner for a type 5 keyboard, if you stick
> precisely to the specifications.

This sounds like a kernel control structure for doing ioctl with the
mouse might have changed recently.  The macros for ioctl calls are
created using _IOR, _IOW, etc, and these actually change value if the
structure they are used with is changed.  This unfortunately means that
if an ioctl call for a device changes in the kernel then any programs
which call that function from user space will need to be re-compiled.

(I've been bitten by this before.  You think nothing significant changed
except for an extra field in a structure.  Suddenly your macros have
different values.  It's a pain in the backside)

So did something change with the mouse in Sparc kernels lately?  If so
then you might need to update X.  (It'll pick up the new kernel headers
automatically).  If not then I'll just shut up and watch James figure
out the answer for you.  :-)


Paul Gearon
gearon at

Catapultam habeo. Nisi pecuniam omnem mihi dabis, ad caput tuum saxum
immane mittam.
(Translation from latin: "I have a catapult. Give me all the money,
or I will fling an enormous rock at your head.")

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