Status update for Firefox on PowerPC / big endian

(This post is probably not interesting to non-technical observers.  Rest assured, I’m still working quite hard on porting Firefox to PowerPC when I have the chance.)

I’ve just pulled the latest Firefox code (from mozilla-central) and have fully rebuilt Firefox with the latest code.

First, the good news: JS-API tests are still 100% passing.  XPC Shell tests are up!  10 more tests pass now, and it took a full 17 minutes less time to run the test suite.  This is huge; it shows that if we (the POWER, SPARC, System/390, etc communities) work together with Mozilla to truly fix Firefox on big endian, there should be no issues keeping it working.

And now, some of the worse news.  Skia m71 has landed on the tree, which is meant to bring feature-parity with Chrome 71.  This was a major loss for us.  Skia does not compile at all on any architecture other than x86 and ARM.  Once that bug was patched around, it also does not compile correctly on big endian systems; thankfully, Marcus from the Raptor Talos community already had some patches written for this during their Chromium port sprint.  And now, unfortunately, comes the truly bad news: even after fixing all the build errors, it is not possible to start Firefox with Skia m71.  This seems to be related to the text layer code, which was not always working correctly anyway.  Before, this would just cause some graphical glitches; now it is a completely fatal error.

This will require more digging than I presently have the time to consider, unfortunately.  I probably won’t get back to Mozilla porting until early next week.  This will give me the time I need to focus on writing Parcel, Adélie’s next-generation package database tool and Web site.

If you like what you see and want to ensure that Firefox is ported to POWER, in addition to all of the other important work that we do improving the Linux ecosystem, please consider supporting the Adélie Linux project on Patreon, or chipping in with cryptocurrency.  Your support is what keeps efforts like this going.  Thank you!

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