hubertf's NetBSD Blog
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[20090116] Catching up on NetBSD source changes - Sep'08 to early Jan'09
OK, I'll try to catch up source-changes a bit more frequently in the future (new years resolutions... don't we all have some?), but here's what I've missed by now, from between September 2008 until now (early January 2009):
  • In preparation of the NetBSD 5.0 release, a lot of documentation updates were made, esp. in the release notes. Also, many manual pages were added to the system, documenting existing userland tools, library, system and internal interfaces.

  • Following some re-organization of binary packages on ftp.NetBSD.org some time ago, the official URLs are now:
    • ftp://ftp.NetBSD.org/pub/pkgsrc/packages/NetBSD/{MACHINE}/{VERSION}/All
    • ftp://ftp.NetBSD.org/pub/NetBSD/packages/current-packages/NetBSD/{MACHINE}/{VERSION}/All
    Both should have the same results, the latter is more safe on mirrors that don't carry /pub/pkgsrc. Adjust your PKG_PATHs!

  • Syntax for /etc/rc.conf's ifconfig_xxN variables and /etc/ifconfig.xxN was changed to also allow line breaks via ';'s. This allows something like ifconfig_wi0="ssid 'my network'; dhcp"

  • Martin Schuette's work on syslogNG from Google Summer of Code 2008 is now available in NetBSD's syslog

  • X.org integration is advancing in big steps. It's on by default on a number of platforms (including alpha, i386, macppc, shark, sparc and sparc64), and instead of using the (now obsolete) MKXORG build variable it can be build with "build.sh -x".

  • Old-style LKMs are dead, welcome to the new module framework! (XXX Documentation???) In the process, more and more kernel subsystems are being changed to be loadable as a module, e.g. POSIX AIO and semaphores, File System Snapshots, emulations, exec formats, coredump, NFS client and server, http and data accept filters, ppp compressors, and others.

    Hooks into UVM have been added to unload unused kernel modules if memory is scarce.

  • MAKEVERBOSE now has two new levels, 3 and 4. The complete list is now:
    • 0 Minimal output ("quiet")
    • 1 Describe what is occurring
    • 2 Describe what is occurring and echo the actual command
    • 3 Ignore the effect of the "@" prefix in make commands
    • 4 Trace shell commands using the shell's -x flag
    The default remains MAKEVERBOSE=2, you can also set this via build.sh's -N switch.

  • A POSIX conformant tabs(1) utility was added

  • The haad-dm branch was merged to NetBSD-current. This adds Logical Volumen Management (LVM) functionality to the base NetBSD system. It uses Linux LVM2 tools and our BSD licensed device-mapper driver.

  • The wrstuden-revivesa branch was merged into NetBSD-current, bringing Scheduler Activation based threading back to NetBSD, and giving NetBSD 5.0 and up both SA and 1:1 threads.

  • Support for the ARM-based Cortina Systems SL3516 eval board was added to NetBSD/evbarm

  • patch(1) got a major overhaul, based on DragonflyBSD and OpenBSD. There's better detection of double applied patches, rejected diffs remain in unified diff format, and and less limitation e.g. on line length.

  • pxeboot now understands boot.cfg

  • Boot CD ISO creation has been greatly overhauled, accomodating changes in boot.cfg, and moving away from a ramdisk-based system to using a file system on the cd-rom, which helps reduce RAM usage. Also, the GENERIC kernel can be used there.

  • makefs(8)'s ISO-9660 (cdrom) support was enhanced to write RISC OS data. This allows to make bootable CDs for acorn{26,32} directly, without copying the bootloader to a native file system.

  • The christos-time_t branch has been merged into NetBSD-current. This gives 64bit time_t and dev_t types (no more year 2038-problem!!!).

    Many related places like timeval and timespec were adjusted, kernel and userland APIs were touched, and shared library major versions (including libc) were bumped for this fairly exhaustive change.

    See src/UPDATING's entry on 20090110 for the full update path!

  • New/updated drivers:
    • jme(4) for JMicron Technologies JME250 Gigabit Ethernet and JME260 Fast Ethernet PCI Express controllers
    • u3g(4) provides better support for 3G datacards than ugensa
    • dbcool(4) for dbCool(tm) family of Thermal Monitor and Fan Controller
    • ataraid(4) now supports Intel MatrixRAID and JMicron RAID
    • bwi(4) for Broadcom BCM4302 wlan controllers, otherwise known as Airport Extreme
    • alipm(4) for the Acer Labs M7101 Power Manage- ment controller
    • admtemp(4) for the Analog Devices ADM1021, Analog Devices ADM1023, Analog Devices ADM1032, Genesys Logic GL523SM, Global Mixed-mode Technology G781, Maxim 1617, and Xeon embedded temperature sensors
    • ipw(4),iwi(4),wpi(4),iwn(4): We ship the firmware now, but users have to accept the Intel license manually by setting sysctls like hw.ipw.accept_eula=1. The latter is also offered by sysinst.
    • nsp(4) adds support for the NSP2000 cryptographic processor which does crypto, hashing and arbitrary precision arithmetics in hardware, and which hooks into the opencrypto(9) interface.
    • pseye(4) makes the Sony Playstation Eye USB webcam usable with the new video(4) framework
    • ath(4) now uses the recently-released source-based version of the Atheros HAL, no more binary blob!
Whee... I should really do this more often to cut things down.

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[20081130] Atheros HAL source released
To quote from the madwifi project news itesm, ``Sam Leffler, maintainer of the binary HAL that is also used in MadWifi releases, has released the source code for his HAL variant under ISC license. It is available through a Subversion repository (web interface), which is also be used actively for development and further improvements.

In his announcement, Sam states:

Coincident with the release of this code I have concluded my agreement with Atheros whereby I had access to information about their devices. This means that in the future all fixes, updates for new chips, etc. will need to be a community effort. Atheros states the Linux platform will be the reference public code base so folks wanting to add support for other platforms will have to scrape the information from there.

"Linux platform" refers to ath5k and ath9k. Interested parties are advised to attend the ath5k-devel and ath9k-devel mailing lists. These lists may be also used to ask general questions about the chipsets supported by the respective drivers. ''

I guess we can look forward to the day when this is integrated into NetBSD. Note that the named Subversion repository is hosted by the FreeBSD project, so I guess this won't be off too far until we see a source-based driver for the Atheros based WiFi cards.

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[20060302] Atheros ath* wlan now available for NetBSD/sparc64
The Atheros ath(4) driver is an interesting piece of software, consisting of a .c glue file that calls into a binary blob object file. While the interface to the blob is known, the internal details of it are not, and the blob does all the talking to the actual hardware. To port the ath(4) driver to a new platform, a compiled version of that binary blog is necessary, obviously. Also, some adjusting is needed to adjust the C interface file to existing blobs to maintain compatibility with the operating systems' interface.

Now, Martin Husemann has fixed up the glue layer to work on NetBSD/sparc64, see his mail for more details.

(Some people may wonder now why all that fuzz is needed: Atheros doesn't make the sources of the binary blob available for a number of reasons; while an open source driver would definitely be nice to have, living in a world of patents and FCC regulations requires being flexible)

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[20041210] Installation von WLan-Karten mit Atheros-Chipsatz unter Debian Linux und NetBSD
I helped writing this article some time ago, but I think I never mentioned it here, and as people occasionally ask about Atheros cards in NetBSD, this may be of interest. Beware, german language!

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[20040819] More ath adventures - NetBSD >> Linux
I continued playing with the Atheros 54MBit WaveLAN cards and an LanCom Access point today. Getting things configured in NetBSD was all easy, simply setting "mediaopt turbo" as listed by "ifconfig -m ath0" and the channel that the AP was tuned to, and off we went. Almost - I first had to find out that setting the countrycode to Germany (by patching CTRY_DEFAULT=276 into the kernel) didn't give any Turbo modes from the HAL, so we operated the hardware in US frequency bands. Getting the card to attach to the WaveLAN and tune into the right frequency, ping the access point in the Atheros Turbo mode was all no problem. On NetBSD.

On Linux, the MadWiFi driver patched into either a 2.4.x or 2.6.x kernel didn't work when enabling Turbo mode, giving obscure error messages that we could decode as wrong parameters to one of the HAL functions by the ifconfig(!) command. This and all the maze of various tools like ifconfig, iwconfig, iwpriv together with the lot of undocumented arguments you had to hand them didn't help to make setting up Turbo mode on an Atheros card w/ Linux a straight forward job. Manpages for these tools? You wish! And if available, they're uncomplete and tell the important bits that you have to put into the "private" bits of the card.

Today's experience confirmed that if you want a working setup with little to no fuzz, NetBSD is the right choice! Of course in an economy that lives from consulting and broken things, Linux sounds much better as it will create demand for support, consulting and fixing where things could just work, and people could just get work done otherwise. Oh well!

Performance measurements with iperf showed 43MBit/s (~5MByte/s) between a Pentium-133 running Linux connected to the AP via ethernet, and a PIII-800 running NetBSD 2.0_BETA/i386 and a -current kernel from today.

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[20040819] Playing with an ath card
A friend of mine is testing some Linux WiFi stuff at the local University's Computing Center, and we went to try out NetBSD with an Atheros card today. An experience made was that the card isn't easily set to the german frequency modes, even though there is a sysctl present for it. The solution was to make sure that CTRY_DEFAULT gets initialized to 276 in contrib/sys/dev/ic/athhal.h. Now unfortunately no "turbo" modes are available in -current as of today, while 2.0_BETA finds and lists them both in "dmesg" and "ifconfig -m". Doh!

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Disclaimer: All opinion expressed here is purely my own. No responsibility is taken for anything.

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