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[20100119] A colorful collection of NetBSD news from the past few weeks
AKA "I've been slacking again, and there's a whole pile of stuff here now that I'm putthing into one blog posting". Here we go:
  • Initial support for the FriendlyArm Mini2440 board has been announced by Paul Fleischer. In a later update, most of the hardware is reported working, and the patch is available for review & comments. Furthermore, the touch screen is usable, and Qt/Embedded was built on top of wscons.

  • Force10 Networks Receives Common Criteria Security Certification for Its High-Performance Ethernet Switch/Router Products. According to the article, ``Common Criteria evaluations entail formal rigorous analysis and testing to examine security aspects of a product or system. Extensive testing activities involve a comprehensive and formally repeatable process, confirming that the security product functions as claimed by the manufacturer. Security weaknesses and potential vulnerabilities are specifically examined during wide-ranging evaluation and testing.

    FTOS is the operating system software that runs on Force10 switch/router product lines, including the E-Series, C-Series and S-Series platforms. Based on NetBSD, FTOS leverages a distributed, multiprocessor architecture that delivers highly scalable protocols and reliability. By delivering the same OS across its entire switch/router line, Force10 ensures that customers benefit from stable code, a consistent configuration environment and simpler software management. ''

  • While there: Force10 Networks Delivers Ethernet-Optimized Platform for MPLS Core Networks: ``Force10 Networks, Inc. [...] announced the immediate availability of MPLS (multi-protocol label switching) functionality for its ExaScale E-Series core switch/routers. [...] The ExaScale platform combines high-density, non-blocking, line-rate 10 GbE switching and routing with robust MPLS LSR support at 1/5th of the cost of a traditional core router, enabling carriers to fully capitalize on the economic advantages of Ethernet.''

  • Create Bootable Live Linux USB Drives with UNetbootin: ``UNetbootin allows you to create bootable Live USB drives for a variety of Linux distributions from Windows or Linux, without requiring you to burn a CD. You can either let it download one of the many distributions supported out-of-the-box for you, or supply your own Linux .iso file if you've already downloaded one or your preferred distribution isn't on the list.''

    And of course we all know that NetBSD is Linux, right? See the list of supported distributions:

    The homepage mentions that NetBSD 4.0 is supported, maybe someone wants to give them an update on what's up with NetBSD 5.0? Would be nice to see that on the list!

  • Ever wondered what happened with the BSD Certification recently? There's a video from the talk BSD Certification Group: A Case Study in Open Source Certification available that talks about the goal of the project, the two exams (BSD Associate, BSD Professional), and what's going on behind the scenes.

  • With the move from XFree to X.org, the X server for the DNARD Shark's NetBSD/shark lost support for accelerated X. Thanks to Michael 'macallan' Lorenz, hardware-accelerated X for NetBSD/shark is back now: ``I finally got around to start working on an Xorg driver for the IGS CyberPro 20x0 family found in rev. 5 Sharks, Netwinder etc. - currently the driver is built only on shark and supports only the VL variant found there. Adding support for PCI chips is trivial though, just needs extra probing. The driver supports autoconfiguration ( X -configure should yield something almost usable, only DefaultDepth needs to be adjusted).''

  • Staying with cool platforms, here's a quick procedure to run NetBSD/sun2 5.0.1 on The Machine Emulator (TME) (see pkgsrc/emulators/tme), compiled by Izumi Tsutsui. Who's first do get a pkgsrc bulk build done? :-)

  • Jed Davis has committed the RAIDframe parity Summer-of-Code project. See his posting for the details. The project ``drastically reduces the time RAIDframe spends rewriting parity after an unclean shutdown by keeping better track of outstanding writes (thus, "parity map"). The tech-kern archives have more details [...]

    This feature is enabled by default on all sets (other than RAID 0). It can be administratively disabled with the new "raidctl -M" flag, which is described in the changes to the raidctl(8) man page; however, the I/O overhead for updating the parity map is expected to be unnoticeable in practice.''

So much for now. There is more in the pipe, but that will have to wait for now. Good night!

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[20090309] Catching up - various items (and not source-changes, this time)
Many things have happened in NetBSD-land in the past few weeks, and as I've been slacking^Wbusy again, here's just a digest of things that I haven't seen mentioned elsewhere so far, in random order:

  • BSD-related radio-show "bsdtalk" has published an interview with NetBSD's Andrew Doran in its March 2009 issue. Besides covering Andrews work, the upcoming NetBSD 5.0 release is also discussed. Available as mp3 and ogg.

  • Cross-compiling pkgsrc packages is a long-standing dream, and it's yet waiting for someone to do it. For the time being, Jared McNeill has come up with an HowTo on how to build 32bit packages on amd64 (and probably other 64bit systems).

  • Jared McNeill's been hacking on more stuff recently, and one thing includes changes to the framebuffer console support on x86 (i.e. both i386 and amd64). In short, the recent changes are just a stop on the way to move the splashscreen code and esp. image data from the kernel to userland. I.e. that you can put something like
     menu=Boot NetBSD:vesa 1280x800;splash /logo.bmp;boot netbsd 
    into your /boot.conf in the future. But we'll see a separate announcement when that part is done. Let's stay tuned! :)

  • Martti Kumparinen has tackled generating a UFS file system on a "large" (~5.5TB) disk. As the process is not straight forward, he has posted a howto that may help in the future. Any takers for adding comments and integrating this into The NetBSD Guide? :)

  • Manpages are a major component of every Unix system. If you have ever tried to write such a manpage, you 'll have learned that they are in a funny text-based format similar to LaTeX and HTML, with its own processor - *roff. There are several *roff implementations, and the one used in NetBSD currently is the GNU implementation. To provide an alternative here is good for both removing GPL'd code from the NetBSD codebase, and also because groff is written in C++, which is slow to compile, and - well - requires a C++ compiler.

    A change for that situation may arise eventually, as Kristaps Dzonsons has been working on a groff replacement to format Unix manpages recently. See his posting and his homepage for further information.

  • I've talked about Xen support for PCI passthrough recently, and Manuel Bouyer has finished his work to get full support for passing in access to specific PCI devices from the Xen Dom0 to DomUs. See his posting to port-xen for more details!

  • Staying at Xen for a moment, David Brownlee has written instructions on Installing Windows XP in Xen under NetBSD. Just in case anyone needs to run a legacy system... :)

  • The NetBSD operating system supports many different hardware and CPU platforms. For a specific platform, binaries are compiled with a specific compiler, and there is a set of binaries for each platform. This results in a rather big number of different sets of binaries - currently about 50. A different approach with historic precedence is to have one binary work on may hardware platforms, so-called "fat" binaries.

    Gregory McGarry has posted suggestions on how to modify NetBSD's toolchain to produce fat binaries. An interesting concept which would solve a number of problems (think: support, updates, pkgsrc!)

  • Qt is a user-interface library found in widespread use in the Unix/Linux world. It's not exactly small, and its prerequirement of the X Window System doesn't it make a #1 choice for embedded systems at the first look. A Qt variant - Qt/Embedded - can be ran without X, though, and which thus avoids all the configuration and hardware support trouble of X in one go.

    On NetBSD, Qt/Embedded could talk to the wscons driver directly, and Valeriy 'uwe' Ushakov has posted about his work on patches to adopt Qt/Embedded to wscons. Who's first to post some screenshots?

Enjoy!

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