Catching up - what happened in NetBSD-land between mid-August and mid-November
OK, I've been slacking^Wbusy for the past weeks, but I hope things
will get a bit better now. For a start, here's a catch-up of the
things that accumulated in my inbox in the past ~two months:
So much for today. With the NetBSD 5.0 release cycle started, I'd like
to encourage everyone to test the release branch, report errors, send
patches as well as beer and choccolate to make this the best
release that we've ever had.
- Google Summer of Code is over for some time, but apparantly
no final report has emerged so far (shame!). Still, a number
of individual status reports came by on the official lists:
I know of at least one other project (uvc) that has completed but
that I didn't see a report here - maybe I've missed it. Anyways,
GSoC was another big success this year. Thanks, Google!
- Speaking of Adam Hamsik and Logical Volume Management (LVM), Adam
has continued his work in that are, and he has written a device
mapping library that interacts with his kernel driver. This
allows to interact with his GSoC project without using any GPL
See Adam's posting for more details.
- Force 10 Networks, producer of 10gbit switches that use an operating system
based on NetBSD, have added a new feature as part of their FTOS operating
system: VirtualView, which provides virtualization of Force 10 based equipment.
From the xchange article: ``Force10 Networks Inc. this week introduced VirtualView software for benchmaking, troubleshooting and managing virtualized environments based on Force10 gear.''
More information is available
from the Force 10 Networks homepage,
plus in articles by
- Following the latest hype in portable computers, NetBSD has
created a netbook
page that intends to list models and the extent to which they
are supported. Your contributions are most welcome here! (Contact
me for sending updates and hardware :-)
- Zafer Aydogan has made RSS feeds available for CVS commits to
single files - see his mail to netbsd-users
for more details.
- New security advisory were released that I've missed in my
- A project that's been ongoing for quite some time is the move from
"old-school" loadable kernel modules (LKMs) to new-style kernel modules.
Important changes include the fact that modules can be either linked
into the kernel at build time, or loaded into the kernel at
runtime from the same file. Also, the bootloader was modified to
load modules after the kernel, e.g. for a RAM-disk like the one
that is used by the INSTALL kernel.
In the same line, some parts are starting to be moved out of the
GENERIC kernel, and installed as modules that can be loaded by
the new framework then. The start is made
POSIX semaphores as a first step and proof-of concept,
some details are still under hot debate, e.g.
what the file system layout for modules is, and if the belong
to the kernel and its build process, or to the userland.
- While talking about splitting the kernel into modules, Antti
Kantee has continued his work to move parts of the kernel into
userspace, in particular running file system code as userland in
and puffs and (Re)FUSE works.
The idea is to provide the interfaces that file systems need in
the userland, and the result is that you can run code that used
to run inside the kernel in userland now.
Another subsystem running in the kernel that could be moved to
userland by providing appropriate interfaces with the rest of the
kernel is the network stack, and Antti has moved just that to the
userland. See Antti's
mail to tech-net@ for more
information on this impressive work.
- NetBSD has shipped XFree in previous releases, and people who
wanted to use X.org had to install it from pkgsrc. That's all
fine, but to get a modern X, one had to compile things, as no
precompiled binary packages are made available for many
platforms. This is changing now, and NetBSD is getting X.org
integrated via a reachover infrastructure which is also enabled
The "user interface" for this is still in flux, but after some
detour ("build.sh -V MKXORG=yes", without -x), "build.sh -x" now
builds whatever X is considered the default for the
platform. Some platforms already default to use X.org as X, and
more will come, as changes that were made to NetBSD's copy of
XFree are adopted to X.org.
Platforms that use X.org by default now are macppc (see
amd64 and i386.
As X.org is at Revision 7 now, it's installed in /usr/X11R7,
which will lead to a lot of interesting effects. pkgsrc is
already prepared for the new layout, but there are still many
minor details that will need adjusting to the new directory. If
you find one, post your patches to tech-x11.
- Besides the GNU C compiler, there's the BSD-licensed Portable C Compiler
around for some time now. It doesn't offer the same support as
its GNU cousin yet, but this may change now:
The BSD Fund
is currently doing a fund drive to get money to enhance PCC.
The goal is to raise $12,000US to improve support for core
compiler functionality as well as support for C99, gcc
compatibility and the amd64 architecture. See
the project page for further details.
- The NetBSD 5.0 release cycle has started! There's a netbsd-5 branch in CVS,
daily binaries are available for testing, and some of
the highlights of the upcoming release include file system journalling for FFS via WAPBL, and X.org.
To help testing of NetBSD on Cobalt machines, Izumi Tsutsui
has made a NetBSD 5.0_BETA based version of the Cobalt restore CD
- As the final point today, a word on NUMA support from Christoph
Egger. Non-Uniform Memory Access is needed in massive parallel
systems where some nodes have RAM more tightly associated than
others, where the RAM is further away, resulting in different
access times for different regions of memory. In order to support
this, Christop Egger has made first steps.
His example implementation uses information from ACPI, and shows
some heavy dmesg-pr0n from a 16-core machine with four
[Tags: force10, fuse, gcc, google-soc, kmod, lkm, lvm, netbook, numa, pcc, puffs, refuse, rump, Security, x11, xfree, xorg]
Quo vadis, X11?
The news yesterday was from the X consortium that they have
which moves away from a "monolithic" system using Imake into
a more modularized one using autoconf etc. - Definitely bears
some fingerprint of a GNU generation, which is also reflected
by the list of supported platforms: while previous X releases
supported a wide range of commercial and free Unix systems,
X11R7 only lists Linux and Solaris as supported at this time.
As the XFree distribution (a spinoff of MIT's X == X.org from
many years ago) is likely being superseded by the newer X.org
releases, the question about NetBSD switching to X.org or not
is one coming up on and off. As an answer, NetBSD core member
Valeriy 'uwe' E. Ushakov has given an
outline of NetBSD's plans regarding XFree86 vs. X.org.
If someone wants to help merging patches and feeding them
upstream, feel free to do so! :)
For those that want to use X.org today, they can find it in
Maybe let me express my personal concerns that X(.org) is moving
towards a Linux-centric system with no backward compatibility for
systems not running Linux and all the fancy PC-centric,
nVidia-equipped hardware and software. Which would not be
the system that we all used to use for the past XX years.
Direct Render Interface support
It seems "Tonnerre" has done work to support the Direct Render Interface,
which is needed to do hardware-accellerated 3D graphics, on NetBSD.
the project's page
the discussion that started on tech-kern.
The available code seems to be for X.org only, and needs some more
work to be usable on non-PC platforms (sparc64, macppc), but it's
definitely a good first step.
[Tags: dri, x11]
X.org with NetBSD
Jeremy C. Reed has posted a
on how to use the latest X.org X release, including all those
funny things like windows dropping shadows and transparent windows.
Beware, will be dog slow (until someone comes up with hardware
3D Hardware Accelleration: DRI for ATI Radeon
Jonathan Perkin got the X Direct Render Interface going on NetBSD
with his ATI Radeon Mobility 9000. It's a bunch of patches
right now, but I guess it won't take long until this is in mainline
NetBSD xsrc. The question whether this will be in NetBSD 2.1 (the
next patch release) or 3.0 (the next major release) is unclear yet.
Now if my ATI Rage Pro would be supported, or anyone 'd drop me
a ATI Radeon card...? :)
[Tags: dri, drivers, Hardware, x11]
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