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[20131209] Use of NetBSD with Marvell Kirkwood Processors and AK-Systems' IP-Plugs
There's an article by Vladimir Trubilov over at Evertiq that explains what NetBSD is and how little effort is needed to get it going on a new ARM platform, with a AK-System IP-Plug mini-server as an example (Wikipedia link; the AK-System website is only in Russian-language!).

The article outlines the history of the various BSDs and tells about NetBSD's source organization and build process. It then introduces the target hardware and how NetBSD abstracts the various busses and drivers that are already there, and the few bits that needed adjusting.

``Conclusion: High portability, sufficient ease of use, as well as the necessary software packet and an open source code packets and open source make NetBSD a very attractive operating system for use in embedded systems. As seen in the example, it takes quite superficial knowledge of the system architecture and minimum change in the code to run NetBSD on the IP-Plug. At the same time, the functionality and performance of the built operating system is not inferior to that of Linux, which is used by default.''

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[20131208] Max uptime: 8 years, 122 days!
This weekend's In Other BSDs from the DragonFly BSD Digest points at an interesting discussion in which a NetBSD system with 8-year uptime is introduced. Quoting from the ~October 2013 article:

`` I set up a dialup gateway for a company with NetBSD 1.3 in 1998 on a compaq pentium 90 desktop with 32MiB of RAM. I got a call last year (!) from the owner saying it stopped working suddenly. Pulled the disk on it and plugged it into an IDE/USB adapter and looked at the syslog as I had no ps2 keyboard and it didn't have USB.

Suspected hardware failure at that age.

Max uptime: 8 years, 122 days!''

The article goes on about what the machine was used for, and a bunch of lessons learned. Have a look and learn!

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[20131110] g4u 2.6beta1 released
I have release g4u version 2.6beta1. Important changes are an update to recent NetBSD codebase, and moving the ramdisk from a separate file back into the kernel. This allows easy netbooting - at least I hope so, feedback is welcome here.

I'd like to push out version 2.6 within the next few weeks. Please test and let me know if there are any showstoppers!

Full list of news in g4u 2.6beta1:

  • Make this build with NetBSD-current sources as of 2013-10-20
  • Move back from a ramdisk that's loaded from a separate file back to a ramdisk that's part of the kernel image. This allows easier netbooting for those people who want it - added back by popular demand :-)
  • Added more kernel buffer space, to hold all kernel messages for dmesg, even on machines with large ACPI tables (Hello VMware Fusion!)
  • New drivers:
    • LSILogic 9x9 and 53c1030 (Fusion-MPT) PCI SCSI
    • LSI Logic Fusion-MPT II PCI SCSI
    • Atheros AR9k (802.11a/g/n) PCI Wireless
    • Marvell PCI Libertas Wireless
    • Atheros AR9k (802.11a/g/n) PC-Card Wireless
    • Broadcom BCM43xx PC-Card Wireless
    • Atheros AR9002U USB Wireless
    • Ralink Technology RT2500USB 802.11a/b/g USB Wireless
    • Ralink Technology RT(2[78]|30)00 802.11a/b/g/n USB Wireless
    • Realtek RTL8187/RTL8187B 802.11b/g USB Wireless
    • Realtek RTL8188CU/RTL8192CU 802.11b/g/n USB Wireless
    • Intel Atom E6xx PCI-LPC
Download links:
  • The g4u 2.6beta1 ISO CD image (zipped/uncompressed)
  • The g4u 2.6beta1 source
  • The g4u 2.6beta1 floppy images (zipped/ uncompressed floppy one, floppy two and floppy three)
  • Some md5 checksums:
    MD5 (g4u-2.6beta1-1.fs) = 264d5b27f208f1053777774d0c2b87a7
    MD5 (g4u-2.6beta1-2.fs) = 533b37fbeeb2d537928de61b25eb2ade
    MD5 (g4u-2.6beta1-3.fs) = 5abe1327326fcdac18bf4d68566f3e9b
    MD5 (g4u-2.6beta1.iso) = 37596efb42c014eb049e0027db059bd9
    MD5 (g4u-2.6beta1.tgz) = acd5907a7fb2cc8fbd4645a1b9db5272
    MD5 ( = 9b8da62fac57dcd38a4e3376189a087d
    MD5 ( = 44cb8d01407b17f9d9839740b5a0d2d9

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[20131027] G4U Opinion Time: kernel with embedded RAMdisk vs. miniroot?
Quoting my own mail to the g4u-help mailing list: ``I've found little time to hack on g4u in the recent past. Yet, I've managed to setup my development and test environment for g4u (crosscompiling NetBSD from Mac OS X, getting recent Qemu to compile), and also got g4u built from recent NetBSD-current sources. As such, take this as small sign of life.

Now, while I don't have any plans for large changes, I'd like to bring an update with latest drivers and bugfixes from NetBSD.

There's one change that I'm pondering, though: g4u originally came as one kernel-file that had an embedded RAM-disk. This was changed in the last release to reflect NetBSD's ability to load a RAM-disk from a separate file. This change broke the ability to netboot g4u from a single file, and required some more effort. There were no real wins for g4u as such.

So, opinion time: keep the RAM-disk as separate file, or move it back into the kernel?

Looking forward for your opinions!''

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[20131024] Mercedes Benz powered by NetBSD?
There is a posting by Fefe which links to Open Source licenses used by Mercedes Benz.

This includes a number of BSD variants - original 4-clause as well as the 2- and 3-clause versions as well as company specific BSD licenses by car-supplier Continental, Acme Labs and Google. No explicit mention of NetBSD's license, but a bunch of NetBSD developers' names and mail addresses can be found. There is also an overview that the BSD license is used in about all models from A-Class over S-Class to SLK, and which also indicates that the new (2013+) S-Class includes much more BSD licensed software than all the other models. Which is not much of a surprise, as it's the most recent and also most technically advanced model (as far as I can tell).

No details are included as to what software components are under the respective licenses. Anyone got details? Please share!

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[20131020] Quick bootstrap of NetBSD on Raspberry Pi and Cobalt machines
NetBSD is a fine operating system, but the installation sometimes leaves a lot of rope to hang yourself on non-PC platforms. To make things easier to get a recent NetBSD version on the Cobat Raq and Qube machines, Izumi Tsutsui has released a Restore CD/USB image based on NetBSD 5.2.1 that allows for a quick bootstrap. There is also a Restore CD HOWTO available with more information.

If you're into somewhat more recent machines, the Raspberry Pi is for you. For easy bootstrapping of NetBSD, Jun Ebihara offers a SD card image with -current NetBSD and pkgsrc from October 2013 preinstalled. This also includes support for hardware floating point and DMA. Instructions are available on line in Japanese language. The important commands still are readable, so have a look!

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[20131019] Raspberry Pi USB HC driver change - DMA support added
Nick Hudson reports that he has ``recently switched the Raspberry Pi kernel to dwctwo(4) a new USB drvier based on the Synopsys code. It's a more complete driver than the previous dotg(4) and has DMA support''. Jun Ebihara confirms that the driver works fine with a dmesg extract, and also lets us know that the driver will be in his next RPI image.

This change does not only affect the Raspberry Pi, but also other machines that have a Synopsis USB like the OpenBlocks 600, as KIYOHARA Takashi lets us know.

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[20131008] Google Summer of Code 2014
Yes, 2014 - Google today announced the 10th anniversary of its Summer of Code. NetBSD participation is still being sorted out, but can be expected. See the blog post and the timeline for more information.

First and foremost, use this early news to think about possible projects, get familiar with NetBSD (which you probably are if you read this), and sort out your summer occupation 2014.

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[20131008] Embedded NetBSD on iMX233/OLinuXino
Petri Laakso has worked to get NetBSD going on the iMX233/OLinuXino ARM board, specifically the MAXI and MICRO boards. The port is stable enough to run multiuser and build software from pkgsrc. Supported hardware include SD card, GPIO, USB host, and a boot loader.

The hardware is ways below 50 EUR, so this is a good start to get a nice and easy machine. More information on how to get things running are available in Petri's blog.

Last, the impatient souls that can't wait to start playing can find the code in NetBSD-current already, thanks to Matt Thomas.

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[20130930] Bugfix releases NetBSD 6.1.2, 6.0.2 and others released
Jeff Rizzo announces that the NetBSD 6.1.2 and NetBSD 6.0.3 patch releases as well as the NetBSD 5.2.1 and NetBSD 5.1.3 patch releases are out. The releases contain security-only changes to the two stable releases maintained by NetBSD in 6.0.3 and 5.1.3 as well as feature updates plus security fixes in 6.1.2 and 5.2.1.

Read the NetBSD 6.1.2 and NetBSD 6.0.3 patch releases">6.x and 5.x release notes for more information.

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