This document was written for Daemonnews.

NetBSD 1.5.1
Hubert Feyrer, June 2001

NetBSD 1.5.1 was released in late June 2001 after an extended period that was used for testing, enhancing the system, and of course bugfixing. NetBSD 1.5.1 is the first maintenance release on the NetBSD 1.5 branch, and as such it includes few new features, and mostly improvements over the NetBSD 1.5 release. Binary compatibility is of course kept, so a full or partial upgrade from 1.5 to 1.5.1 is not a problem.

* What's new in NetBSD 1.5.1

A complete list of changes between NetBSD 1.5 and 1.5.1 can be found in the CHANGES-1.5.1 file that's part of the NetBSD 1.5.1 release. Some of the highlights include significantly increased NFS client performance by clustering commit operations together and using larger block size on some ports. Support for 802.1Q virtual LANs has been added to all ports. The i386 port was changed to support booting off a RAID1 RAIDframe mirror so it is now possible to allow a failsafe setup of your / filesystem. Furthermore, the i386 port can how have up to 16 partitions per disklabel.

The networking subsystem now knows about cloning interfaces. This allows to have a variable number of instances of a certain device, and extending it doesn't require a kernel-rebuild and reboot. Use "ifconfig -C" for a list of devices that support cloning in 1.5.1.

New and improved drivers include a driver for the Aironet/Cisco wireless PCMCIA cards, an(4), the NCR siop(4) driver was enhanced for performance and stability, the isp(4) driver now works on MacPPC and other big endian ports, the VIA chipsets now do Ultra/66 DMA, and several pciide controllers now run up to Ultra/100. Support for Intel 82801BAM controllers has also been added, and handling of Ali controllers has been improved. The ex(4) driver now supports the 3COM 3c555, 3c556 and 3c556B MiniPCI Ethernet cards, and drivers for the Apple PowerMacs' audio hardware, the Accton EN2242 and other AmdTek AN985 cards and for sound cards based on Yamaha YMF724/740/744/745, ESS Technology Maestro 1, 2 and 2E, NeoMagick 256 and Cirrus Logic CrystalClear PCI Audio CS4281 were added.

Upgraded software include BIND 8.2.3 (see Security Advisory SA2001-001), OpenSSH is at 2.5.1 (see SA2001-003), sendmail is at 8.11.3, ISC DHCP V3 beta2 patchlevel 23, Heimdal kerberos 0.3e and probably some others that I forgot about.

Other security related updates were done to ftp(8) per SA2000-018 and SA2001-005, ntpd(8) per SA2001-004, telnetd(8) per SA2000-017 as well as a on i386 a kernel fix related to USER_LDT that's documented in SA2001-002.

* 1.5.1 and pkgsrc

Besides the core operating system, NetBSD also maintains a collection of 3rd party software in the NetBSD Packages Collection, pkgsrc. For the NetBSD 1.5.1 release, pkgsrc was taken through a freeze, and with the help of automated bulk builds on various platforms, the number of broken packages was reduced. Besides fixing build problems of the various packages and the pkgs they require, many applications were fixed to work on LP64 architectures. Furthermore, many bugs from the 'pkg' category were closed by the hard-working pkgsrc people. At the end of the freeze, of the about 2100 packages in the collection, there were <10 packages that didn't build properly on i386, and only about 40 had problems on alpha. Let's say that's a pretty good percentage! Furthermore, many pkg related problem reports were closed, and at the end we were below 100 open pkg PRs.

Binary packages build on and for NetBSD 1.5.1 are available on in the /pub/NetBSD/packages dir, and there are also several ISOs that have the binary pkgs available for download. Thanks go to Dan McMahill here for his 'cdpack' program that helps in putting binary pkgs on CDs so that each CD has all the dependencies. The result is three fully packed CDs for i386, and probably not much less for other architectures.

With NetBSD 1.5.1, yuo can now experience NetBSD, KDE2 and KOffice for a fully integrated office environment with no license problems. Available for i386, alpha and many other architectures. Mozilla 0.9, KDE 2's Konqueror and Links 0.95 are just a few examples for browsers available to explore the Internet with NetBSD. A support package for running VMware on NetBSD/i386 was added, it's called suse_vmware. The official VMware code, a valid license and Wasabi Systems' compat package are still needed.

Other highlights of the pkgsrc and binary pkgs that are available for NetBSD 1.5.1 include: Apache 1.3.19 and 2.0.16, BIND 4.9.8/8.2.3/9.1.2, Civilisation Call To Power (demo version), Ghostscript 6.01, GNOME 1.4.0, GNU Emacs 20.7, Heretic 2 (demo version), Sun's JDK & JRE, KDE 1.1.2/2.1, Mozilla 0.9, perl-5.6.0, Perl 5.6.0 with many modules, Quake3-Arena (demo version), Samba 2.0.9, teTeX 1.0.7, Xemacs 21.1.14.

* The X files

Historically, NetBSD shipped with an X that was based on XFree 3, with XFree 3.3.6 being the latest version in xsrc. That version was enhanced a lot, to support many of the architectures that NetBSD runs on, but that are not part of the official XFree release. Unfortunately the changes were never fed back to the XFree developers, and as a result the new XFree 4 release doesn't have most of the changes. To make things worse, there are cards that are only supported in XFree 3, and there others that you need to run XFree 4 to get X going.

As a result of this, NetBSD ships the "old" XFree 3.3.6 from xsrc by default, but also includes a binary snapshot of the new XFree 4.x line so people using recent graphics cards can use that for NetBSD. The sources for the latter can be found in xsrc/xfree, and everyone interrested in rebuilding XFree 4 can do so after putting USE_XF86_4=yes into /etc/mk.conf.

To install the XFree 4 shapshot that comes with NetBSD 1.5.1, move aside /usr/X11R6 and extract the tarball in /. Then run 'xf86cfg' to configure X.

* Downloading

The NetBSD 1.5.1 release is available from and it's mirrors in the /pub/NetBSD/NetBSD-1.5.1 directory. ISO images of the release are available in the /pub/NetBSD/iso/1.5.1 directory. The project's main ftp server is rather heavily loaded these days, and it is appreciated if you use some of the mirrors available. See the list available at the NetBSD web site for a mirror near you.

Copyright (c) 2001 Hubert Feyrer
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