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[comp.os.386bsd] BNR/2 derived BSD for PCs FAQ (Part 1 of 10)

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Dave Burgess

Feb 13, 1995, 2:00:09 AM2/13/95
Posted-By: auto-faq
Archive-name: 386bsd-faq/part1

Frequently Asked Questions
386BSD, NetBSD, FreeBSD, and
other BSD derived Operating


Original FAQ by:
Terry Lambert

New FAQ by:
TSgt Dave Burgess
NCOIC, Configuration Management Section, US Strategic Command
Instructor, Computer Science Dept, Nebraska College of Business
President, Configuration Management Svcs, Inc.

Last Update: 26 Nov 1994

Section 0. (Basic FAQ information)

0.0 Master Index.

0.0 Master Index.
0.1 Introduction
0.2 About this FAQ.
0.2a What are the differences between *BSD and (your favorite
operating system name here)?
0.2b Which is better, (your favorite operating system name
here) or *BSD?
0.2c Is 386bsd better than (your favorite operating system
name here)?
0.2.1 So what ARE the differences between the *BSD family and
0.2.2 I want to start up a thread about why *BSD is or isn't
as good as some other operating system. Can anyone
suggest a good reason why I shouldn't?
0.2.3 Are all of the Berkeley derived systems binary
compatible? If not, what are the differences?
0.3 How to add your pet answer to the FAQ.
0.4 Administrivia.
1.0 What is 386BSD? (Taken from the original INSTALL.NOTES
by the Jolitz's, specifically Lynne)
1.0.1 What are these other Free BSD systems?
1.0.2 I just downloaded all of 386bsd version 0.1 and I can't
get [some feature] to work? Do you have any suggestions?

1.1 Feature summary
1.2 The future of 386BSD.
1.3 386BSD software projects in progress
1.3.1 Contacting software authors
1.4 Minimum hardware configuration recommended
1.5 Where to get the source and binaries
1.5.1 Forms available (floppy, FTP, CD-ROM) Where can I get the distribution on floppy or tape? Where can I get the distribution via FTP? Where can I get the distribution on CD ROM?
1.6 Electronic Information Groups for 386BSD
1.6.1 Usenet newsgroups
1.6.2 Newsgroup archives.
1.6.3 386bsd Derived mailing lists.
1.6.4 Other electronic resources.
1.6.5 System Updates.
1.7 Documentation available
1.7.1 BSD manuals
1.7.2 BSD books
1.7.3 The Jolitz Book
1.7.4 Dr. Dobbs' journal
1.7.5 Documentation that comes with most of the distributions.

1.7.6 Other FAQ's on the net that are relevant
1.8 FTP sites for 386BSD
1.8.1 FTP Site List
1.8.2 Official distribution sites
1.8.3 Reference sites
1.8.4 Unofficial archive sites that have neat stuff!
1.8.5 X for 386BSD 0.1 Ported Software List
1.8.6 Motif for the *BSD family. (Infomercial to follow)
2.0 Install process
2.0.1 Boot disks (versions and media formats) Where does extract go when I reboot? I put the floppy in and try to boot, and nothing
happens. What now? The floppy booted, but now the hard disk won't boot? I am trying to reinstall. I run install and it loops
asking me if I want to use the whole disk? What are the options on the boot prompt? I just used the '-s' option on the boot, but I can't
write anything onto the disk. What is wrong? If I use a
plain 'mount' command it tells me that my root file
system is read-only.
2.0.2 Fix-it boot disk
2.1 Binary distribution
2.2 Source distribution
2.3 Additional software distribution
2.4 Patch-kit
2.5 Configuration
2.5.1 Partitions What is a 'disklabel' and why do I need one?
2.5.2 Common Disk Label Problems. Swap space. Increasing the 386bsd partition size. I can access the DOS partition on my second disk from
Unix but not DOS? Any suggestions?
2.5.3 How do I set up the system so that I can boot from more
than one operating system/file-loader without using
2.5.4 How do I disklabel my second hard drive?
2.5.5 386bsd/NetBSD/FreeBSD cannot handle disk geometry
translations, but it turns out that my disk geometry is
translated. It has five zones, each with a different
sec/track! What kind of things can I do about the disk
translation my hard disk controller uses?
2.5.6 My disk label is complaining about '256 heads' in the
disklabel. This is obviously bogus, but it doesn't seem
to be hurting anything. Is it Okay or should I fix it?
2.5.7 What are the options for the bootup prompt?
2.5.8 I am having trouble installing WRT 'syslogd: bind: Can't
assign requested address' errors. What are some of the
things I should look at? I also am having trouble with
the network: 'starting network ... ifconfig: localhost:
2.6 Common installation problems.
2.6.1 Swap space not identified correctly.
2.6.2 Endless reboot cycles.
2.7 The computer just sits there, or 'that isn't right'.
2.7.1 The boot disk works all right on one computer but not
2.7.2 Really strange errors in the various *BSD flavors. I am using the original 386bsd 0.1 with no patches
installed and I get flashing multicolored characters and
a "ptdi 81061" prompt error? Using the new code in NetBSD, I get a "panic: pdti
206067" in pmap_enter(). What should I do?
2.7.3a I get the error "isr 15 and error: isr 17" on an NE2000
2.7.3b I have some card on IRQ2 and it doesn't work; why?
2.7.3c I am getting lousy performance out of my network card.
What are some of the other possibilities?
2.7.4 What is the difference between IRQ2 and IRQ9? Are they
really the same, or are they really different?
2.7.5 Some of my SCSI devices (like a tape drive) don't work;
2.7.6 I try to run 'ps' or 'w' and get ': cannot get namelist'
from the TinyBSD kernel. What did I do wrong?
2.7.7 I get a 'Floating point constant out of range' when I
try to compile package 'n'. What is broke?
2.7.8 I want to use the Adaptec 1542C SCSI controller. What
are the problems/tricks you need to know to get it
2.7.9 My system boots OK off the floppy, but once I try to
boot from the hard drive, the message "changing root
device to sd0a" appears and the system hangs. What is
the most likely thing that I have done wrong?
2.8 Other common problems that are attributed to the
installation process but are caused other places.
2.8.1 Why don't the man pages for "magic" and "file" work?
2.8.2 Why is apropos broke?
2.8.3 I want to use more than 16 Megabytes of memory. Will any
of the BSD based systems support it?
2.8.4 I tried to use a device in my computer that should be
there. When I did, I got a "Device not configured
error." What do I do now?
3.0 System Internals
3.1 Kernel
3.1.1 How do I build a kernel?
3.1.2 I want to do one of the following things:
* add a device not in the distributed kernel (third com
port, additional disk or tape, line printer driver,
* use a patch from the net or the patchkit to fix a
kernel bug.
* add another swap device.
* recompile the kernel to remove extraneous devices so
that it takes up less space.
* configure more pseudo-terminals to allow for more
xterms or network logins.
3.1.3 I don't have the source distribution -- how can I
rebuild the kernel?
3.1.4 Now that I have a kernel, how do I install it?
3.1.5 After installing the patchkit and recompiling the kernel
with the option "WD8013", I am no longer able to reboot
the machine. A cold boot (power on) runs fine, but after
a reboot no boot drive is found by the BIOS. Besides
having a 16-bit WD/SMC Ethernet card installed the
machines try to boot using either a Adaptec 1742 or 1542
SCSI board to boot from.
3.1.6 My system is complaining about stray interrupt 7. Is my
machine going to explode or anything?
3.1.7 I keep getting "wd0c: extra interrupt". What does it
3.1.8 I found a bug in the kernel. How do I report it?
3.1.9 Can someone please give a reasonably clear set of
instructions as to how to get a "current" version of
NetBSD running?
3.2 What exactly is this config file, anyway? What are all
of these cryptic notations?
3.2.1 Okay, fine. Why shouldn't I just add every device I can
find to the kernel, so I'll never have to recompile this
3.2.2 What should I remove from the kernel?
3.2.3 I can't get enough remote login sessions or xterm
sessions. I also can only get four sessions working at a
time. What can I do?
3.2.4 How do I get ddb, the kernel debugger, compiled into the
kernel and running?
3.2.5 Can I patch the current running OS image?
3.2.6 Can I have more than one config file? Should I rename it
to something else? Any other hints?
3.2.7 What is the meaning of the trap codes I get in panic
messages? Sometimes this message appears in the form
"trap type nn".
3.2.8 I have been getting a lot of "virtual memory exhausted"
errors when I am compiling a program with a really big
static array. I have 128Meg of memory and 8Gig of swap.
How can this be happening?
3.2.9 Where can I learn more about all this?
3.2.10 Does anyone have a system building script that takes
things like building a new config and multiple config
files into account?
3.3 X11/XFree86/XS3
3.3.1 What options should I define to get the X extensions
3.3.2 Where can I get the FAQ for 'X'?
3.3.3 Why does X drop characters when using xdm? When I run
xdm from the console, it keeps losing keystrokes and the
shift keys don't always work. Why?
3.4 Compiler and Library routines
3.4.1 Which C compiler is shipped with my 386BSD derived
3.4.2 Where is libcompat.a?
3.5 You promised to talk about timezones below. Are you
going to?
3.5.1 How do you change the timezone on NetBSD (FreeBSD
3.5.2 The translation between seconds-since-the-epoch and date
differs by about 18 seconds between BSD and other Unixes
when running ntp; why?
4.0 Introduction
4.1 Common Kernel-related problems
4.1.1 Where are the commands "rpcinfo" and "rpcgen"?
4.1.2 Where can I get a working "netstat"?
4.1.3 How can I fix NFS to work with my NE2000 board?
4.1.4 How can I get "ps" and "w" to work?
4.1.5 Where are re_comp and re_exec?
4.1.6 What about the termio, termios, and termcap stuff? Where are stty() and gtty()? Sometimes I have trouble with my system resetting the
terminal to seven bit mode. Isn't 386BSD eight bit
4.1.7 The system hangs with the HD light on after intense disk
usage. The system hangs when trying to fsck -p both of
my IDE hard drives at boot-up.
4.1.8 How do you implement quotas on Net/2 derived BSD
4.2 Available kernel add-ons
4.2.1 The Patch-Kit
4.2.2 Shared Libraries
4.2.3 Sound Blaster Drivers
4.2.4 Bus Mouse Drivers
4.2.5 PPP Support
4.2.6 re_comp and re_exec library functions
4.2.7 Intel i82586 Ethernet Controller driver
4.2.8 PC Speaker driver for Nethack
4.3 Other program building type problems.
4.3.1 Greetings from Mars. I am building a program that
requires access to the crypt library. Either I have it
and it isn't getting copied into the executable, or I
don't have it; why?
4.4 Where is the 'adduser' program?
5.0 Introduction
5.1 Available Kernel Replacements
5.1.1 keycap/codrv
5.1.2 pcvt
5.1.3 syscons
5.1.4 Fast Symbolic Links
5.1.5 npx fixes
5.1.6 CGD's COM drivers
5.1.7 The original 386bsd 0.1 wd.c driver doesn't work.
[386bsd 0.1 only]
5.1.8 Interruptless LPT Driver Kit [386bsd 0.1 only]
5.2 Floppy Disk problems.
5.2.1 How do I get a bootable floppy?
5.2.2 How do I maximize the space on a mountable floppy disk.
5.3 Character Device Driver info
5.3.1 Printers
5.3.2 Terminals/Keyboards
5.3.3 Modems
5.3.4 What is the trick for getting Kermit to work with rz and
5.4 Tape Drives
5.4.1 Does the tape need to be formatted?
5.4.2 If I execute the command 'st -f /dev/st0 status', I get:
Archive/Tandberg? tape drive, residual=0, blocksize=512
Density: high = 16 (0x10), medium = 15 (0xf), low = 5
(0x5) ds=0 er=0
5.4.3 When is erst0 used?
5.4.4 How is density (bpi) computed? I am using 3M DC 6250
cassettes which have a 250MB capacity on the Viper 150.
But computing the bits/inch based on 250MB/tape-length
(1020 ft.), I get a density of 171335 bpi, which is
nowhere near the 10000 bpi associated with QIC-150 in
the st(1) man page. Why the discrepancy?
5.4.5 How is an appropriate block size determined (and in what
units are they specified in the st(1) command)?
5.4.6 From the 4.3BSD mtio(4) man page, it sounds like data is
typically (traditionally?) stored on tape in
eof-terminated sequences of 1K records. Is st's notion of "file" the record sequence between two
eof marks? What about a "record"? Is a "record" one "block", as determined by st's
"blocksize" command? If not, what is the connection
between them? Can I change the "record" size? When would I want a block size that is different from
the default? 1KB is the size of writes used by dd or
whatever. QIC specifies 512 byte records (well at least
its what people use..) Whatever you write in will be
broken into 512 byte sections. They must be multiples of
512 though. How do I write several archives to a single tape? I
tried without success: $ st -f /dev/rst4 rewind $ tar cf
/dev/nst4 archive1 $ st -f /dev/nrst4 weof $ tar cf
/dev/nst4 archive2 $ st -f /dev/nrst4 weof Later, I would expect to be able to access, say,
archive3 via the fsf directive to skip over the first
two archives. What is the correct sequence?
5.4.8 Since the Viper 150 writes on QIC-150/120, I guess I
don't need to worry about writing variable-length
records? How about reading a tape written with
variable-length records. Is this possible with the
Viper? If so, what's involved?
5.4.9 The very scant documentation that came with my drive
mentions a "selectable buffer disconnect size," whose
default is 16K. This is evidently the "maximum number of
bytes that can be sent over the SCSI bus during a single
data transfer phase." What's that? How is it connected
st's "blocksize" command? Do I want to use 16K blocks,
or might I even want to set the disconnect size to a
higher value?
5.4.10 What is "streaming"? When I tar a directory of files to
tape, I notice that the tape often stops. Streaming
means it doesn't stop? How would I get the viper 150 to
stream using tar or cpio or dump?
5.4.11 Where are all the answers to the above and related
questions written down? Neither on the net nor in the
4.3BSD manuals nor Administration text which I have
could I find this stuff covered!
5.4.12 What else should I know? For example, it seems that a
new tape must stretched. How is this done?
5.4.13 My tape drive doesn't work.
5.5 Network
5.5.1 How can I get my system to work as a network router?
5.5.2 I recently has a problem where I got a message that said
"panic: kmem_malloc: mb_map too small". What is the
solution to this problem?
6.0 Working with DOS and BNR/2 related software.
6.1 Formatting a floppy
6.2 Sharing the Disk with MS-DOS
6.2.1 How can I partition my drive to support both MS-DOS and
6.2.2 I can install using the whole disk, but I can't install
when I try to share the drive between 386bsd and MS-DOS.
6.2.3 I can use either MS-DOS or 386BSD on my hard drive, but
shutdown -todos doesn't seem to work.
6.2.4 Is there any hope of ever running MS-DOS applications
under any of the free BSD systems?
6.3 Accessing the MS-DOS filesystem
6.4 NFS/PC-NFS support
6.4.1 Can I use 8K packets for NFS? When I try, I have all
kinds of problems.
6.4.2 How do I get around the NFS "Permission denied" error?
6.4.3 What does the message "BAD MNT RPC: RPC Authentication
error; why = Invalid client credential" mean when I try
to mount something from another machine?
6.4.4 What does the message "Bad MNT RPC: RPC: Authentication
error; why = Client credential too weak" mean when I try
to mount something from another machine?
6.4.5 I get a lot of 'ring buffer overflow' messages using NFS
and the ed0 driver. Is there a problem?
6.4.6 Is there any PC software that will allow me to use my
enormous PC with all of the unsupported hardware as a
PC-NFS server?
6.5 How can I use mtools with the 'new' floppy naming
7.0 Communications
7.2 PPP
7.3 TCP/IP
7.4 UUCP
7.4.1 TIP/CU
7.4.2 What is the magic incantation that allows the modem to
7.4.3 My modem on DOS COM3 or DOS COM4 works with DOS, but not
with *BSD. It is set up using IRQ 4 (or 3) respectively.

7.5 Terminals
7.6 My network manager (or UUCP feed site admin) just
informed me that the way I have installed sendmail
through my UUCP connection and has caused a sendmail
loop. Can you help me get sendmail installed correctly?
7.7 Can network attached assets be used by/from NetBSD?
8.0 What hardware is 386BSD known to run on and support!
8.1 Video cards
8.2 Mice and Trackballs
8.3 Serial Cards
8.3.1 How do I configure multiport cards? Is there a
possibility of using multiport serial boards? How do you
configure an AST/4 in the kernel? It looks like the AST
driver only supports 4-port cards, but it looks like it
would be easy to add support for 8 ports ... or am I
8.3.2 Now that I have FreeBSD 1.0 installed, how do I set up
the serial ports for bi-directional use?
8.3.3 How do I get a serial console to work?
8.4 Disk Controller Problems
8.4.1 IDE controller problems
8.4.2 SCSI controller problems
8.5 SCSI Controllers
8.6 Network Cards
8.7 Printers
8.8 TAPE Drives
8.9 QIC-40/80 tape drives
8.10 CD-ROMs
9.0 What GNU software has been tested and is working with
Net/2 derived BSD systems for the 386?
9.1 Has anyone ever gotten news to work?
9.2 How did you get emacs to compile?

0.1 Introduction

The 386BSD 0.1 operating system was originally a derivative of
the generally available parts of the Berkeley Net/2 release.
The definitive "man without whom we would have nothing" in
this effort has been William Jolitz. For more information,
download the code.

386BSD is fully redistributable and is intended as a research OS.
As such, many contributions to the system are provided through
interaction by people who communicate via many means. Many new
and innovative features have been added to 386BSD since it's
original release in June of '92. There was an 'unofficial'
patchkit which was available from many anonymous FTP sources
which makes 386BSD more stable and usable. Many problems
associated with the use of 386BSD Version 0.1 were solved
through the application of patches from the patchkit. In
addition, many common Unix packages have been ported with
varying degrees of difficulty.

386BSD is available completely free of charge. It is also
available on CD-ROM and many other methods, most of which end up
charging for 'media and handling costs'. It is available by
Anonymous FTP and through FTP-Mail. Recently, a new CD-ROM
version of 386BSD has been announced in Dr. Dobb's Journal. It
may be the long awaited 386BSD 1.0, or simply a revenue
enhancement version of 386BSD 0.1 (or 0.2).

386BSD came in three distinct pieces, each of which was
exclusive of the other two. These distributions were called the
'bindist', 'srcdist', and 'etcdist'. The bindist could be unloaded
from its native form (on about 10 diskettes) and loaded onto a
42Meg hard drive partition. It is a fully functional system,
including gcc 1.39, all executables for normal Unix style
operation, and many other things. The etc distribution included
MANY additional programs (all with source) which extended the
functionality of 386BSD. The srcdist was the source code for
386bsd, along with all of the header files not included in the
bindist. All of the distributions and compilation files would
fit onto 180Meg of hard drive (barely).

In addition to the original 386BSD, two newer versions of the
system are available, under new names. NetBSD is the older (or
newer depending on whom you choose to believe) and FreeBSD is the
other. Both systems have evolved into programs that are superior
to the progenitor and both have sizable (if a little rabid)
followings. Most of the statements made in this FAQ will apply
to all three, although I will try to differentiate one from
another whenever the difference matters. Any place that says
386bsd either means the original 386bsd 0.1 (you should be able
to tell by context) of any of the three members of the PC BSD

There have been many attempts to polarize the FreeBSD and NetBSD
development groups in the past. One of the reasons that I am
still maintaining the FAQ is that it simply is a good source for
historical information, as well as a reasonable source for
information that is specific to the implementations of NetBSD and

It should be noted that when the *BSD family started out, they
used a source called the "Berkeley Net Release/2" tape as their
genesis. While this has provided a stable starting point, it
also built a possible bomb into the system. Due to an ongoing
legal battle (which has now been resolved) the following files
are identified as 'encumbered' in the BNR/2 source tree. These
kernel files are identified as the 'binary only' files in the
BSDI distribution, and either have been or must be replaced
before we can have a truly free OS family. This is the
pertinent excerpt from a letter from someone (whose name I have
lost) indicating what is and is not releasable.

Q: What's all this about `binary-only files'? Will BSDI
continue to ship source code?
A: For Version 1.1 only, BSDI will ship the following kernel
files in binary format:

kern/init_main.c kern/subr_rmap.c ufs/ufs_bmap.c
kern/kern_clock.c kern/sys_generic.c ufs/ufs_disksubr.c
kern/kern_exit.c kern/sys_process.c ufs/ufs_inode.c
kern/kern_physio.c kern/tty.c ufs/ufs_vnops.c
kern/kern_sig.c kern/tty_subr.c
kern/kern_synch.c kern/vfs_syscalls.c

Our (Berkeley's) 4.4Lite-based release will again include the
entire source tree (with the exception of a tiny number of
device drivers whose interfaces are kept confidential at the
request of their authors.

I have it from a reasonably reliable source that these files
either have been completely rewritten in a 'clean room'
development effort or were replaced with code from other
sources (such as CMU, or GNU). The encumbered sources for the
user land portion of the system have long since been replaced.

0.2 About this FAQ.

This FAQ consists of 10 parts:

Section 0. Basic FAQ information
Section 1. General Network Information
Section 2. Common installation questions
Section 3. Kernel Building and Maintenance
Section 4. Kernel Additions
Section 5. Kernel Replacement Parts
Section 6. Interaction with MS-DOS
Section 7. System Communication
Section 8. "Supported" Hardware List
Section 9. "Supported" Software List

It has been suggested that I remove some of the older, less relevant
information from this FAQ. I have given it some thought, and I might.
Of course, if someone were to do it for me, it sure wouldn't break my

0.2a What are the differences between *BSD and (your favorite operating
system name here)?
0.2b Which is better, (your favorite operating system name here) or
0.2c Is 386bsd better than (your favorite operating system name here)?

I decided to put this in section 0, primarily because it by far
the most asked and least useful question in comp.os.386bsd.*.

You will often see this question veiled as a request for a brief
description of the differences between 386bsd and (YFOS). This
type of request, while seeming to be a reasonable one, is usually
looked upon as either an attempt by some folks for the net to do
their homework, or as an attempt to start yet another flame-war.

What is the answer to this question, then?

No. It is not.

Nor is it any worse.

It is DIFFERENT. There are alternative Operating Systems
available, both free and commercial. 386bsd, NetBSD, FreeBSD,
and Linux are examples of "free" Unix style Operating Systems.

If you ask any of these questions, you are wasting a LOT of
bandwidth and making a real name for yourself. Don't bother.
It nearly always ends up in name calling and 'mine is bigger
(or littler) than yours...' arguments. I have included an
excerpt below:

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Is not!
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Is so!
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Is not!
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Is so!
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Is not!
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Is so!
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Is not!
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Is so!
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Is not!
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Is so!
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Is not!
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Is so!
>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Is not!
>>>>>>>>>>>>> Is so!
>>>>>>>>>>>> Is not!
>>>>>>>>>>> Is so!
>>>>>>>>>> Is not!
>>>>>>>>> Is so!
>>>>>>>> Is not!
>>>>>>> Is so!

[the rest of this scintillating debate is deleted...]

Here are a brief list of differences between 386bsd and other

1. *bsd will not run DOS applications (yet). There is
currently no DOS emulator. People are working on it. Either
help or shut up. There is work on a Windows program loader
execution version. The project is called 'WINE' and is the
free version of the 'WABI' project. More on that to follow.

2. 386bsd is not binary compatible with anything but the other
free BSD systems (NetBSD, FreeBSD, and their kith). There are
rumors and rumblings from time to time that one or more of the
*Nix variants may be binary compatible with NetBSD or FreeBSD.
The more the merrier. Be warned; if the package you are trying
to run is not specifically compiled and linked for your version
of {Free,Net}BSD, then you may well be completely on your own.

3. FreeBSD, which originally started life as 386bsd 0.1 with
the patchkit applied, has since evolved into an entirely
seperate BSD lineage in its own right and incorporates many
important innovations. In addition to extensive, high quality
work that has been done on the FreeBSD kernel, a great deal of
effort and time has been invested in improving the overall
level of quality in such areas as the installation and maintenance
scripts, third-party applications packaging, and many of the
various utilities and development tools in BSD. The emphasis
seems to be on better packaging and improved operation, and
with special emphasis being placed on positioning FreeBSD as an
'Intel-specific' BSD variant. Much care taken specifically to
support the various and sundry peripherals and hardware one finds
on the Intel PC world. Current plans are to move towards the
fully unencumbered BSD 4.4 Lite in the upcoming FreeBSD 2.0
release while still maintaining the Intel platform as the
primary focus.

4. NetBSD, on the other hand, is intended as a multiplatform
'replacement' for Net2. It has built-in support for so many
different platforms that I simply can't begin to list them.
With the exception of the multiplatform support that is built
into NetBSD, the two system are very similar and seem to
parallel one another very closely. Since the NetBSD folks seem
to be the self proclaimed 'bearers of the standard' for multi-
platform BSD support, they are also proceeding with switching
over to the 4.4 Lite tape.

5. Where BSD and POSIX differ, 386BSD conforms by default to
BSD; Linux to POSIX. Furthermore, while both run mostly GNU
utilities, Linux tends toward the SysV flavor (e.g. init)
where 386BSD sticks with the BSD style. However, sources for
different flavors of utilities are available for both, and
both support compiler options which allow more BSD or more
POSIX semantics.

Clifford Stoll talks about the 'West Coast/East Coast' feeling
of BSD/SysV in his book "The Cuckoo's Egg". In keeping with
that, BSD feels like BSD/West Coast, Linux feels like SysV/East
Coast (actually, Finland is what it says on the passport, but
stay with me for a minute). If you don't believe me, just
look at the primary U.S. archive sites. Linux is available
from MIT, BSD is available from Berkeley. Can't get much more
'Coast' than that. :-)

Actually, NetBSD and FreeBSD are feeling more and more POSIX all
the time. Recent releases of both products have implemented many
more POSIX compliant utilities, features, and low-level hooks into
the operating system. A great deal of effort has gone into
supporting and improving the POSIX standards compliance
throughout all of the systems.

5. Linux, NetBSD, FreeBSD, and 386bsd share two vitally important
facets. All are free and all include source. They are all
excellent, and all fill a niche that the others would gladly
leave available. Also, don't forget one of the most important
things; get what your friends have. Then they can help you.

6. Finally, remember that this FAQ and the comp.os.386bsd.*
groups are intended as places for 386bsd users and developers
to meet and discuss topics which are germain to the further
development of 386bsd. For more information about Linux, you
can read the comp.os.linux.* newsgroups. If you are a 'rabid'
Linux user, stay on the Linux groups. Most of us don't care how
much better Linux is than *BSD.

0.2.1 So what ARE the differences between the *BSD family and Linux?

Here it is, in its 'right for today' glory. As of 1 July,
1994, these statements were more or less accurate. Against my
better judgement, I am going to include this, primarily because
it is a very even handed approach to describing two very
different systems. For those of you that find it, I hope that
it answers some of your questions. It was written by:

Thomas Heiling Pharmacist & Doctorate at
Pharmazeutisches Institut Uni Wuerzburg - Germany
Email (HP-UX) (Linux)
or ( VAX )

I have read this group now for some time and saw this thread
Linux-BSD coming often. Some answers to this question were good,
but the FAQ was not updated.

It is IMHO *not* very helpful to flame a newbie, that he/she
should read the FAQ, where there is no information, nor it is
helpful to shout to him "Hey man read the previos posts - I
*hate* this thread!"

What is missing here is an overview and a comparison of the free
available Unixsystems. And this info should be in the FAQ ! I
will start here such a comparison.

Q: For whom should this be ?

A: For a (hopefully) new Unix-user, who wants to install one of
the free Unixes. He should be able to read this document, look
at his hardware, define his needs for a Unix-systems and then he
should be able to choose a system which meets his needs.

Q: Who am I and why should I be able to write such a doc ?

A: Good Question ! My name is Thomas Heiling, I am working at
the University of Wuerzburg in Germany as a doctorate. My job
is to program an Ultraviolett/Vis-spectrum comparison program.
Furthermore I am the person, who maintains the Internet
connections and computers of our Department. I have running
Linux and NetBSD 0.9, the main Server is a 486/33 + 16 MB which
runs Linux. A 486/66 is for numerical work. Then there are
some clients mostly 386 with either 4 MB or 8 MB. One 386 with
NetBSD, but this is just for testing.

So I would say I can speak for Linux, a little bit for NetBSD
and I have no idea for FreeBSD beside the Installation Guide.
(I have no access to the BSD386 1.0 CD, which was announced some
time ago).


It would be very helpful, if someone of the Core-Team of NetBSD
and/or FreeBSD have a look at this and fill the white spaces,
which I left. And if the FAQ-maintainer reads this, it would be
nice, if he thinks this info should be in the FAQ.

Hardware requirements :


CPU: Anything that runs 386 protected mode programs (all models
of 386s and 486s should work; 286s don't work, and never will).

Architecture: ISA or EISA bus. MCA (mostly true blue PS/2's)
does not work. Local busses (VLB and PCI) work.

RAM: Theoretically up to 1 GB. This has not been tested. Some
people (including Linus) have noted that adding ram has slowed
down their machine extremely without adding more cache at the
same time, so if you add memory and find your machine slower,
try adding more cache.

Data storage: Generic AT drives (IDE, 16 bit HD controllers with
MFM or RLL) are supported, as are SCSI hard disks and CD-ROMs,
with a supported SCSI adaptor. Generic XT controllers (8 bit
controllers with MFM or RLL) are now also supported. Supported
SCSI adaptors: Adaptec 1542, 1522, and 1740 in extended (not
1542 compatible) mode, Seagate ST-01 and ST-02, Future Domain
TMC-88x series (or any board based on the TMC950 chip) and
TMC1660/1680, Ultrastor 14F, 24F and 34F, and Western Digital
wd7000. SCSI and QIC-02 tapes are also supported. Support for
QIC-80 tapes is now in ALPHA testing. Several CD-ROM devices are
also supported, including Matsushita/Panasonic, Mitsumi, Sony,
Soundblaster, Toshiba, and others. For exact models, check the
hardware compatability HOWTO.

Video: VGA, EGA, CGA, or Hercules (and compatibles) work in text
mode. For graphics and X, there is support for (at least) normal
VGA, some super-VGA cards (most of the cards based on ET3000,
ET4000, Paradise, and some Trident chipsets), S3 (except for
Diamond Stealth cards, because the manufacturer won't tell how
to program it), 8514/A, ATI MACH8, ATI MACH32, and hercules.
(Linux uses the Xfree86 X server, so that determines what cards
are supported.)

Networking: Western Digital 80x3, ne1000, ne2000, 3com503,
3com509, Allied Telliesis AT1500 (said to be some of the
fastest, as well as quite cheap), d-link pocket adaptors, SLIP,
CSLIP, PLIP (Parallel Link IP), and more I have forgotten at the

Other hardware: SoundBlaster, ProAudio Spectrum 16, Gravis
Ultrasound, AST Fourport cards (with 4 serial ports), several
models of Boca serial boards, the Usenet Serial Card II, several
flavours of bus mice (Microsoft, Logitech, PS/2).


Architecture: ISA or EISA bus. MCA (mostly true blue PS/2's)
does not work. Local busses (VLB and PCI) are also supported.

Standard hard disk controllers:

SCSI hard disk controllers:
Adaptec 154x *, Adaptec 174x, Buslogic 545S, Bustek 742(EISA)
DTC 3290 in 1542 emulation mode *, Ultrastor 14f and 34f, and
the 24f experimentally. The Soundblaster SCSI code is also
being tested and should work eventually.

Display Adaptors : MDA,CGA,VGA,HGC for textmode.
For X the same as Linux.

Serial Communications: 8250,16450,16550A,
4-port multi-serial cards require a kernel rebuild.

Ethernet controllers:
SMC/WD 8003, 8013 and equivalents ( including SMC Elite )
Novell NE1000,NE2000,NE2100
3com 3c503

Tape Drives:
QIC-02 format tape drives
QIC-36 format tape drives
QIC-80 format tape drives (in FreeBSD)
most SCSI tape/DAT drives on a supported SCSI controller

CD-ROM drives:
Mitsumi CDROM with Mitsumi Controller
Most SCSI CD-ROM drives on a supported SCSI controller

Other hardware: SoundBlaster, ProAudio Spectrum 16, Gravis
Ultrasound, AST Fourport cards (with 4 serial ports), several
models of Boca serial boards, the Usenet Serial Card II, several
flavours of bus mice (Microsoft, Logitech, PS/2). Same as Linux,
although some options may require a kernel rebuild.

Harddisk Storage requirements :
Base System 16 MB
Full binary distribution 46 MB
Full source " 72 MB
Kernel Source 7 MB
Swap 8 MB

They say, that the minimum is Base + Binary + Swap, and that
this minimum is 80 MB. For a complete system with binary and
source you need at least 210 MB. This does NOT include X or

This is difficult, because there are different distributions
to choose from. Every distribution has a special goal.
I will show two popular distributions :

- Slackware and the MCC-Interim Distribution.
Slackware is intended for a full fledge system, which has
everything you want. You need about 150 MB for this.
- MCC-Interim is intended for small systems. The main idea is
to give a ASCII-environment for programming courses. For a
full MCC install you need about 47 MB + 8 MB Swap, you can
strip this down to 23 MB + 8 MB Swap, if you don't want
emacs, no kernel source and no extras.

Some other features:

virtual terminals/consoles:
All of the -current versions of *BSD have virtualy consoles
available. Linux has virtual consoles as well.

shared libraries:
NetBSD, FreeBSD, and Linux have it. I recall a thread some time
ago, which was something like "Linux shared Libs are no
good - A pain for the developer." For the user this should be
meaningless. NetBSD and FreeBSD shared library implementations
are both very easy to use both from the developer and user
point of view.

*BSD networking is more mature, but with Linux 1.0 it's getting

One Feature of Linux is the ability to make a filesystem on top
of a DOS-FAT, so you don't need to repartition your Disk. This
Filesystem is of course not so fast as a native Filesystem, but
for trial it should be O.K.

It depends on you hardware and what you want to do with your
system. If your hardware is supported and if you have the
resources and if you are on the net, I would vote for *BSD. If
you just want some *iX experience and have low ressources,
choose Linux.

Here are some pro's and con's for both :

+ Full Source Code of all commands in a source tree, no need
to look all over the Internet for the source of a command.
+ There is only one distribution, which is valid for some time.
+ Networking is better.
+ The system is standard BSD.
- You need extra packages for XFree and for TeX. They are not
hard to find, and install into a standard location in the
directory tree, but they are not included in the base

+ Uses fewer resources
+ Has more support for devices
- Every distribution is a little bit different
- Development is too fast without net access

I include here some info from other posts, which should help
the new user to show the differences: wrote:
: NetBSD is the OS I use. It is a BSD derived Operating System
: that has a very stable operating envelope. The networking code
: has been stolen by commercial OS and network vendors the world
: over. NetBSD has the advantage of being meant for a wide
: range of hardware platforms. It is currently available for
: something like 10 different CPUs, and has been laid out such
: that new architectures can be added relatively painlessly.

These arechitetures include several Sun Systems, many
Motorolas, including the Amiga and Mac, and several other older
mini- and microcomputer systems.

: FreeBSD is pretty much the same (go ahead a quibble over
: details, I don't care anymore). The biggest difference is that
: NetBSD is a horizontal system (across platforms) and FreeBSD is
: a vertical system (intended to stay on the Intel family). Both
: are based on code from 386BSD, although neither really resembles
: it any more.
: Linux was developed by Linus Torvalds and has the advantage of
: being available in source code form first. Other than that, I
: have heard that it is a good OS platform for standalone Unix
: workstations. It had a lot of things that made its users rabid
: before the *BSD folks did, but the purists insist that *BSD is
: (choose two: cleaner, safer, taller, wider, better, quieter,
: louder, greener). I even heard a rumor that Linus had sold the
: source code license to Novell so that they could distribute an
: 'X' terminal package for use in their networks.

From: (Charles Hedrick)

There are four major differences:

1) the 386BSD family started with BSD, and Linux started with
POSIX. NetBSD/FreeBSD/386BSD have been adding POSIX and System
V compatibility, and Linux has been adding Berkeley and System
V compatibility. So there's a good deal of overlap. But ...BSD
is still a better choice if you want to program in a Berkeley
environment and Linux if you want a POSIX environment.

That's for the kernel and libc -- the utilities and other stuff
users see tends to be fairly similar. In both cases the
programs are what I call "typical University Unix". The main
difference is that the base Unix utilities tend to be Berkeley
for ...BSD and Gnu for Linux. Gnu is fairly
Berkeley-compatible, but its priority is POSIX, so it tends to
look slightly closer to System V, with massive Berkeley
extension. There are several sets of administrative utilities,
but it's more likely that init, getty, etc., are going to be
System V style for Linux and BSD for ...BSD.

Again, these things aren't as significant as they might be
because ...BSD is also concerned about POSIX compatibility and
Gnu is concerned about BSD compatibility. So both sets of
software are approaching a similar sort of goal from opposite
directions. You could probably use the systems for quite a
while without noticing much difference. (I'd like to emphasize
that there's no similarity in overall feel between Linux and
typical brain-dead PC System V ports.)

The ...BSD FAQ characterizes the difference as one of East
Coast vs. West Coast. There's a lot to be said for that
summary. There's more difference in Unix culture between New
Jersey and California than between New Jersey and Finland.

2) The nature of the development communities and distribution
mechanisms are different. ...BSD has two or three different
developer communities that take code from each other, but
appear to hate each other's guts. (Actually, even ...BSD and
Linux take code from each other.) Thus there are several
different ...BSD's, each of which has an official distribution.
There's just one Linux kernel, and from a practical point of
view just one set of major utilities, but there's no official
distribution. So several different groups put together
distributions, with their own choice of kernel and utility
versions. This means that it's easier to define what the One
True Linux is than what the One True BSD is, but harder to get
it. Once you've decided which BSD is the right one, it's easier
to find an authoritative distribution of it. Development of
Linux tends to be more distributed. Lots of people are working
on lots of projects: new drivers for this and that, new
versions of this utility and that. If you want to keep up with
NetBSD, you can sup netBSD-current from one or two places. If
you want to keep up with Linux, you end up taking pieces from
lots of people (though they generally end up on one of two
archive machines -- or If you
don't want to do this, of course the packaged distributions do
it for you.

3) The BSD networking is more mature than the Linux networking.
This is one area in which I don't think Linux has any
countervailing advantages, though in my opinion by release 1.0
Linux networking will be acceptable.

4) There are specific things in each system that are likely to
be deciding factors for some people. I don't know what unique
things BSD has, because I'm not part of that community, but for
some people the COFF and ELF compatiblity projects may be big
selling points. Both ...BSD and Linux are working towards
having these executable formats available. In addition,
Windows executable emulation may also be important to some
people. This is probably more useful, and it's being done
jointly by developers from both BSD and Linux cooperatively.
(Neither of these things is finished, by the way.) It's
not clear to me whether the existing Linux DOS compatibility is
a critical advantage. BSD doesn't have it, but my experience is
that the Linux DOS emulator is slow enough and creaky enough
that it's not generally usable. However it certainly does work
for many programs, and if one of those programs is critical to
you, it may be a big deal. Differences in support of devices
are not likely to persist for long. There's a history of
taking device drivers in both directions, so if there's enough
interest in a device, and one side implements it, you can bet
it will show up on the other side. Linux uses DOS partitions
(including extended partitions). BSD creates its own
partitions inside a single DOS partition. This is a
difference, but it's unclear whether it's a critical one.
Linux and ...BSD can all mount DOS filesystems and Linux can
mount OS/2 file systems (OS/2 is read-only).

For a lot of people, the best suggestion is to find out what
your friends are doing. If there's a significant user
community near you of either kind, you're probably best off to
go with it. If not, flip a coin (or look at a map and see
whether you're nearer Berkeley or Finland -- note that in this
comparison portions of the distance that are over an ocean
don't count).

0.2.2 I want to start up a thread about why *BSD is or isn't as good
as some other operating system. Can anyone suggest a good reason
why I shouldn't?

Jordan Hubbard, one of the FreeBSD core team members, has
offered this missive on that very subject:

[ Note: You could very well simply substitute the word
"NetBSD" for Linux in the argument that follows ]

From time to time, a thread in both the comp.os.386bsd.misc and
comp.os.linux.misc groups flares up regarding which operating
system is "better", FreeBSD or Linux. This generally provokes
controversy from users on both sides, with one group claiming
that their OS is "better" for some reason and the other group
claiming that the first group doesn't know what the heck it's
talking about.

Both arguments are a waste of time.

Rather than trying to win a rather questionable debate on
relative (and constantly changing) technical merits, we should
be asking ourselves what both groups are REALLY about and what
they represent. This is naturally going to be a matter of
personal opinion, but I believe even the most seriously at-odds
members would agree that both operating systems represent a
unique and long-awaited opportunity: The ability to run a fully
featured operating system on popular, easily affordable
hardware and for which all source code is freely available.
Those who have been in computing for awhile will remember when
the term `operating system' referred almost exclusively to
something provided solely by the hardware vendor, with very
little in the way of alternative options. It was never EVER
given out with source code, and true "wizard" status could only
be achieved by exerting mind-numbing amounts of effort and
patience in digging through forbidden bits of binary data. By
comparison, the situation today seems almost too good to be
true! Certainly, the feeling of achievement that came from
finally ferreting out some esoteric bit of information from a
4MB printed system dump was high, but I don't think that anyone
would argue that it was hardly the most optimal way of truly
getting to know your operating system! :-)

So now, within a very short space of time, we're almost spoiled
for choice in having machines several times more powerful than
the first multi-user VAX machines and available for under
$2000, and we've got not one but SEVERAL perfectly reasonable
free operating systems to chose from. We are in a comparative
paradise, and what are some of us doing? *Complaining* about
it! I suppose too much is never enough, eh? :-)

So, my essential point is simply this: For the first time ever
we have what previous computing generations could only dream
about; powerful computers at a reasonable prices and a
wonderful selection of things to run on them. Be happy, read
the source code you're so privileged to now have available
(*believe* me! What I wouldn't have given, even 5 years ago!)
and spend your energy in making constructive use of it, not in
arguing with the guys on the other side of the fence!

Additionally, it should be said that none of the FreeBSD team
has anything but the highest degree of respect for Linus
Torvalds and his "team" of dedicated volunteers (and we
occasionaly exchange gripe mail about the huge volume of
messages each of us gets as a direct result of being insane
enough to volunteer to do something like this :-). Our common
commitment to the Intel platform also gives us more common
ground (and interests) than one might think and, if anything,
it's a pity that we do not endeavor to share more code and
effort - ideologically, at least, I'd say we share pretty
similar goals.

As to which is "best", I have only one standard reply: Try them
both, see for yourself, think for yourself. Both groups have
given you something for free, at considerable personal effort,
and the least you can do is give them the benefit of exerting
enough effort to try what they're offering out before passing
judgment (or worse, blindly accepting someone else's!).

Whichever you run, you're getting a great deal - enjoy!

Jordan Hubbard

0.2.3 Are all of the Berkeley derived systems binary compatible? If
not, what are the differences?

(Ed Note. This section is probably wrong, even if it was right
when I looked at it last. There is a LOT of work going on,
including SysV ELF support and other cool stuff.)

NetBSD/386 runs 386BSD, FreeBSD, NetBSD/386 0.8, and most
BSDI executables. However, due to upgrading to the latest
version of the UCB DB library, programs which use said
library cannot be mixed old and new; e.g. an old `ls' cannot
read the pwd.db file created with a new `pwd_mkdb', and vice

FreeBSD runs 386BSD, NetBSD/386 0.8, and most BSDi executables.
You can replace the remainder of the paragraph above here too.

The FreeBSD and NetBSD shared libraries are different, so
programs that are intended to be shared in binary form across
the two platforms need to be compiled as 'static'
implementations. This is not actually a guarantee that they
will work across platforms, but this is the first hurdle that
needs to be jumped in order to have the programs run.

Also, due to better (read: properly) enforced address space
protections, some incorrectly written programs which seemed to
work under 386BSD or NetBSD/386 0.8 will core dump under
NetBSD/386 0.9, even when recompiled.

The default executable format produced by the NetBSD 0.9 `ld' i
is not downward compatible with FreeBSD or 386BSD. It is
essentially the same as BSDI's QMAGIC format and Sun's normal
format--with no padding between the exec header and the first
page of text, and with the first page of the address space
always unmapped when loaded--except that the magic numbers are
in the conventional `magic + machine id' format, and are in
network (big-endian) order.

0.3 How to add your pet answer to the FAQ.

This is the trickiest part of this section of the FAQ. There are
only two criteria for getting an entry made into the FAQ:

1. Your answer should answer a question that seems to come up
with some regularity, or at least perplexes a group of
people from time to time.

2. Your answer should be technically correct. In other words,
answers like 'RTFM' and 'everybody knows that' are not really
good candidates for the FAQ. These answers should spell out,
in a reasonable level of detail, precisely how to fix the
the question asked, or explain the basis for the answer and
leave the implementation of the answer to the questioner.

All answers MUST include a question. This is not as obvious as
it would seem at first glance. An answer could solve many
problems, especially in the realms of system halts or other

Since I (Dave) am no Unix guru, I rely HEAVILY on the input of
other people to make the FAQ a success. Many questions in the
FAQ have been made largely irrelevant through the patchkits, but
that doesn't means they may not reappear. That is why the old
FAQ questions are still here.

New FAQ questions should be added. I will try to attribute the
question/answer to the author, but I personally think this is a
waste of good disk space. As long as the answers get out, that
should be reward enough :-)

0.4 Administrivia.

Send all question/answer pairs to
If you are going to post the Q/A to the net, then do that, but
be sure to mark it as a FAQ entry. I will get it from the net
as easily as I do my E-Mail. Your Q/A will be formatted to
look more or less like the others and be added. Corrections,
deletions, flames, snivels, and whines should be addressed
directly to me here. Either way, I will be sure to send out a
reply letting you know what I have done with your submission.

One last thing. I will assume that I am infalible. :-) I will
not notice any mistakes that you may find. If you find a
mistake and don't tell me, it will very likely stay a mistake.
After all, if I didn't notice it before, why should I notice
it now?

TSgt Dave Burgess | Dave Burgess
Offutt AFB, NE |

Dave Burgess

Feb 13, 1995, 2:00:14 AM2/13/95
Posted-By: auto-faq
Archive-name: 386bsd-faq/part2

Section 1. (General Network Information)
General information

This section of the FAQ is about the electronic support network
that exists for 386bsd and its off-spring.

1.0 What is 386BSD? (Taken from the original INSTALL.NOTES by the
Jolitz's, specifically Lynne)

Welcome to 386BSD Release 0.1, the second edition of the 386BSD
operating system created by William and Lynne Jolitz. Like its
predecessor, 386BSD Release 0.0, Release 0.1 comprises an entire
and complete UNIX-like operating system for the 80386/80486-based
AT Personal Computer.

386BSD Release 0.1 is an enhanced version of the original release
done by William F. Jolitz, the developer of 386BSD. 386BSD
Release 0.0 was based on the Networking Software, Release 2 from
the University of California at Berkeley EECS Department, and
included much of the 386BSD work done earlier by Bill and
contributed by us to the University. The latest release, 386BSD
Release 0.1, contains new work by the developer and many new items
which have been freely contributed by other software developers
for incorporation into 386BSD (see the file CONTRIB.LIST). These
contributions have increased the functionality and made it more
robust. As a courtesy to the developer and the many people who
have generously contributed these software enhancements, we request
that users abide by and properly maintain all attributions,
copyrights, and copylefts contained within this release.

386BSD is intended to foster new research and development in
operating systems and networking technology by providing this base
technology in a broadly accessible manner. As such, like its
predecessor, 386BSD Release 0.1 is freely redistributable and

1.0.1 What are these other Free BSD systems?

For reasons best left to private E-Mail, there have been two
different 'product lines' that have been established for
development of BSD systems. They are NetBSD and FreeBSD. Both,
individually, have virtually deprecated the original 386bsd.
The "raison d'etre" for each is different and each has a different
set of goals. The purpose for FreeBSD is to develop a stable
working environment for [3-9]86 systems. The emphasis has been
on upgrading utility programs and incorporating changes that make
the system more stable.

NetBSD, on the other hand, is a development effort whose main
thrust is on mulitple platform support and staying more current
with BSD 4.4. In other words, NetBSD is more 'horizontal' and
FreeBSD is more 'vertical'.

Both systems are excellent choices for the casual user or people
who are interested in studying the internals of an operating
system. While the products are nearly commercial quality, they
are both maintained by volunteers.

1.0.2 I just downloaded all of 386bsd version 0.1 and I can't get
[some feature] to work? Do you have any suggestions?

Yes. Get either FreeBSD or NetBSD.

The original 386BSD software was kind of buggy when it was put
up for anonymous FTP in 1992. It has been modified significantly
since then, and now exists in two different forms. There are people
who will argue that the original 386BSD was completely unusable,
but that is generally an overstatement.

Over 100 patches were applied to the original system, with hundreds
more waiting in the wings. It became just too much trouble to
constantly have to patch the system to get it to work. This
'patched' version of 386bsd became FreeBSD. Around the same
time, a second group split off from the original 386bsd tree
and became NetBSD. For the primary differences, see above.

Getting one of these two systems will provide you with a more
complete system, with newer utilities, and many bugs already

1.1 Feature summary

Among the many features of these systems:

* Floppy disk based Installation

* Hard drive partitioning for use with MS-DOS partitions

* Compressed, multivolume CPIO dump format binary/source/other
distribution sets on MS-DOS floppies. The cpio is based
on the GNU cpio, and is completely free of encumbering USL

* 387 support or emulation.

* SCSI support.

* (SCSI and most Mitsumi) CD-ROM support.

* NFS, TCP/IP and full networking.

* MS-DOS file system access (in newer *BSD systems).

* PPP and SLIP protocol support.

* System upgrades through Carnegie Mellon University's 'sup'

* Shared Library Support (in the newer version of both
NetBSD and FreeBSD.

* Both systems are based exclusively on Berkeley's BSD 4.4
Lite tape, instead of the encumbered 4.3 Net2 tape.
Hence, both systems are free of USL code and are freely

1.2 The future of 386BSD.

{ This section is included for historical purposes only. Most
of the information in here is either wildly out of date or just
plain wrong. For example, the FreeBSD statements in here imply
that it is nothing more than 386bsd in a new coat of paint.
Nothing could be further from the truth. I decided to include
it mostly to show how far we have come... dbb }

Forecasting the future is always a tricky business. There is work
underway to implement version 0.2 of 386bsd. In addition, many
people are involved in a project to put together a 386bsd version
(FreeBSD) which will be a complete distribution set including all
relevant patches and updates to new versions of many of the
software packages that are currently available. It is available
by anonymous FTP from

In addition, NetBSD (a direct descendent of 386bsd) is available
for anonymous FTP from The purposes of
these two apparent competitors appear to be at odds, but in
fact are very similar. NetBSD has taken a 'stable, production
quality, free OS' as one of its primary goals, where 386bsd
pursues the high ideal of the ultimate OS research platform.
There is considerable cross pollination of the two. The frequent
debates on style and concept that appear in comp.os.386bsd.*
are testimony to that point. NetBSD and FreeBSD are still both
very viable operating system alternatives, with differing goals.

To see the Future of 386bsd as seen by Bill and Lynne Jolitz, I
suggest you read the INSTALL.NOTES that come with 386bsd.

1.3 386BSD software projects in progress

The list of software projects in progress is just too volatile
to go into a static document like the FAQ. Suffice it to say,
if there is something you want to do using 386bsd; ask first to
see what has been done.

Folks that are interested in software projects for NetBSD
should contact and
let that mailing list know the same information.

Folks interested in software projects for FreeBSD should contact
the mailing list and talk to

1.3.1 Contacting software authors

Whenever you are working on a port of a software package, it is
always a good idea to contact the original author and offer
whatever changes you needed to make in order to port the software.
That way, subsequent releases of the package may include changes
that allow all users of 386bsd the advantage of reusing your work
over and over.

Also, once you have ported a package to *BSD, you might want to
contact the respective *BSD teams to let them know you've completed
it and where it may be located.

For FreeBSD, contact:


For NetBSD, contact:


If the port was a simple recompile of the source and install, a
note to one of the newsgroups telling the story could be considered
appropriate as well.

In keeping with that, if you find a 'bug' in 386bsd, or NetBSD,
or FreeBSD, or find a problem that causes you some headaches and
find a solution, you should contact the author of the particular
driver/module/program and let them know. In addition, you could
also post the problem and/or fix to "comp.os.386bsd.bugs".

Both NetBSD and FreeBSD have implemented 'bugfiler', so if you
are connected to the net, you can use that to send out your
bug. See the documentation that comes with your system to find
out more.

1.4 Minimum hardware configuration recommended

There has been considerable debate about what the REAL minimum
configuration for 386bsd is. Some would claim that it is the
smallest computer that an installation will succeed on. Others
claim that it is the smallest usable computer (based on RAM and
speed constraints) and others would claim that it should be
based on using 'X'-windows.

For specific hardware, see Section 8 (still in development).

The smallest installable platform is an 80386, using an MGA card,
with at least 2Meg of RAM and a 20 Megabyte hard disk. While not
all SCSI cards (especially EISA) are supported, a great many are
either in the base distribution or through patches. Thanks to
the new shared library code in FreeBSD and NetBSD, a 20Meg
installation should be easier now (in spite of the more advanced
functionality) than it ever was before.

A comfortable installation which includes source and binary
distributions, as well as other utilities will work in about
100Meg of hard drive.

'X' requires at least a Hercules MGA; for masochists only, from
what I understand.

See section 8 for more details.

1.5 Where to get the source and binaries
1.5.1 Forms available (floppy, FTP, CD-ROM)

386bsd is available in just about every format known to man, with
the possible exception of stone tablets and papyrus. Where can I get the distribution on floppy or tape?

Many people will copy files onto diskettes or tapes if you
coordinate it with them ahead of time. In addition, many
companies offer 386bsd on various types of media for money.
Austin Code Works and others (usually advertisers in PC
magazines) offer the base 0.1 "official" distribution for a fee.

Note that there are virtually no restrictions on distributing
the 386bsd distributions. Basically, wherever you can find it,
you can get it. This goes for FreeBSD and NetBSD as well. Where can I get the distribution via FTP?

If you are looking for the original 386bsd version 0.1, the
files you should look for specifically when using FTP are
directories called srcdist, bindist, and etcdist. These
directories will hold the files for each of the distributions.
Once you have received the files via FTP, you can either load
them directly onto your system and then un archive them using
'extract' or one of the other methods suggested in Section 2 of
the FAQ, in the section about installing with 'real partitioning'.

The list of sites that have 386BSD is covered in section 1.8 below.
This list is produced automatically by using a utility called
'archie' and is updated for every new version of the FAQ. If you
try to access a site from this list and find that they either
don't have FTP enabled, or don't have 386bsd loaded any more,
a polite letter to the admin of the system asking them to
update their 'archie' entries is good manners. Where can I get the distribution on CD ROM?

Infomagic sells a UNIX CD-ROM that has 386BSD. Their FAX number
is 609-683-5502.

Profit Press has 386BSD dated 7/21/92 on their "Mega Win OS/2"
CD-ROM. This is in the format of BINDIST, ETCDIST, SRCDIST and

Profit Press
2956 N. Campbell Ave
Tucson, Arizona 85719
(602) 577-9696
Their order line is 1-800-843-7990

Look for their advertisements in the back pages of Computer
Shopper. The Mega series is $29.00 each or $69.00 for all three
plus a fourth "Demo Disk".

In all likelihood, the version 386bsd that is available on CD-ROM
will be the 0.1 version, without any patches. Keep this in mind
when ordering, since the first thing most people want to do is
bring the system up to the current patch level. If you do not want
the original 0.1 version, be sure to ask where the distribution
came from and which version of *BSD it is.

For our European users, I have included these notes from Julian
Stacey ( and Christian Seyb (
concerning locations and methods for getting 386bsd in Europe on
both CD-ROM and floppies.

The following CDROM is available for DM 98,-- (app. $60) and contains
the following software:

- Linux SLS V1.03, Kernel 0.99.11 and utilities for Linux
- 386BSD version 0.1 including patch-kit 0.2.4
- NetBSD version 0.8
- Utilities for 386BSD and NetBSD
- The Berkely Second Networking Distribution
- GNU software (gcc 2.4.5, emacs 19.17, gmake 3.68, etc)
- X11R5 up to patch 25 and lots of Contributed Software
- TeX version 3.14
- The Internet RFCs up to RFC1493
- News, mail and mailbox software and many utilities for Unix

To: CDROM Versand
Helga Seyb
Fuchsweg 86
Tel: +49-8106-302210
85598 Baldham Fax: +49-8106-302310
Germany Bbs/Fax: +49-8106-34593

(Ed. Note: This appears to be an advertisement, but the price is right
and appears to be reasonable. Christian and Helga may have the same
last name by coincidence :-) If you want more ordering information,
please feel free to give Helga a call.)

In Munich Germany:
Buy the monthly "c't magazin fuer computer technik" (Price 8.5 DM)
(~1.7 = $1) & look in back pages, I saw:

Mail Order:
JF Lehmanns Buchhandlung, fuer EDV,
Zuelpicher Str 182, D-50937 Koeln, Germany
Free catalogue for X, Linux, 386bsd, 1.
Confusing advert seems to offer X11R5 + GNU + 386BSD
on CD Rom "InfoMagic Vol2 No2" for Price: 149 DM.
Tel. 0130 4372 (always busy, claims to be free,
so don't know if +49 130 4372 viable)
Fax: +49 221 415995
Shops in Berlin, Koeln, Regensburg, Ulm.

(Editorial Notes: DM149 is about $75-$90 US (or a little more)
and 0130 numbers are Toll Free in Germany only.)

Mail Order:
Computer Solutions Software GmbH
Postfach 1180, D-85561 Grafing (Muenchen), Germany
Tel +49 8092 5018
Fax +49 8092 31727
23 * 3.5" 1.4M flops @ Price: DM199
Order No:/Best Nr: 5099
Columbus Datentechnik,
Theresienstr 63, D-80333 Muenchen, Germany
Tel +49 89 5232021

Lynne wrote a short follow-up, letting us know that these
companies do not send them any money.

This announcement in from Jordan Hubbard:

On the morning of 30 December, 1993, and after many many delays,
the first official release of FreeBSD 1.0 began shipping on CDROM.

This CD is being sold through Walnut Creek CDROM, our ongoing
sponsors in the FreeBSD project, and without whom we would have had
a substantially more difficult (if not impossible) time producing it.

While I will _always_ encourage obtaining FreeBSD through "free"
channels (the Internet, friends, suspicious individuals in dark
alleys), and given that none of us will make any money from CD
sales, or ever have from FreeBSD in general given that WC's
sponsorship is confined to the loan of centralized development
hardware and network access, I still hope that some of you will
find the CD distribution medium convenient enough to order a
FreeBSD CD from Walnut Creek, thus indirectly supporting our
future development work.

If this marriage between commercial and free software interests
proves to be mututally beneficial (which still remains to be seen,
from Walnut Creek's point of view), it is my hope that it may serve
as a model for similar future endeavors. It is an unfortunate fact
that developing free software at this scale costs money, even with
the developers donating their time and efforts, and financing some
of it through the sale of convenient distribution media is one of
the least venal ways I know of going about it.

This CD contains a full FreeBSD 1.0.2 source & binary release, the
sources and binaries for XFree86 2.0, and numerous sources from the
FreeBSD "ports collection". Where space permitted, sources were
provided in both "packed" and "unpacked" forms for easy access both
as an on-line resource and as a source for compressed downloads in BBS
or release-construction situations. The CD is fully ISO9660 compatable
and has been mastered using RockRidge extensions for long filenames on
systems that support it (like FreeBSD! :-).

It is, of course, possible to install the system off the CD from
scratch, given some basic willingness to read a little documentation
and a few blank floppy disks. [ Ed Note. You would be surprised the
number of people that do not see this paragraph...DBB]

For the sake of convenience, I append the ordering information
distilled from FreeBSD's /usr/src/RELNOTES.FreeBSD below.

Ordering information:

Walnut Creek CDROM
4041 Pike Lane, Suite D
Concord CA 94520
1-800-786-9907, +1-510-674-0783, +1-510-674-0821 (fax)

Or via the internet from A current catalog can
be obtained via ftp from

Cost is $39.95. Shipping (per order, not per disc if ordering
multiple disks) is $5 in the US, Canada, or Mexico and $10.00
overseas. They accept Visa, Mastercard, American Express, and
ship COD within the United States. California residents please
add 8.25% sales tax.

In addition, John Cargille publishes a CD-ROM which caters
primarily to the NetBSD crowd. It is called BSDisc and it is
also available by mail. While that may seem like terrific news,
it is unfortunately all the information I have right now. Once
he sees his name in the FAQ, maybe he'll put together some real
ordering instructions ;-) (Roman Yanovsky sent in this
note. I have editted it down some, but left in the bulk of the
stuff in case you need more information:

Subject: Linux Slackware and FreeBSD CD-ROM with X-windows etc.

Trans-Ameritech presents "The best Linux plus FreeBSD CDROM ever"

[ Linux stuff deleted ]

* For hacker's reference an uncompressed FreeBSD source tree is

* On the BSD side there is a full source and binary distribution
of the "final" FreeBSD 1.0

* If you have questions or problems Trans-Ameritech provides free
support via e-mail within 24 hours.

* We ship the same day as we get the order.

The new CDROM is available for $30 plus shipping/handling. If you
are a current customer, it is only $20. New releases will be
available every 3 month. Subscription is available.

Trans-Ameritech Enterprises, Inc.
2342A Walsh Ave.
Santa Clara, CA 95051

Tel. 408/727-3883
FAX: 408/727-3882

This information is offered with no warranties, guarantees,
franchise offers, or recommendations.

1.6 Electronic Information Groups for 386BSD

1.6.1 Usenet newsgroups

General BSD questions can be posted to comp.1.bsd. Bear
in mind, however; that your questions to this group should
really be about BSD in general, not a specific implementation
detail of *BSD.

Listed below are the Usenet newsgroups that were developed to
support 386bsd and its descendents. This means that you should
ask your questions in one of these newsgroups or on one of the
many mailing lists that are available for specific features of
said systems.

comp.os.386bsd.announce (Moderated)
Announcements relating to the 386bsd operating system.
Posts should be mailed to "".
This is also the place that improtant news about the past
and future of 386bsd, FreeBSD, and NetBSD will be placed.

Applications which run under 386bsd. Not all sites will
carry comp.os.386bsd.apps, since it kind of 'showed up'.

Bugs and fixes for the 386bsd OS and its clients.

Working on 386bsd internals.

General aspects of 386bsd not covered by other groups.

General questions about 386bsd.

1.6.2 Newsgroup archives.

These sites maintain a historical record of the traffic in the Usenet
Newsgroups indicated. There are others, but I haven't gotten their
names yet.

Host Name IP address Location Newsgroups archived
-------------------- -------------- -------------- ---------------- Australia comp.1.bsd London, UK comp.os.386bsd.*

1.6.3 386bsd Derived mailing lists.

There are at least two mailing lists for 386bsd. Both are for
discussions of the patchkit and patches. Last I heard, neither
of them is particularly active any more. They are:
This list is primarily for discussion of the patchkit and other
patch procedure discussions.
This list is for patch submissions.

NOTE: The patchkit is discussed in detail in Section 2 of the FAQ.
Also, the patchkit has been effectively deprecated. Sending to
these lists may or may not get you the kind of info you are looking

In addition to the pure 386bsd lists mentioned above, there are
mailing lists available for FreeBSD and NetBSD. Information about
the NetBSD lists and how to use majordomo (the list handler) is
available by mailing to

There are three mailing lists for FreeBSD and they are:

FreeBSD-hackers: for hackers
FreeBSD-questions: misc questions
FreeBSD-bugs: bug reports

Send to to be added
to the hackers list, and *-questions-request@freefall... to be
added to the questions list.

1.6.4 Other electronic resources.

There are many bulletin boards throughout the world that have
386bsd software and information available. Also, there are
CompuServe and other on-line services that have 386bsd
discussions. It is even rumored that Bill and Lynne have been
active on Compuserve talking about 386BSD Version 1.0 (or 0.2,
or whatever it is going to be).

1.6.5 System Updates.

There are at least two different ways of getting the updates
for the current source tree for both FreeBSD and NetBSD. The
first is the traditional FTP method, and the other is using a
utility called 'sup'. This program keeps a log of the source
modules that have been updated and sends out only those files
that have been changed. Included below are some sample
instructions from John Brezak <> on how to
run sup for NetBSD. The sup procedures for FreeBSD are similar
and are available via ftp from in the
~/ftp/pub/sup directory. This directory contains the sup
program, a man page, a sample sup-file and full instructions
for maintaining your sources via 'sup.

Instructions for installing NetBSD sources and releases using SUP
1.3 1993/11/3

SUP is a network installation package written by CMU used to
distribute software. For more details on SUP refer to the man

Sup works by reading a configuration file (supfile) and using
this information to determine what "collections" of files will
be loaded from the collection repository. Here is an example
of a supfile to load the NetBSD current release.

[ Notes: lines have been broken for readability; do NOT use '\'
in supfiles and the information here is an EXAMPLE. This ain't
a cooking school, folks. Also, the information in these lines
has changed for each of the distributions. Read the
documentation that comes with your software carefully for the
lastest information. ]

src release=current hostbase=/b/anon_ftp base=/usr prefix=/usr backup

ksrc release=current hostbase=/b/anon_ftp base=/usr prefix=/usr backup

security release=current hostbase=/b/anon_ftp base=/usr prefix=/usr backup

gamessrc release=current hostbase=/b/anon_ftp base=/usr prefix=/usr backup

regress release=current hostbase=/b/anon_ftp base=/usr prefix=/usr backup

#othersrc release=current hostbase=/b/anon_ftp base=/usr prefix=/usr backup

This supfile will load the "current" collections for "src",
"ksrc", "security", "gamessrc", and "regress" in the /usr
directory on the local machine. The "othersrc" collection will
not be loaded because it is commented out.

The supfile line is made up of keywords that describe the
collection's location on the sup server and where and how it
will be loaded on the local host.

release - the release of the collection to load.
host - the 'host' where the SUP repository resides.
NetBSD uses .
hostbase- the pathname on the host to the base of the
collection. The hostbase for NetBSD is "/b/anon_ftp".
base - where you want to install it locally.
prefix - used to locate the "sup" directory to write sup's
info about updates. Usually the same as base.

This supfile can also set some options. The "old" option tells sup
to check all files for changes, not just those that are newer than
the last sup update. Normally sup will overwrite local files with the
changed file from the repository. If the sup collection specifies
that an existing file should be renamed to a backup, the "backup"
option in the supfile activates this. The "delete" option tells
sup to delete any files locally that are no longer in the
collection - be careful with this one. The "keep" option will
cause sup to NOT update files that have been changes locally.
The "compress" option will use gzip to compress the files before
transfer and gunzip them on the receiving end. This option can be
used to cut down on the number of transmitted bytes.

You may want to set 'base' and 'prefix' to something other than /usr
if you want to preserve your existing src tree.

The sup repository on currently offers these

src, ksrc, security
The sources for NetBSD

The current sources for contributed parts of
NetBSD. This contains the sources for sup.

The current sources for the NetBSD regression test

If you only want the kernel sources for a specific port there are
some sub packages that you can use instead of the "ksrc" one. If
you are using the sub packages, be sure to also sup the
"ksrc-common" package.

Kernel sources common to all ports.

ksrc-1, ksrc-sparc, ksrc-hp300, ksrc-amiga, ksrc-mac,
ksrc-pc532, ksrc-pmax, ksrc-sun3
Kernel sources for a particular port.

The security package is not to be sup'ed by sites outside of the
U. S., read the "README.export-control" file for details.

Each collection can have multiple releases (as specified by the
"release" keyword).

Be aware that the current release is simply a snapshot of the
daily state of NetBSD development and is not guaranteed to
build (or even work) - use at your own risk !

Stable releases of NetBSD are available via SUP. Instructions
are included with the release announcement.

Before running sup, be sure that your /etc/services contains
these entries.

supfilesrv 871/tcp # for SUP
supfiledbg 1127/tcp

To try sup without really updating anything use the '-f' flag.
The '-v' flag means verbose and can be used to see what sup is

sup -fv supfile

The sup binary, sup man page and sample supfiles can be ftp'ed
from . Comments should be
directed to "".

A mailing list exists for users of the NetBSD "current"
release. To join, mail to ''
with a mail body of "info". The reply will describe the mailing
lists for NetBSD. The you will want to subscribe to the
"current-users" mailing list. We will use this list to announce
any special changes made to the "current" tree.

1.7 Documentation available

This entire section pertains as much to NetBSD and FreeBSD as
it does to 386BSD. Simply 'sed 's/386bsd/Your System/g' below.

There are two types of documentation for 386bsd. First is the
set that covers the operation and theory used in BSD-Unix.
These sources are often excellent for background and understanding
of the current implementation of 386bsd. Second is the set of
manuals written specifically for 386bsd. Most of these are books
and magazine articles written by Bill and Lynne Jolitz.

1.7.1 BSD manuals

The full set of BSD documentation is available via anonymous FTP
from in /pub/Library/Computer/doc4.3. To print
this documentation on 386bsd systems, replace the ditroff
references in the Makefile with 'groff -e -t -msU {SRC} >'
to generate PostScript format files. Use different options to
make the output conform to other print styles.

The etc distribution also comes with a documentation directory
/usr/share/doc which has nearly 3Meg of documentation about *BSD.

In addition, on-line manuals are available in the binary
distribution set. It contains specific information on the use
of UNIX utilities and commands. Type "man man" for information
on the online manual.

1.7.2 BSD books

There is an excellent set of works recommended by Bill and Lynne
in the original 386bsd INSTALL.NOTES. In addition, several other
books have been recommended by Andrew Moore and others.

For learning how to work in the Unix environment, the standard text
is "The Unix Programming Environment," by Kernighan and Pike.

For Unix Administration, the best is "Unix System Administration
Handbook," by Nemeth, Snyder and Seebass.

For systems level programming (i.e., systems calls), I recommend
"Advanced Unix Programming," by Marc Rochkind. Unfortunately it is
out-dated and oriented towards System V.

A new book "Advanced Programming in the Unix Environment," by W.
Richard Stevens is very up-to-date, and an excellent reference,
especially for dealing with POSIX standards issues.

For network programming, "Unix Network Programming," by W. Richard
Stevens is highly regarded.

The 4.3BSD Unix Manuals contain loads of invaluable tutorials and
historical papers in addition to hard copies of on-line documentation.
The six volume set is available from Usenix for $60.00 (email:

The 4.4 BSD Unic Manuals are the authoritative source for
information about the 4.4 BSD release, and by inference the
NetBSD and FreeBSD systems. They are available from O'Reilly
and Associates (the Nutshell series people). In addition the
the six volume set, there is a CD included (at a price) of the
entire 4.4 release. Combine this with the NetBSD 1.0 or FreeBSD
2.0 systems, and you should have a commercial quality operating
system available in no time.

I could go on, but let me mention just two more - if you have a full
386BSD installation, you may want to learn the bash shell (in
/usr/othersrc/public). This is an extension of the Bourne shell (sh)
with features from both the C shell (Csh) and the Korn shell (Ksh).
The Korn shell is described in "The Kornshell," by Korn (of course).

Second, I recommend you look at "The AWK Programming Language," by
Aho, Weinberger and Kernighan. This is a very nice prototyping
language - powerful and easy to use.

Another excellent reference book for 386bsd is "The Design and
Implementation of the 4.3BSD UNIX Operating system" by Samuel J.
Leffler, Marshall Kirk McKusick, Michael J. Karels, John S.
Quarterman, 1989, Addison-Wesley, ISBN 0-201-06196-1. While this
book is out of date in many sections, it is purported to be an
excellent source of historical information, if nothing else.
Chris Demetriou recommends the sections on the treatment of
file systems, caching and the networking layer. The sections in
this books which do not apply to 386bsd include the VM section,
bootstrapping, and autoconfig.

Here is a list from Hellmuth Michaelis (duplicative as it may seem
to have all of these lists) for more information on *BSD:


Bell Telephone Laboratories, Inc. "UNIX Programmer's Manual, Seventh
Edition, Volume 2". Revised and Expanded Version.
Holt, Rinehart and Winston 1983

George Pajari, "Writing Unix Device Drivers"
Addison Wesley 1992

Janet I. Egan and Thomas J. Teixeira, "Writing a UNIX Device Driver"
John Wiley & Sons 1988

Janet I. Egan and Thomas J. Teixeira, "Writing a UNIX Device Driver"
Second Edition. John Wiley & Sons 1992

Leffler, McKusick, Karels, Quarterman, "The Design and Implementation
of the 4.3BSD UNIX Operating System"
Addison Wesley 1988, corrected Reprint 1989

Leffler, McKusick, "The Design and Implementation of the 4.3BSD UNIX
Operating System, Answer Book"
Addison Wesley 1991

Maurice J. Bach, "The Design of the UNIX Operating System"
Prentice-Hall 1986

Sun Microsystems Inc., "Writing Device Drivers"
Part No. 800-3851-10, Revision A of 27 March 1990

Hewlett-Packard Company, "HP-UX Driver Development Guide",
Part No. 98577-90013, First Edition 07/91

W. Richard Stevens, "Advanced Programming in the UNIX Environment",
Addison Wesley 1992

Phillip M. Adams, Clovis L. Tondo, "Writing Unix Device Drivers in C",
Prentice Hall 1993

Peter Kettle, Steve Statler, "Writing Device Drivers for SCO UNIX,
A Practical Approach", Addison Wesley 1993

In addition, there are many other books which, for one reason or
another, have not made it into this brief list. Rest assured that
this is not intended to be an exhaustive list by any means.

1.7.3 The Jolitz Book

Bill and Lynne Jolitz are writing a book about 386bsd. It will
be announced once it is ready. A tentative date of late 1992
was once offered, but since it is now 1994 and no book has
been announced, we can assume that it will be later than the
original estimate.

1.7.4 Dr. Dobbs' journal

For users who wish to understand the internals of the BNR/2 BSD
family of Operating Systems originally developed and/or ported by
William F. Jolitz from 1989 to the present, the most immediate
and available reference is the feature series entitled
"Porting UNIX to the 386: A Practical Approach", appearing in Dr.
Dobbs' Journal, USA (January 1991 to July 1992) and UNIX and iX
Magazines, Germany (June 1991 to present). For inquiries on the
article series (including reprints), contact the magazines for

"Porting UNIX to the 386: A Practical Approach" (feature series)
by Jolitz and Jolitz

1/91: DDJ "Designing a Software Specification"
2/91: DDJ "Three Initial PC Utilities"
3/91: DDJ "The Standalone System"
4/91: DDJ "Copyright, Copyleft, and Competitive Advantage"
4/91: DDJ "Language Tools Cross-Support"
5/91: DDJ "The Initial Root Filesystem"
6/91: DDJ "Research and the Commercial Sector: Where Does
BSD Fit In?"
7/91: DDJ "A Stripped-Down Kernel"
8/91: DDJ "The Basic Kernel"
9/91: DDJ "Multiprogramming and Multiprocessing, Part I"
10/91: DDJ "Multiprogramming and Multiprocessing, Part II"
11/91: DDJ "Device Autoconfiguration"
2/92: DDJ "UNIX Device Drivers, Part I"
3/92: DDJ "UNIX Device Drivers, Part II"
4/92: DDJ "UNIX Device Drivers, Part III"
5/92: DDJ "Missing Pieces, Part I"
6/92: DDJ "Missing Pieces, Part II"
7/92: DDJ "The Final Step: Running Light with 386BSD"

You can contact M&T Books (DDJ) for reprints if you can't get them from
your technical library:

1-800-356-2002 (inside CA)
1-800-444-4881 (better In NA Backorder number)
1-415-358-9500 (international)

6/91: UNIX Magazin "Portierung von BSD-UNIX auf den 80386. Heimlich
7/91: UNIX Magazin "Steighilfe."
8/91: UNIX Magazin "Systemverwaltung durch Tabellen"
9/91: UNIX Magazin "Sicher bewegen auf fremdem Terrain"
10/91: UNIX Magazin "Damit die Fehlersuche nicht zum Hurdenspringen
11/91: UNIX Magazin "Alles in eine Schublade"
12/91: UNIX Magazin "Feuer und Wasser"
1/92: UNIX Magazin "Rekursives Speicher-Mapping"
2/92: UNIX Magazin "Tanz auf dem Eis"
3/92: UNIX Magazin "Aus Hanschen wird Hans"
4/92: UNIX Magazin "Das Geheimnis des Multiprogramming"
5/92: UNIX Magazin "Zeitmanagement scheibenweise"
6/92: UNIX Magazin "Magie des Kernels"
7/92: UNIX Magazin "Erkenne Dich Selbst"
9/92: UNIX Magazin "Niemand is eine Insel"
10/92: UNIX Magazin "Treiberlatein"
12/92: UNIX Magazin "Einlandung erforderlich"
1/93: iX Magazin "Wir unterbrechen das Programm"
2/93: iX Magazin "Liste gut, alles gut"
3/93: iX Magazin "Blick ins Allerheiligste"
4/93: iX Magazin "Von Bl"ocken, Ringen und Zeichen"

NOTE: The series in UNIX Magazin was moved to IX Magazin in 1/93.
The article in the April issue was the last one in the series.

In addition, other major articles which discuss 386BSD in detail:

8/92: UNIX Magazin "Interview mit Bill Jolitz. Das passiert mit
386BSD" by Jurgen Fey
8/92: DDJ "Very High-Speed Networking" by W.F. Jolitz
12/92: DDJ "Inside the ISO-9660 Filesystem Format" by Jolitz and

Reprints of the first 19 parts on the UNIX Magazin series are available

iX Redaktion
Stichwort: 386BSD-Serie
Verlag Heinz Heise GmbH & Co KG
Helstorfer Str. 7
D-30625 Hannover, Germany

Some of the parts are without code listings due to the unclear
status of the BSD releases stemming from the Net/2 release. Dr.
Dobbs is reported out of back issues of the articles listed above.
You best bet may be to try your local public or school library.

1.7.5 Documentation that comes with most of the distributions.

In the standard set for both NetBSD and FreeBSD there is a directory
called '/usr/share/doc'. Here is a 'du' listing.

128 /usr/share/doc/ps1/06.sysman
98 /usr/share/doc/ps1/07.ipctut
116 /usr/share/doc/ps1/08.ipc
16 /usr/share/doc/ps1/13.rcs
37 /usr/share/doc/ps1/14.sccs
420 /usr/share/doc/ps1
123 /usr/share/doc/smm/02.config
14 /usr/share/doc/smm/04.quotas
78 /usr/share/doc/smm/05.fsck
42 /usr/share/doc/smm/06.lpd
92 /usr/share/doc/smm/07.sendmailop
14 /usr/share/doc/smm/08.timedop
99 /usr/share/doc/smm/10.newsop
83 /usr/share/doc/smm/11.named
77 /usr/share/doc/smm/14.fastfs
128 /usr/share/doc/smm/
41 /usr/share/doc/smm/16.sendmail
21 /usr/share/doc/smm/20.termdesc
17 /usr/share/doc/smm/22.timed
851 /usr/share/doc/smm
144 /usr/share/doc/usd/04.csh
97 /usr/share/doc/usd/07.Mail
66 /usr/share/doc/usd/09.newsread
68 /usr/share/doc/usd/10.etiq
67 /usr/share/doc/usd/14.edit
107 /usr/share/doc/usd/
61 /usr/share/doc/usd/16.ex
13 /usr/share/doc/usd/21.msdiffs
45 /usr/share/doc/usd/22.memacros
43 /usr/share/doc/usd/23.meref
26 /usr/share/doc/usd/33.rogue
25 /usr/share/doc/usd/34.trek
798 /usr/share/doc/usd
2077 /usr/share/doc

For those of you that don't read 'du -k' listings, this means that
there is 'around' 2 MEGABYTES of documentation in the 'doc'
directory. In addition, there are a few man pages.

2312 /usr/share/man/cat1
397 /usr/share/man/cat2
1 /usr/share/man/cat2a
855 /usr/share/man/cat3
1 /usr/share/man/cat3f
607 /usr/share/man/cat4
368 /usr/share/man/cat5
166 /usr/share/man/cat6
169 /usr/share/man/cat7
749 /usr/share/man/cat8

Something on the order of another 4 Megabytes of manual pages.
That's what, about 6 MILLION CHARACTERS of documentation.

I have received mail from several sources saying that my
approximation of the amount of system documentation is way too
low (by a factor of at least 50%). Given the fact that even by
my meager estimation there is already more information here
than most people can be bothered to read, whether there is 6
Meg or 60 Meg seems like overkill.

Now, does anyone REALLY want to whine about there being no
documentation included with the system?

1.7.6 Other FAQ's on the net that are relevant

There is now a FAQ set up specifically for FreeBSD. In addition
to answering the many specific questions that folks have about
FreeBSD, it is also a good source for information on NetBSD and
whatever the 386BSD {0.2,1.0,95} project is going to look like.
In spite of all of the shouting and chest beating that you hear
from time to time, the systems are still very close.

There are many FAQs that can be used in conjunction with 386bsd.
These include the FAQs for all of the GNU software, the different
shells that are available, the programming languages that are
available, and many more. In addition, many programs have their
own FAQ which should be referenced whenever that package is being
added. Good examples of the latter are the FAQs for elm, C-News,
and innd.

The observant reader will notice that there are very few 'X'
questions in this FAQ. The XFree86 FAQ is posted regularly to
comp.os.386bsd.*. There is no good reason to include any 'X'
questions in this FAQ, with the exception of the most basic
'Where can I get the 'X' FAQ'.

Most FAQs are available by anonymous FTP from and
via Usenet News in news.answers and/or comp.answers. This FAQ
is no exception (I hope).

1.8 FTP sites for 386BSD

A standard tool on Internet connected hosts for finding files is
'archie'. Searching the archie archive for either "386BSD" or
"386bsd" yields the following list. For UUCP sites, FTP-Mail
is available from The list below was created
with an 'archie -l' on 26 Nov 1994 searching for 386bsd.

For those folks that have access to telnet, but not FTP, you can use
archie by using telnet and connecting to Log in as
'archie' and use the 'prog' command to find programs of interest.
The list below is included primarily for those folks that have only
uucp, and will need to get their software though UUCP and other

1.8.1 FTP Site List

This list is automatically generated every time the FAQ is
produced. Please do not request that your host be added to
this list. If your host is represented in an 'archie' list,
it will be reflected here. Several other sites are included
in Section 1.8.4 below.

Host Directory

The code may soon also to be available, or perhaps is already
available, from both CompuServe and BIX.

1.8.2 Official distribution sites

According to Lynne Jolitz, there is no such thing as an 'official'
386bsd site. The closest we had was '' which is
now closed. Because of the USL/UCB agreement, 386bsd is no
longer freely redistributable, since it was based on Net/2 and
Net/2 was encumbered.

FreeBSD's 'home' is (the home disk of Walnut
Creek). The portions of FreeBSD (versions less than 2.0) that
were encumbered are distributed with the tolerance of
AT&T/USL/Novell/whoever owns the source for SysV this week. All
FreeBSD versions (with version number >= 2.0) are based solely
on the freely redistributable BSD 4.4 sources.

NetBSD's 'home' is now ftp.NetBSD.Org. All versions of
NetBSD since 0.9 have replaced the kernel code from the 4.3
distribution with the source from the 4.4 distribution. The
only code still in NetBSD from the 4.3 distribution is some user
program code that was uncontested in the USL/UCB agreement.

1.8.3 Reference sites

For a brief period, was available for use as a
reference system. This system was used as the test-bed for
many programs that were ported to 386bsd by many authors.
Unfortunately, has been disabled as a reference
system. The site is now a update by mail (CTM) system and is
providing a mail only service for developers who do not have
access to anything more than electronic mail. For more
information, contact for the standard
CTM package.

There is a site in Germany that is acting as a reference site
for FreeBSD. The name is "", also known as
"". Sorry, no anonymous ftp yet. But there is
a "guest" login with the password "guest".

But the most important reason why I had installed the machine on
the network was for all these people who don't have enough space
to compile their own kernel or their own packages. They can do
it on this machine. ATS ( or )

1.8.4 Unofficial archive sites that have neat stuff!

There are many sites that have things which have either been ported
to 386bsd or are available to the world. Use archie to find these
sites, or read comp.os.386bsd.* for more information.

Listed here because they don't have access to 'archie' yet... -or-
Sources for 386bsd0.1 and the later patchkits.
Source for NetBSD0.8 and the newer snapshots.

Xfree is installed binary as version 1.3.

Ported software are:
rn and nn.

In addition, has a lot of neat
software and Wolfram Schneider ( has
'ported' the FAQ into LaTeX. It is available in
pub/386BSD/FAQ/tex in both PostScript and DVI formats.

1.8.5 X for 386BSD 0.1 Ported Software List

This is a list of non-core X window system application that
have been ported to 386BSD 0.1. The ftp server and directory
name are listed above and each file or directory name is
followed by a short description. Feel free to send corrections,
additions or suggestions to

Xdtm-2.5.386bsd X desk top manager
idraw-bin.tar.Z C++ GUI class library + WYSIWYG document &
graphics editors.
img1.3.386bsd.tar.Z see above
mpeg_play.Z animated raster image viewer
small_X11r5.tZ a minimal subset of the core distribution
vogl.tar.Z a library that emulatates Silicon Graphics
GL calls
xview3 sun's GUI development tool kit

Dirt.tar.Z GUI development tool kit
XBSD8514-0.1.Z 8514 X server port
XS3-0.3-exp.Z S3 X server port
acm.tar.Z aerial combat mission/flight simulator
chess-vort-movie.tar.Z ?
epoch.Z enhanced emacs for X
jpeg.tar.Z jpeg viewer
libXaw3d.a.Z 3D widget library
mpeg-1.2.tar.Z animated raster image viewer
ups-2.45.bin.tar.Z C source level debugger with slick GUI
vort-movie.tar.Z ?
xantfarm.tar.Z screen saver with ants?
xbench.tar.Z X server performance measurement tool
xpipeman.tar.Z game: connect pipes to keep a liquid within
xxgdb.tar.Z GUI for GNU source level debugger

1.8.6 Motif for the *BSD family. (Infomercial to follow)

While I don't normally include commercials in the FAQ, I will
this time. Motif is an interesting product that will help the
development of the free Unices. It can also serve as a
benchmark for other commercial organizations to consider
supporting us by producing versions of their products that will work
on these systems.

Sequoia International, Inc. (305-783-4915/305-783-4935 (FAX))
sells a complete Motif 1.2.3 Runtime and Development package
for FreeBSD, NetBSD, BSD/386, Linux, and Coherent. It is
available for $149.95 and includes the following:
* The Motif Window Manager (mwm)
* Shared Library (libXm) [operating system dependent]
* Static Libraries (libXm, libMrm, libUil)
* Header and Include Files
* Complete On-Line Manual Pages
* Source code to OSF/Motif Demo programs
* Complete OSF/Motif Users Guide

Send mail to or contact them at the address below:

Sequoia International, Inc.
600 West Hillsboro Blvd, Suite 300
Deerfield Beach, FL 33441
Phone: (305)783-4915 / FAX: (305)783-4935 / Email:

Dave Burgess

Feb 13, 1995, 2:00:18 AM2/13/95
Posted-By: auto-faq
Archive-name: 386bsd-faq/part3

Section 2. (Common installation questions)

2.0 Install process

The 386bsd system is distributed in many ways. One of the most
common is via DOS diskettes, (either 3 1/2 or 5 1/4, both high
density) with the actual distribution being a 'CPIO archive'
broken into 240K pieces. This allows the distribution to fit
onto a minimum number of floppies.

Once the files are on floppies, thoughts usually turn to
questions about how to install the boot image on a floppy. The
rawrite program (for DOS) is used to write the bootable images
(dist.fs and fixit.fs) onto floppies. The same image can used
for 3 1/2 and 5 1/4 high density diskettes. Low density
diskettes are not supported in this version of 386bsd.

Once the bootable images are written onto the floppies, insert
the dist.fs disk into the A: drive and reboot. If the system
does not boot, see section 2.5 below for more information.

If the disk boots, type install and proceed to use the
INSTALL.NOTES to get more information.

Problems with the install are either related to hardware (i.e.
Do you want to install on your T.V.?) or software. Of the
hardware issues, the most common FAQs are usually straight out
of the installation notes. Of the software issues, there are
only two that really concern us. The first is bad files.

On some systems, files that are loaded from floppy appear to
'go bad' when they arrive on the hard disk. Try some of these

- You forgot binary. Don't get insulted. Those of us that FTP
for a living forget sometimes. If so, the distribution will
come out with all different sizes and install will complain
about every disk.

- One or two of the files are no good. Try getting them again.
As a precaution, rename the bad files on your hard drive to
names like foo.1 and bob.23. Copy the files again from floppy.
If they are still bad, rename the file, and the one immediately
before the first bad file (bin01.23 if bin01.24 is bad) and
copy them again. If they are still bad, download those files
again from the distribution site (including the one before and
after the bad one) and try again.

The reason for renaming the files is that sometimes, especially
with drive that do not auto-magically record bad sectors, you
could copy a distribution file onto a bad spot on the disk. If
this happens, you want to isolate the bad spot. The easiest way
to do that is just leave the bad file on it.

Keep trying, these same files have been used by literally
thousands of people to install 386bsd.

For those of you that have received your system on a CD-ROM,
you will need to find at least three things. One is this file.
Since you are reading it, I assume that you got it already. :-)
If you can't read this file (you got it from the newsgroup, for
example) there is one thing that you need to know so you don't
look like a complete idiot on the net.

There is no such thing as a Unix CD-ROM. They are all in
something called the ISO CD-ROM format. You can read them as
the D: drive in DOS, or mount them on your Sun or SVR4 system
or whatever.

Second, you will need to find the directory with the bootable
disk images in it. They will have self explanatory names like:


You get the idea, right? Look for the MS-DOS program
"RAWRITE.EXE". It should be right near the file system (.fs)
files. Another clue for the truly lost will be that the file
system files will all be 1.2 Meg big. These files will fit
onto either a 1.2Meg 5.25 inch diskette, or a 1.44Meg 2.5 inch
diskette. Use rawrite to write the fs files to diskettes and
boot from the diskettes.

You did back your system up, right?

2.0.1 Boot disks (versions and media formats)

There is currently one official 386bsd 0.1 boot disk, referred
to as the "Tiny" boot disk.

Because of the nature of the agreement between USL and
Berkeley, it is rapidly becoming impossible to get 386bsd 0.1
diskettes. The archive at has been
eliminated completely. The NetBSD archive that was there has
also been eliminated.

There are a few FAQs from the boot/install disk. Where does extract go when I reboot?

It was in /tmp, which is cleaned the first time you reboot the
system from the hard drive. If you have just booted from the
hard drive for the second time, chances are you just wiped out
extract. It is not really needed, since the instructions for
building your own install are included in section 2.5.2 of
the FAQ, under custom installation.

When installing NetBSD, the set_tmp_dir and extract programs are
part of the .profile that is booted when you are installing.
This .profile is overwritten as part of the install process, and
extract then disappears. If you need extract again, you can mount
the install disk and source .profile. This will recreate these
two routines.

There is also an install procedure that FreeBSD uses that does
the same job. It is defined as part of the .profile on one of the
installation floppies. You can either copy it from there, or use
the procedure for 'real disk partitioning'. I put the floppy in and try to boot, and nothing happens. What now?

There are lots of possibilities. We will start with the oldest
(386bsd 0.1) problems.

This is usually referred to as the Compaq boot problem. The
easiest solution is to get a patched boot disk.

Another source of possible hope for you is to grab the NetBSD
bootable disks. They are compatible with 386BSD and allow you
to install on some of the more recalcitrant hardware.

The FreeBSD install process is said to be better than the NetBSD
program for some machines. Could be. They are all available for
free from the net. Try it. The floppy booted, but now the hard disk won't boot? I am trying to reinstall. I run install and it loops
asking me if I want to use the whole disk?

The most likely culprit is your hard disk controller. It is
probably doing some type of disk translation for you. If this
is the case (assume it is) then you will need to find out the
real disk controller geometry, and rewrite your disk label.
See section 2.6.2, but before doing that get the program
pfdisk.exe. This program will tell you what the controller
geometry is (right before it reboots your computer). Make the
disklabel agree with this program and your system should boot.
You may have to reinstall, but at least your disklabel will be
right. Note that this is a nearly required step for all NetBSD
and FreeBSD installs. You need to know what the disk geometry
is before the BIOS messes with it. If you start having these
kinds of installation problems, I can virtually assure you that
it is because your controller geometry and your disklabel
geometry are different.

NOTE: If the hard disk controller does NOT have an option for
turning off the geometry, you may well be completely out of
luck. There are very few controllers that fall into this
category. The ones that do full time translation will often
boot up in translated mode. pfdisk will help you determine the
correct geometry for your drive by telling you what the geometry
looks like when 386bsd boots up.

But on the other hand, maybe not...

See section 2.5.5 below for a detailed set of instructions about
getting NetBSD (and by implication 386BSD and FreeBSD) to work with
a system that uses full time translation. What are the options on the boot prompt?

The most amazing thing about the boot process in *BSD is the
boot up alternatives that are available. There is little that
a person can NOT do from the boot prompt. The boot diskette or
disk can be selected (fd(1,a) for fd1a (my B: drive is DOS))
can be the source of my kernel. In addition, the name of the
kernel can be chosen (this allows you to boot with a test
kernel or reboot an older kernel if the new one gets hosed).
Finally, there are three choices for options that may or may
not work, depending on the age and proclivities of your boot
blocks. These options are:

-s............... boot into single user mode
-a............... ask the user what device to use as root
just before mounting it (Not presently supported)
-d............... once you have the kernel loaded and
VM and such up and going, drop into the kernel
debugger. Great for debugging probe code.
( not sure if this is presently working)

I have noticed that there is a fourth one. I'll write it up
later. I just used the '-s' option on the boot, but I can't write
anything onto the disk. What is wrong? If I use a plain 'mount'
command it tells me that my root file system is read-only.

In single-user (system booted with -s or an error in one of
the processes started by /etc/rc) the root filesystem mounts
as read-only by default. This was intended so that some range
of problems would not be made worse by writes to the disk.

The 'dos' partitions mount as read-only in that there are
reservations as to how well some of the FreeBSD tools work with
the pcfs. The same kind of reservations exist with NetBSD and
the '-t msdosfs' option. These options (-r for read-only, -w
for read-write) can be set in /etc/fstab.

The status of both can be changed with 'mount -wu /{mount.dir}'
(where {mount-dir} is the name of the directory that the
offending partition is mounted) to read-write. Particularly for
the dos filesystem, the man page for mount should be read in
detail and the 'noexec' option examined.

Note that mounting the file systems using the '-a' option will
mount all of the file systems that are normally mounted with
their usual read-write bits set normally. Using this option
makes your root partition writable, and also mounts the rest of
the partitions in your /etc/fstab that are normally mounted
during boot-up.

2.0.2 Fix-it boot disk

The fix-it disk contains a series of programs that are
particularly handy for 'fixing' your disk in case you can't get
logged in. It includes the disklabel program and other utilities
for system maintenance.

For NetBSD and FreeBSD, you will probably have to build your own
Fixit disk. You can mount the original file system floppy and
beat it to death if you want. Put programs on it that you will
need to build a new system. As I think of them, I will put them

2.1 Binary distribution

The binary distribution 386bsd 0.1 consists of virtually all of
the programs that a typical *nix system would be expected to have.
The list includes mail, UUCP, GCC version 1.39, and others.

Known problems with the binary distribution include the following:

1. Mtools as shipped in the bindist does not always work. The
ones on the install disk seem to work fine.

2. The install script built into the binary distribution does
not correctly install all of the files and symbolic links that it
should. For example, some of the symbolic links to the
/usr/include directory are botched up.

3. 'tip', the modem control program, does not always work right
out of the box.

4. Any program that relies on a valid symbol table in the kernel
(e.g. ps) will not work because the kernel is stripped so that it
will fit onto the bootable disk.

These problems are all cured either by patches available in the
patchkit, or through re-compilation.

FreeBSD and NetBSD have solved these problems. This information
is included primarily for those few people that get sucked into
using an old version of 386bsd for a class or something.

2.2 Source distribution

The source distribution 386bsd 0.1 contains all of the source code
for every program in the bindist. Known problems (which are fixed
in the patchkit) include the following:

1. There is an error message during install about install.src01
not being found. It is not an error, there isn't an install.src01.
Think of it as Bill and Lynne's idea of a practical joke.

2. There are several symbolic links that are not made correctly.
In addition, there are several files that should have been deleted
(to ensure clean 'make's) before the files were packed. This is
fixed by the patchkit, as of 0.2.3.

3. The /usr/src tree does not compile cleanly. This is fixed by
the patchkit, as of 0.2.3, or by NetBSD or FreeBSD.

2.3 Additional software distribution

The etc distribution contains source trees for many programs that
are of interest to 386bsd users. The complete ISO software
development environment, as well as many additional software
packages (and all of the games) are included in this distribution.

The most common problem with the etc distribution is the error
"too many files open". Followed closely by "install.etc01 not
found". The latter is a annoyance (see above) but the former can
be easily overcome in a couple of ways.

The "too many files open" is a result of the "cat" command leaving
files open after it has read a file. Dwight E. Cass (his Email
address is has provided us with this
anecdotal work around for his own experiences:

So - back to installation. This time, when I get to the etc01
partition, I am a bit more awake, so I run it from Csh (with the
open file limit at 256). Works pretty well - but complains at the
end that it could not do the final configuration because it could
not find the configuration file - I checked the MANIFEST and the
file is not there, so I finally decided to ignore the message (but
it was bothersome!) Once etc01 was done - source was easy ... and
I am now up and running, and quite impressed!!!

Another method is to use a loop construct in the Bourne shell. For

for i in (etc01.*)
cat $i
done | compress -d | cpio -idalmu


for i in (etc01.*)
zcat $i
done | cpio -idalmu

will also solve the problem handily. This solution solves the problem
by running cat multiple times, with one file each. Since cat now only
has one file, there are no limits on the number of files that can be
used for the distribution set.

2.4 Patch-kit

The patchkit has been completely deprecated. FreeBSD and NetBSD
are both mature programs that will serve the average user extremely
well. The patchkit may still be available, but it is only required
if you are installing the original 386BSD 0.1 version.

There are two mailing lists dedicated to the patchkit. They are as
follows:, which is primarily for discussion of
up-coming patches and patchkit philosophy., which is dedicated to submitting new,
untested patches.

The current (and final) version of the patchkit is 0.2.4, which
has absolutely no relationship with the new version of 386bsd.
It is available by anonymous FTP from several sites throughout
the net.

2.5 Configuration

By far, the most common configuration questions are partitioning,
followed closely by all of the other software in the system.
Sendmail and named are also problems occasionally, but the
documentation that comes with them usually gets you through. If
you run into a problem, post a question to comp.os.386bsd.questions.

A less frequently asked question is "Where can I get info on how
to configure a kernel?" The answer to this question has been
provided by Richard Murphey (Email address

Ready-to-print PostScript files for each section of the net2 system
maintainer's manual are on in
pub/386bsd/submissions/bsd.manuals. describes kernel configuration for the VAX,
however some of it is relevant to 386BSD. There is no freely
available rewrite for 386BSD that I know of.

Most of these manuals are now included in the standard release of
NetBSD and FreeBSD in the /usr/share/doc directories.

2.5.1 Partitions

This section describes many of the questions that people ask about
hard disk partitioning.

The first is a brief explanation of the BSD system disk partitions. What is a 'disklabel' and why do I need one?

The BSD partition table supplements the DOS partition table. The
entries in this table are meaningful to BSD. There are eight
partitions in the BSD partition table, and they are normally
lettered from a: to h:. This supplemental partition table is
often refered to as the 'disklabel'.

This tutorial is provided by by "<>" and
provides an excellent overview of the hard disk partitioning
procedure from start to finish.

"Disk Partitioning for the Compleat Idiot"

There are times, in our trials with our computers, that it becomes
necessary to mess about with the disklabel. For those not
knowledgeable of BSD or Unix Systems administration, this somewhat
simple task can be somewhat daunting. This document is the result of
my own short experience.

This does not cover physical installation of the disk. For those who
are having trouble with that, I direct you to any of the fine manuals
dealing with hard drives and your hardware.

It also does not deal with the vagaries of the DOS partition manager.
It assumes you have done that as well, if need be...

After the drive is physically installed and is recognized in the BSD
startup, and it mentions both your drives, in the order you expect
them... Or perhaps just the one, if you had special problems with
installation. Now all you have to do is "disklabel" the drive... Well,
what is *THAT*???

The disklabel is used by the kernel and other utilities to tell how
you want or have the drive set up *logically*.

In a beautiful world, we might have a very free hand at this set-up
and expect it to work. Unfortunately, the authors of the software
dealing with the hard drives either decided or were forced by
circumstance to make certain things about the disklabel inviolate.

When you let the installation disk set the disklabel for you first
drive it comes out like this:

The a: partition is the primary partition.
The b: partition is the swap partition.
The c: partition is the amount of the disk used by 386bsd
(swap and data)
The d: partition is the entire disk.

Of these, the only one that could be different is a:...

(Note for those of us who have spent far too much time using DOS: the
labels a: b: c: d: e: f: g: h: DO NOT refer to DOS drives, but to
partitions in your 386bsd partition... confusing, eh? For the sake
of consistency I will never make a reference to DOS drives except by
saying something like "DOS drive C:". )

It's possible to divide up the disk a bit differently, but three
things MUST be:

c: must refer to every cylinder you wish 386bsd to use, either
for your data or the swap space.

d: Must refer to the whole disk, from cylinder 0 to the last

b: Must always refer to a swap partition. Note that on any
other than the first disk it does not have to, but if you
enable swapping on that drive, and you are using b: for
something else, that something else will be killed.

The reason for this is simple: It's hard coded in.

"WHY?" you ask? (I did...) Probably time constraints, maybe tradition.
But if you look at the code in "isofs" and "ufs" in your sys.386bsd
directory, you will see numerous comments asking some of the same
questions, which leads me to believe this may change in the future,
making our lives both more complicated and easier at the same time...

Getting past the esoteric explanations, here is a method for figuring
out and "labeling" your disk.

We'll start with the disklabel from my second disk, in the form most
understandable by humans... #'s signify the start of a comment.

# /dev/rwd1d:
type: ESDI
disk: maxtor7245
bytes/sector: 512
sectors/track: 31
tracks/cylinder: 16
sectors/cylinder: 496
cylinders: 967
rpm: 3600
interleave: 1
trackskew: 0
cylinderskew: 0
headswitch: 0 # milliseconds
track-to-track seek: 0 # milliseconds
drivedata: 0

5 partitions:
# size offset fstype [fsize bsize cpg]
a: 198400 0 4.2BSD 512 4096 16 # (Cyl. 0 - 399)
b: 31744 447392 swap # (Cyl. 902 - 965)
c: 479136 0 unused 0 0 # (Cyl. 0 - 965)
d: 479136 0 unused 0 0 # (Cyl. 0 - 965)
e: 248992 198400 4.2BSD 512 4096 16 # (Cyl. 400 - 901)

Some math:
Looking at the comments at the end and the size and offset columns,
size is a function of (last - first + 1) * sectors per cylinder:
a: 399 - 0 + 1 = 400 * 496 = 198400
b: 965 - 902 + 1 = 64 * 496 = 31744
c: & d: (Since I have no DOS partition, whatsoever)
965 - 0 = 1 = 966 * 496 = 479136
e: 901 - 400 = 502 * 496 = 248992

248992 + 198400 + 31744 = 479136 (all the parts should equal the whole)

Some things I discovered (for all you in novice land like me...)

1. As you can see this disk has 967 cylinders, but I only refer to 966
of them, 0 - 965... This is because it's good practice to leave the
"Landing Zone" cylinder out of it... This is usually the last
cylinder, and it's where the read/write heads hang out when your disk
is off...

Note from TSgt Dave:

Most modern drive heads come to rest on a polished surface inside the
highest cylinder. I could be mistaken, of course, and the Hard Drive
Bible (or other appropriate reference manual) will tell the tale for
each drive.

2. a: can be a regular partition, b: should be swap, c: everything
386bsd will get to use, including swap. d: is the entire disk from
0 - (cylinder_per_disk - 2) [leaving out the Landing Zone]

On the boot drive (The drive that actually contains the kernel), a:
is the boot partition. On all other drives, it is a regular partition.

You can then use e - h for your other partitions. I am not sure
whether you could specify b: as other than a swap partition and not
run into trouble, but you could surely make it a zero sized one
starting and stopping on the Landing Zone...

Note from TSgt Dave:

This is a good idea. Another way to accomplish this is to
simply not specify it in the map.

3. Stupid human trick: When doing the math don't forget that 400 - 900
refers to 50*1* cylinders. I did, for a while. No great problem I
suspect, but why waste a cylinder...

4. newfs'ing really is that simple if you have the label right:
"newfs /dev/rwd?x config_template" where the question mark is the
physical disk, the x is a partition letter, and the config_template
is the configuration from /etc/disktab for your disk drive.

* NOTE: This is a thumbnail sketch; read the man page to verify all
of the options and be sure about how to proceed...

5. then fsck the partition:
fsck /dev/rwd?x

Don't forget that fsck should be run on the RAW device.

6. As long as it checks out, you can then mount it and do disk things
with it...

7. Add it to the fstab... (follow the man page). Don't forget
that your new swap partition won't work if your kernel isn't
configured for it, but it won't cause you any problem to have
it there.

One last note from TSgt Dave:

And I have yet to figure out a way to determine if it is or
isn't using the swap partition anyway. There is a program called
'swapinfo' and it is part of the NetBSD source tree. On my system,
it tells me that I never use the swap area. :)

Comnonly used definitions:

Block Size: This is the smallest allocatable area on a disk file
system, sort of. A file uses the maximum amount of blocks until it
can not completely fill up a block.

Fragment Size: This is the size of the 'leftover' data that didn't
fit into a full block. For example, assuming a using an 8K Block
Size/1K Fragment Size, a 34.5K file, would use up 4-8K Blocks (4 *
8K = 32K) and 3 1K fragments (3 * 1K = 3K). There is 512 bytes of
wasted space, since 32K + 3K = 35K, which is 512 bytes larger than
34.5K. If you want to reduce the amount of wasted space, you can
reduce your fragment size, but you also reduce the amount of data
you read at one time, so your disk performance decreases also.
A good setup is 8K/1K for performance, but if you are really
concerned about wasted space you can consider using a 4K/512byte

For further information, find an article that explains the Berkeley
FFS in more detail.

Cylinders Per Group, it determines the cylinder group size, which
in turn determines the number and location of the alternate

Cgd posted a description of how to manually install 386bsd and
create 'real' BSD partitions. It is excerpted below:


(remember, if things don't work, they might be in places that aren't
normally looked in... things should work as below, but you might
have to use explicit paths occasionally... the 'better' stuff --
mount, umount, cp, etc... is in /usr/distbin on the fixit floppy...
even mknod is there, if the devices you need aren't on the fixit

(1) boot the fixit floppy
(2) disklabel the disk as appropriate
(3) newfs the partitions
(4) mount the new root partition under /mnt
(5) mkdir /mnt/usr
(6) mount the new /usr partition under /mnt/usr

(7) cpio the entire contents of the fixit floppy to the hard drive
cd /
ls .profile * [0-ln-z]*/* */*/* | cpio -pdalmu /mnt
(NOTE: [0-ln-z]*/* is to avoid matching mnt/mnt)
(8) copy /usr/distbin/mount and /usr/distbin/umount to /mnt (so that
they'll be in the new root partition, so you can mount the
new /usr partition...)
(9) shutdown
and the eject the floppy.
(10) reboot off the hard drive, then fsck -p <root raw device>
If there are any errors, after the fsck is done, hit
ctl-alt-delete, and repeat this step.
(11) fsck -p <usr raw device>
(12) mount -u <root device> /
(13) mount <usr device> /usr
(14) insert 0.1 boot/install floppy (dist.fs) into floppy drive
and "mount /dev/fd0a /mnt"
(15) cd /mnt
and then
usr/bin/zcat etc/baselist.Z | usr/bin/cpio -pdalmu /
(16) cd /
and then
/mnt/usr/bin/zcat /mnt/etc/baseutils.cpio.Z | /mnt/usr/bin/cpio -idalmu
(17) umount /mnt then eject the floppy
(18) umount /usr
(19) shutdown
(20) reboot off the hard drive, and get all of the various files (the
bindist files, srcdist files, etc...).
I put them into /usr/tmp, because there wasn't enough space
in /tmp (because it was on a small root partition...).
(21) cd / ; cat <all the binary files> | uncompress | cpio -idalmu
(22) rm <all the binary files>
(23) put your hostname into "/etc/myname" and put your ip addr/hostname
into /etc/hosts.
(24) make an fstab for yourself. specifically, you want something like:
<root device name> / ufs rw 1 1
<usr device name> /usr ufs rw 1 2

congratulations! you now have a working system!

you can repeat step 21 for the srcdist and etcdist files, as well,
if you wish...

2.5.2 Common Disk Label Problems. Swap space.

Nate Williams provides a short tutorial on swap space in 386bsd,
excerpted below:

To be able to use additional swap partitions, you need to specify
them in the config (/sys/i386/conf/WHATEVER) file.


config "386bsd" root on sd0 swap on sd0 and sd1

Allows swap on sd0 and sd1

config "386bsd" root on wd0 swap on wd0 and sd0

This would allow swap on both wd0 and sd0 OR whichever (both/either)
of the two had a valid disklabel. Note, you can really screw
yourself up with this, if you should happen to not want to swap to
this partition, and it happens to be the first one found...

The problem of not being able to swap was from the config file not
having wd1 in it.

controller wd0 at isa? port "IO_WD1" bio irq 14 vector wdintr
disk wd0 at wd0 drive 0
disk wd0 at wd0 drive 1
This should have been wd1, and that's why it didn't get added by
default. I may be wrong, but I have swapped to two different
partitions w/out any problems since patchkit 0.1, and there aren't
any patches to swap386bsd.c

Once the install is complete, swapping will not be enabled on the
second drive. The following steps can be used to make sure that it
is enabled correctly.

If there is a 'b' partition in your root disk 386bsd partition, it
will be used automatically (MAKE SURE B is not the start of the
disk, and MAKE SURE b doesn't contain any data you wish to keep).
If b starts at disk offset 0, it will promptly wipe out your boot
sectors and other important disk stuff. (This appears to be fixed
in the current NetBSD sources)

If you want an additional partition, put an entry similar to this
in /etc/fstab:

/dev/sd1b none swap sw

I'm swapping on sd0b and sd1b, and 'swapon' is run on this partition
on boot up.

Swapping to a file is still not implemented. Rumor has it 0.2 will
have such things. If someone wanted to add it, the vnops_* files
would have to be radically modified to get it to work correctly. Increasing the 386bsd partition size.

Once the install is finished, the system has it's 386bsd partition.
This includes a 5Meg swap partition, which is altogether too small.
There is no easy way to increase this swap partition without
relabeling the drive. Unfortunately, relabeling usually involves
reinstalling. That involves re-doing just about everything you have
just finished doing. The good news is that if all you have done is
the base installation, you don't have a lot of time and energy
invested in the system. Take the time, and make sure that your swap
space is at least as big as your memory; many people recommend even
larger. There is no real limit to the size that this space can
take. If you have two disk drives, you can have space space on both.
Simply follow the instructions above, and you will be all set.
If your swap space is smaller than your real memory, system core
dumps will be disabled. I can access the DOS partition on my second disk from Unix but not
DOS? Any suggestions?

One kinky problem that almost got me was when I tried to disklabel
my second drive in order to use the DOS partition on it, and use
the rest as swap for BSD (FreeBSD-1.0 Eps, SCSI drive on an
AHA1542B, to be exact). The DOS partition was visible from UNIX,
but *not* from DOS.

What I tried to do:
Using PFDISK (from DOS), make one big DOS partition at the start
and use the rest for a BSD partition (type 165). Something that
came out like
1 6 0 69 DOSbi # ..
2 165 70 98 unkno
for a 99 cyl drive.

Using BSD disklabel generate disk description/label as documented
in the FAQ. Make only 'c' (total BSD DOS part), 'd' (complete disk)
and 'b' (intended swap) BSD partitions.

When writing the label, disklabel would ask about overwriting DOS
partition table. Whether I said y or n, the DOS partition table
was screwed up, as seen from DOS (BSD saw the DOS file system
very nicely indeed).

Cause, solution:
BSD disklabel wants to write the label to the start of the 'a'
partition; I had *not* defined an 'a' partition (since I was
only using the disk for swap). This tells disklabel that the 'a'
partition is the start of the disk, which means there is no DOS
partition. Disklabel then writes the label at the start of the
drive, which is why it talks about overwriting (aha!); this is
*bad* for the DOS partition table. One solution is to have a
non-empty (e.g. one cylinder) 'a' partition at the start of the
BSD part of the disk, and resize the 'b' swap partition
accordingly. Now everything works just fine. Note that
this solution can be used whenever you want the DOS
partition table to be safe and the DOS partition to be

One other fly in this ointment. The disklabel program has
historically asked "Overwrite disk with DOS-partition [n]: "
then the normal inclination is to believe the prompt and
press return for 'no'. The default answer may or may not be
'no'. There are several versions of disklabel where the
default answer is actually 'yes' even though the prompt
implies that you can press return and get 'no'. In this case,
it might be best to assume that the default answer doesn't
exist until you have had a chance to actually look at the
disklabel code.

2.5.3 How do I set up the system so that I can boot from more than one
operating system/file-loader without using floppies?

There are many people that wish to be able to boot DOS or 386bsd
at will. There are several programs that allow this. The
program "os-bs" is one such program, "BOOTEASY" is another, and
there are three or four others. There are problems in some
configurations using the os/2 boot manager for this, so beware.

In addition to being able to boot from either of two partitions,
some people want to operate more than one disk drive (and perhaps
boot from either as well). Christoph Robitschko provided one
description of this. Since there are virtually limitless
possibilities for configurations for BSD systems, it will be
impossible to answer all of the possible questions about these
features. Many people operate with multiple disk drives on one
or more controllers.

Yu-Han Ting provides this tutorial on partitioning and booting
multiple systems with a single hard disk.

After spending one day fighting with the nasty partition table,
finally I had NetBSD, DOS 5 (Sorry, I don't use DOS 6), and
OS/2 2.1 March beta co-existing on my hard drive. Here is the

Since that my original hard disk setup was corrupted by NetBSD's
installation program, I decided to rebuild it. I would like my
partition table looks like this:

Partition 0: OS/2 2.1 beta (Primary, HPFS, C:)
Partition 1: MS-DOS 5.0 (Primary, C:)
Partition 2: MS-DOS 5.0 (Extended, D: & E:)
Partition 3: NetBSD

You will need the following tools before you can setup a similar

1) Mr. Wolfram's OS-BS. (It's an excellent boot selector, much
better than OS/2's boot manager, IMHO)
2) PFDISK.EXE. (It's available from
3) A binary editor. I use Norton Utilities' DiskEdit.
4) 386BSD's 'tinyBSD' distribution disk.

After you have the necessary tools handy:

1) Use OS/2 'fdisk' to create partition 0. Make it install-able
and install the system as usual.
2) Use OS/2 'fdisk' to create partition 1. Assign drive C: to
the partition. Then reboot from DOS.
3) Use DOS 'fdisk' to create the extended partition. Assign logical
drive D and E to the partition.
4) Reboot from DOS again. Format drive C: (for DOS), D:, and E:.
5) Use 'tinyBSD', NOT 'NetBSD', to boot the machine. Create a genuine
386BSD partition. Once the 386BSD partition has been made,
boot DOS from floppy and execute PFDISK.EXE. For example, issue
the following commands once you get into DOS:

C>pfdisk 0 <enter>
pfdisk> L <enter> ("pfdisk>" is the command prompt and "L"
is the actual command.)

The second line, i.e., command 'L', will tell you the starting
address and the length of each partition you have. Record the
information for step 6.
6) Reboot NetBSD from floppy. Install NetBSD over the original
386BSD partition. Fill out the information you get from step
5 to the installation program. 'halt' the system after you
have installed 'install2.fs'.
(Ed.Note: This step is the same for 386bsd or NetBSD)
7) Boot OS/2 from floppy. Use fdisk to assign drive C: to the OS/2
partition. In my case, partition 0. Note that fdisk will
change the ID of partition 1 from '0x06' to '0x16'. '0x06'
stands for 16-bit DOS FAT; while '0x16' stands for non-DOS
partition. In the next step, we have to change '0x16' back to
'0x06' manually. You can get the ID information by issuing "I"
under PFDISK. It will tell you what the IDs represent.
8) Boot DOS from floppy. Use the binary editor to change the
partition type as stated in step 7.
9) Install OS-BS under DOS. Remember to enable "Modify startup ID
before booting".
10) Now you can boot any partition w/o floppy diskettes during
startup. :)

The above procedures may not be optimized. But it works for me.
I won't spend anytime to deal with tedious work again :)

You might feel strange why we need 'tinyBSD'. Simply trust me.
By using 'tinyBSD' to create a partition for NetBSD, it will
make your life a lot easier. Hope this helps.

Ed. Note: The reason is because several versions of NetBSD and
FreeBSD will not label a disk that doesn't have a disklabel.

EXPERIMENT !!! %%%%%

Here is Christoph's explanation of how to set up a dual hard drive
system so that the 386BSD/NetBSD system is stored entirely on the
second hard drive.

I have done this with two IDE drives. IDE+SCSI should be a bit
simpler. There's a boot selector called BOOTEASY that can load
from the second drive (you can get it from

What I have done to boot 386bsd from the second (IDE) drive:

- installed booteasy on the first drive
- (you can install booteasy on the second drive, too, if you
have multiple partitions there)
- modified Julian's boot blocks to use the second drive per default
(Ed. Note: See below for the illumination of this step)
- rebuilt the kernel to have root and swap on wd1 (probably not
necessary for you, since your second disk is sd0, which is
already in the config file).

It worked perfectly for me.

This should also work with equal facility for 386bsd users.

Julian Elischer ( adds:

To make the bootcode default to drive 1 look in
/sys/{arch/}i386/boot/boot.c for the following (or similar.. It has
changed a little) code:


* As a default set it to the first partition of the first *
* floppy or hard drive *
part = unit = 0;
maj = (drive&0x80 ? 0 : 2); /* a good first bet */
name = names[currname++];

and change it to:


* As a default set it to the first partition of the SECOND *
* floppy or hard drive *
! part = 0;
! unit = 1;
maj = (drive&0x80 ? 0 : 2); /* a good first bet */
name = names[currname++];

And in yet another interation, Luke Mewburn (
decided to hack that a bit further in his NetBSD 0.9 (as_shipped i.e.,
non-current) to set the drive to the unit which the boot blocks
loaded off.

So, instead of:
part = unit = 0;
part = 0;
unit = (drive & 0x7F);

(the FAQ suggests `part = 0; unit = 1;' )

This way, whatever drive the bb's loaded from, it has that as
default. In my case, I get wd(0,a) when I have my netbsd drive as
C:, and wd(1,a) when I have it as D:. (I've been swapping drives
left right and centre the last day getting dos to boot on one drive
and netbsd on another).

2.5.4 How do I disklabel my second hard drive?

The obvious answer is to use 'disklabel -w -r /dev/rwd1d'.
Unfortunately, this does not always put a real disklabel on the
drive. The symptom is that the drive labels and can be used
until the system is reset, at which point the system tries to
read the label from the disk. It was never actually written to
the disk, so the operation fails.

There are also reports that the /usr/mdec files are corrupted in
some of the distributions. If you have tried everything else, you
can either load the files from one of the many archive sites that
keep the /usr/mdec files around, or you can recompile them

Mark Weaver ( provides us with an illuminating
answer to this perplexing problem.

I had the same problem and there is a simple solution. I'm not
sure why this works, but it does.

Instead of specifying the entire device path name (i.e. /dev/rsd0c),
only specify the two letters of the device type and the unit number
(i.e. "sd0"). Disklabel figures out the rest, and it works.

For instance, the following line works for me:

disklabel -w -r sd0 <drive-type>

assuming of course that the boot block files are in /usr/mdec/ and
the <drive-type> is in the /etc/disktab.

This is also a symptom of some of the versions of FreeBSD and
NetBSD where the disklabel code was 'fixed' to only write a
disklabel on a drive with a disklabel. Oops.

Also, some folks want to mix SCSI and IDE drive together in the
same system.

A report about someone with an Austin Tower (486DX/50), AMI BIOS,
Caviar 2250 IDE, Adaptec 1542CF, and Toshiba SCSI disk (1.2GB)
posted this set of instructions:

The BIOS is configured to boot from the IDE drive as type 47
(user defined). The IDE drive currently has NetBSD 1.0 BETA on it.

The 1542CF switches are 1-4 off (open), 5-8 on. The meaning is as

1(off)=Termination software controlled.
2,3,4(off)=I/O Port x330.
5(on)=disable floppy. I use the Austin floppy controller.
6,7,8(on)=disable Adaptec BIOS.

Note that this means the Adaptec 1542CF on-board setup program is
also disabled. If I need to change my SCSI termination, I first
have to enable the Adapted BIOS (sw 6,7,8), enter 1542CF setup
and change termination, then change switches again.

I could not configure the system to boot from the SCSI drive having
the IDE as a secondary drive.

(Ed Note: There is more news on this front all of the time.
Since I personally don't have much interest in doing this (I
boot from my IDE drives and mount my SCSI drives) I don't see
the problem. )

2.5.5 386bsd/NetBSD/FreeBSD cannot handle disk geometry translations,
but it turns out that my disk geometry is translated. It has
five zones, each with a different sec/track! What kind of
things can I do about the disk translation my hard disk
controller uses?

It turns out that what *BSD cannot handle is not translation, but
translation that changes during the boot-up process. For example,
the configuration above will work just fine IF the translation
that the controller uses when it powers up is the same one that it
uses when it boots. On many PC clones, the BIOS loads a different
geometry after it boots to make the geometry agree with one that is
loaded in CMOS. This is the fatal flaw for *BSD. Fortunately,
once the problem has been identified, it is relatively easy to
handle. Simply make sure that the BIOS is configured to set the
controller to the translated geometry that the card powers up

There are several ways to get around these problems with disk
geometry translation. If you are using a SCSI controller, you can
specify the geometry such that each 'cylinder' is 1 Meg (64 sectors
by 32 tracks for example). Most SCSI controllers will blithely
ignore what YOU tell it the geometry is and press on using this
type of 1 Meg cylinder had to get the job done. NOTE: If you are
going to try this, try to ensure that each 'pseudo cylinder' is a
reasonable size (like 1Meg or 512K).

An interesting method for dealing with disk geometry comes from
Alan Barrett (

This sort of problem happens when you try to install NetBSD in a
partition of a disk whose controller does geometry translation. I
have not had time to find the bug that causes the problem. One
option is to disable the geometry translation: Use ide_conf to
find the true geometry, use the CMOS setup program to tell your
BIOS about the true geometry, and reformat everything. I
successfully did that on one of my systems.

If you are not able to, or do not wish to, disable the geometry
translation then the following work-around might work for you.
This requires that the disk have unused space on {cylinder 0,
head 0}, from sector 2 to sector 16. Almost all DOS disks that
I have ever seen satisfy this condition, because they usually
start the DOS partition in {cylinder 0, head 0, sector 1},
leaving most of {cylinder 0, head 0} unused apart from the
partition sector in {cylinder 0, head 0, sector 1}. However,
many partitioning programs like to hide this fact from you,
and pretend that the DOS partition starts at the front of the
disk; don't believe them until you have checked with a raw
disk editor.

0. Make sure you have adequate backups.

1. Use a partition sector editor (fdisk, pfdisk, os-bs,
booteasy, Norton utilities, whatever) to mark the partition
that you want for NetBSD as bootable with type 0xA5
(decimal 165).

2. Halt the system. Boot the NetBSD kernel copy floppy.
When it asks you to insert the floppy for the root file
system, switch to the Install-1 floppy and press enter.

3. Answer all the installation prompts, using numbers based
on the translated geometry. When it asks if you really
want to label the disk, be brave and say yes.

4. Halt the system. Boot to DOS. Run a disk editor program,
such as Norton utilities.

5.1. Verify that the partition sector in {cyl 0, head 0,
sec 1} is undamaged. Verify that the disklabel program
run as part of the NetBSD install has written the NetBSD
primary boot block to {cylinder xx, head 0, sector 1},
written the disk label to {cyl xx, head 0, sec 2}, and
written the secondary boot program to {cyl xx, head 0,
sectors 3 to 16}. ("xx" represents the translated
cylinder number you chose for the start of the NetBSD
partition. You did choose to start on a cylinder boundary,
I hope.)

5.2. Verify that the space in {cyl 0, head 0, sectors 2 to
16} is still available. Copy the fifteen sectors containing
the NetBSD disk label and secondary boot block from {cyl
xx, head 0, sectors 2 to 16} to {cyl 0, head 0, sectors 2
to 16}.

5.3. Edit the partition table in {cyl 0, head 0, sec 1}.
Change the system ID of the NetBSD partition from 0xA5
(decimal 165) to something else (I use 0xA4, decimal 164),
but keep it flagged as bootable. This will let you boot
to the NetBSD primary boot block.

5.4. Edit one of the previously unused partition table entries
(I hope you have one), to contain the following information:
{sys id = 0xA5, boot flag = 0, start cylinder/head/sector =
0/0/1, end cylinder/head/sector = anything, initial
offset = 0, total size = anything}. This will tell the
NetBSD primary boot block, or a NetBSD system booted from
a floppy, that it should look for the NetBSD disk label
in {cyl 0, head 0, sec 2}.

6. Halt the system. Boot the NetBSD kernel copy floppy. When it
asks you to insert the floppy for the root file system, just
press enter without changing disks.

7. Copy the kernel, and proceed with the rest of the installation
as per the instructions provided with NetBSD. It should now
work because of the trickery with the partition table etc.

2.5.6 My disk label is complaining about '256 heads' in the disklabel.
This is obviously bogus, but it doesn't seem to be hurting anything.
Is it Okay or should I fix it?

Steve Gilbert ( provided us with this answer:

First, If you do a "fdisk wd1" (It may be wd1d, I don't
remember what it wanted), it will list out the partition table
for you. This is something totally different from BSD's idea
of a partition, mind you. The last partition (#3) should be BSD.
All of those figures are correct except for the "ending head" field
which is set to 255 (thus, 256 heads).


2. fdisk -u wd1

...this will prompt you for the stuff you want to change.
Remember, everything is correct execpt for the ending
head. Accept all the default values it gives you at first.
You'll have to tell it that you want to explicitly define
the beginning and ending values.

3. My 420 MB Conner drive has 16 heads, so I just enter 15 as
the ending head number.

4. When you are back out of fdisk, you can do another fdisk wd1
to make sure the values are correct. Don't worry if you mess up,
you can always change it again. Anything you didn't back up is
probably gone by now anyway :-)

5. Reboot and watch NO error message pop up!

...remember that all you want to do is fdisk the drive. You do NOT
want to run disklabel again or newfs the partitions again. This will
write the incorrect 256 crap back. I did this three times before
I finally got smart and did it right.

2.5.7 What are the options for the bootup prompt?

The options are supposed to be as follows:

-s............... boot into single user mode
-a............... ask the user what device to use as root
just before mounting it (Not presently supported)
-d............... once you have the kernel loaded and VM and such up
and going, drop into the kernel debugger.
(great for debugging probe code)
(not sure if this is presently working)

2.5.8 I am having trouble installing WRT 'syslogd: bind: Can't assign
requested address' errors. What are some of the things I should
look at? I also am having trouble with the network: 'starting
network ... ifconfig: localhost: badvalue'.

This is caused by incorrect settings in /etc/netstart and/or

In /etc/hosts, you must have a line that says: localhost

Errors that will result if you don't do this: ifconfig will not
be able to figure out what IP address goes with the name
'localhost' and you'll get 'localhost: bad value.'

In /etc/netstart, you must do:

ifconfig lo0 localhost
route add {hostname} localhost

Errors that will result if you don't do this: the loopback
device will not be properly configured and/or you will have no
route to it. The result is that programs expecting to have
networking enabled (including syslog and friends) will get
horribly confused.

*AND*, if you're not going to be directly connected to a
network, you should change /etc/host.conf to say:


It's set up the other way around by default. I don't like it
that way myself.

Errors that can result if you don't do this: if you don't have
a nameserver available to you, the resolver will have trouble
translating hostnames into IP addresses. Bogosity levels will
be off the scale. (Note also that if you do have access to a
nameserver, you need to set up /etc/resolv.conf to point to
it.) By changing the order, you'll be telling the resolver to
check the host files for matches *first*, then roll over to the
nameserver (if any) if no match is found.

Make sure that:

- There are no typos in any of the three files mentioned above.
- There are no bogus non-ASCII characters in the files
mentioned above.
- All three files have their read permission bits set.

Lastly, be very careful with /etc/hosts.equiv. If you add a
hostname to it, say 'otherhost.domain,' then root on
otherhost.domain will be able to rsh/rlogin to your machine
without a password.

Once you have everything set correctly, you should be able to
type 'telnet localhost' and establish a connection to yourself.
If you get an error such as 'localhost: unknown host' or
'network unreachable' then you still have work to do.

2.6 Common installation problems.

There are many common installation problems. This section covers
the most basic and common of these problems. In addition to this
section, you should also read through the other sections of the
FAQ, since many of the less common questions are answered in other
places in the doc.

2.6.1 Swap space not identified correctly.

There are several levels of problems associated with swap space.
The first is that the swap space on a second disk will not get
used if it is not in your /etc/fstab file. Your /etc/fstab should
have the swap space identified. The following is a representative

/dev/wd0a / ufs rw 1 1
/dev/wd1b swap swap sw 0 0

Another common question is that the install program installs the
swap partition in the 'b' partition, but does not mark it correctly
as a swap partition. The swapping software will use the swap
partition regardless of what it is called, but it should still be
identified in the disklabel as the swap partition. Use 'disklabel'
to change the partition type from 'unused' to 'swap'.

NOTE: I mean it when I say that 386bsd will use the b: partition
for swap without regard to what you called it. If it was your
root partition, it will be toast the first time you try to swap
a process out to disk. I'm not kidding!

2.6.2 Endless reboot cycles.

Endless reboot cycles are the single most vexing aspect of 386bsd.
Part of the problem is that the 0.1 distribution boot routines
were never checked against many types of computers and have bugs.
Most of the bugs are fixed in the patchkit, but that doesn't do
the average novice user any good.

In general, this will show up as a "bad disk label" error, and
can result in in not booting from the hard drive "most of the time".
You may be able to partially (or even completely) work around this
problem by making your machine run at a lower clock rate.

This problem is the result of the kernel reading the wrong register
waiting for the drive controller to come ready. On some
controllers, this isn't a problem; on others, it's fatal.
This problem is solved for almost all controllers in the patchkit
and both FreeBSD and NetBSD.

The correct solution is to use a patched "dist.fs" or "fixit.fs"
boot disk. Since these are no longer available, using an
unpatched 386BSD 0.1 is a not a possibility any longer if you
have this problem. You will have to upgrade to either FreeBSD
or NetBSD.

Another incarnation of this symptom is that the disk geometry on
your disk label (as installed by install) is different than the
geometry that your hard drive controller thinks it is using. This
will most often manifest itself on controllers that insist on
operating in some type of translation mode. Normally the fix is to
find out what the controller geometry is and make the disk label
agree. There are programs available to help with this problem.

Julian's new boot blocks may also solve this problem. They are
available where fine precompiled kernels may be found. Also, they
are included in the patchkit as of version 0.2.2.

2.7 The computer just sits there, or 'that isn't right'.

This class of problems is sometimes caused by an incorrect FTP of
the boot disk. Make sure that the files were grabbed in 'binary'
mode and that the size reported back is 1244000 bytes. Use the
Unix program 'dd' or the DOS program RAWRITE to put these files
onto the diskette. In addition, this is the 'miscellaneous'
section of the FAQ. These problems are included here because they
are usually preceded by 'I just finished installing...'

Another incarnation of this problem is that, sometimes, the major
or minor device numbers for a particular device may not get made
correctly in the install (or upgrade) procedure. If you have a
problem where you can install and everything seems to go well
until you try to boot onto the hard drive, try running the
MAKEDEV script that resides in /dev. More the file to see what
kind of options you should include (if the sd0a drive needs to
be fixed, for example, the command './MAKEDEV sd0' should get
your devices back on the road. If that doesn't work, try one of
the many things below. It could be any (or all) of them....

2.7.1 The boot disk works all right on one computer but not another.

This could be a problem with many different pieces, some of which

- Misconfigured hardware. The iomem, IRQ, and other board
settings must match the ones listed in the INSTALL.NOTES.
Unfortunately, the INSTALL.NOTES are on the disk that will
not boot. You can grab them via FTP from many archive sites.
This installation file may have many names. Look for something
kind of obvious (like 'install.notes' or 'readme' or
'configuration guide') and you should find it. Finally, there
have been many reports (particularly with the BusLogic SCSI
cards (specifically reported was the BT445C VLB host adapter)
where the system seems to boot up, but starts getting
'stray interrupt c' messages. This is usually caused by people
having there SCSI card set up on some IRQ other than the one
that the kernel expects. The factory default for this card
seems to be IRQ 12, but the kernel wants the card at IRQ 11.
Setting the card (using the configuration program supplied)
changes the setting so that it matches the kernel and the card
then works.

- Unsupported hardware. There are several SCSI controllers on the
market that are not fully supported by 386bsd. The Ultrastore 24F
(when not running in ISA emulation mode) is a good example of this.
There are also some network cards that are not directly supported
in 386bsd. If you get into a real bind, you can post a question
to comp.os.386bsd.questions, and one of the many experienced 386bsd
gurus that reads that group will probably try to help you.

- One or more of the devices in the /dev directory on the
intended root partition was either not created correctly or was
not created at all. Run the program MAKEDEV in the /dev/ directory
to ensure that all of the correct devices are built.

2.7.2 Really strange errors in the various *BSD flavors. I am using the original 386bsd 0.1 with no patches installed
and I get flashing multicolored characters and a "ptdi 81061"
prompt error?

Since 386BSD 0.1 is no longer available, you will have to
upgrade to either FreeBSD or NetBSD, which both deal with this
problem directly. Using the new code in NetBSD, I get a "panic: pdti 206067" in
pmap_enter(). What should I do?

Increase NKPDE in /sys/i386/include/pmap.h. Be sure to keep
the changes around as a patch file, since this is one of the
files that will get overwritten during a source code update.

2.7.3a I get the error "isr 15 and error: isr 17" on an NE2000 card.
2.7.3b I have some card on IRQ2 and it doesn't work; why?
2.7.3c I am getting lousy performance out of my network card. What are
some of the other possibilities?

The description of this problem is that one of the cards in your
system (most likely the VGA card) is either generating interrupts
or is causing the IRQ 2 to be actively disabled. Older VGA card
uses IRQ 2 during vertical retrace to prevent sparklies.

One solution would be to plan on not using your Ethernet card
(or any other card you want on IRQ 2) until you have rebuilt
the kernel so that it expects it at an interrupt other than
IRQ 2 or 9, re-jumper or reconfigure the card to match the IRQ
you have selected, and enable it.

From time to time, this problem will manifest itself as a general
tendency of the network card to transfer either very sporadically
or very slowly. It is precisely the same problem.

James Van Artsdalen ( has offered at
least one solution:

If this is the problem, you can use Scotch tape to cover
the IRQ 2 signal on the VGA's ISA connector.

There has been some discussion as to whether scotch tape is really
appropriate inside a card slot. My answer would be "yes". This is
because the alternate solution of cutting the trace on the video
board seems, to my mind, to reduce the value of the board. It is
possible that, in the future, with a bi-bipartite driver, you would
want to catch the retrace interrupt to get rid of "sparklies" or to
implement a driver for a very high resolution monitor for X. If
this happens, given a choice between alcohol and solder, I vote for

Either way, you will probably find that your VGA card uses IRQ 2
strictly for compatibility with older cards. With the advent of
dual-ported memory for video cards, virtually all of these types
of problems have disappeared.

2.7.4 What is the difference between IRQ2 and IRQ9? Are they really
the same, or are they really different?

On the XT, there was one interrupt controller, an Intel 8259, which
handled 8 interrupts numbered IRQ0 through IRQ7. IRQs 2 through 7
were accessible via bus lines IRQ2 through IRQ7.

The AT had two interrupt controllers. Due to the design of the
8259, one has to be the master and the rest (up to 8) must be
slaves. Each slave controller output its interrupt request to
and input on the master controller. In the case of the AT, the
master controller handles IRQ0 through IRQ7. The slave handles
IRQ8 through IRQ15. The interrupt request from the slave to the
master goes through IRQ2, which is termed the cascase input.

This means. of course, that the bus line for IRQ2 could no longer
be used for external interrupts. Instead, the bus line that WAS
IRQ2 in the XT became IRQ9 on the AT. This whole issue is
confused further by the fact that some vendors refer to this
external interrupt as IRQ2, while others refer to it as IRQ9. In
either case, if you are talking about an external interrupt, it
means the same thing.

BTW, IRQ8 is used for the Real Time Clock, and does not have an
external interrupt. Here is a map, in case anyone still needs it:

Internal External Function
IRQ0 n/a Refresh/Timer
IRQ1 n/a Keyboard
IRQ2 n/a Cascade Input to Master
IRQ3 IRQ3 Free (Com port)
IRQ4 IRQ4 Free (Com port)
IRQ5 IRQ5 Free
IRQ6 IRQ6 Free
IRQ7 IRQ7 Free (Printer/Sound Card*)
IRQ8 n/a Real Time Clock
IRQ9 IRQ2 Free (Network card)
IRQ10 IRQ10 Free

* NOTE: The IRQ7 entry is spooky. If you use the interruptless
printer driver (either from 386bsd, NetBSD, or FreeBSD) then you
can still have an interrupting device (like a sound card) on
interrupt 7. Basically, you can as many devices on each IRQ as
you want, but only one of them can be 'actively' interrupting.
There are very few drivers for *BSD that support an
interruptless mode that it almost doesn't pay to even include

2.7.5 Some of my SCSI devices (like a tape drive) don't work; why?

That is because the original 386bsd 0.1 SCSI drivers didn't
recognize any devices past the first two (ID 0 and ID 1). Also,
there was a bug in the distribution floppy regarding the devices
at ID 6. The 'dev' files in 386bsd 0.1 for that id need to be
remade. Use MAKEDEV to do that.

The disks and tapes will be recognized and configured when they
are first accessed.

A new and improved SCSI driver has been written by Julian Elischer
and is available from many sources. It includes support for many
new types of SCSI controllers and many devices that are thereby
attached. This driver is included in the patchkit.

In addition, many of these types of devices are supported in
FreeBSD and NetBSD. If one of the devices you are interested
in using is not supported in 386BSD, you might try one of these
newer systems.

Even with the newer systems, you run the risk of having a
problem with a SCSI device from time to time. There are some
cards (like the new Adaptec 27* series) that software drivers
are either not in the works or the documentation is simply
unavailable. Another culprit here is that some machines are
very touchy about the quality and length of cables, as well
as SCSI IDs. There was one report of a older hard drive that
took a little longer to spin up than the rest of the drives
in the chain. Whenever this drive was put early in the ID
string (like 1 or 2) it would be 'not found' but if it was
placed near the end (like after the tape drive) it would have
spun up and been found.

Who says computers are logical?

2.7.6 I try to run 'ps' or 'w' and get ': cannot get namelist'
from the TinyBSD kernel. What did I do wrong?

Nothing. There is a class of programs that interact directly
with the current kernel. These programs include 'ps', 'w',
'uptime', and others. The kernel on the TinyBSD disk is not
capable of supporting these programs because the symbol table
that these programs use has been stripped out of the kernel to
save space. The easiest way to fix this is to get a different
kernel (build it yourself). Of course, you can have a fully
functional system with these programs, but they are nice to have.

2.7.7 I get a 'Floating point constant out of range' when I try to
compile package 'n'. What is broke?

This problem was encountered during many package compilations,
including compiling gcc-2.3.3 under NetBSD-0.8.

NetBSD-0.9, and presumably FreeBSD, contain a repaired printf()
function, which corrects this problem. The easiest solution for
this (and MANY other) problems is to upgrade. In addition, these
systems also include gcc-2.3.3 (or newer) as the default compiler.

There is also a circular dependency for protoize.o/unprotoize.o
in the Makefile. Add the lines

touch protoize.o
touch unprotoize.o

after the line:

touch stamp-proto

After this "make bootstrap" will run to completion.

gas apparently has bugs too. It should produce +Infinity. I
think it is OK internally but it may be trusting the library
too much. gcc can easily be changed to avoid printf for output,
but input is harder.

One of the problems is that various pieces of code rely on the
value of DBL_MAX. A kludge to fix it is to change the line

#define DBL_MAX 1.7976931348623157E+308

One value that works is

#define DBL_MAX 1.7976931348623147E+308
^ was 5

This is a kludge, but it does mostly work.

The problem is entirely in printf() (really in cvt()), NOT in
atof(). I have inspected the output of atof() bit by bit, and
it is well within IEEE specification.

The digits `157' are the `best' approximation.

The code for printf() generates a representation which is not even
in the range of doubles. Below are the details:

atof("1.7976931348623157e+308") returns


which is the maximum double value and is correct. However,
printf() of the previous yields `1.7976931348623168e+308', which
isn't even within the floating point range. It is clearly printf()
that is broken, and a quick inspection of the code is enough to
determine that it uses a pessimal algorithm.

atof() has been tested with many other values, and it has never
been off by more than is allowed by IEEE 754 (though it is not

2.7.8 I want to use the Adaptec 1542C SCSI controller. What are the
problems/tricks you need to know to get it working?

The first thing to check when trying to use the 1542C is the setting
of 'Enable Disconnection' under the 'SCSI Device Configuration'
menu. It should be set to YES for all devices, as the manual warns

Matthias Urlichs ( has provided this
description of the types of things that can cause problems for the
controller and devices attached to it.

The problem is that the Adaptec 1542C has (a) rather powerful line
drivers, and (b) is sensitive to transient signals which can be
induced by them via either a bad cable or a bad external terminator.

A bad cable is almost any cable which doesn't meet SCSI-2 specs.

A bad external terminator is one which doesn't adequately buffer
its resistor network.


- Remove the internal terminator from the last drive in your chain.
Replace with an active SCSI-2 external terminator. Side
improvement: active terminators consume a bit less power.

- Check cables. Specifically, some cables carry less than the
nominal 50 signal wires. Manufacturers sometimes think they can
get away with this because almost all odd-numbered pins are GROUND
anyway. So, if pins 1 and 3 or 3 and 5 are connected, you're
likely to have a marginal cable.

- Make sure that the terminator power is supplied by all devices
and that the power pin is actually connected on your cable. The
problem here is that some idiot device manufacturers save on
2-cent diodes, which means that the thing will pull terminator
power to ground if it's not plugged in. (Two of these on one
bus are even worse.)

- Consider creating your own cabling. Take a 50-wire flat ribbon
and press the appropriate connectors onto it in precisely the
right places. (Move your devices as to minimize cable length.)
Be aware that if a device has two external connectors, you must
take the SCSI bus in at one connector and out at the other
-- don't leave the other connector dangling; this isn't within
the SCSI specs because the cable usually is too long.

- Better but more expensive: use 2-twisted cable. (I.e., wires 1&2
are twisted around each other, wire 3&4, ...) This will improve
reliability because the wires are twisted at different rates.
These cables have short non-twisted segments every 50 cm (1.5')
so that you can press on your connectors instead of heating up
that soldering iron.

- While you're rebuilding your system anyway...: If you have more
than one drive per power supply, check if these drives have
adequate condensors to buffer their power. I have two 80-MB
Seagates which refused to work more than a few hours without
glitches -- then I soldered two 10-uF Tantals onto their power
connector and they've been flawless ever since.

The terminator power is pin 26. Be aware that SCSI counts pins as
they appear on a ribbon cable, not as they're sometimes numbered
on the connectors. Pin 25 is supposed to be disconnected.

2.7.9 My system boots OK off the floppy, but once I try to boot from
the hard drive, the message "changing root device to sd0a"
appears and the system hangs. What is the most likely thing
that I have done wrong?

A common cause for this is when all of the right devices aren't
created on the root partition. Since you say you can boot off
of a floppy, do so and check to make sure everything in /dev
exists. You might consider running "MAKEDEV all" to be sure
everything is created.

(Ed.Note: I find that whenever I create a new kernel, it isn't a
'bad' idea to run a precautionary MAKEDEV to make sure that the
devices are created correctly. Since I only build a new kernal
about once a month, it isn't a very costly insurance policy.)

Also, there are known problems with IRQ configurations and the
PCI bus. The system hanging right after the changing root device
message usually indicates a misconfigured IRQ for the controller.
The initial probes by most (all?) drivers are done in polled mode,
only when mounting the disk for real does the kernel begin to do
interrupt driven I/O and DMA.

Is this system a PCI system? Is the SCSI controller a PCI board?
If so, make sure the IRQ configured in the PCI bios matches the
IRQ configured for the card.

Also, with PCI, forgetting to enable the slot for "master" in the
BIOS setup or motherboard jumpers or putting a bus mastering card
in a slave only slot will give simlar symptoms. The system may not
have problems under DOS because some SCSI BIOS or device drivers
don't actually use the DMA or bus mastering features of the
card... {sigh}, they run in PIO mode under DOS.

2.8 Other common problems that are attributed to the installation
process but are caused other places.

2.8.1 Why don't the man pages for "magic" and "file" work?

The manual page for magic and file all have two dots before the
commands, e.g.. "..SH" it should be ".SH" just delete one of the
double dots in the whole file and then it will work. These man
pages are fixed by both the patch-kit, NetBSD, and FreeBSD. The
only time this problem every occurs is when you are using the
distribution from one of the old CD-ROM distributions are get the
original 386bsd 0.1 release.

2.8.2 Why is apropos broke?

The Makefile in /usr/othersrc/share/man/Makefile creates the
whatis.db. The problem is that it doesn't strip the backspaces in
the title and apropos can't handle that. So add a "col -b" to strip

excerpt from the Makefile.

for file in `find /usr/share/man -type f -name '*.0' -print`; do \
sed -n -f /usr/share/man/makewhatis.sed $$file; \
done | col -b | sort -u > whatis.db
install -o ${BINOWN} -g ${BINGRP} -m 444 whatis.db \

This problem is also solved in the patchkit, and other *BSD releases.

Also, if the Makefile is moved to the /usr/share/man directory, the
whatis.db will reside where it needs to eventually reside, and the
install will wipe it out. An easy fix for that problem is to change
the two references of whatis.db in the excerpt above to
/tmp/whatis.db. This will ensure the file is correctly built and

2.8.3 I want to use more than 16 Megabytes of memory. Will any of the
BSD based systems support it?

Early on, 386bsd 0.1 would choke radically on any system that had
more than 8M of memory. With the advent of the patchkit, this
problem was, for the most part, solved; memory could then expand to
the 16M limit inherent in the ISA bus.

As people started using VESA and EISA busses, however, attempts
were made to push the envelope even further. Memory limits have
expanded seemingly without limit. Since the EISA bus (for example)
has 32 address lines, it is capable of supporting more memory than
the ISA bus with its 24 address lines. While the 386 and 486 are
capable of addresses up to 4 Gigabytes (considerably more than the
ISA bus allows) the ISA bus is still the primary limitation.

When using NetBSD and FreeBSD, there is no SOFTWARE limitation on
more than 16Meg of memory. There are still hardware limitations.
The limit is caused by DMA controllers which copy memory images
around the system. Many cards which people use in VESA and EISA
machines either emulate ISA cards (in order to work with *BSD) or
are really ISA cards. There are reports of people having trouble
with more than 64Meg of memory, but anyone rich enough to have
that kind of memory should be paying for his OS. :-)

Recently some folks have been reporting that they are getting
warnings like these:

hostname /netbsd: sd0: not queued
hostname /netbsd: aha0: DMA beyond end of ISA
hostname /netbsd: sd0: not queuedaha0: DMA beyond end of ISA

This error is caused when the buffer for I/O is beyond the address
range that the ISA bus can reach. With 16M you should be okay,
however, some motherboards do reclaim all or part of the "lost"
384K (from the I/O "hole" from A0000-FFFFF) and put it just beyond
the end of the rest of the memory, so you actually get 16M plus a
little bit.

One fix is bounce buffers. FreeBSD has implemented this, and NetBSD
will as soon as they come up with a method that is compatible with
all of the machines that NetBSD supports.

Another fix is to either turn off the reclaiming of the extra memory
(most motherboards that do this allow you to disable it), hack
machdep.c to force the physical memory used to 16M, or use a 32 bit
bus (EISA, VLB, or PCI) controller.

Jordan K Hubbard ( has provided this
explanation of the distinction:

Just so long as you're using a DMA-using disk controller in EISA
mode, rather than ISA mode, you can use more than 16 Meg of memory.

For those who may find such a distinction confusing, let me explain:

You can use an ISA controller (such as an Adaptec 1542) in an EISA
machine, but as it will still think it's in an ISA box and refuse to
use the extra address lines, this is no different than having an
ISA machine as far as >16MB is concerned.

You can use an EISA controller in "ISA mode", meaning it uses the
older protocols for compatability reasons (examples being Adaptec
1742 in "standard" mode, DTC 3290 in "Adaptec" mode, etc.) and
again, does not use the extra address lines.

The only way to get full EISA, 32MB-of-memory-and-everything, mode
is to use an EISA controller in full EISA mode (for Adaptec 1742,
this is "enhanced" mode, for DTC 3290 it's "DTC" mode, the
Ultrastor 24F in EISA (rather than IDE emulation) mode, etc.).

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

In addition, several other types of ISA controllers which do NOT
use DMA will not cause problems. IDE, ESDI, and RLL controllers
are examples of this type of card. The discussion above also applies
to VESA and VLB cards.

So, the bottom line is that you are limited to the amount of memory
that your DMA equipped devices can access. Once again, the weakest
link is the strength of your machine.

2.8.4 I tried to use a device in my computer that should be there. When
I did, I got a "Device not configured error." What do I do now?

Garrett A. Wollman ( provides us with this
brief discussion in answer to a specific question. It wears well
as a generic answer as well.

When any program tells you ``Device not configured'', it's trying
to tell you something very important about what you tried to do:
namely, that the device you tried to access is not configured
into the running operating system. This is the error message
corresponding to ENXIO.

There are three major causes for this error:

1) The kind of device you requested was not configured into the
system. This is R.W.'s problem; the generic kernels
are not distributed with the Berkeley Packet Filter enabled by
default. To correct this, you must add the appropriate device or
pseudo-device to your kernel configuration file and recompile.
(In this particular case, `pseudo-device bpfilter

2) The kind of device you requested was configured into the system,
but either the device you requested would use more than the
maximum you configured into the system, or if a physical device,
was not found during autoconfiguration. To solve this, either
change your configuration file, or change the I/O settings on the
device to match what the file says.

3) The major or minor device number specified by the device's
entry(ies) in /dev is incorrect. To solve this, re-MAKEDEV the
device (read the MAKEDEV script for more details). Hopefully
whatever change caused the kernel's internal device tables to get
changed also updated your MAKEDEV script; otherwise, you will have
to grovel through the kernel to see what is going on.

Dave Burgess

Feb 13, 1995, 2:00:21 AM2/13/95
Posted-By: auto-faq
Archive-name: 386bsd-faq/part4

Section 3. (Kernel Building and Maintenance)

3.0 System Internals

One of the interesting aspects of *BSD is the fact that it comes
with the complete source. This allows you to make changes to the
system, recompile, and test out your new ideas. This section of
the FAQ describes many of the different aspects of this endeavor
and common problems and pitfalls that are encountered. Kevin Lahey
provided the substantial portion of this section. You can contact
him via E-Mail at ( or contact Dave Burgess

3.1 Kernel

3.1.1 How do I build a kernel?

The kernel can be compiled in a variety of ways to support different
devices and configurations. Compilation is controlled by a config
file that specifies the characteristics of the kernel. A set of
different config files is located in /sys/i386/conf or
/sys/arch/i386/conf. The configuration file names are in upper case.

To build a particular kernel (in this example, we use the GENERICISA
configuration file in NetBSD or FreeBSD):

% cd /sys/i386/conf
% cd /sys/compile/GENERICISA
% make depend
% make

If you are using 386bsd 0.1, you'll need patch 1 from the patchkit
to get the compilation to work, because the version file isn't
correctly included in the Makefile.

In NetBSD, since there are multiple architectures supported, there
is an architecture line in the middle of the path to these files.
See the build.kernel script in section 3.8 for more information.

3.1.2 I want to do one of the following things:
* add a device not in the distributed kernel (third com
port, additional disk or tape, line printer driver, etc).
* use a patch from the net or the patchkit to fix a kernel bug.
* add another swap device.
* recompile the kernel to remove extraneous devices so that
it takes up less space.
* configure more pseudo-terminals to allow for more xterms
or network logins.

You're going to have to recompile the kernel after you modify the
config file. See section 3.2 below for more information about the
config file in general.

3.1.3 I don't have the source distribution -- how can I rebuild the

There are reference sites available, as well as the 'good
net-neighbor' policy, whereby you could make arrangements
with a net neighbor to use a large local machine as a Network
File System (NFS), or allow you to compile a new kernel on
their machine and transfer it to yours. You can also ask for
help from comp.os.386bsd.questions if you get stuck and cannot
make any headway.

3.1.4 Now that I have a kernel, how do I install it?

Your kernel is called /386bsd or /netbsd. Copy the new kernel
from /sys/compile/GENERICISA/386bsd to /, assuming that it is
in that directory. This is relatively straightforward; there
are a couple of things to remember, though. First, if you
really screw up the new kernel, you want to have something to
fall back on, so be sure to save /386bsd to /386bsd.old before
copying in a new kernel. Second, if you just copy the new
kernel over the currently running kernel, funny things can
happen. Be sure to move aside the currently running kernel
before copying over the new one.

There are folks that have reported that overwriting their
current kernel has never caused them any real problems. On the
other hand, if the old kernel was working and the new one
doesn't, and you have made changes that require that old
kernel, it should be available to the system, and saving it
to /386bsd.alt or /386bsd.old are reasonable things to do.

If you are really paranoid, you can mount a new fixit floppy
and replace its kernel with the one you just built, and then
boot from the fixit floppy to make sure everything will work.
This is a pretty good idea if you are making radical changes or
if you are unsure about your changes.

3.1.5 After installing the patchkit and recompiling the kernel with the
option "WD8013", I am no longer able to reboot the machine. A
cold boot (power on) runs fine, but after a reboot no boot drive
is found by the BIOS. Besides having a 16-bit WD/SMC Ethernet
card installed the machines try to boot using either a Adaptec
1742 or 1542 SCSI board to boot from.

This answer was provided by Hellmuth Michaelis (
and by Rodney Grimes (rgrimes@acacia).

Remove "option WD8013" from the config files and recompile and
reinstall the kernel.

The reason that option WD8013 often causes this reboot problem is

There is a requirement that all memory within a 128k bank in the
0xA0000 to 0xFFFFF region be either 16-bit or 8-bit. On a cold
boot, the WD8013 boards are reset to 8-bit mode, the POST
(Power On Self Test) passes without error. 386bsd comes up, the
if_we.c driver places the WD8013 in 16-bit mode. Now on a soft boot
when the BIOS runs some quick POST tests it finds a problem in the
0xA000 to 0xF000 region. You probably get a "beep-beep" when this
happens. It means you have a memory size conflict.
The machine has been mis-configured.

This is a little known fact about 16-bit vs 8-bit option cards.
It has caused more than one person to go crazy tracking down
what they swear is a bug in the program. It is not, it is a
flaw in the design of the ISA bus. The signal MEMCS16- must be
returned the same for every 128k block of memory:

A0000-BFFFF Must all be either 8-bit or 16-bit.
B0000-CFFFF Must all be either 8-bit or 16-bit.
D0000-FFFFF Must all be either 8-bit or 16-bit.

In your particular configuration (WD8013 @ cc000) I suspect that
you have another board in the B0000-CFFFFF region that is 8-bit,
i.e. your Adaptec has an 8-bit BIOS on it!

Try moving the board to the 0xD0000 region and see if it works
there, you may still have a problem as many modern system BIOSes
are now 8-bit. If your system BIOS is 8-bit, try shadowing the
system BIOS region at 0xF0000 to 0xFFFFF, this effectively turns
it into a 16-bit BIOS.

Do not attempt to shadow the WD8013, it will cause you many
headaches. In fact, it sometimes helps to turn on BIOS shadowing.
Some BIOSes allow to copy ROM contents to unused RAM pages for
selected 16KB-regions. While it is generally a good idea to turn
BIOS shadowing off, I have also observed that sometimes it helps to
turn shadowing of true ROM regions on.

3.1.6 My system is complaining about stray interrupt 7. Is my machine
going to explode or anything?

No. They are caused by lots of things. They are, as far as
anyone that should be expected to know about this stuff, harmless.
There are ramifications on them being there, but for MOST users
they do not pose a real threat to your operations. For those of
you that are doing REALLY interrupt intensive stuff, you may want
to grab a technical reference and figure out why the 8259 is not
getting reset correctly.

In spite of the number of times this has come up (and people have
even referenced this section) there are still at least two
questions on the net about this. A memorable one was a guy who
was just vehement that the stray int 7 was what was keeping his
system from booting. In fact, he went so far as to say that this
document was practically worthless because I didn't tell him how
to fix it. Of course, once he configured his hard drive controller
so that it was on the right interrupt, his booting problem went
away. I have said it before and I will say it again. For MOST
users they do not pose a real threat to your operations.
I have heard of three people (out of at least 2000) that have
actually have problems so bad that they couldn't proceed. They
bought new computers, and the problem went away.

These stray interrupts are caused by something in the PC.
I have yet to see a convincing explanation of precisely what,
but they are definitely caused by something. There are four
ways to deal with this problem.

1) Ignore them. They are spurious and do not effect the
operation of your computer.

2) Implement the lpt driver. This way, the driver traps
(the lpt driver expects IRQ 7) and then quietly discards them.
That is why when folks implement the lpt driver the 'problem'
goes away. The computer is taught how to ignore them.

3) Do what the original 386bsd code did. Comment out the
diagnostic and associated code that tries to deal with them so
you don't see the error message.

4) Buy a new computer that doesn't cause this problem. It is a
known hardware problem with the 8259 being reset incorrectly in

3.1.7 I keep getting "wd0c: extra interrupt". What does it mean?

It means that the drive was already processing a command
(active) when it recieved an interrupt from the system telling
it to see if it had anything to do. This is mostly harmless
but could indicate that the drive/controller is having problems
if the message appears often.

3.1.8 I found a bug in the kernel. How do I report it?

Both NetBSD and FreeBSD include a facility called 'bugfiler'.
While the instructions are included in both system, there is
still some apparent confusion about when to use (and when to
NOT use) bugfiler.

Jordan K. Hubbard ( provides us with this
short article for FreeBSD.

To send bug reports, you want to use the sendbug(1) command.
The entire package for sending and filing these bugs is known
as "the bugfiler", which is where the confusion stepped in,
but sendbug is definately the command you want to use.

Second, it doesn't take a "net connection" to use sendbug,
since all it does is package up your "bug report form" and mail
it to us; no direct internet connectivity is required, just mail.

So if you can send internet mail you can use sendbug, or you can
also send mail to the `' address
(do NOT send it to since it will BOUNCE, this
is not the place to send bugs to, just to ftp stuff from!).

NetBSD has a similar facility, but has a different program and
host for bug reports. The program for NetBSD is called send-pr
and is slightly different in several respects. It is
recommended that NetBSD users see the man page on send-pr
before filing bug reports.

3.1.9 Can someone please give a reasonably clear set of instructions
as to how to get a "current" version of NetBSD running?

Marc Wandschneider <> provided this
description of what he did to upgrade to the (then) current
version of NetBSD:

1. Delete the old source tree, saving what I wanted to (a bunch
of files moved around, and just unpacking the new one over the
old will cause some problems)

2. Unpacked the new source tree.

3. ran the following sequence of commands:

cd /usr/src/share/mk; make install
cd /usr/src/include; make && make install
setenv LDSTATIC -static
setenv NOPIC
cd /usr/src/lib/libc; make && make install
cd /usr/src/gnu/lib/libmalloc; make && make install
cd /usr/src/gnu/usr.bin/gas; make && make install
cd /usr/src/gnu/usr.bin/ld; make && make install
# You'll probably get some barfage from the above because
# won't build yet. Ignore it and install ld anyway.
cd /usr/src/gnu/usr.bin/gcc; make && make install
cd /usr/src/lib ; make && make install
cd /usr/src/gnu/lib ; make && make install
cd /usr/src/gnu/usr.bin/ld; make && make install
cd /usr/src; make && make install

At some point during the installation, your system will be
fixed enough that many of these steps will no longer be required.
For example, the new 'make' defines the variables OBJDIR and
MACHINE_ARCH for you, so you will not need those once you get to
that point. Until then, the following procedure may suit your
needs better.

#! /bin/csh

setenv MACHINE_ARCH i386
# Pick one of these three setenv lines.
# setenv MAKE "make clean "
# setenv MAKE "make obj "
setenv MAKE
cd /usr/src/share/mk
make install
cd /usr/src/include
make && make install
setenv LDSTATIC -static
setenv NOPIC
cd /usr/src/usr.bin/make
make && make install

cd /usr/src/usr.bin/rpcgen
make && make install

cd /usr/src/lib/libc
make && make install

cd /usr/src/gnu/lib/libmalloc
make && make install

cd /usr/src/gnu/usr.bin/gas
make && make install

cd /usr/src/gnu/usr.bin/ld
make && make install

cd /usr/src/gnu/usr.bin/gcc2
make && make install


cd /usr/src/lib
make && make install

cd /usr/src/gnu/lib
make && make install

cd /usr/src/gnu/usr.bin/ld
make && make install

cd /usr/src
make && make install

NOTE: At some point, you might very well come across an
unresolved external __DYNAMIC in crt0.o. If this happens, edit
the makefile for crt0.o (lib/csu/i386) and remove the -DDYNAMIC
flag) make && make install. Then put the flag back in the
makefile (but don't rebuild it until the natural order of things
dicates that it happen)

And Theo Deraadt provides this guidance when you get an error
like "init_main.o: Undefined symbol _pdevinit referenced from
text segment."

You need to
(1) install new config
(2) make clean
(3) re-config your kernel
then this goes away

3.2 What exactly is this config file, anyway? What are all of these
cryptic notations?

I've annotated the distributed 386bsd GENERICISA file; my comments
are delineated by the '--' symbols.


# GENERICISA -- Generic ISA machine -- distribution floppy
-- BSD can be compiled for different hardware platforms, so it is important to
-- define the hardware types. 386bsd can only be built for 386 or
-- compatible machines, so this is sort of superfluous, but maintains
-- compatibility with standard BSD config files.
machine "i386"
cpu "i386"
-- The ident describes the machine for which this kernel is to be built.
-- It is usually the system name -- "ROKKAKU", "REF", or whatever.
-- This can be used for conditional compilation, so that kernel changes
-- can be compiled in only for one machine.
-- This should indicate the timezone of the system relative the
-- Greenwich. 8 is PST; 4 is EST. A fuller explanation is provided
-- below.
timezone 8 dst 7
-- maxusers isn't strictly checked; it is just used to size several
-- system data parameters.
maxusers 10
-- The options control the conditional compilation of features into the
-- kernel. The options can be listed all on a line separated by commas.
-- They are #define'ed when the kernel is compiled, so that #ifdef's
-- will work. An option can be given a value by appending an equals sign
-- and a value (enclosed in double quotes) to the option name.

-- Hopefully the names are at least somewhat self-explanatory. To
-- discover what everything does, you'd have to go through the kernel
-- looking for all of the appropriate #ifdef's.

-- [Perhaps somebody else could list the *exact* meanings of these
-- options and some of the other possible options?]
options "COMPAT_43"
options "TCP_COMPAT_42"

-- The config line controls the location of the root, swap, and dump
-- devices. Anything not specified is defaulted. This is where you add
-- support for multiple swap devices. Just list 'em, separated by 'and'.
-- The config line below identifies the root drive as wd0 and the
-- swap drives as wd0 and as0. See the section on swap devices in FAQ_02
-- for additional information.
config "386bsd" root on wd0 swap on wd0 and as0
-- A 'controller' is a device or bus controller. 'isa' is obviously for
-- the ISA bus. 'wd0' is for regular disk controllers, 'fd0' is for the
-- floppies, and 'as0' is for SCSI disk controllers.
controller isa0
-- The fields work as follows:

-- a. What do you call this device?
-- b. What controller is this on? As you can see, the disk controller
-- talks to the ISA bus, and the disks talk to the disk controller.
-- c. Where are the registers for the controller mapped into memory?
-- This is #defined in /sys/i386/isa/isa.h.
-- d. What IRQ is this device set up for?
-- e. What routine should be called on an interrupt from the device?

-- a b c d e
-- vvv vvv vvvvvvv vv vvvvvv

controller wd0 at isa? port "IO_WD1" bio irq 14 vector wdintr

-- You need a 'disk' entry for every disk on the controller. In the
-- config file originally shipped with 386bsd, both hard disks were
-- incorrectly identified as wd0. Be sure to change the second occurrence
-- to wd1, as I have done in below.

disk wd0 at wd0 drive 0

disk wd1 at wd0 drive 1

controller fd0 at isa? port "IO_FD1" bio irq 6 drq 2 vector fdintr
disk fd0 at fd0 drive 0
disk fd1 at fd0 drive 1

-- The 'drq' specifies the channel used for bus-mastering DMA.
controller as0 at isa? port 0x330 bio irq 11 drq 5 vector asintr
disk as0 at as0 drive 0
disk as1 at as0 drive 1

-- Define other physical devices. pc0 is the keyboard, npx0 drives the
-- math coprocessor, and com* controls the com ports.
device pc0 at isa? port "IO_KBD" tty irq 1 vector pcrint
device npx0 at isa? port "IO_NPX" irq 13 vector npxintr
device com1 at isa? port "IO_COM1" tty irq 4 vector comintr
device com2 at isa? port "IO_COM2" tty irq 3 vector comintr

-- Ethernet drivers of various sorts and the particular configuration
-- information they require. For most installations, only one of these
-- devices would normally be defined.
device we0 at isa? port 0x280 net irq 2 iomem 0xd0000 iosiz 8192 vector weintr
device ne0 at isa? port 0x300 net irq 2 vector neintr
device ec0 at isa? port 0x250 net irq 2 iomem 0xd8000 iosiz 8192 vector ecintr
device is0 at isa? port 0x280 net irq 10 drq 7 vector isintr

-- Tape driver
device wt0 at isa? port 0x300 bio irq 5 drq 1 vector wtintr

-- The TCP/IP loop-back device, ethernet interface, slip interface, log
-- device, and pseudo-terminals.
pseudo-device loop
pseudo-device ether
pseudo-device sl 2
pseudo-device log
pseudo-device pty 4

-- Devices required by VM.
pseudo-device swappager
pseudo-device vnodepager
pseudo-device devpager

Normally, there is an annotated configuration file called ALL which
gives a list of all of the options for the configuration file.

The configuration file that was used to create the list above
was for a 386BSD system. Many things have changed in the
config files for NetBSD and FreeBSD. As an example, the
psuedo-devices swappager, vnodepager, and devpager are now full
fledged devices. Like it said up at the top, use the config
files that come with your system as a basis for your own
experiments in kernel building.