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386BSD Release Notes

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Richard Foulk

Mar 13, 1992, 7:47:10 PM3/13/92

Release Notes on 386BSD
W. Jolitz

_ 3_ 8_ 6_ B_ S_ D _ R_ e_ l_ e_ a_ s_ e _ 0._ 0:

This is 386BSD Release 0.0, the first edition from the
386BSD project. It comprises an entire and complete UNIX-
like operating system for the Intel 80386/486 based IBM PC,
and is based almost entirely on the NET/2 release from the
University of California, which contained much of the ear-
lier freely redistributable and modifiable 386BSD source
code done by William F. Jolitz and contributed to the Uni-
versity of California at Berkeley for distribution.

Originally conceived by Bill and Lynne Jolitz in 1989,
the 386BSD project is an attempt to foster new research and
development in operating systems and networking technology
by broadening access to base technology. In cooperation with
the University of California, an advanced operating system
was redesigned by William F. Jolitz to work on common
386-based PC's for use by smaller colleges and other groups
that did not have the resources to otherwise obtain it. In
addition, starting with the NET/2 release, this software has
been released in a form that does not require license agree-
ments, non-disclosure, or other controls that would limit
it's use in undergraduate teaching programs.

Unlike NET/2, 386BSD Release 0.0 is a complete and
operational system, including binaries and an executable
installation system, but still available under the same
"freely redistributable" terms of the original NET/2
release. Our forthcoming book on the internals of 386BSD
will complete the picture for educational and research pro-
grams to make use of this technology with students with the
necessary academic freedom.

We have been writing a series of articles about 386BSD
that have appeared in _ D_ r. _ D_ o_ b_ b_ s _ J_ o_ u_ r_ n_ a_ l since January of
1991. Future announcements, and information on 386BSD may be
found within its covers. The DDJ BBS should have copies of
binary and source code when available. Also, you can contact
us via the magazine.

_ C_ o_ n_ t_ e_ n_ t_ s:

Release 0.0 consists of:

Source Distribution
A collection of 8 or 10 high-density floppy disks,
which is a multi-volume compressed TAR format archive
of the source language files with which to recreate the
system. When extracted, the files consume

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approximately 31 MB of space. In addition, at least 28
MB of space is taken up by the binary files created
when recompiling.

Binary Distribution
A collection of 6 or 8 high-density floppy disks, also
in compressed multi-volume TAR form, containing the
executable, data, and documentation files of a working
386BSD system, including C and C++ compilers and
libraries. When extracted, the files occupy approxi-
mately 20 MB of disk space. Note that at least 5 MB of
swap space, plus an operating reserve of another 10% of
the total accumulated disk space mentioned should be
considered as minimum to operate this system.

Distribution Installation Floppy System
A single floppy system is provided, again on a high-
density diskette. This completely standalone system
manages to allow a potential 386/486 based PC to be
qualified for use with 386BSD, simply by attempting to
boot it as an ordinary floppy. Once operational, it can
be used to configure the PC's hard disk and load the
binary floppy distribution. In addition, this floppy
provides a means to rescue and repair the software on
the hard disk in the event of a calamity.

Difference Floppy
A single 360 KB MS-DOS floppy containing all the dif-
ferences and new files necessary to make the NET/2 tape
operational, for those who already have the tape and
wish to "do it themselves". It also serves to illus-
trate just what is necessary to make the NET/2 tape
usable and worthwhile.

Release 0.0 does not contain any proprietary code, nor
any encryption software. It was created from NET/2, GNU and
other public software, and our creative minds.

_ S_ c_ o_ p_ e _ a_ n_ d _ G_ o_ a_ l_ s _ o_ f _ t_ h_ i_ s _ R_ e_ l_ e_ a_ s_ e:

This release was motivated by the fact that access to
386BSD has not been provided to all interested parties on a
timely basis by the University or other sources, as we had
originally intended. Thus, we have done a minimalist ver-
sion to demonstrate feasibility, provide accessibility, and
assure our readers and supporters that this project will be
finished, available to all, and not just appropriated by
private concerns. Since it is minimalist by design, many
features, utilities and other functionality will be desir-
able to add, although the system is complete enough to be
self-sufficient and self-developing.

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In addition, we have not repaired numerous known bugs
present -- we have merely attempted to work around them and
in spite of them. Also, new subsystems created after the
NET/2 tape and contributed to Berkeley have not been added
back in, because we did not want to blur the distinctions of
what is required to make NET/2 operational, and because CSRG
will not allow us access to this contributed work, although
other groups have been allowed access. Future releases
hopefully will remedy these nuisances. We also expect the
involvement of a wider community of users will aid us in
improving future releases of 386BSD.

_ D_ e_ v_ i_ c_ e_ s _ S_ u_ p_ p_ o_ r_ t_ e_ d _ i_ n _ t_ h_ i_ s _ R_ e_ l_ e_ a_ s_ e:

This release is intended to support a minimal 386/486
SX/DX ISA(ATBUS) system, with the traditional hard and
floppy disk controller (MFM,ESDI,IDE). Also, the usual dis-
play adapters (MDA/CGA/VGA/HGC) are supported, along with
the communications ports (COM). Ethernet controllers sup-
ported are Western Digital 8003EB, 8003EBT, 8003S,
WD8003SBT, 8013EBT, and Novell NE2000. Clones also appear to
work quite well. Tape drive support is available for QIC-02
controllers as well, allowing use of 3M cartridges of QIC-60
through QIC-150 format.

As configured on the binary distribution, the system
requires a floating point coprocessor (387 of any make),
hard disk and controller, floppy disk drive (either 5.25 or
3.5 high density only), and display adapter. If the serial
port or a Western Digital Ethernet card (port 0x280, IRQ 3,
iomem 0xd000) is present, the system can make use of it as

It is recommended that the system have at least 2MB of
memory or more, but it will run on much smaller systems to a
limited degree by paging (the C++ compiler uses about 1 MB
of memory in operation). A 4 MB system with an 200 MB+ IDE
disk is a comfortable configuration, although by sharing the
sources via NFS, networked systems with 40 MB drives are
quite useful.

_ M_ a_ c_ h_ i_ n_ e_ s _ T_ e_ s_ t_ e_ d:

At the moment, this software has only been tested on
the following configurations:

Toshiba laptop clone, 386SX/387SX, 3MB RAM, VGA LCD(Cirrus),
Megahertz T2LL Ethernet, Conners CP3100 IDE 100MB drive.

Compaq DeskPro, 386/387, 9MB RAM, Compaq VGA, ESDI Maxtor 8380 drive(type 38),
WD8003EBT Ethernet, Compaq QIC-150 cartridge drive.

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Please fill out the enclosed registration form and sur-
vey so we can add more to this test base list. It is expect-
ed that all Compaq, Toshiba, Chips and Technology-based, and
OPTI-based systems should work with little trouble. See up-
coming DDJ articles on installation troubles for further in-
fo. We can be contacted for limited help with the system,
but, realize that this work is currently unfunded and we can
only devote a tiny amount of time to it. As a hint to fixing
troubles, defeating options like shadow ram or RAM BIOS is
an excellent place to start.

_ I_ n_ s_ t_ a_ l_ l_ a_ t_ i_ o_ n _ P_ r_ o_ c_ e_ d_ u_ r_ e_ s:

Currently, the system does not coexist with MS-DOS, but
requires the entire machine. SINCE IT IS STILL EXPERIMENTAL
DRIVE CONTENTS, so you had better save backup dumps offline
of any information you wish to be preserved (1 in 100 of you
will do this, of course, but you were warned).

First, make a copy of all of the diskettes and save
them away. Make many copies of the distribution installation
diskette, and salt them away in various places, as it is im-
possible to recover the system without one otherwise.

The distribution installation diskette has predefined
shell variables that correspond to the device name for the
floppy drive ($FD), the raw device name ($RFD), the amount
of storage ($FTRK) per track (in kilobytes), and the disktab
entry type ($FT). These are present to parameterize the dif-
ferences between 3.5 inch and 5.25 inch versions of the boot

Format the drive, if it is not already. Determine the
geometry (sectors/track, tracks/cylinder, number of cylin-
ders, etc), and create a disktab entry describing the disk
drive in the /etc/disktab file on the floppy. This can be
done by allowing the floppy to be written to (it defaults to
disabling writing) by the command:

mount -u $FD /

You can edit the file with the _ e_ l_ v_ i_ s editor, a clone of
the encumbered Berkeley _ v_ i text editor done by Steve Kirk-
endall. You may wish to use one of the existing disktab en-
tries as a template for a new entry you are making. Please
include any disktab entrys you make in the survey form so we
can include them in the next release. Note: after you have
written the disk, please execute the "sync" command so that
the file will be forced back to the diskette.

Next, use the _ d_ i_ s_ k_ l_ a_ b_ e_ l command to write a bootstrap
and disk label data structure on the hard disk itself. This

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will destroy any information present on the beginning cylin-
der of the hard disk drive. A sample disklabel command:

disklabel -r -w wd0 cp3100 (label winchester drive 0 as a conners 3100)
disklabel -r wd0 (display the label on winchester drive 0)

Next, create empty filesystems for the root (partition
a of the drive) and usr (partition h) with the _ n_ e_ w_ f_ s com-

newfs wd0a (root partition high level format)
newfs wd0h (usr partition high level format)

Mount the root partition and transfer the contents of
the distribution installation floppy to the hard drive. This
step frees up the floppy for use in loading the multi-volume
distribution while running off the hard disk drive:

mount /dev/wd0a /mnt (associate the mnt directory with the new root filesystem)
(cd /; tar -cf - .) | (cd /mnt; tar -xf -) (copy floppy to hard disk)
sync (flush out written blocks)

Reboot the system by the traditional cntrl-alt-del
three-fingered reset, and remove the floppy and set it
aside. The system should now come up off the hard disk
drive. Next, we load the distribution by inserting the first
floppy (volume 1 of the binary distribution) and typing:

mount /dev/wd0h /usr (make usr filesystem available, as it will also be loaded)
mr $FTRK $RFD | tar -xzf - (floppy extract compressed floppy archive)

A prompt will ask for successive floppies to be insert-
ed into the drive. At the conclusion, the "sync" command
should be used, and the system rebooted. The installation is
now complete, and the same procedures may be used at this
point to extract the source distribution if desired.

_ O_ p_ e_ r_ a_ t_ i_ o_ n:

At the moment, 386BSD comes up single user, and re-
quires manual starting of the system daemons, as well as
filesystem checks. In use, one would minimally wish to type
after booting:

fsck -p
mount -a

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This will improve in forthcoming versions of 386BSD.
Be aware that the user is running as the super-user, and
care should be taken given the maximum privileges present.

_ K_ n_ o_ w_ n _ b_ u_ g_ s:

Many bugs and unimplemented portions of the system ex-
ist and can be annoying. The most irritating are the tty
driver bugs that are related to boundaries in the ring
buffers, which cause the input queue to become truncated or
wrapped, as well as freezing the input queue when a transi-
tion to RAW mode occurs near a boundary (generally, the
first time the command "more" prompts). Usually, hitting
control-C clears this situation.

Sometimes, an endless end-of-file on input from the
terminal occurs that may require the system to be reset.
There is a pipe bug, believed to be in the block I/O code,
that breaks large pipe transfers into ~3 KB maximum sized
chunks. Occasionally, a missing interrupt bug causes the
system to jam waiting for an interrupt that has been
botched. Init does not handle signals and process groups
correctly, nor does it support multiuser operation (you can
start up other users by hand, or over the network as incom-
ing terminal sessions!). Execve will not run shell scripts,
nor will it work with arglists greater than 2 KB. There is
no facility for program debugging (e.g. ptrace). Raw DMA
transfers to non-page aligned, non-consecutive within 64 KB
physical boundaries don't work correctly. The console ter-
minal emulator destroys screen contents occasionally. A re-
dundant swap free fragment bug is present under intensive
paging operations, and resource constipation due to hundreds
of processes on tiny machines does occur. Operation on less
than 2MB may be erratic or impossible due to a base page
memory botch present.

All of these bugs are understood. Some of the fixes re-
quire redesign while others require code from the article
series!, but we are sure more are present. Bug fixes will
be put into subsequent versions.

_ K_ e_ y _ M_ i_ s_ s_ i_ n_ g _ U_ t_ i_ l_ i_ t_ i_ e_ s:

Among the most annoying missing utilities are: awk,
grep, sort, diff, test, and expr. The utility software has
been cudgeled to ignore these for the moment, but eventually
these must be rectified. All of the NET/2 utilities have
been made to work with 386BSD, including those not present
in this release due to space considerations. You will find
it fairly painless to add software to this base system,
which is still at heart a full 32-bit POSIX compliant oper-
ating system with program development environment.

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Note also that DES encryption and Kerberos have pur-
posely been left off the system to allow for international
use, as 386BSD incorporates software (such as NFS) which has
been done by researchers in other countries and contributed
to Berkeley. For those international readers who have con-
sidered obtaining the NET/2 tape from UCB, it might interest
them to know that an export license (GTDA) has been granted
for a version of the NET/2 tape.

_ F_ u_ t_ u_ r_ e

Your interest, involvement, and support in this project
and its goals will determine the future of 386BSD and suc-
cessive releases. We would like to take this much further,
but we need considerable assistance of all kinds to allow
386BSD to grow further. We realize the shortcomings of Re-
lease 0.0, but are intensely proud of what we have accom-
plished in providing you with a chance to become involved
with a system that has enough tools to develop itself.

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Richard Foulk

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