August 22, 2004 INSTALL 8 NetBSD


INSTALL - Installation procedure for NetBSD/i386.



About this Document............................................2 Quick install notes for the impatient..........................3 What is NetBSD?................................................3 Changes Between The NetBSD 3.0 and 3.1 Releases................4 Supported devices...........................................4 Networking..................................................4 File system.................................................5 Libraries...................................................5 Security....................................................5 Miscellaneous...............................................5 alpha specific..............................................6 amd64 specific..............................................6 mac68k specific.............................................6 sparc specific..............................................6 xen specific................................................6 The Future of NetBSD...........................................6 Sources of NetBSD..............................................6 NetBSD 3.1_STABLE Release Contents.............................7 NetBSD/i386 subdirectory structure..........................8 Binary distribution sets....................................9 NetBSD/i386 System Requirements and Supported Devices.........10 Supported devices..........................................10 Floppy controllers......................................10 MFM, ESDI, IDE, and RLL hard disk controllers...........10 SCSI host adapters......................................11 MDA, CGA, VGA, SVGA, and HGC Display Adapters...........12 Serial ports............................................12 Parallel ports..........................................12 Ethernet adapters.......................................12 FDDI adapters...........................................13 Token-Ring adapters.....................................13 Wireless network adapters...............................14 High Speed Serial.......................................14 Tape drives.............................................14 CD-ROM drives...........................................14 Mice....................................................14 Sound Cards.............................................14 Game Ports (Joysticks)..................................15 Miscellaneous...........................................15 PCMCIA Controllers......................................15 RAID Controllers........................................15 Specific driver footnotes:..............................16 Unsupported devices........................................16 Required configurations....................................16 Getting the NetBSD System on to Useful Media..................19 Preparing your System for NetBSD installation.................21 Installing the NetBSD System..................................22 Running the sysinst installation program...................22 Introduction............................................22 Possible PCMCIA issues..................................22 General.................................................24 Quick install...........................................24 Booting NetBSD..........................................26 Network configuration...................................26 Installation drive selection and parameters.............26 Partitioning the disk...................................27 Preparing your hard disk................................28 Getting the distribution sets...........................28 Installation using ftp..................................29 Installation using NFS..................................29 Installation from CD-ROM................................29 Installation from a floppy set..........................30 Installation from an unmounted file system..............30 Installation from a local directory.....................30 Extracting the distribution sets........................30 Finalizing your installation............................30 Post installation steps.......................................30 Upgrading a previously-installed NetBSD System................33 Compatibility Issues With Previous NetBSD Releases............34 Issues affecting an upgrade from NetBSD 3.1 and older......34 Using online NetBSD documentation.............................34 Administrivia.................................................35 Thanks go to..................................................35 We are........................................................40 Legal Mumbo-Jumbo.............................................46 The End.......................................................52


About this Document

This document describes the installation procedure for NetBSD3.1_STABLE on the i386 platform. It is available in four different formats titled INSTALL.ext, where .ext is one of .ps, .html, .more, or .txt:


Standard Internet HTML.

The enhanced text format used on UNIX-like systems by the more(1) and less(1) pager utility programs. This is the format in which the on-line man pages are generally presented.

Plain old ASCII.

You are reading the HTML version.

Quick install notes for the impatient

This section contains some brief notes describing what you need to install NetBSD3.1_STABLE on a machine of the i386 architecture.

What is NetBSD?

The NetBSD Operating System is a fully functional Open Source UNIX-like operating system derived from the University of California, Berkeley Networking Release 2 (Net/2), 4.4BSD-Lite, and 4.4BSD-Lite2 sources. NetBSD runs on fifty four different system architectures (ports), featuring seventeen machine architectures across fifteen distinct CPU families, and is being ported to more. The NetBSD3.1_STABLE release contains complete binary releases for many different system architectures. (A few ports are not fully supported at this time and are thus not part of the binary distribution. For information on them, please see the NetBSD web site at

NetBSD is a completely integrated system. In addition to its highly portable, high performance kernel, NetBSD features a complete set of user utilities, compilers for several languages, the X Window System, firewall software and numerous other tools, all accompanied by full source code.

NetBSD is a creation of the members of the Internet community. Without the unique cooperation and coordination the net makes possible, it's likely that NetBSD wouldn't exist.

Changes Between The NetBSD 3.0 and 3.1 Releases

The NetBSD3.1 release is the first functional update release of the NetBSD3 release branch. This provides numerous functional enhancements, including support for many new devices, hundreds of bug fixes, patches and updates to kernel subsystems, and many enhancements to the user environment. In addition, all of the security fixes and critical bug fixes from the NetBSD3.0.1 update are included as well. The result of these improvements is a stable operating system fit for production use that rivals most commercially available systems.

It is impossible to completely summarize all the changes that have gone in over the over nine months since the release of NetBSD3.0. Some highlights include:

Supported devices
File system
alpha specific
amd64 specific
mac68k specific
sparc specific
xen specific

The Future of NetBSD

The NetBSD Foundation has been incorporated as a non-profit organization. Its purpose is to encourage, foster and promote the free exchange of computer software, namely the NetBSD Operating System. The foundation will allow for many things to be handled more smoothly than could be done with our previous informal organization. In particular, it provides the framework to deal with other parties that wish to become involved in the NetBSD Project.

The NetBSD Foundation will help improve the quality of NetBSD by:

We intend to begin narrowing the time delay between releases. Our ambition is to provide a full release every six to eight months.

We hope to support even more hardware in the future, and we have a rather large number of other ideas about what can be done to improve NetBSD.

We intend to continue our current practice of making the NetBSD-current development source available on a daily basis.

We intend to integrate free, positive changes from whatever sources submit them, providing that they are well thought-out and increase the usability of the system.

Above all, we hope to create a stable and accessible system, and to be responsive to the needs and desires of NetBSD users, because it is for and because of them that NetBSD exists.

Sources of NetBSD

Refer to

NetBSD 3.1_STABLE Release Contents

The root directory of the NetBSD3.1_STABLE release is organized as follows:


Changes since earlier NetBSD releases.

Last minute changes.

A list of sites that mirror the NetBSD3.1_STABLE distribution.

README describing the distribution's contents.

NetBSD's todo list (also somewhat incomplete and out of date).

Post-release source code patches.

Source distribution sets; see below.

In addition to the files and directories listed above, there is one directory per architecture, for each of the architectures for which NetBSD3.1_STABLE has a binary distribution.

The source distribution sets can be found in subdirectories of the source subdirectory of the distribution tree. They contain the complete sources to the system. The source distribution sets are as follows:

This set contains the ``gnu'' sources, including the source for the compiler, assembler, groff, and the other GNU utilities in the binary distribution sets.
79 MB gzipped, 367 MB uncompressed

This set contains the ``pkgsrc'' sources, which contain the infrastructure to build third-party packages.
24 MB gzipped, 200 MB uncompressed

This set contains the ``share'' sources, which include the sources for the man pages not associated with any particular program; the sources for the typesettable document set; the dictionaries; and more.
5 MB gzipped, 20 MB uncompressed

This set contains all of the base NetBSD3.1_STABLE sources which are not in gnusrc, sharesrc, or syssrc.
37 MB gzipped, 176 MB uncompressed

This set contains the sources to the NetBSD3.1_STABLE kernel for all architectures; config(8); and dbsym(8).
26 MB gzipped, 140 MB uncompressed

This set contains the sources to the X Window System.
84 MB gzipped, 450 MB uncompressed

All the above source sets are located in the source/sets subdirectory of the distribution tree.

The source sets are distributed as compressed tar files. Except for the pkgsrc set, which is traditionally unpacked into /usr/pkgsrc, all sets may be unpacked into /usr/src with the command:
       #( cd / ; tar -zxpf - ) < set_name.tgz

In each of the source distribution set directories, there are files which contain the checksums of the files in the directory:

Historic BSD checksums for the various files in that directory, in the format produced by the command:
cksum -o 1 file.

POSIX checksums for the various files in that directory, in the format produced by the command:
cksum file.

MD5 digests for the various files in that directory, in the format produced by the command:
cksum-m file.

Historic AT&T System V UNIX checksums for the various files in that directory, in the format produced by the command:
cksum -o 2 file.

The MD5 digest is the safest checksum, followed by the POSIX checksum. The other two checksums are provided only to ensure that the widest possible range of system can check the integrity of the release files.

NetBSD/i386 subdirectory structure
The i386-specific portion of the NetBSD3.1_STABLE release is found in the i386 subdirectory of the distribution: .../NetBSD-3.1_STABLE/i386/. It contains the following files and directories:

Installation notes in various file formats, including this file. The .more file contains underlined text using the more(1) conventions for indicating italic and bold display.
A gzipped NetBSD kernel containing code for everything supported in this release.
A gzipped NetBSD kernel containing code for everything supported in this release. This kernel also supports SMP on systems with more than one CPU.
A gzipped NetBSD kernel containing code for everything supported in this release, with diagnostic messages enabled.
A version of GENERIC that has USB, PCMCIA and CardBus enabled to allow installing on laptop machines.
A version of GENERIC intended to run on machines with less than 8 MB.
A version of GENERIC intended to run on IBM PS/2 machines.
A somewhat smaller kernel, which you can use to boot the system on memory-tight systems. This is the same kernel as present on the miniroot and on many install floppies.
A version of INSTALL intended to run on machines with less than 8 MB.
A version of INSTALL intended to fit on 5.25"/1.2 MB diskettes.
A version of INSTALL that has USB, PCMCIA and CardBus enabled to allow installing on laptop machines.
A version of INSTALL that has MCA stuff enabled to allow installing on IBM PS/2 machines.
i386 binary distribution sets; see below.
i386 boot and installation floppies; see below.
Binary distribution sets
The NetBSD i386 binary distribution sets contain the binaries which comprise the NetBSD3.1_STABLE release for the i386. The binary distribution sets can be found in the i386/binary/sets subdirectory of the NetBSD3.1_STABLE distribution tree, and are as follows:

The NetBSD3.1_STABLE i386 base binary distribution. You must install this distribution set. It contains the base NetBSD utilities that are necessary for the system to run and be minimally functional. It includes shared library support, and excludes everything described below.
17 MB gzipped, 47 MB uncompressed

Things needed for compiling programs. This set includes the system include files (/usr/include) and the various system libraries (except the shared libraries, which are included as part of the base set). This set also includes the manual pages for all of the utilities it contains, as well as the system call and library manual pages.
20 MB gzipped, 73 MB uncompressed

This distribution set contains the system configuration files that reside in /etc and in several other places. This set must be installed if you are installing the system from scratch, but should not be used if you are upgrading.
1 MB gzipped, 1 MB uncompressed

This set includes the games and their manual pages.
3 MB gzipped, 7 MB uncompressed

This set contains a NetBSD/i386 3.1_STABLE GENERIC kernel, named /netbsd. You must install this distribution set.
4 MB gzipped, 8 MB uncompressed

This set includes all of the manual pages for the binaries and other software contained in the base set. Note that it does not include any of the manual pages that are included in the other sets.
8 MB gzipped, 30 MB uncompressed

This set includes the (rather large) system dictionaries, the typesettable document set, and other files from /usr/share.
3 MB gzipped, 9 MB uncompressed

This set includes NetBSD's text processing tools, including groff(1), all related programs, and their manual pages.
2 MB gzipped, 7 MB uncompressed

NetBSD maintains its own set of sources for the X Window System in order to assure tight integration and compatibility. These sources are based on XFree86, and tightly track XFree86 releases. They are currently equivalent to XFree86 4.4.0. Binary sets for the X Window System are distributed with NetBSD. The sets are:

The basic files needed for a complete X client environment. This does not include the X servers.
6 MB gzipped, 17 MB uncompressed

The extra libraries and include files needed to compile X source code.
11 MB gzipped, 37 MB uncompressed

Fonts needed by X.
31 MB gzipped, 39 MB uncompressed

Configuration files for X which could be locally modified.
0.03 MB gzipped, 0.17 MB uncompressed

The X server. This includes all XFree86 X servers. Because all of them are included, this set is large. However, you will only need one of the servers provided in this set. (Typically, XFree86).
8 MB gzipped, 22 MB uncompressed

The i386 binary distribution sets are distributed as gzipped tar files named with the extension .tgz, e.g. base.tgz.

The instructions given for extracting the source sets work equally well for the binary sets, but it is worth noting that if you use that method, the filenames stored in the sets are relative and therefore the files are extracted below the current directory. Therefore, if you want to extract the binaries into your system, i.e. replace the system binaries with them, you have to run the tar -xpf command from the root directory ( / ) of your system. This utility is used only in a Traditional method installation.

Each directory in the i386 binary distribution also has its own checksum files, just as the source distribution does.

NetBSD/i386 System Requirements and Supported Devices

NetBSD3.1_STABLE runs on ISA (AT-Bus), EISA, MCA, PCI, and VL-bus systems with 386-family processors, with or without math coprocessors. The minimal configuration is said to require 4 MB of RAM and 50 MB of disk space, though we do not know of anyone running with a system quite this minimal today. To install the entire system requires much more disk space (the unpacked binary distribution, without sources, requires at least 65 MB without counting space needed for swap space, etc), and to run X or compile the system, more RAM is recommended. (4 MB of RAM will actually allow you to run X and/or compile, but it won't be speedy. Note that until you have around 16 MB of RAM, getting more RAM is more important than getting a faster CPU.)

Supported devices
Explanation of bracketted footnote tags [] follows this listing.

Specific driver footnotes:

Drivers are not present in kernels on the distribution floppies. Except as noted above, all drivers are present on all disks. Also, at the present time, the distributed kernels support only one SCSI host adapter per machine. NetBSD normally allows more, though, so if you have more than one, you can use all of them by compiling a custom kernel once NetBSD is installed.

Support is included in the GENERIC kernels, although it is not in the kernels which are on the distribution floppies.

Devices require BIOS support for PCI-PCI bridging on your motherboard. Most reasonably modern Pentium motherboards have this support, or can acquire it via a BIOS upgrade.

Devices are only supported by MCA-enabled kernels.
Unsupported devices
Hardware the we do not currently support, but get many questions about:

We are planning future support for many of these devices.

Required configurations
To be detected by the distributed kernels, the devices must be configured as follows:
Device          Name    Port    IRQ     DRQ     Misc
------          ----    ----    ---     ---     ----
Serial ports    com0    0x3f8   4               [8250/16450/16550/clones]
                com1    0x2f8   3               [8250/16450/16550/clones]
                com2    0x3e8   5               [8250/16450/16550/clones]

Parallel ports lpt0 0x378 7 [interrupt-driven or polling] lpt1 0x278 [polling only] lpt2 0x3bc [polling only]

Floppy controller fdc0 0x3f0 6 2 [supports two disks]

AHA-154x, AHA-174x (in compatibility mode), or BT-54x SCSI host adapters aha0 0x330 any any aha1 0x334 any any

AHA-174x SCSI host adapters (in enhanced mode) ahb0 any any any

AHA-152x, AIC-6260- or AIC-6360-based SCSI host adapters aic0 0x340 11 6

AHA-2X4X or AIC-7xxx-based SCSI host adapters [precise list: see NetBSD ahc0 any any any System Requirements and Supported Devices]

AdvanSys ABP-9x0[U][A] SCSI host adapters adv0 any any any

AdvanSys ABP-940UW[68], ABP-970UW[68], ASB3940UW-00 SCSI host adapters adw0 any any any

AMD PCscsi-PCI based SCSI host adapters pcscp0 any any any

BusLogic BT445, BT74x, or BT9xx SCSI host adapters bha0 0x330 any any bha1 0x334 any any

Seagate/Future Domain SCSI sea0 any 5 any iomem 0xd8000

Symbios Logic/NCR 53C8xx, 53c1010 and 53c1510D based PCI SCSI host adapters siop0 any any any esiop0 any any any

Ultrastor 14f, 24f (if it works), or 34f SCSI host adapters uha0 0x330 any any uha1 0x340 any any

Western Digital WD7000 based ISA SCSI host adapters wds0 0x350 15 6 wds1 0x358 11 5

PCI IDE hard disk controllers pciide0 any any any [supports four devices]

MFM/ESDI/IDE/RLL hard disk controllers wdc0 0x1f0 14 [supports two devices] wdc1 0x170 15 [supports two devices]

ATA disks wd0, wd1, ... SCSI and ATAPI disks sd0, sd1, ... SCSI tapes st0, st1, ... SCSI and ATAPI CD-ROMs cd0, cd1, ... For each SCSI and IDE controller found, the SCSI or ATA(PI) devices present on the bus are probed in increasing ID order for SCSI and master/slave order for ATA(PI). So the first SCSI drive found will be called sd0, the second sd1, and so on ...

StarLAN cards ai0 0x360 7 any iomem 0xd0000

FMV-180 series cards fmv0 0x2a0 any

AT1700 cards ate0 0x2a0 any

Intel EtherExpress/16 cards ix0 0x300 10

Intel EtherExpress PRO 10 ISA cards iy0 0x360 any

CS8900 Ethernet cards cs0 0x300 any any

3Com 3c501 Ethernet cards el0 0x300 9

3Com 3c503 Ethernet cards ec0 0x250 9 iomem 0xd8000

3Com 3c505 Ethernet cards eg0 0x280 9

3Com 3c507 Ethernet cards ef0 0x360 7 iomem 0xd0000

Novell NE1000, or NE2000 Ethernet boards ne0 0x280 9 ne1 0x300 10

Novell NE2100 Ethernet boards ne2 0x320 9 7

BICC IsoLan cards ne3 0x320 10 7

SMC/WD 8003, 8013, Elite16, and Elite16 Ultra Ethernet boards we0 0x280 9 iomem 0xd0000 we1 0x300 10 iomem 0xcc000

3COM 3c509 or 3COM 3c579 Ethernet boards ep0 any any

3COM 3x59X PCI Ethernet boards ep0 any any [you must assign an interrupt in your PCI BIOS, or let it do so for you]

3COM 3x90X PCI Ethernet boards ex0 any any [you must assign an interrupt in your PCI BIOS, or let it do so for you]

Intel EtherExpress PRO 10 ISA iy0 0x360 any

Intel EtherExpress 100 Fast Ethernet adapters fxp0 any any [you must assign an interrupt in your PCI BIOS, or let it do so for you]

SMC91C9x based Ethernet cards sm0 0x300 10

PCnet-PCI based Ethernet boards; see above for partial list le0 any any [you must assign an interrupt in your PCI BIOS, or let it do so for you]

DC21x4x based Ethernet boards; see above for partial list de0 any any [you must assign an interrupt in your PCI BIOS, or let it do so for you]

Digital EtherWORKS III (DE203/DE204/DE205) LEMAC lc0 0x320 any

Qlogic ISP [12]0x0 SCSI/FibreChannel boards isp0 any any

Efficient Networks EN-155 and Adaptec AIC-590x ATM interfaces en0 any any

SMC EPIC/100 Fast Ethernet boards epic0 any any

Texas Instruments ThunderLAN based ethernet boards tl0 any any

VIA VT3043(Rhine) and VT86C100A(Rhine-II) based ethernet boards vr0 any any

IBM TROPIC based Token-Ring cards tr0 0xa20 any iomem 0xd8000 tr1 0xa24 any iomem 0xd0000 tr2 any any

Getting the NetBSD System on to Useful Media

If you are not booting off a CD-ROM, you will need to have some floppy disks to boot off; either two 1.44 MB floppies or one 1.2 MB floppy.

For laptops that have cardbus slots, you should use the bootlap1.fs and bootlap2.fs floppy images.

For older machines with little RAM, use boot-tiny.fs. This image is tailored towards old, small-memory systems, and thus does not contain any PCI or SCSI support. It should work on systems with 4M of RAM. Note that this means 4M available to NetBSD; systems that are said to have 4M may have 640k of base memory and 3072k of extended memory, which currently will not work, as this is a total of 3712k.

For old machines that may have EISA, SCSI and more RAM, but only have a 1.2M floppy drive, use boot-small1.fs and boot-small2.fs.

For old IBM PS/2 machines with MCA, use boot-ps2-1.fs and boot-ps2-2.fs floppy images.

For all other systems, use boot1.fs and boot2.fs

For the 2-floppy sets (and the CD boot image), utilities to repair a badly crashed systems are included. The boot-tiny.fs image has a separate rescue-tiny.fs rescue floppy image because of lack of space.

If you are using a UNIX-like system to write the floppy images to disks, you should use the dd command to copy the file system image(s) (.fs file) directly to the raw floppy disk. It is suggested that you read the dd(1) manual page or ask your system administrator to determine the correct set of arguments to use; it will be slightly different from system to system, and a comprehensive list of the possibilities is beyond the scope of this document.

If you are using MS-DOS to write the floppy image(s) to floppy disk, you should use the rawrite utility, provided in the i386/installation/misc directory of the NetBSD distribution. It will write a file system image (.fs file) to a floppy disk. A rawrite32 is also available that runs under MS Windows.

Note that if you are installing or upgrading from a writable media, the media can be write-protected if you wish. These systems mount a root image from inside the kernel, and will not need to write to the media. If you booted from a floppy, the floppy disk may be removed from the drive after the system has booted.

Installation is supported from several media types, including:

The steps necessary to prepare the distribution sets for installation depend upon which installation medium you choose. The steps for the various media are outlined below.

Find out where the distribution set files are on the CD-ROM or DVD. Likely locations are binary/sets and i386/binary/sets.

Proceed to the instruction on installation.

MS-DOS floppy
NetBSD doesn't include split sets to keep the distribution size down. They can be created on a seperate machine using the split(1) command, running e.g. split -b 235k base.tgz base. to split the base.tgz file from i386/binary/sets into files named base.aa, base.ab, and so on. Repeat this for all set_name.tgz files, splitting them into set_name.xx files. Count the number of set_name.xx files that make up the distribution sets you want to install or upgrade. You will need one fifth that number of 1.2 MB floppies, or one sixth that number of 1.44 MB floppies. You should only use one size of floppy for the install or upgrade procedure; you can't use some 1.2 MB floppies and some 1.44 MB floppies.

Format all of the floppies with MS-DOS. Do not make any of them bootable MS-DOS floppies, i.e. don't use format /s to format them. (If the floppies are bootable, then the MS-DOS system files that make them bootable will take up some space, and you won't be able to fit the distribution set parts on the disks.) If you're using floppies that are formatted for MS-DOS by their manufacturers, they probably aren't bootable, and you can use them out of the box.

Place all of the set_name.xx files on the MS-DOS disks.

Once you have the files on MS-DOS disks, you can proceed to the next step in the installation or upgrade process. If you're installing NetBSD from scratch, go to the section on preparing your hard disk, below. If you're upgrading an existing installation, go directly to the section on upgrading.

The preparations for this installation/upgrade method are easy; all you need to do is make sure that there's an FTP site from which you can retrieve the NetBSD distribution when you're about to install or upgrade. If you don't have DHCP available on your network, you will need to know the numeric IP address of that site, and, if it's not on a network directly connected to the machine on which you're installing or upgrading NetBSD, you need to know the numeric IP address of the router closest to the NetBSD machine. Finally, you need to know the numeric IP address of the NetBSD machine itself. If you don't have access to a functioning nameserver during installation, the IPv4 address of is and the IPv6 address is 2001:4f8:4:7:2e0:81ff:fe21:6563 (as of June, 2004).

Once you have this information, you can proceed to the next step in the installation or upgrade process. If you're installing NetBSD from scratch, go to the section on preparing your hard disk, below. If you're upgrading an existing installation, go directly to the section on upgrading.

This method of installation is recommended for those familiar with using BSD network configuration and management commands. If you aren't, this documentation should help, but is not intended to be all-encompassing.

Place the NetBSD distribution sets you wish to install into a directory on an NFS server, and make that directory mountable by the machine on which you are installing or upgrading NetBSD. This will probably require modifying the /etc/exports file on of the NFS server and resetting its mount daemon (mountd). (Both of these actions will probably require superuser privileges on the server.)

You need to know the numeric IP address of the NFS server, and, if you don't have DHCP available on your network and the server is not on a network directly connected to the machine on which you're installing or upgrading NetBSD, you need to know the numeric IP address of the router closest to the NetBSD machine. Finally, you need to know the numeric IP address of the NetBSD machine itself.

Once the NFS server is set up properly and you have the information mentioned above, you can proceed to the next step in the installation or upgrade process. If you're installing NetBSD from scratch, go to the section on preparing your hard disk, below. If you're upgrading an existing installation, go directly to the section on upgrading.

This method of installation is recommended for those already familiar with using BSD network configuration and management commands. If you aren't, this documentation should help, but is not intended to be all-encompassing.

Preparing your System for NetBSD installation

First and foremost, before beginning the installation process, make sure you have a reliable backup of any data on your hard disk that you wish to keep. Mistakes in partitioning your hard disk may lead to data loss.

Before you begin, you should be aware of the geometry issues that may arise in relation to your hard disk. First of all, you should know about sector size. You can count on this to be 512 bytes; other sizes are rare (and currently not supported). Of particular interest are the number of sectors per track, the number of tracks per cylinder (also known as the number of heads), and the number of cylinders. Together they describe the disk geometry.

The BIOS has a limit of 1024 cylinders and 63 sectors per track for doing BIOS I/O. This is because of the old programming interface to the BIOS that restricts these values. Most of the big disks currently being used have more than 1024 real cylinders. Some have more than 63 sectors per track. Therefore, the BIOS can be instructed to use a fake geometry that accesses most of the disk and the fake geometry has less than or equal to 1024 cylinders and less than or equal to 63 sectors. This is possible because the disks can be addressed in a way that is not restricted to these values, and the BIOS can internally perform a translation. This can be activated in most modern BIOSes by using Large or LBA mode for the disk.

NetBSD does not have the mentioned limitations with regard to the geometry. However, since the BIOS has to be used during startup, it is important to know about the geometry the BIOS uses. The NetBSD kernel should be on a part of the disk where it can be loaded using the BIOS, within the limitations of the BIOS geometry. The install program will check this for you, and will give you a chance to correct this if this is not the case.

If you have not yet installed any other systems on the hard disk that you plan to install NetBSD on, or if you plan to use the disk entirely for NetBSD, you may wish to check your BIOS settings for the `Large' or `LBA' modes, and activate them for the hard disk in question. While they are not needed by NetBSD as such, doing so will remove the limitations mentioned above, and will avoid hassle should you wish to share the disk with other systems. Do not change these settings if you already have data on the disk that you want to preserve!

In any case, it is wise to check your the BIOS settings for the hard disk geometry before beginning the installation, and write them down. While this should usually not be needed, it enables you to verify that the install program determines these values correctly.

The geometry that the BIOS uses will be referred to as the BIOS geometry, the geometry that NetBSD uses is the real geometry.

sysinst, the NetBSD installation program, will try to discover both the real geometry and BIOS geometry.

It is important that sysinst know the proper BIOS geometry to be able to get NetBSD to boot, regardless of where on your disk you put it. It is less of a concern if the disk is going to be used entirely for NetBSD. If you intend to have several OSes on your disk, this becomes a much larger issue.

Installing the NetBSD System

Running the sysinst installation program

  1. Introduction

    Using sysinst, installing NetBSD is a relatively easy process. You still should read this document and have it in hand when doing the installation process. This document tries to be a good guideline for the installation and as such covers many details for the sake of completeness. Do not let this discourage you; the install program is not hard to use.

  2. Possible PCMCIA issues

    Machines with PCMCIA slots may have problems during installation. If you do not have PCMCIA on your machine (PCMCIA is only really used on laptop machines), you can skip this section, and ignore the ``[PCMCIA]'' notes. If you do have PCMCIA in your machine, you can safely ignore this section and the ``[PCMCIA]'' the first time, as you are likely to not have problems. Should troubles occur during floppy boot, they may be PCMCIA specific. You should then re-read this section and try again, following the instructions in the ``[PCMCIA]'' notes.

    This section explains how to work around the installation problem.

    The kernel keeps careful track of what interrupts and I/O ports are in use during autoconfiguration. It then allows the PCMCIA devices to pick unused interrupts and I/O ports. Unfortunately, the INSTALL kernel may not detect all devices in your system. This may be because the INSTALL kernel only supports the minimum set of devices to install NetBSD on your system, or it may be that NetBSD does not have support for the device causing the conflict.

    For example, suppose your laptop has a soundblaster device built in; the INSTALL kernel has no sound support. The PCMCIA code might allocate your soundblaster's IRQ and I/O ports to PCMCIA devices, causing them not to work, or to lock up the system. This is especially bad if one of the devices in question is your ethernet card.

    The kernel attempts to probe for available interrupts that are usable by the PCIC (PCMCIA interrupt controller), which should alleviate interrupt conflicts; however, I/O port conflicts are still possible.

    This problem will impact some, but not all, users of PCMCIA. If this problem is affecting you, watch the ``[PCMCIA]'' notes that will appear in this document.

    It can be difficult to distinguish an interrupt conflict from an I/O space conflict. There are no hard-and-fast rules, but interrupt conflicts are more likely to lock up the machine, and I/O space conflicts are more likely to result in misbehavior (e.g. a network card that cannot send or receive packets).

    The kernel selects a free interrupt according to a mask of allowable interrupts, stored in the kernel global variable pcic_isa_intr_alloc_mask. This mask is a logical-or of power-of-2s of allowable interrupts:

    IRQ  Val     IRQ  Val     IRQ  Val      IRQ  Val
      0  0x0001    4  0x0010    8  0x0100    12  0x1000
      1  0x0002    5  0x0020    9  0x0200    13  0x2000
      2  0x0004    6  0x0040   10  0x0400    14  0x4000
      3  0x0008    7  0x0080   11  0x0800    15  0x8000

    For example, 0x0a00 allows both IRQ 9 and IRQ 11. By default, the INSTALL kernel permits all IRQs other than IRQs 5 and 7, so the corresponding mask is 0xff5f. The GENERIC kernel, however, allows all IRQs. (The presumption here is that IRQ 10 may be assigned to a device that the GENERIC kernel supports, but that the INSTALL does not.) Because of support for interrupt probing, it is no longer necessary to exclude IRQs 3 and 5 explicitly; if they are in use, they should not be assigned to PCMCIA.

    The kernel selects IO space by assigning cards IO space within a predefined range. The range is specified as a base and size, specified by the kernel global variables pcic_isa_alloc_iobase and pcic_isa_alloc_iosize. For systems with 12-bit addressing (most systems), the kernel defaults to a base of 0x400 and a size of 0xbff (a range of 0x400-0xfff). For systems with 10-bit addressing, the kernel defaults to a base of 0x300 and a size of 0xff (range of 0x300-0x3ff).

    Unfortunately, these ranges may conflict with some devices. In the event of a conflict, try a base of 0x330 with a size of 0x0bf (range of 0x330-0x3ff).

    In order to work around this at installation time, you may interrupt the 5 second countdown when booting the INSTALL kernel, and use boot-d, in order to enter ddb(4) (the in-kernel debugger), and then use the write command to alter the variable values:

           db> write pcic_isa_intr_alloc_mask 0x0a00
           pcic_isa_intr_alloc_mask 0xff5f = 0xa00
           db> write pcic_isa_alloc_iobase 0x330
           pcic_isa_alloc_iobase 0x400 = 0x330
           db> write pcic_isa_alloc_iosize 0x0bf
           pcic_isa_alloc_iosize 0xbff = 0xbf
           db> continue

    Note that, since some floppy images may not have symbol information in the kernel, you may have to consult the matching .symbols file in the binary/kernel directory in the installation tree. Find the pcic_ symbols used above, look at the hexadecimal value in the first column, and write, for example (if pcic_isa_intr_alloc_mask is equal to c0513e3c):

           db> write 0xc0513e3c 0x0a00

    After installation, this value can be permanently written to the kernel image directly with:

           # cp /netbsd /netbsd.bak
           # gdb --write /netbsd
           (gdb) set pcic_isa_intr_alloc_mask=0x0a00
           (gdb) set pcic_isa_alloc_iobase=0x330
           (gdb) set pcic_isa_alloc_iosize=0x0bf
           (gdb) quit

    or you could specify these value when configuring your kernel, e.g.:

    options PCIC_ISA_INTR_ALLOC_MASK=0x0a00
    options PCIC_ISA_ALLOC_IOBASE=0x330
    options PCIC_ISA_ALLOC_IOSIZE=0x0bf

    If you can get your PCMCIA card to work using this hack, you may also ignore the [PCMCIA] notes later in this document.

    We hope to provide a more elegant solution to this problem in a future NetBSD release.

  3. General

    The following is a walk-through of the steps you will take while getting NetBSD installed on your hard disk. sysinst is a menu driven installation system that allows for some freedom in doing the installation. Sometimes, questions will be asked and in many cases the default answer will be displayed in brackets (``[ ]'') after the question. If you wish to stop the installation, you may press CONTROL-C at any time, but if you do, you'll have to begin the installation process again from scratch by running the /sysinst program from the command prompt. It is not necessary to reboot.

  4. Quick install

    First, let's describe a quick install. The other sections of this document go into the installation procedure in more detail, but you may find that you do not need this. If you want detailed instructions, skip to the next section. This section describes a basic installation, using a CD-ROM install as an example.

  5. Booting NetBSD

    ] Unplug your PCMCIA devices, so that they won't be found by NetBSD.

    Boot your machine. The boot loader will start, and will print a countdown and begin booting.

    If the boot loader messages do not appear in a reasonable amount of time, you either have a bad boot floppy or a hardware problem. Try writing the install floppy image to a different disk, and using that.

    If that doesn't work, try booting after disabling your CPU's internal and external caches (if any). If it still doesn't work, NetBSD probably can't be run on your hardware. This can probably be considered a bug, so you might want to report it. If you do, please include as many details about your system configuration as you can.

    It will take a while to load the kernel from the floppy, probably around a minute or so, then, the kernel boot messages will be displayed. This may take a little while also, as NetBSD will be probing your system to discover which hardware devices are installed. You may want to read the boot messages, to notice your disk's name and geometry. Its name will be something like sd0 or wd0 and the geometry will be printed on a line that begins with its name. As mentioned above, you may need your disk's geometry when creating NetBSD's partitions. You will also need to know the name, to tell sysinst on which disk to install. The most important thing to know is that wd0 is NetBSD's name for your first IDE disk, wd1 the second, etc. sd0 is your first SCSI disk, sd1 the second, etc.

    Note that once the system has finished booting, you need not leave the floppy in the disk drive.

    Once NetBSD has booted and printed all the boot messages, you will be presented with a welcome message and a main menu. It will also include instructions for using the menus.

  6. Network configuration

    ] You can skip this section, as you will only get data from floppy in the first part of the install.

    If you will not use network operation during the installation, but you do want your machine to be configured for networking once it is installed, you should first go to the Utility menu, and select the Configure network option. If you only want to temporarily use networking during the installation, you can specify these parameters later. If you are not using the Domain Name System (DNS), you can give an empty response in reply to answers relating to this.

  7. Installation drive selection and parameters

    To start the installation, select Install NetBSD to hard disk from the main menu.

    The first thing is to identify the disk on which you want to install NetBSD. sysinst will report a list of disks it finds and ask you for your selection. Depending on how many disks are found, you may get a different message. You should see disk names like wd0, wd1, sd0 or sd1.

    sysinst next tries to figure out the real and BIOS geometry of your disk. It will present you with the values it found, if any, and will give you a chance to change them.

    Next, depending on whether you are using a wdX or sdX disk, you will either be asked for the type of disk (wdX) you are using or you will be asked if you want to specify a fake geometry for your SCSI disk (sdX). The types of disk are IDE, ST-506 or ESDI. If you're installing on an ST-506 or ESDI drive, you'll be asked if your disk supports automatic sector forwarding. If you are sure that it does, reply affirmatively. Otherwise, the install program will automatically reserve space for bad144 tables.

  8. Partitioning the disk

    If you want to use the entire disk for NetBSD, you can skip the following section and go to Editing the NetBSD disklabel.

  9. Editing the Master Boot Record

    First, you will be prompted to specify the units of size that you want to express the sizes of the partitions in. You can either pick megabytes, cylinders or sectors.

    After this, you will be presented with the current values stored in the MBR, and will be given the opportunity to change, create or delete partitions. For each partition you can set the type, the start and the size. Setting the type to unused will delete a partition. You can also mark a partition as active, meaning that this is the one that the BIOS will start from at boot time.

    Be sure to mark the partition you want to boot from as active!

    After you are done editing the MBR, a sanity check will be done, checking for partitions that overlap. Depending on the BIOS capabilities of your machine and the parameters of the NetBSD partition you have specified, you may also be asked if you want to install newer bootcode in your MBR. If you have multiple operating systems on the disk that you are installing on, you will also be given the option to install a bootselector, that will allow you to pick the operating system to start up when your computer is (re-)started.

    If everything is ok, you can go on to the next step, editing the NetBSD disklabel.

  10. Editing the NetBSD disklabel

    The partition table of the NetBSD part of a disk is called a disklabel. There are 4 layouts for the NetBSD part of the disk that you can pick from: Standard, Standard with X, Custom and Use Existing. The first two use a set of default values (that you can change) suitable for a normal installation, possibly including X. With the Custom option you can specify everything yourself. The last option uses the partition info already present on the disk.

    You will be presented with the current layout of the NetBSD disklabel, and given a chance to change it. For each partition, you can set the type, offset and size, block and fragment size, and the mount point. The type that NetBSD uses for normal file storage is called 4.2BSD. A swap partition has a special type called swap. You can also specify a partition as type MSDOS. This is useful if you share the disk with MS-DOS or Windows; NetBSD is able to access the files on these partitions. You can use the values from the MBR for the MS-DOS part of the disk to specify the partition of type MSDOS (you don't have to do this now, you can always re-edit the disklabel to add this once you have installed NetBSD, or use mbrlabel(8) to help you updating your disklabel with data from the MBR).

    Some partitions in the disklabel have a fixed purpose.

    Root partition (/)

    Swap partition.

    The NetBSD portion of the disk.

    The entire disk.

    Available for other use. Traditionally, e is the partition mounted on /usr, but this is historical practice and not a fixed value.

    You will then be asked to name your disk's disklabel. The default response will be ok for most purposes. If you choose to name it something different, make sure the name is a single word and contains no special characters. You don't need to remember this name.

  11. Preparing your hard disk

    You are now at the point of no return. Nothing has been written to your disk yet, but if you confirm that you want to install NetBSD, your hard drive will be modified. If you are sure you want to proceed, enter yes at the prompt.

    The install program will now label your disk and make the file systems you specified. The file systems will be initialized to contain NetBSD bootstrapping binaries and configuration files. You will see messages on your screen from the various NetBSD disk preparation tools that are running. There should be no errors in this section of the installation. If there are, restart from the beginning of the installation process. Otherwise, you can continue the installation program after pressing the return key.

  12. Getting the distribution sets

    ] Load a kernel tar file (i.e. the kern-GENERIC.tgz set file) on to your hard disk, for example by mounting the hard disk first, copying the kern-GENERIC.tgz file from floppy and unpacking it. Example:

           # mount /dev/wd0a /mnt
           # cd /mnt

           repeat the following 3 steps until all kern.* files are there
           # mount -t msdos /dev/fd0a /mnt2
           # cp /mnt2/kern.* .
           # umount /mnt2
           # cat kern.* | tar zxpvf -

    Then halt the machine using the halt command. Power the machine down, and re-insert all the PCMCIA devices. Remove any floppy from the floppy drive. Start the machine up. After booting NetBSD, you will be presented with the main sysinst menu. Choose the option to re-install sets. Wait for the file system checks that it will do to finish, and then proceed as described below.

    The NetBSD distribution consists of a number of sets, that come in the form of gzipped tarfiles. A few sets must be installed for a working system, others are optional. At this point of the installation, you will be presented with a menu which enables you to choose from one of the following methods of installing the sets. Some of these methods will first load the sets on your hard disk, others will extract the sets directly.

    For all these methods, the first step is making the sets available for extraction, and then do the actual installation. The sets can be made available in a few different ways. The following sections describe each of those methods. After reading the one about the method you will be using, you can continue to the section labeled `Extracting the distribution sets'.

  13. Installation using ftp

    To be able to install using ftp, you first need to configure your network setup, if you haven't already at the start of the install procedure. sysinst will do this for you, asking you if you want to use DHCP, and if not to provide data like IP address, hostname, etc. If you do not have name service set up for the machine that you are installing on, you can just press RETURN in answer to these questions, and DNS will not be used.

    You will also be asked to specify the host that you want to transfer the sets from, the directory on that host, the account name and password used to log into that host using ftp, and optionally a proxy server to use. If you did not set up DNS when answering the questions to configure networking, you will need to specify an IP address instead of a hostname for the ftp server.

    sysinst will proceed to transfer all the default set files from the remote site to your hard disk.

  14. Installation using NFS

    To be able to install using NFS, you first need to configure your network setup, if you haven't already at the start of the install procedure. sysinst will do this for you, asking you if you want to use DHCP, and if not to provide data like IP address, hostname, etc. If you do not have name service set up for the machine that you are installing on, you can just press RETURN in answer to these questions, and DNS will not be used.

    You will also be asked to specify the host that you want to transfer the sets from, and the directory on that host that the files are in. This directory should be mountable by the machine you are installing on, i.e. correctly exported to your machine.

    If you did not set up DNS when answering the questions to configure networking, you will need to specify an IP address instead of a hostname for the NFS server.

  15. Installation from CD-ROM

    When installing from a CD-ROM, you will be asked to specify the device name for your CD-ROM player (usually cd0), and the directory name on the CD-ROM where the distribution files are.

    sysinst will then check if the files are indeed available in the specified location, and proceed to the actual extraction of the sets.

  16. Installation from a floppy set

    Because the installation sets are too big to fit on one floppy, the floppies are expected to be filled with the split set files. The floppies are expected to be in MS-DOS format. You will be asked for a directory where the sets should be reassembled. Then you will be prompted to insert the floppies containing the split sets. This process will continue until all the sets have been loaded from floppy.

  17. Installation from an unmounted file system

    In order to install from a local file system, you will need to specify the device that the file system resides on (for example sd1e) the type of the file system, and the directory on the specified file system where the sets are located. sysinst will then check if it can indeed access the sets at that location.

  18. Installation from a local directory

    This option assumes that you have already done some preparation yourself. The sets should be located in a directory on a file system that is already accessible. sysinst will ask you for the name of this directory.

  19. Extracting the distribution sets

    After the install sets containing the NetBSD distribution have been made available, you can either extract all the sets (a full installation), or only extract sets that you have selected. In the latter case, you will be shown the currently selected sets, and given the opportunity to select the sets you want. Some sets always need to be installed (kern, base) and etc they will not be shown in this selection menu.

    Before extraction begins, you can elect to watch the files being extracted; the name of each file that is extracted will be shown. This can slow down the installation process considerably, especially on machines with slow graphics consoles or serial consoles.

    After all the files have been extracted, all the necessary device node files will be created. If you have already configured networking, you will be asked if you want to use this configuration for normal operation. If so, these values will be installed in the network configuration files. The next menu will allow you to select the time zone that you're in, to make sure your clock has the right offset from UTC. Finally you will be asked to select a password encryption algorithm and can than set a password for the "root" account, to prevent the machine coming up without access restrictions.

  20. Finalizing your installation

    Congratulations, you have successfully installed NetBSD3.1_STABLE. You can now reboot the machine, and boot NetBSD from hard disk.

Post installation steps

Once you've got the operating system running, there are a few things you need to do in order to bring the system into a properly configured state, with the most important ones described below.

  1. Configuring /etc/rc.conf

    If you or the installation software haven't done any configuration of /etc/rc.conf (sysinst usually will), the system will drop you into single user mode on first reboot with the message

           /etc/rc.conf is not configured. Multiuser boot aborted.

    and with the root file system (/) mounted read-only. When the system asks you to choose a shell, simply press RETURN to get to a /bin/sh prompt. If you are asked for a terminal type, respond with vt220 (or whatever is appropriate for your terminal type) and press RETURN. You may need to type one of the following commands to get your delete key to work properly, depending on your keyboard:
           # stty erase '^h'
           # stty erase '^?'
    At this point, you need to configure at least one file in the /etc directory. You will need to mount your root file system read/write with:
           # /sbin/mount -u -w /
    Change to the /etc directory and take a look at the /etc/rc.conf file. Modify it to your tastes, making sure that you set rc_configured=YES so that your changes will be enabled and a multi-user boot can proceed. Default values for the various programs can be found in /etc/defaults/rc.conf, where some in-line documentation may be found. More complete documentation can be found in rc.conf(5).

    If your /usr directory is on a separate partition and you do not know how to use ed, you will have to mount your /usr partition to gain access to ex or vi. Do the following:

           # mount /usr
           # export TERM=vt220

    If you have /var on a separate partition, you need to repeat that step for it. After that, you can edit /etc/rc.conf with vi(1). When you have finished, type exit at the prompt to leave the single-user shell and continue with the multi-user boot.

    Other values that need to be set in /etc/rc.conf for a networked environment are hostname and possibly defaultroute, furthermore add an ifconfig_int for your <int> network interface, along the lines of

           ifconfig_de0="inet netmask"

    or, if you have in /etc/hosts:

           ifconfig_de0="inet netmask"

    To enable proper hostname resolution, you will also want to add an /etc/resolv.conf file or (if you are feeling a little more adventurous) run named(8). See resolv.conf(5) or named(8) for more information. Instead of manually configuring network and naming service, DHCP can be used by setting dhclient=YES in /etc/rc.conf.

    Other files in /etc that may require modification or setting up include /etc/mailer.conf, /etc/nsswitch.conf, and /etc/wscons.conf.

  2. Logging in

    After reboot, you can log in as root at the login prompt. Unless you've set a password in sysinst, there is no initial password. If you're using the machine in a networked environment, you should create an account for yourself (see below) and protect it and the ``root'' account with good passwords. By default, root login from the network is disabled (even via ssh(1)). One way to become root over the network is to log in as a different user that belongs to group ``wheel'' (see group(5)) and use su(1) to become root.

    Unless you have connected an unusual terminal device as the console you can just press RETURN when it prompts for Terminal type? [...].

  3. Adding accounts

    Use the useradd(8) command to add accounts to your system. Do not edit /etc/passwd directly! See vipw(8) and pwd_mkdb(8) if you want to edit the password database.

  4. The X Window System

    If you have installed the X Window System, look at the files in /usr/X11R6/lib/X11/doc for information.

    You will need to set up a configuration file, see /usr/X11R6/lib/X11/ for an example. The xf86cfg(1) and xf86config(1) utilities can interactively create a first version of such a configuration file for you. See and the XFree86 manual page for more information.

    Don't forget to add /usr/X11R6/bin to your path in your shell's dot file so that you have access to the X binaries.

  5. Installing third party packages

    If you wish to install any of the software freely available for UNIX-like systems you are strongly advised to first check the NetBSD package system. This automatically handles any changes necessary to make the software run on NetBSD, retrieval and installation of any other packages on which the software may depend, and simplifies installation (and deinstallation), both from source and precompiled binaries.

  6. Misc

Upgrading a previously-installed NetBSD System

The upgrade to NetBSD3.1_STABLE is a binary upgrade; it can be quite difficult to update the system from an earlier version by recompiling from source, primarily due to interdependencies in the various components.

To do the upgrade, you must have the boot floppy set available. You must also have at least the base and kern binary distribution sets available, so that you can upgrade with them, using one of the upgrade methods described above. Finally, you must have sufficient disk space available to install the new binaries. Since files already installed on the system are overwritten in place, you only need additional free space for files which weren't previously installed or to account for growth of the sets between releases. If you have a few megabytes free on each of your root (/) and /usr partitions, you should have enough space.

Since upgrading involves replacing the kernel, the boot blocks on your NetBSD partition, and most of the system binaries, it has the potential to cause data loss. You are strongly advised to back up any important data on the NetBSD partition or on another operating system's partition on your disk before beginning the upgrade process.

The upgrade procedure using the sysinst tool is similar to an installation, but without the hard disk partitioning. sysinst will attempt to merge the settings stored in your /etc directory with the new version of NetBSD. Getting the binary sets is done in the same manner as the installation procedure; refer to the installation part of the document for how to do this. Also, some sanity checks are done, i.e. file systems are checked before unpacking the sets.

After a new kernel has been copied to your hard disk, your machine is a complete NetBSD3.1_STABLE system. However, that doesn't mean that you're finished with the upgrade process. You will probably want to update the set of device nodes you have in /dev. If you've changed the contents of /dev by hand, you will need to be careful about this, but if not, you can just cd into /dev, and run the command:

       # sh MAKEDEV all

Finally, you will want to delete old binaries that were part of the version of NetBSD that you upgraded from and have since been removed from the NetBSD distribution.

Compatibility Issues With Previous NetBSD Releases

Users upgrading from previous versions of NetBSD may wish to bear the following problems and compatibility issues in mind when upgrading to NetBSD3.1_STABLE.

Issues affecting an upgrade from NetBSD 3.1 and older releases.
It is very important that you populate the directory /etc/pam.d with appropriate configuration files for the Pluggable Authentication Modules (PAM) because you will not be able to login any more otherwise. Using postinstall as described below will take care of this. Please refer to for documentation about PAM.

The following issues can generally be resolved by extracting the etc set into a temporary directory and running postinstall:

postinstall -s /path/to/etc.tgz check
postinstall -s /path/to/etc.tgz fix

Issues fixed by postinstall: