The NetBSD Foundation Quarterly Report: January - March 2005
NetBSD is an actively developed operating system. With fifty four different system architectures in total and binary support of over 48 architectures in our last official release (NetBSD 2.0), our widely portable Packages Collection “pkgsrc” and large userbase there is a lot going on within the project. In order to allow our users to follow the most important changes over the last few months, we provide a brief summary in these official status reports on a regular basis. These status reports are suitable for reproduction and publication in part or in whole as long as the source is clearly indicated.
January - March 2005
- Intel donates hardware to the NetBSD Project 
- NetBSD 1.5 EOL'd 
- Annual NetBSD Status Report published 
- New Developers 
- First commits of 2005 
- The NetBSD Foundation opens online store 
- NetBSD 2.0 Interviews 
- NetBSD turns 12 
- NetBSD on the road
- Changes to the Packages Collection in January 
- Alternative framework added 
- Changes to the Packages Collection in February 
- New pkgsrc-2005Q1 branch 
- GNOME 2.10.0 / KDE 3.4.0 available 
- pkgsrcCon '05
- amd64: running on Intel EM64T 
- cobalt: restore-cd mini howto available 
- evbarm: ported to TS-7200 
- macppc: Mac mini supported 
- sparc64: Sleep sleeps forever no more 
- xen: NetBSD and Xen 
- xen: support for Xen 2.0 added 
- ipf 4.1.5 imported 
- pkgsrc adds support for multiple digests 
- ipsec-tools integrated 
- xfree86 3.3.6 EOL'd 
- JDK 1.5.0 patches available 
- PAM enabled 
- TCP/SACK support added 
- MySQL benchmark results
The department of application engineering at Intel has donated two Xscale boards (IOP321, IOP315) to a NetBSD developer. The boards will be used for maintenance and development of the NetBSD/ARM port, as well as enhancing and completing the support for Thumb code on NetBSD. Furthermore, the boards will also serve for testing and developing the GCC compiler used by the NetBSD operating system.
The NetBSD Project is grateful for the donation and would like to encourage similar donations. Information on supporting the NetBSD project via money or hardware can be found at http://www.NetBSD.org/contrib/.
James Chacon of the NetBSD Release Engineering team announced that, in
keeping with NetBSD's policy of maintaining only the current (2.0) and
most recent (1.6) release branches, the release of NetBSD 2.0 marks
the end-of-life for NetBSD 1.5. This means that the
will no longer be actively maintained.
There will be no more pullups to the branch (even for security
issues). There will be no security advisories made for 1.5. And the
1.5 releases on ftp.NetBSD.org have been moved to
The NetBSD Foundation held its annual meeting, during which the developers discussed, among other things, how NetBSD progressed over the last year and what is planned for the coming year. The full report is available online at http://www.NetBSD.org/foundation/reports/2004.html.
The NetBSD project is pleased to welcome the following new developers during the first quarter of 2005:
- KIYOHARA Takashi (login: kiyohara), who will be working on IEEE1394 and OpenBlockS266 (evbppc).
- Roland Illig (login: rillig), who will be working on the NetBSD Packages Collection.
- Georg Schwarz (login: schwarz), who will be working on the NetBSD Packages Collection.
- Michael van Elst (login: mlelstv), who will be working on IEEE 1394 and miscellaneous tasks.
- Jeff Rizzo (login: riz), who will be working on the NetBSD Packages Collection, port-i386, networking and Asterisk.
- Kentaro A. Kurahone (login: kurahone), who will be working on TCP/IP stack, scalability and performance and ACPI.
The first commits to the source and pkgsrc repositories in 2005 were an
update to the copyright for 2005 by Charles M. Hannum, and a fix
for C99-isms in the
by Krister Walfridsson.
At the end of January, the NetBSD Project opened an online store selling various products, including shirts, sweatshirts, a mug, wall clock, mousepad, logo magnets, and tote bags. The items currently available have a higher than usual price tag as 100% of the benefits go to the NetBSD Foundation and the store was initially conceptualized to maximize profits.
Realizing that the advocacy these items represent are valuable in and of itself, and not wanting to deprive our users of the possibility to purchase more affordable items, the NetBSD Project is currently evaluating the possibility of allowing for a dual pricing scheme -- the basic “Fan” category and the “Sponsor” category, which allows users to maximize their dollar/product donation. More items will be added as designs are created.
The online store is available from http://www.cafepress.com/NetBSD.
Shortly after NetBSD 2.0 with its extensive list of new features was released, Newsforge ran an article entitled “Understanding NetBSD 2.0's new technology”, which included an interview with a number of NetBSD developers. Several weeks after this article, the author Federico Biancuzzi has published his follow-up interview.
Almost a dozen NetBSD developers participated in these interviews, which are available online at http://trends.newsforge.com/article.pl?sid=04/12/22/1954233 and http://www.onlamp.com/lpt/a/5638.
As noted by Richard Rauch, March 21st 2005 marked the 12th birthday of the NetBSD Operating System, one of the oldest actively maintained, freely-available operating systems. The first commits were made to the NetBSD source code repository on March 21, 1993, and the first release of the NetBSD Operating System, NetBSD 0.8, was announced on USENET shortly thereafter.
Happy Birthday, NetBSD!
The NetBSD Project was represented by developers and other volunteers at a number of conferences and tradeshows during the first quarter of 2005. Patiently the following people invested a lot of their personal time, money and resources to tell attendants about NetBSD, to explain (again and again) the difference between NetBSD and Linux or NetBSD and the other BSDs, sold CDs and other merchandise and in general deserve thanks for helping the NetBSD Project:
- Quentin Garnier represented NetBSD at Solutions Linux 2005, in Paris, France
- Kevin Lahey organized a booth at the Southern California Linux Expo in Los Angeles, California. Reports from this event are available online at http://mail-index.NetBSD.org/netbsd-advocacy/2005/02/14/0008.html and http://www.nomadlogic.org/~pete/scale.html.
- Jan Schaumann gave a presentation on pkgsrc at the New York City BSD User Group. See http://www.nycbug.org/index.php?NAV=Home&SUBM=71.
- Hubert Feyrer, S.P.Zeidler, Sebastian Schuetz, Daniel Ettle and others attended the Spring Talks of the German Unix User Group, with detailed reports available online at http://www.feyrer.de/NetBSD/blog.html#20050224_1005, http://www.feyrer.de/NetBSD/blog.html#20050225_0933 and http://www.feyrer.de/NetBSD/blog.html#20050226_0348.
- Hubert Feyrer, Stefan Schumacher and Karl-Uwe Lockhoff represented NetBSD at the Chemnitzer Linux-Tage 2005. See http://www.feyrer.de/NetBSD/blog.html#20050305_2305 and http://www.feyrer.de/NetBSD/blog.html#20050307_1620 as well as http://matthias.bsd-crew.de/pix/clt2005 and http://hiwi-ifph.gse.uni-magdeburg.de/~stefan/gallery/clt05a/.
- A NetBSD booth was organized by Dennis Wecker with help from Georg Schwarz at the CeBIT 2005; Bernd Sieker provided some pictures at http://nuxi.homeunix.org/album/messen/cebit-2005/.
- Members from the Japan NetBSD Users' Group staffed a booth at the Open Source Conference 2005 in Japan.
At the end of January 2005, there were 5331 packages in the NetBSD Packages
Collection, up from 5266 the previous month, a rise of 65 with many notable
updates as well. The Package of the Month award went to
devel/monotone as well as
monotone is a distributed version control system, that
provides the ability to work completely offline and the use of cryptography to
mark concrete versions as trusted or not. ntop is an
excellent utility for showing network traffic via a network browser (not
included) to show network traffic information and get a dump of the network
Julio Merino committed a new “alternatives framework” after much discussion in January. The alternatives system is a framework that allows multiple packages providing similar functionality to be installed concurrently (by removing files with common names), and then using a utility to set up those common names with symlinks to the preferred program.
At the end of February 2005, there were 5377 packages in the NetBSD
Packages Collection, up from 5331 the previous month, a rise of 47
with many notable updates as well. The Package of the Month award
mail/mhonarc, nominated by
Hubert Feyrer and Matthias Scheler respectively.
After a two week long freeze on the pkgsrc repository, the NetBSD Packages Team cut the pkgsrc-2005Q1 branch, obsoleting pkgsrc-2004Q4 as the currently maintained and stable pkgsrc branch. Among many other things, this new branch includes support for multiple digest algorithms and the alternatives framework. Many thanks go to the pkgsrc release engineering team, who have done a great jobs performing security pullups and maintaining the stable branches.
Bulk builds for the many supported operating systems and architectures are currently running, and binary packages will be uploaded to the ftp sites as soon as they complete. Hubert Feyrer already made available the binary packages for NetBSD/i386 at ftp://ftp.NetBSD.org/pub/NetBSD/packages/pkgsrc-2005Q1/; other, slower architectures will follow.
After the branch for pkgsrc-2005Q1, Julio M. Merino Vidal updates almost 80 packages to bring the version of GNOME in pkgsrc to 2.10.0. See his message to the tech-pkg mailing list for more details: http://mail-index.NetBSD.org/tech-pkg/2005/03/22/0014.html
Another major update that was performed after the pkgsrc-2005Q1 branch was to upgrade the K Desktop Environment (KDE) packages to version 3.4.0.
Over the last few months, the “pkg_select” tool, which is currently maintained by a non-developer has undergone a significant number of continuous improvements, incorporating the feedback provided on the tech-pkg mailing list. pkg_select is a curses based interface to the pkgsrc framework and allows you to browse pkgsrc and gather various informations about packages, like available version, installed version, comment and homepage. A simple paging system lets you read information files. You can browse both installed and uninstalled packages, as well as dependencies list and perform various administrative tasks to them. pkg_select can handle either source or binary installations when pkgsrc is installed on the local system, or binary only when using the pkgsrc-over-ftp feature.
Since February, it has been available in pkgsrc-wip/pkg_select and was
imported into pkgsrc as
pkgtools/pkg_select just before the release
of this report.
After last year's great success with pkgsrcCon '04, the second round was quickly planned. pkgsrcCon '05 is the second instantiation of the technical conference for people working on the NetBSD Packages Collection (pkgsrc), focusing on existing technologies, research projects, and works-in-progress in pkgsrc infrastructure.
See http://www.pkgsrcCon.org for more details.
Due to the large number of supported platforms, this status report will only point out the very significant changes to some of the ports. For a full list of port-specific changes, please refer to http://www.NetBSD.org/changes/changes-3.0.html#port_specific.
Alex Pelts has written a detailed Restore-CD Mini Howto for the NetBSD/cobalt port. This document explains how to create a NetBSD Restore CD for Cobalt Qube/Raq devices and has been imported into the NetBSD website at http://www.NetBSD.org/ports/cobalt/restorecd-howto.html.
Jesse Off has announced that he has integrated support for the TS-7200 into the NetBSD/evbarm port over the Christmas holidays. The TS-7200 is a low-cost mass-produced PC/104 embedded single board computer intended as a general purpose core for real embedded applications. More information can be found at http://www.embeddedARM.com/~joff/.
Only days after Apple announced the new Mac Mini, people had NetBSD already running on it. Matt Thomas was the first to post the dmesg output, and Bill Squier recently provided some more detailed steps on getting NetBSD onto the Mac Mini.
Chuck Silvers recently fixed the famous sleep-sleeps-forever bug in -current. A pullup to the 2.x branch will be requested after some additional testing. See the commit message and corresponding problem report for details.
A lot of people have been talking about Xen recently, and true to its multi-platform nature, NetBSD was of course ported to Xen early on. In March, the NetBSD Foundation published a press release reporting on the benefits of the NetBSD/xen port, initially committed by Christian Limpach as previously reported. Since then, much progress has been made, and the NetBSD Project is now using NetBSD/xen internally. The press release with further details is available at http://www.NetBSD.org/foundation/press/xen.html.
Manuel Bouyer has merged the “bouyer-xen2” branch into NetBSD-current. This means that support for Xen 2.0 (both in privileged and unprivileged mode) will be part of NetBSD 3.0. See Manuel's email to the port-xen mailing list for details.
Shortly after this work was imported, Manuel also provided some step by step instructions on getting started with NetBSD/xen, which are now also available at http://www.NetBSD.org/ports/xen/howto.html.
Finally, Martti Kuparinen performed some comparison tests between NetBSD/Xen and VMware and found that with very little overhead (10%), Xen is about 25% faster than VMWare. See http://mail-index.NetBSD.org/port-xen/2005/04/01/0001.html and http://mail-index.NetBSD.org/port-xen/2005/04/01/0008.html for details.
Martti Kuparinen announced in February that he upgraded IPFilter to the latest version (4.1.5) on NetBSD-current. You must recompile kernel and the ipf tools to use the new version. See Martti's email to the current-users mailing list for more details.
Following the discovery of weaknesses in the SHA1 algorithm Alistair Crooks demonstrated once more the proactive approach NetBSD takes towards security and committed modifications to pkgsrc to allow multiple digests to check the distfiles as downloaded from the internet for integrity. See http://mail-index.NetBSD.org/tech-pkg/2005/02/16/0008.html for details.
Emmanuel Dreyfus has been working on integrating NAT Traversal and replaced the KAME based racoon with the feature-enhanced “ipsec-tools” version in NetBSD. Thanks to this, NetBSD can now be setup to replace Cisco 3000 VPN concentrators, while Cisco VPN clients can still be used, talking to NetBSD instead.
There are many more changes that come with the ipsec-tools, including dead peer detection, privilege separation, IKE mode config, IKE and ESP fragmentation, configurable path to certificate authority, and hook scripts. See Emmanuel's mail for a more complete list at http://mail-index.NetBSD.org/current-users/2005/02/19/0013.html.
XFree86 3.3.6 has been officially EOLed in NetBSD-current as of January 7th, 2005:
- Its sources have been removed from “xsrc”. They are of course still available via CVS.
- Support for creating XFree86 3.3.6 distribution sets has been removed from “src”.
bsd.own.mknow sets USE_XF86_4 to “yes” unconditionally.
All NetBSD ports will use XFree86 4.x based X11 bits in future as they already do in the NetBSD 2.0 release.
The BSD Java Porting project has released patchset 1 “Sabretooth” for JDK 1.5, based on the JDK 1.5.0 SCSL source code. This allows NetBSD users to build a native JDK under NetBSD-2.0/i386. See http://www.eyesbeyond.com/freebsddom/java/jdk15.html for details.
NetBSD has adopted Pluggable Authentication Modules (PAM). The PAM framework is a system of libraries that perform authentication tasks for services and applications. Applications that use the PAM API may have their authentication behavior configured by the system administrator through the use of the service's PAM configuration file. These applications can therefore leverage new authentication schemes without requiring modification of the application. PAM also allows system applications such as passwd(1) to interact with new authentication schemes transparently.
PAM is widely used in the Unix world and supported by other operating systems such as Solaris, Linux, FreeBSD, and Mac OS X. NetBSD uses the OpenPAM implementation of PAM, which is also used by FreeBSD.
NetBSD 3.0 will be the first release of NetBSD to ship with PAM support.
Please see Christos Zoulas' message to the current-users mailing list for details.
Jonathan Stone committed the patches from Kentaro A. Kurahone to add support for TCP Selective Acknowledgement Options (SACK), meaning that NetBSD 3.0 will ship with TCP/SACK enabled. More information about TCP/SACK can be found at http://www.icir.org/floyd/sacks.html and in RFCs 2018/2883.
In February, the results of a MySQL benchmark started lots of discussion among the different tested operating systems. As usual, the NetBSD developer community did not just engage in chest-thumping, but actually sat down and thought about the results and how to improve performance, moving the discussion from the netbsd-advocacy to the tech-kern mailing list.
Some of the more interesting threads on this topic are http://mail-index.NetBSD.org/tech-kern/2005/02/28/0001.html and http://mail-index.NetBSD.org/tech-kern/2005/03/06/0004.html, in which Chuck Silvers includes posting also includes ways to increase performance from about 3 transactions per second to about 12 TPS.
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