Sulphur Airplane
  1. Introduction
  2. Getting Started
  3. Installation
  4. First things first
  5. Getting Help
  6. Contacts, Links & Credits

Explanation for this Document
This document has been written as a resource for all those wanting to do an installation of NetBSD but not quite knowing how to get their teeth into such a task.

Everything written here was part of my own installation, and as such I have written and explained everything in the manner that I did it myself. It should, therefore, be accurate and clear. I would recommend reading the whole document through prior to beginning the install. Printing it out may also be a wise move.

Please feel free to contact me with any queries, comments or suggestions for other documents, or future versions of this one.

Why the hell would I want to do this, anyway?
Good question. That deserves a good answer; if you happen to have an older machine feeling lost and lonely in a cupboard. Why not put him out of his misery and install an industrial strength, open-source, freely-downloadable operating system which will, once again, make him very very useful indeed.

If you have a couple of machines in your network, or a cable modem you'd like to share with the rest of the house, installing NetBSD on an old machine to use as a Router & Firewall is a very appropriate step.

Why NetBSD?
NetBSD is a fast-moving, very stable blend of the Unix operating system with an emphasis on its portability to other platforms. This, dear reader, includes Mac68k. There are other Unixes, such as OpenBSD, which may be equally suitable, but, for the purpose of this guide, I will focus on NetBSD. Maybe you prefer the logo.

Getting Started
Choosing a Machine
Assuming you don't already have a long-forgotten machine in your closet, you are going to need to choose one for the task.

So, let's get down a few objectives, here. It must be: Mac68k, Cheap, Low Power Consumption, Of Reasonable Speed, At least 68020 processor (with MMU, otherwise 68030+), Nubus or PDS slots.

Power is a consideration. If you're leaving this baby on 24/7 you want something which can do this with the minimum of effort. You're also gonna want Nubus or PDS slots for all those Ethernet cards. We also need at least a 68020 processor with an MMU (or 68030+ without).

Have a look at and eBay for such a Dream-Machine.

Hard Disk & RAM Considerations
You need a minimum of about 150MB of Hard Disk space, but realistically, you'll want 1GB (trust me, I ate 350MB in 3 days).

RAM-wise. 4MB will do. But anything less than 8MB is foolish. 8MB is fine.

Download your files
You will need a few files downloaded before you can begin the installation (obviously). Get the following for NetBSD 1.5:
Do not attempt to un-stuff the .tgz files. The installer works just fine as they are.

Instructions for patching Apple HD SC Setup so that it will recognize non-Apple drives are available at:

Formatting Disks
You will need to Format and Partition your disks prior to installing NetBSD. Most people consider this to be the trickiest step. But if you follow these instructions, it should be fairly simple.

Using Apple's HD SC Setup utility, select your drive and click Initialise. About 15 minutes later the drive will be completely blank.

Ensure that the drive is still selected and click Partition. Click Custom. Select each partition except for the Mac Driver and click Remove.

Now click and drag in the grey area. A box will appear. Select A/UX Root&Usr. Type in KiloBytes the size you would like it to be. If you are using a 1GB disk, I recommend 950000KB for this partition.

Click Done and click and drag again in the grey area. Now select A/UX Swap put in another value in KiloBytes. I'd recommend 32000KB.

Click Done again and do the same one last time. This time make it Macintosh Standard and use whatever you have left. Click Done and quit the Program.

You now have a disk ready for your NetBSD FileSystem.

Using the Mkfs utility, select your Root&Usr partition and click Change. In the dialog that pops up, click Do it. Do the same for your Swap partition.

Now click the Root&Usr partition and click Format watch the window for errors, click I read it when it finishes and do the same for the Swap volume. Now quite out of Mkfs.

You are now ready to install NetBSD on your FileSystem!

What to install
Double click the Installer Application. Select Install from the File Menu. Find the NetBSD files you downloaded earlier (the ones that end in .tgz) Select each of them except kern_sbc.tgz and click Add.

Click Done. The installation will begin and should take about 5 hours. (You may want to get some sleep at this point).

When it is finished, select Build Devices from the File Menu.

Now quit the installer, you are ready to boot.

Configuration Boot
Double-click the Booter application. Select Booting from the Options Menu and ensure it reads NetBSD Root&Usr for the Partition Name.

Check the Single User mode checkbox. Leave everything else 'as is'.

Select Boot Now.

Cross your fingers.

Assuming it all goes well, you should be raced with a standard terminal. Type the following:
export TERM=vt100
tset vt100
mount /dev/sd0a
You are now ready to edit the file, so type:
vi /etc/rc.conf
That is the vi editor. Move about with the arrows, press i (aye) when you want to type. Make the change, hit escape a couple of times, then use the quit commands explained further down.

Quit out of vi by typing:
or if you made an error and don't want to save:
If you are using an installer version prior to 1.1h you will now need to type the following, if not, ignore:
cd /
mount -rw /
cd /dev
Finally, type:
You will fly back into the Mac OS. Follow the same booting instructions as before, this time leaving Single User un-checked. You now have a working system. Read on.

If you got an error when you were booting about the FileSystem not being able to be read, type halt and reboot. Re-format all of your partitions and install again with the kern_sbc.tgz kernel (instead of kern.tgz) this offers superior SCSI support in this situation. You should not, however, use it without testing the GENERIC kernel first, since it is slightly slower.

First Things First
Add a User
No-one who has every run Unix has been completely faultless in their operation. Unix assumes that the person running the Root account is a master, as such he can do anything. It seems obviously therefore, not to run as root all the time. Therefore you're going to want to add a user.

The process is quite simple, although there are a couple of steps. Say you wanted to add the user matthew. Type the following:
useradd -m matthew
passwd matthew
New password for Matthew. Type this twice.
You have now added a user.

Type exit to logout, log back in with matthew and your chosen password to test it.

Type exit again and log back in as root. Now would be a good time to password protect the root account. Type passwd and choose your password, you will need to type it twice.

You should never log in as root on a normal system, merely use the su command whenever you need full privileges. To do this you will have to edit /etc/group to allow users to su to root.

Type the following:
vi /etc/group
Find the top line, and if you wanted the user matthew to be able to become root, change it as follows. Note that there are on spaces:
Matthew will now be able to su to root. He will, of course, still need the root password.

Configuring for Networking
A Unix machine is as good as useless without being attached to a network, be it the Internet or a LAN.

So... We're going to get yours configured into your Ethernet LAN. Then we're going to use one of your other Mac OS boxes as a router in association with IPNetRouter.

There are quite a few files which need to be edited, start with the edding the /etc/rc.conf file:
vi /etc/rc.conf
Write the following:
hostname="Your chosen computer name"
domainname="If you have a domain, write it here"
defaultroute="The machine running IPNetRouter"
Since I don't have a domain I wish to use with this box, I left that blank. My 7100 running IPNetRouter has the IP of
This is mine:
Now create a file named /etc/resolv.conf by typing:
vi /etc/resolv.conf
Since you are going to be connecting to the 'net on this machine, Write the following:
domain Your domain if you have one
nameserver ISPs nameserver
nameserver ISPs Secondary nameserver - optional
lookup file bind
This will tell it to check the /etc/hosts file first, if it cannot find the entry, it uses the nameservers. If you want it the other way round, use:
lookup bind file
On Gellum (as I have no domain) I have it as follows:
lookup bind file
You now need to edit /etc/hosts to let your network know what's going on. I have mine like this: localhost gellum 7100
If you have multiple machines on your network. They must all have the same /etc/hosts file.

This is the most important step, and probably the one most likely to cause confusion. You must identify your Ethernet interface, to allow your machine to talk to it. Type the following:
Examine the log to find something about Ethernet. I get the following, this tells me my card (it was clearly recognised, is of type ae0)
ae0 at nubus0 slot a: EtherNet card, 32KB memory
ae0: Ethernet address 02:60:8c:05:bb:05
I therefore need to create a /etc/ifconfig.ae0 file. If I had a sn0 interface, (built in on Quadras and Centris machines), I would have created a /etc/ifconfig.sn0 file.

You need to type your IP and Netmask into that file:
inet Your IP netmask Your Netmask
On Gellum, it is like this:
inet netmask
Finally, to allow yourself to log-in via telnet from the other machines on your LAN. Edit /etc/inetd.conf. And un-comment (ie remove the # at the beginning of the line) the things you want to use. This will usually be ftp, telnet, shell, and login.

Finally type reboot and Boot NetBSD with Single-User un-checked.

You will now need to set-up IPNetRouter. That is beyond the scope / purpose of this document. Full instructions are right over here, however.

That's it! Your machine is ready for full action.

Essential Programs
These are the first things I would recommend installing on your new system. To get them over there, use an FTP client and your user-name and password. Alternatively, FTP them direct to your machine using the ftp command. man ftp for instructions on how to use this. Read on for configuring / compiling. Both nano and screen should be considered essential. Nano is a very good text-editor. Screen allows you to have virtual terminals, and do things in the background. Great fun!

Assuming you've downloaded your source, you need to un-tar it. Let's start with nano; type the following:
tar xvfz nano-0.9.24.tar.gz
You now want to be inside the nano directory:
cd nano-0.9.24
If you want to read the various README and INSTALL files. Type:
more README.
To configure it for your system, type:
This may take several minutes, make a coffee.

When it is finished, you need to make the file. Type the following:
This may take a while. Make a pizza.

When it is finished, to make it accessible to all users, you need to make install. First su to root.
make install
This should be quicker. You will need to log-out and log back in to use your new program. Let's create a new file named test.
nano test
Type some stuff. Hit Control-X to exit. Control is referred to as a ^ character. To search for text you use ^W Control-W.

Congratulations! You've done it. You have installed a NetBSD system, configured it to run headless, and installed some programs.

Getting Help
Man Pages
The Man Pages are probably your most useful and reliable resource. To read the manual entry for passwd, for example, type:
man passwd
Hit q when you have finished, and space bar for the next page.

Mailing List
Subscribe to the NetBSD Mailing List for the best resource for all your questions and queries, to get involved with the project, or to answer other's questions and queries.

Contact, Credits & Links
All the information here was accurate when I wrote it. If you feel I've missed something, feel mis-led, or have a question. Please Email me.

Finally, I'd encourage you to join the Mailing List for NetBSD.

That's it. Enjoy the world of NetBSD.

You probably want somewhere to go from here. Here are other pages with additional or useful (or both) information: If I've missed anything, please tell me.

Without the following people, all of this really would not have been possible:
Mark Andres.
Alex Barclay.
Dave Huang.
Bob Nestor.
Erik Winkler.
The rest of the NetBSD Port Mac68k Mailing List.
Thank you!