The NetBSD Foundation Quarterly Report: January - March 2006

Quarterly Status Report

NetBSD is an actively developed operating system. With fifty seven different system architectures in total and binary support of 53 architectures in our last official release (NetBSD 3.0), 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, released with irregular regularity, are suitable for reproduction and publication in part or in whole as long as the source is clearly indicated.

This report summarizes the changes within NetBSD during the first three months of 2006.

To learn more about NetBSD visit its homepage at, for a list of code changes see the src/doc/CHANGES and pkgsrc/doc/CHANGES-2006 files. Individual changes to the NetBSD source and pkgsrc can be monitored on the source-changes and pkgsrc-changes mailing lists.

-Jan Schaumann

January 2006 - March 2006








New Developers [20060401]

The NetBSD project is pleased to welcome the following new developers during the first quarter of 2006:

  • J. Chapman Flack (login: chap), who will be working on MIDI support and the NetBSD Packages Collection.
  • Cherry G. Mathew (login: cherry), who will be working on port-ia64.
  • Garrett D'Amore (login: gdamore), who will be working on port-mips.
  • Geert Hendrickx (login: ghen), who will be working on the NetBSD Packages Collection.
  • Pavel Cahyna (login: pavel), who will be working on bug fixing, networking and Documentation.
  • Ruibiao Qiu (login: ruibiao), who will be working on curses and networking.
  • Alan Ritter (login: rittera), who will be working on NDIS and drivers.


NetBSD Internals book added [20060128]

Julio M. Merino Vidal has published documentation about file system internals in the form of a new on-line book: the NetBSD Internals book. This aims to be a detailed guide about the design and implementation of NetBSD, including its kernel and user-land utilities.

Most of this text was written during tmpfs development - his Google Summer of Code project - as one of its goals was precisely to write such documentation.

Please note that this documentation is still incomplete and very much work-in-progress. Feedback, fixes and extensions are certainly welcome.

Permission to Incorporate POSIX Material [20060215]

The IEEE and The Open Group have granted permission to the NetBSD Foundation to incorporate documentation for more than 1,400 interfaces from the joint IEEE 1003.1" POSIX standard and The Open Group Base Specifications Issue 6 into its NetBSD operating system.

The POSIX standard, which also forms the core volumes of Version 3 of The Open Group's Single UNIX Specification, defines a set of fundamental services needed for the construction of portable application programs. The more than 1,400 interfaces from the standard the NetBSD Foundation can now use includes header files, interfaces for system and library calls, and utilities.

Please see the press release for more information.

New NetBSD flyers and posters [20060312]

Hubert Feyrer together with Stefan Schumacher, Jörg Pernfuss and Rainer Brinkmöller, has updated a bunch of NetBSD promo material:

Developer interviews [20060401]

DaemonNews is running a series of interviews by Emmanuel Dreyfus with various NetBSD developers. The first three interviews were published at the beginning of February, March and April 2006 and are:

More interviews are scheduled for the coming months.

NetBSD on the road

The NetBSD Project was represented by developers and other volunteers at a number of conferences and tradeshows during the first quarter of 2006. 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:

  • [20060211] NetBSD's Kevin Lahey organized a booth at the 4th annual Southern California Linux Expo, SCALE4x. His report is available here.
  • [20060225] NetBSD's Peter Postma and Geert Hendrickx attended the sixth Free and Open source Software Developers' European Meeting (FOSDEM 2006), a 2 days event, organized by volunteers, to promote the widespread use of Free and Open Source software. A review of the event is available here
  • [20060304] Stefan Schumacher organized a booth at the Chemnitzer Linux-Tage. A number of NetBSD presentations and a workshop were given as well.
  • [20060309] The NetBSD Project had a booth at CeBIT 2006 in Germany.
  • [20060317] Members of the Japan NetBSD Users' Group staffed a booth at the Open Source Conference 2006 Tokyo/Spring, demonstrating a number of hpc{mips,sh,arm} gadgets.
  • [20060321] Stefan Schumacher organized a booth and gave a talk on backup strategies at the German Unix User Group Frühjahrsfachgespräch in Osnabrueck, Germany. His report is available here.


Changes to the Packages Collection in December 2005 [20060131]

By calculations of Alistair G. Crooks, at the end of December 2005, there were 5779 packages in the Packages Collection, up from 5737 the previous month, a rise of 42.

The pkgsrc team branched the pkgsrc repository, and released the pkgsrc-2005Q4 branch in December. The pkgsrc-2005Q3 branch has been deprecated, and continuing engineering has started on pkgsrc-2005Q4.

The Package of the Month award goes to Eterm (x11/eterm). I've been using it as my terminal program of choice for over 6 years, and recently I enabled the Escreen mode with it. The Escreen mode interacts with screen - misc/screen - in a seamless way, provides tabbed access to screen windows, and integrates frequent screen commands in an Eterm menu. Highly recommended. - says Alistair.

See his complete email message to netbsd-users.

Changes to the Packages Collection in January 2006 [20060223]

At the end of January 2006, there were 5853 packages in the Packages Collection, up from 5779 the previous month, a rise of 74.

A special thank you goes to Mark Davies for upgrading KDE packages to version 3.5.1, whilst a number of other packages have been moved around to reflect better their primary category.

The Package of the Month award goes to sysutils/vip nominated by Stoned Elipot. Despite its name, vip uses your editor of choice, and is most frequently found in shell pipelines, to edit text coming from one command before it is submitted to the next command. As Stoned says: When you're in the midst of slowly building a long shell pipeline and something goes wrong it's so easy to throw |vip| somewhere in it to check the plumbing! And Alistair adding: I know I find myself using vip as a pager on the output from commands, since its searching capabilities are much, much better than screen's, and it's incredibly useful when those pipes get long.

pkgsrcCon 2006 coming up

The third pkgsrc conference will be held on May 5-7, 2006 in Paris, France. Universite Paris 7 - Denis Diderot is graciously hosting the conference on their campus.

pkgsrcCon is a technical conference for people working on the NetBSD Packages Collection (pkgsrc), focusing on existing technologies, research projects, and works-in-progress in pkgsrc infrastructure. Developers, contributors, and users are all welcome to attend, and to share an excellent opportunity to gather and to discuss ideas face-to-face on how to improve pkgsrc.

For more information, including:

  • How to register, and
  • How to submit a presentation proposal,

please visit

New mailing list for pkgsrc users [20060224]

The NetBSD Project has created a new mailing list pkgsrc-users to better serve the pkgsrc user community and to help refocus the existing tech-pkg mailing list for technical discussions. The charters for these two lists are:

  • pkgsrc-users: a general purpose list for most issues regarding the pkgsrc, regardless of platform, e.g. soliciting user help for pkgsrc configuration, unexpected build failures, using particular packages, upgrading pkgsrc installations, questions regarding the pkgsrc release branches, etc. General announcements or proposals for changes that impact the pkgsrc user community, e.g. major infrastructure changes, new features, package removals, etc., may also be posted.
  • tech-pkg: a list for technical discussions related to pkgsrc development, e.g. soliciting feedback for changes to pkgsrc infrastructure, proposed new features, questions related to porting pkgsrc to a new platform, advice for maintaining a package, patches that affect many packages, help requests moved from pkgsrc-users when an infrastructure bug is found, etc.

All current subscribers to the tech-pkg mailing list are encouraged to subscribe to the pkgsrc-users mailing list.

Please see also the complete announcement from Johnny C. Lam.

pkgsrc-2006Q1 branched [20060331]

At the end of March, the pkgsrc team branched the first stable branch of 2006, with support for 5943 packages. As well as updated versions of many many packages, the infrastructure of pkgsrc itself has been improved for better platform and compiler support, and also for enhanced security. At the same time, the pkgsrc-2005Q4 branch has been deprecated, and continuing engineering starts on the pkgsrc-2006Q1 branch.

The source tar files for the new branch can be found at:

You can also use the pkgsrc-2006Q1 tag to check it out yourself from or any of the mirrors.

Please see the detailed pkgsrc-2006Q1 announcement in Alistair G. Crooks's email to the netbsd-announce mailing list for more information.


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

cobalt: New Restore CD build script [20060401]

Dennis Chernoivanov has announced the availability of a new Restore CD build script, now available for testing and critique at A NetBSD 3.99.17 restore CD built using these tools is available at See his email to the port-cobalt mailing list for further details.

ews4800mips: first binary snapshot [20060109]

The first -current binary snapshot based on 2006-01-09 sources is available in the NetBSD/ews4800mips snapshot area of the ftp server:

evbmips: support for many new platforms [20060327]

Garrett D'Amore has added support for a variety of new platforms, including expanded support for Alchemy Au1550 (this enables the DBAu1550 and Plat'home OpenMicroServer platforms), AMD Alchemy (this makes the MTX-1, aka MeshCube/AccessCube, a useful system), and Atheros AR5312 (a chip used in a variety of commodity access points and wireless routers) platforms. Not all devices are supported on these platforms, but a lot of forward progress is occurring.

ia64: imported into source tree

Cherry G. Mathew has imported his initial work-in-progress port of NetBSD to the Itanium family of processors into the source tree. While the code is still in a very early stage of development, all users are encouraged to get involved in the development.

prep: IBM RS/6000 7024 Support added [20060223]

Support for the IBM RS/6000 7024 model E20 and E30 has been added to the prep Port. Please see Tim Rightnour's email to the port-prep mailing list for details.

prep: new portmaster [20060306]

Tim Rightnour has taken over the role of portmaster for the prep port, replacing NONAKA Kimihiro who did the original port of NetBSD to the prep architecture. Tim's goals for this port are summarized in his email to the port-prep mailinglist.

sparc: XFree86 in 16 and 24bit [20060228]

Michael Lorenz announced that the pnozz(4) frame buffer now supports 8, 16 and 24bit color with full acceleration. See his message to the port-sparc mailinglist for more details.

sparc64: new bootloader required [2006013]

Dennis Chernoivanov recently reworked the bootloader/kernel protocol. This means that you need to install a new bootloader before updating a kernel. Instructions can be found at The new bootloader will, of course, boot older kernels as well.

sparc64: support for Atheros wlan devices [20060302]

Atheros wlan devices require a binary-only HAL, linked into the kernel with the driver proper. After David Young imported a new HAL, a version for NetBSD/sparc64 is now available, tested, and known to work.

xen: Xen3 domU support [20060322]

Manuel Bouyer has continued his work on getting NetBSD to work on Version 3 of the Xen virtual machine monitor over the past few weeks, and he writes that NetBSD should now be functional on Xen3 domU (unprivileged domains) with block and network devices. This support for Xen3 domU has also been integrated into the netbsd-3 branch, meaning it will be part of NetBSD 3.1. There are XEN3_U and INSTALL_XEN3_U kernels built as part of the release process, just as for Xen-2, which means it's as easy to get a NetBSD domU on a xen-3 system as it is for xen-2.

Xen3 dom0 support is still work in progress.

See also:


Security Advisories released

In the first three months of 2006, the following Security Advisories have been released:

  • SA2006-001 regarding a kernfs kernel memory disclosure. NetBSD 3.0 is not affected by this problem.
  • SA2006-002 regarding a settimeofday(2) time wrap. NetBSD 3.0 is not affected by this problem.
  • SA2006-003 regarding multiple denial of services issues with racoon. NetBSD 3.0 is not affected by this problem.
  • SA2006-004 regarding denial of services issues with pf(4). NetBSD 3.0 is the only release affected by this problem.
  • SA2006-005 regarding a bridge memory disclosure. All versions of NetBSD built from sources prior to January 17, 2006 are affected by this problem.
  • SA2006-007 regarding insecure permissions under mail(1). All versions of NetBSD built from sources prior to March 03, 2006 are affected by this problem.
  • SA2006-008 regarding a system crash caused by a malformed ELF interpreter. All versions of NetBSD built from sources prior to March 17, 2006 are affected by this problem.
  • SA2006-010 regarding a sendmail race condition. All versions of NetBSD built from sources prior to March 24, 2006 are affected by this problem.

Please check the Security Advisories page for full details of all advisories.


UDF file system added [20060202]

Reinoud Zandijk has added a new implementation of the UDF file system to the NetBSD source tree. UDF is a file system defined by the OSTA standardization group and is tailored for data interchange on optical discs (like CDs and DVDs) between different operating systems. Its also more and more common on other media like Compact Flash (CF) cards.

See Reinoud's mail to the current-users mailinglist for more details.

Multiboot support [20060203]

Julio Merino added support for the Multiboot Specification to i386 kernels. This makes it possible to boot them directly from Multiboot-compliant boot loaders such as GRUB. Unfortunately, due to the way this has been done, a third-party patch is required for GRUB to workaround a bug in it; this fix is already in pkgsrc, but prevents GRUB builds made by Linux distributions to work properly. NetBSD/i386 will be fixed in the future to not require any patch.

See multiboot(8) for details.

iSCSI support [20060222]

Alistair G. Crooks has recently added support for an iSCSI target to NetBSD, and written HOWTOs for using it. iSCSI is specified in RFC 3720 and describes a method for encapsulating SCSI commands in TCP/IP to remotely access block-level storage. In iSCSI, the party offering a SCSI device (the server) is called a "target", and the party using that device (the client) is called an "initiator", so the iSCSI target exports blocks to the iSCSI initiators.

NetBSD's iSCSI implementation was developed from the original Intel code (BSD-licensed) and has been tested with version 1.06 of the Microsoft initiator as well as with its own test harness; an iSCSI initiator for NetBSD is currently under development.

Please see the HOWTOs on setting up both a target and an initiator, as well as the original email from Alistair.

ciss(4) imported from OpenBSD

Havard Eidnes committed a port of the ciss(4) driver from OpenBSD, thanks to the porting efforts of Tonnerre Lombard. The driver supports the newer series of Smart Array controllers from HP/Compaq. The driver has also been pulled up to the netbsd-2 and netbsd-3 branches.

kauth branch soon to be merged

Elad Efrat has worked vigorously on the kauth branch, which should soon be merged into the trunk. Kernel authorization is a framework intended to replace the way authorization requests are handled in the kernel. Kauth divides the "types" of authorization requests to "scopes" and allows authorization schemes to hook into each scope.

To illustrate with a simplified example, if until now, a request to mount a new file-system would behave as follows:

  • Is the user the super-user or user mounts are allowed?
  • Is the security level allowing us to complete the request?

In a kauth kernel the request would be:

  • Dispatch request for 'mount file-system' issued by user with credentials to the proper authorization wrapper for the scope
  • The scope would call all authorization listeners attached to it and return the decision

The security model would then be implemented by said authorization listeners -- these could either check for uid 0, check an associated capabilities struct, post the request to a user-level handler for a decision (like systrace does), or further dispatch the request to a 'security server', as in a FLASK-environment.

The kauth manual page, still work in progress, is available at

Back to  the NetBSD Foundation Inc. page