NetBSD/luna68k Information

This page is under construction and more information will be added to make it helpful for hardware owners suffering from missing documents.

Hardware and Operation

Model Processor RAM RAM configuration
LUNA 20MHz 68030 + 20MHz 68882 FPU 16MB 4/8MB + two 4MB modules
LUNA-88K 25MHz 88100 + pairs of 88204 CMMU 64MB 16 30-pin SIPP slots
LUNA-II 25MHz 68040 64MB 16 30-pin SIMM slots

LUNA-II has a room for piggy back 2nd 68040 processor, and apparently designed as 2 processor SMP box. LUNA-88K Plus product announcement was done in mid 1993. It's not certain volume production was made. The company released later rebagged DG AViiONs under LUNA brandname which run m88k DG-UX.

Photos; front and back

[ ... professional looks photos here ... ]

Front panel DIP switch #1

      [] []    [] [] []
[] []       []
1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8
switch # description
1 down - boot system in ROM monitor mode

up - load and start UNIX (always goes to multiuser mode)


down - serial console on ttya

up - console on bitmap display


down - force to have monochrome display

up - color display


down - verification on every harddisk write operation

up - no write verification


down - operating system is UniOS-B (4.3BSD/a.out OMAGIC)

up - operating system is UniOS-U (SystemV/COFF)


down - force monochrome display

up - color display

uncertain about functional difference from sw3.


down - boot from network

up - boot from local devices


down - start diagnostics

up - normal boot

DIP switch #2 is not used for any purpose.

ROM monitor operation

ROM monitor commands are not like those found in popular UNIX boxes.

  • k

    Display and change the boot device and filename. Boot device can be harddisk (dk), netboot (et), cassette tape (sd), or floppy disk (fl).

  • g

    Load the boot program into memory. It can take a different filename as optional argument. Note ROM monitor recognizes only a.out format binaries.

  • x

    Execute the loaded program. It accepts optional arguments. NetBSD/luna68k takes any letter of s (boot in single user mode), d (start DDB session) or a (ask root device name).

[ ... more info, differences between models ... ]

Here is an example of netbooting:

ctlr: dk  et
host: omron        [enter]
sver: servername   [enter]
fnam: server:/vmunix  lala:netbsd.aout
[ Kernel symbol table missing! ]
Copyright (c) 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005,
    2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011
    The NetBSD Foundation, Inc.  All rights reserved.
Copyright (c) 1982, 1986, 1989, 1991, 1993
    The Regents of the University of California.  All rights reserved.

How to determine the station's Ethernet address

For the ROM monitor prompt '>', type the following hexadecimal address;

  4101FFE0: 30 30 30 30 30 41 30 32 *00000A02*
  4101FFE8: 34 33 30 46 00 00 00 00 *430F....*

in this example, the station address is 00:00:0A:02:43:0F.

Some older models do not store the station address in CPU ROM, but in NVRAM storage (found in V4.02 ROM monitor dated Oct 12 1988). See also next section.

Dead timekeeper NVRAM syndrome

The LUNA are equipped with the infamous (non)volatile timekeeping RAM Mostek 48T02. Like for Sun3s and SPARCstations, the backup battery wears out and eventually loses its contents. Whenever the LUNA ROM monitor detects the situation, it initializes the NVRAM with factory default values. A Dead NVRAM is cumbersome for daily operations because there is no way to automatically boot NetBSD/luna68k at powerup; you have to boot the machine in ROM monitor mode and enter the boot commands by hand, specifying explicit boot configuration every time.

Diagnostic Start....nvram initialize.
No problems in hardware
OMRON WS Monitor Ver4.22 (Thu Jul 27 11:45:42 1989) - 0x01000000 bytes of memory
"BSD Monitor-mode"

If you see the ROM monitor message shown above on powerup, the NVRAM battery is gone and the contents have been initialized with factory default values. To learn about the dead NVRAM syndrome, please refer to Frequently Asked Questions about Sun NVRAM/hostid.

Older models have Ethernet station address in the ENADDR environment variable. If the NVRAM wears out, the ROM monitor resets the value to 0:0:0:0:0:0, and the ROM monitor will refuse to netboot before until a valid address is set.

Dead NVRAM replacement

The author succeeded in installing new DS1642-70 NVRAM. The PROM detected it and initialized ("kick-start") the timekeeping circuit automagically. I purchased it from a Dallas Semiconductor credit card sale representative. The price was $16.89 on Jan 4 2000.

Disk drive replacement

The LUNA is equipped with one 3.5" 'half height' hard disk drive made by either Conner, Fujitsu or Hitachi. They are slow and small disks of at best 172MB or 270MB capacity. It's a good idea to replace these low capacity drives with high capacity faster drives.

Removing the front bezel

Remove the top cover first. It has one screw on the back. Remove the metal sheet on top, which also has one screw. Then, remove the side covers; look for one screw on the back of each one. The front bezel might be secured with screws on both sides. It has three leads on the top. Unlock them gently from metal notches, release the top first, then remove the bottom end.

Removing the tape/disk unit

The tape and disk unit forms a block secured by a metal lead on the top. Loosen the lead and slide the block to front end gently. When you got a little space, release the power and SCSI cables on the back. Pay attention to avoid finger injuries due to the low quality metal work.

Replacing the disk drive

The ROM monitor requires the disk drive to have SCSI ID #6. The disk drive may be at the end of SCSI cable or not. The LUNA requires at least one SCSI termination. Without a SCSI termination, the system won't be able to run.

ttya connector replacement

The LUNA uses obscure serial connectors inherited from the old deskside VME machine design. It's close to impossible to obtain genuine cables, and the connector parts are very hard to find in market. See Tadashi Okamura's post for details.

SCSI connector replacement

The LUNA is equipped with an external SCSI connector. It's a micro DB50 connector, looks like the so called 'SCSI-2 connector' commonly found in any modern UNIX boxes, but it has a different gender! You can replace it by decomposing parts from a PC SCSI assembly; micro DB50 connector on ISA/PCI metal plate with 50-pin flat cable connector on back side. The item is available at conventional PC shops.


Instructions are available in the How to install NetBSD/luna68k document.

Future work

X11R6 Xserver; should not be hard. The X Consortium X11 release contains code for UNIOS-B/Mach2.5. NetBSD/luna68k has the WSCONS interface, and the porting effort will be concentrated around this point. However, it's uncertain that color support will be implemented, because the LUNA framebuffer is designed in 'planer format', not 'packed pixel format.'

LUNA-88K support would be a fun project; CMU Mach3 MK84 release contains code for the LUNA-88K hardware, and its peripheral devices are nearly identical to those of the LUNA.

History and Background of LUNA

The LUNA has an interesting behind the scene story.

The LUNA hardware had two different operating systems; a 4.3BSD derivative and a SVR3 variant. The first one, named UNIOS-B, was was a port of Integrated Solution Inc. UNIX product. ISI manufactured m68k based VME UNIX boxes. Their OS had an interesting feature of TRFS (Translucent Remote File System) as well as the popular SMI's NFS. The paper of TRFS was published at USENIX Technical Conference (late '80, details unknown in this moment).

TRFS runs atop its own RPC layer with a distinct ethertype; the protocol can not operate across routing segments. TRFS supports diskless client nodes. TRFS is a remarkably small network filesystem. It is not built on VFS nor fssw[]. Each remote client process has a phantom kernel process in the TRFS server, and operational semantics of UNIX I/O model is preserved across machines unlike to NFS.

ISI once made m68020 based deskside UNIX workstations, which were available for the Japanese market. The machine had its own bitmap windowing system, and marketed against then successful SMI's sun2.

The LUNA was a straight port of the ISI combined with OMRON's hardware design. LUNA could boot via network and operate as a diskless TRFS client. For unknown reasons, OMRON published little about how the LUNA could be used as TRFS network nodes.

Upfront to RISC computer boom, the company made a multiprocessor variant of the LUNA; a 4 processor m88000 SMP box geared by CMU's Mach2.5. The company was affiliated with Motorola, and the choice was natural to them (the company acquired a Japanese unit of Data General when it was abandoned by the parent company). A m68040 variant was made later, and marketed as LUNA-II.

The LUNA also has an interesting side story; it was a development platform of the Japanese Xterminal for a while. At late '80, a software company named ASTEC started developing an Xterminal prototype. Engineers in the company knew that a LUNA could be netbooted by another one. They started designing and building a propriety OS featuring an UNIX-like API and homebrew TCP/IP protocol stack. The LUNA was a quasi target hardware, and Xterminal images were downloaded to it by TRFS network boot.

Three Japanese companies bought the prototype design; OMRON, JCC and Takaoka Electric. The last two made their own 68030 based Xterminal hardware and deployed their products to the domestic market. The Xterminal business was a moderate success. ASTEC provided prototype Xserver software based on each release of X11 sample implementation to the companies.

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