NetBSD 1.6 Release Announcement

Announcing NetBSD 1.6

The NetBSD Project is pleased to announce that release 1.6 of the NetBSD operating system is now available.

NetBSD is widely known as the most portable operating system in the world. It currently supports fifty two different system architectures, all from a single source tree, and is always being ported to more.

NetBSD 1.6 continues our long tradition with major improvements in file system and memory management performance, major security enhancements, and support for many new platforms and peripherals.

Complete source and binaries for NetBSD 1.6 are available for download at many sites around the world. A list of download sites via FTP, AnonCVS, SUP, and other methods is provided at the end of this announcement; the latest list of available download sites may also be found at:

About 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 two different system architectures featuring seventeen machine architectures across eleven distinct CPU families, and is being ported to more.

The NetBSD 1.6 release contains complete binary releases for thirty nine different system architectures. The thirteen remaining 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 highly 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. We also support third party software (including the KDE and GNOME desktops) through our package system.

More information on the goals of the NetBSD Project can be procured from the NetBSD web site.

NetBSD is free. All of the code is under non-restrictive licenses, and may be used without paying royalties to anyone. Free support services are available via our mailing lists and web site. Commercial support is available from a variety of sources; some are listed here.

More extensive information on NetBSD is available from our web site.

NetBSD is the work of a diverse group of people spread around the world. The `Net' in our name is a tribute to the Internet, which enables us to communicate and share code, and without which the project would not exist.

System families supported by NetBSD 1.6

The NetBSD 1.6 release provides supported binary distributions for the following systems:

NetBSD/acorn26 Acorn Archimedes, A-series and R-series systems
NetBSD/acorn32 Acorn RiscPC/A7000, CATS, Digital Shark, EBSA-285, VLSI RC7500
NetBSD/algor Algorithmics, Ltd. MIPS evaluation boards
NetBSD/alpha Digital/Compaq Alpha (64-bit)
NetBSD/amiga Commodore Amiga, MacroSystem DraCo
NetBSD/arc MIPS-based machines following the Advanced RISC Computing spec
NetBSD/atari Atari TT030, Falcon, Hades
NetBSD/cats Chalice Technology's Strong Arm evaluation board
NetBSD/cobalt Cobalt Networks' MIPS-based Microservers
NetBSD/dreamcast Sega Dreamcast game console
NetBSD/evbarm ARM evaluation boards
NetBSD/evbmips MIPS-based evaluation boards
NetBSD/hp300 Hewlett-Packard 9000/300 and 400 series
NetBSD/hpcarm StrongARM based Windows CE PDA machines
NetBSD/hpcmips MIPS-based Windows CE PDA machines
NetBSD/hpcsh Hitachi SH3/4 based Windows CE PDA machines
NetBSD/i386 80x86-based IBM PCs and clones
NetBSD/luna68k OMRON Tateisi Electric's LUNA series
NetBSD/mac68k Apple Macintosh with 68k CPU
NetBSD/macppc Apple Power Macintosh and clones
NetBSD/mipsco Mips family of workstations and servers
NetBSD/mvme68k Motorola MVME 68k SBCs
NetBSD/netwinder StrongARM based NetWinder machines
NetBSD/news68k Sony's 68k-based "NET WORK STATION" series
NetBSD/newsmips Sony's MIPS-based "NET WORK STATION" series
NetBSD/next68k NeXT 68k 'black' hardware
NetBSD/pmax Digital MIPS-based DECstations and DECsystems
NetBSD/prep PReP (PowerPC Reference Platform) and CHRP machines
NetBSD/sandpoint Motorola Sandpoint reference platform
NetBSD/sbmips Broadcom SiByte evaluation boards
NetBSD/sgimips Silicon Graphics' MIPS-based workstations
NetBSD/shark Digital DNARD ("shark")
NetBSD/sparc Sun SPARC (32-bit) and UltraSPARC (in 32-bit mode)
NetBSD/sparc64 Sun UltraSPARC (in native 64-bit mode)
NetBSD/sun2 Sun 2
NetBSD/sun3 Sun 3 and 3x
NetBSD/vax Digital VAX
NetBSD/walnut IBM 405GP PowerPC "walnut" evaluation board
NetBSD/x68k Sharp X680x0 series

Ports available in source form only for this release include the following:

NetBSD/amigappc PowerPC-based Amiga boards
NetBSD/bebox Be Inc's BeBox
NetBSD/cesfic CES's FIC8234 VME processor board
NetBSD/evbsh3 Evaluation boards with Hitachi Super-H SH3 and SH4 CPUs
NetBSD/mmeye Brains' mmEye Multi Media Server
NetBSD/mvmeppc Motorola MVME PowerPC SBCs
NetBSD/ofppc Generic OpenFirmware compliant PowerPC machines
NetBSD/pc532 The NS32532-based PC532 computer
NetBSD/playstation2 SONY PlayStation 2
NetBSD/amd64 AMD x86-64(tm) 64-bit CPUs

Major Changes Between 1.5 and 1.6

It is difficult to completely summarize the extensive development between the 1.5 and 1.6 releases. Some highlights include:


  • Ports to new platforms including: algor, dreamcast, evbarm, hpcarm, hpcsh, newsmips, sandpoint, sgimips, sun2, and walnut.
  • Unified Buffer Cache (UBC) removes size restriction of the file system's buffer cache to use all available RAM (if not otherwise used!) and improves overall system performance.
  • Round-robin page colouring implemented for various ports for better cache utilisation, more deterministic run-time behaviour, and faster program execution.
  • A rewritten SCSI middle layer to provide a cleaner interface between the different kernel layers, including a kernel thread to handle error recovery outside of the interrupt context. See scsipi(9).
  • A new pipe implementation with significantly higher performance due to lower overheads, which uses the UVM Page Loan facility.
  • Linux binary emulation has been greatly improved with the addition of arm, alpha, m68k and powerpc support, and now supports kernel version 2.4.18.
  • Booting from RAIDframe devices is now supported on some ports.
  • New boot loader flags -v (bootverbose) and -q (bootquiet), to be used by kernel code to optionally print information during boot.
  • An in-kernel boot time device configuration manager userconf(4), activated with the -c boot loader flag.
  • A work-in-progress snapshot of ACPI support, based on the 20010831 snapshot of the Intel ACPICA reference implementation.
  • USB 2.0 support, in the form of a preliminary driver for the ehci(4) host controller.
  • Basic kernel support for IrDA in the form of the irframe(4) IrDA frame level driver. Serial dongles and the oboe(4) driver are currently supported.
  • Kernel configuration files can be embedded into the kernel for later retrieval. Refer to INCLUDE_CONFIG_FILE in options(4) for more information.
  • Many more kernel tunable variables added to sysctl(8).


  • Hardware assisted IPv4 TCP and UDP checksumming and caching of the IPv6 TCP pseudo header. Support for checksum offloading on the DP83820 Gigabit Ethernet, 3Com 3c90xB, 3Com 3c90xC, and Alteon Tigon/Tigon2 Gigabit Ethernet cards.
  • Zero-Copy for TCP and UDP transmit path achieved through page loaning code for sosend().
  • In-kernel ISDN support, from the ISDN4BSD project.
  • 802.1Q VLAN (virtual LAN) support. See vlan(4).
  • IPFilter now supports IPv6 filtering.
  • ndbootd(8) added; used to netboot NetBSD/sun2 machines.
  • racoon(8) added; IKE key management daemon for IPsec key negotiation, from the KAME project.
  • WEP encryption supported in ifconfig(8) and awi(4) driver.
  • wi(4) and wiconfig(8) now support scanning for access points, and defaults to BSS instead of ad-hoc mode.
  • Bridging support; currently only for ethernet. See bridge(4).
  • In-kernel PPP over Ethernet (PPPoE) - RFC 2516, with much lower overhead than user-land PPPoE clients. See pppoe(4).
  • ifwatchd(8) added; invokes up-script and down-script when a network interface goes up and down. Used by pppoe(4).

File Systems

  • Enhanced stability of LFS version 2, the BSD log-structured file system.
  • dump(8), dumpfs(8), fsck_ffs(8), fsirand(8), newfs(8), and tunefs(8) support a -F option to manipulate file system images in regular files.
  • makefs(8) added; creates file system images from a directory tree. (Currently ffs only.)
  • Enhanced ffs_dirpref() by Grigoriy Orlov, which noticeably improves performance on FFS file systems when creating directories, and subsequently manipulating them.
  • Fixes for free block tracking and directory block allocation in FFS softdeps.
  • Correctly support FFS file systems with a large number of cylinder groups.
  • Fix the endian independent FFS (FFS_EI) support.
  • newfs(8) calculates default block size from the file system size, and uses the largest possible cylinders/group (cpg) value if -c isn't given.
  • dpti(4) driver added; an implementation of the DPT/Adaptec SCSI/I2O RAID management interface. Allows the use of the Linux versions of dptmgr, raidutil, dptelog, (etc).
  • Support for Windows 2000 'NTFS' (NTFS5, read-only).
  • Tagged queueing support for SCSI drivers based on the ncr53c9x controller.


System administration and user tools

  • sushi(8) added; a menu based system administration tool.
  • pgrep(1) and pkill(1) added; find or signal processes by name or other attributes.
  • System upgrades are made easier through the etcupdate(8) script which helps updating the /etc config files interactively, and the /etc/postinstall script which is provided to check for or fix configuration changes that have occurred in NetBSD.
  • stat(1) added; a user interface to the information returned by the stat(2) system call.
  • BSD sort(1) replaces GNU sort(1).
  • The "stop" operation for rc.d(8) scripts waits until the service terminates before returning. This improves the reliability of "restart" operations as well.
  • Swap devices can be removed at system shutdown by enabling swapoff in rc.conf(5).
  • An optional watchdog timer which will terminate rc.shutdown(8) after the number of seconds provided in rcshutdown_timeout from rc.conf(5).


  • Support for multibyte LC_CTYPE locales has been integrated from the Citrus project. Many Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and other encodings are now available.
  • Full support for cross-compilation of the base system, even as a non-root user! src/ is available for doing arbitrary cross-builds; see src/BUILDING for more information. At least 38 ports for the NetBSD 1.6 release were cross-built on a NetBSD/i386 system using this mechanism.
  • Migrated the following CPU platforms to ELF: arm, and m68k (including amiga, hp300, mac68k, mvme68k, sun2, and x68k).
  • Updates of most third party packages that are shipped in the base system to the following latest stable releases:
    • amd 6.0.6
    • BIND 8.3.3
    • binutils 2.11.2
    • bzip2 1.0.2
    • cvs 1.11
    • dhcp 3.0.1rc9
    • file 3.38
    • gcc 2.95.3
    • groff 1.16.1
    • Heimdal 0.4e
    • IPfilter 3.4.27
    • kerberos4 1.1
    • ksh from pdksh 5.2.14p2
    • less 374
    • nvi 1.79
    • OpenSSH 3.4
    • OpenSSL 0.9.6g
    • Postfix 1.1.3
    • ppp 2.4.0
    • routed 2.24
    • sendmail 8.11.6
    • tcpdump 3.7.1
    • XFree86 4.2.0 (i386 only)
  • Many new packages in The NetBSD packages collection, including the latest open source desktop KDE3,, as well as the latest Perl, Apache and many more. At the time of writing, there are over 3000 third party packages available in pkgsrc.
  • Added AGP GART driver agp(4) for faster access to graphics boards.
  • init(8) will create an mfs (memory based file system) /dev if /dev/console is missing.
  • vmstat(8) displays kernel hash statistics with -H and -h hash.
  • wscons(4) supports blanking of VGA consoles.

See the list of significant changes between 1.5 and 1.6.

And of course there have also been innumerable bug fixes and other miscellaneous enhancements. Kernel interfaces have continued to be refined, and more subsystems and device drivers are shared among the different ports. You can look for this trend to continue.

Please note that at the moment, sysinst will not assist you in installing pre-built third-party binary packages or the pkgsrc system itself. See the NetBSD packages collection documentation.

Lastly, it should be noted that the X11 binaries shipped in NetBSD 1.6 for all ports except i386 are based on XFree86 version 3.3.6, while i386 is based on XFree86 version 4.2.0. You may at compile time pick which sources to build and install. A snapshot of XFree86 3.3.6 for i386 will be made available.


The NetBSD Foundation would like to thank all those who have contributed code, hardware, documentation, funds, colocation for our servers, web pages and other documentation, release engineering, and other resources over the years. More information on contributors

We would like to especially thank the University of California at Berkeley and the GNU Project for particularly large subsets of code that we use, and the Internet Software Consortium, Redback Networks and the Helsinki University of Technology for current colocation services.

About the NetBSD Foundation

The NetBSD Foundation was chartered in 1995, with the task of overseeing core NetBSD project services, promoting the project within industry and the open source community, and holding intellectual property rights on much of the NetBSD code base. Day-to-day operations of the project are handled by volunteers.

NetBSD mirror sites

Please use the mirror site closest to you. Please also note our list of CD-ROM vendors.

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