Category Archives: NetBSD

My view on the NetBSD operating system

Intel PRO/1000 PT

After experiencing a lot of trouble with the onboard Broadcom BCM5721 Gigabit Ethernet interface of my new server I decided to get a network card that would be suitable to replace it. As Intel PRO/1000 MT PCI cards worked very well for me in the past I bought an Intel PRO/1000 PT PCI Express card.

The Intel PRO/1000 PT is supported by NetBSD 4.0 and newer and works like a charm for me. According to TTCP its Intel i82572EI chip provides a 13% higher transmit rate than the Broadcom chip. It also supports hardware-assisted checksums and TCP segmentation for both IPv4 and IPv6. Above all the card performed flawlessly in my server for over a week now with all the hardware features enabled.

So if you are looking for a fast and reliable Gigabit Ethernet PCI Express card the Intel PRO/1000 PT is a good option.

Goodbye i386 … Hello amd64!

Last Sunday I retired my NetBSD/i386 server installation after over 12 years of service. Back in 1996 I installed NetBSD 1.1 on a PC with a Cyrix 66MHz 486 CPU, 16MB main memory, a 1GB IDE hard disk and a 10Mb/s ISA ethernet card. The system’s job was to drive my analogue leased line and provide some Internet services like a web server and mailing lists.

Over the years both sofware and hardware got changed several times. I’ve updated the machine to all major NetBSD releases from 1.1 to 4.0, frequently even to beta versions of the next release. The hardware usually got upgraded when I bought a new PC for running NetBSD/current and playing games under Windows. In that case the server inherited the old CPU and motherboard. Whenever an upgrade happened the server would either keep its hard disks or its NetBSD installation was copied from the old to the new hard disks. But in all those years I never re-installed NetBSD. By the year 2000 the server was driven by an AMD K6-III 400MHz, had 128MB main memory, several gigabytes of disk space and a 100Mb/s PCI ethernet card.

In 2001 the server’s Internet bandwidth received a serious boost when the Deutsche Telekom AG finally provided Silke and me with an A-DSL broadband connection. But without a fixed IP address for the machine I had to rely my friend Markus’s server beaver to handle our e-mail. In 2002 that fortunately changed when KAMP started offering broadband including a fixed IP address. In all that time the server has been down or offline only very rarely, usually when Silke and I moved house.

In December last year I had bought hardware for a new server, an HP Proliant ML110 G4. As the machine has a 64Bit capable Intel Xeon CPU and upgrading it to 5GB of main memory was affordable I decided to switch to NetBSD/amd64. As I also wanted to try out all the exciting improvements in NetBSD/current I decided to try it on the new machine. I therefore postponed the server upgrade until the NetBSD 5.0 release cycle had begun. In the meantime I tested NetBSD/xen, fitted the machine with a pair of fast server grade SATA hard disks, optimized the RAID performance and benchmarked NetBSD’s new journaling file system.

Last Sunday the time had come: the new server was ready with all the necessary software installed and most of the data copied to its RAID array. After a final batch of rsync passes to get the missing data to the new machine I powered down the NetBSD/i386 system for good. There were a few problems with e-mail delivery and the network card at first. But in general things have worked reasonably well after a few configuration tweaks. I’ve made sure to keep at least one last backup of the NetBSD/i386 installation. But so far it doesn’t look like it is coming back.

NetBSD TV: The Media Server

As I mentioned recently I bought a Playstation 3 (PS3) to use as a streaming video client in conjunction with the MediaTomb UPnP media server. Here is my recipe for installing and configuring the server package under NetBSD. The instructions apply to version 0.11.0nb2 or newer of the package, older versions provide neither a startup script nor a dedicated user account.

  1. Use make install or pkg_add(1) to install the package.
  2. Start the MediaTomb server manually as user root with the following command:
    /usr/pkg/share/examples/rc.d/mediatomb start
    Wait about 5 seconds and stop the server with this command afterwards:
    /usr/pkg/share/examples/rc.d/mediatomb stop
    The server should have created a configuration file located under /var/mediatomb/config.xml. Please use your favourite editor to make the changes suggested below.
  3. Change <accounts enabled=”no” …> to <accounts enabled=”yes” …> and add a password to the account definition one line below. This will protect the web user interface by password and stop unauthorized users from browsing your file systems.
  4. You can define a name for your media server by changing the <name>MediaTomb</name> line.
  5. If you want to use a firewall to restrict access to MediaTomb you need to put a fixed port number above 49152 into the <ports>0</ports> line. MediaTomb will otherwise choose a port number dynamically.
  6. Change the <protocolInfo extend=”no”/> to <protocolInfo extend=”yes”/> to enable support for protocol extensions required by the Playstation 3.
  7. Further down in the mappings section you will find an entry to enable DivX support for the PS3. Uncommenting that line isn’t really necessary to watch DivX files. But it will enable shiny DivX icons for all .avi files in the PS3’s video menu.
  8. Start the server again and and look at the logfile /var/log/mediatomb.log. You should find two lines likes these at the end of the logfile:
    2008-11-11 01:02:03 INFO: MediaTomb Web UI can be reached by following this link:
    2008-11-11 01:02:03 INFO:

    Please visit this URL with a web browser and login into the web user interface using the account mediatomb and the password you defined previously.
  9. Use the Filesystem option of the web user interface to select directories with media content (audio or video) that should be exported to the PS3.
  10. Finally enable autostart of the server by copying /usr/pkg/share/examples/rc.d/mediatomb to /etc/rc.d and adding mediatomb=YES to /etc/rc.conf.

You should now be able to enjoy your audio and video files on your Playstation 3.