Monday, December 01, 2003

Quirks of NetBSD

Exactly two months ago I reported installing FreeBSD, NetBSD, OpenBSD, and Debian on my laptop for test purposes. Yesterday I tried to upgrade a different box from FreeBSD 5.1 RELEASE to FreeBSD 5.1 CURRENT. I've had no luck getting my SMC 2632W or 2602W wireless NICs, or an Orinoco Gold wireless NIC, to work in any modern version of FreeBSD. (I had the 2632W working with FreeBSD 4.5 and earlier using this hack.) I thought trying CURRENT might be a good idea but the install failed. Wireless support is my biggest grievance with FreeBSD. I used a wireless NIC on OpenBSD 3.3 fine yesterday.

So, I decided to replace the failed FreeBSD install with NetBSD 1.6.1. I got the OS installed but found it to be quirky. It works fine, but it's got its own peculiarities that separates it from FreeBSD. For example, I installed "everything," but OpenSSH was not installed by default. In fact, nothing was listening by default. What is this, OpenBSD? Not even OpenBSD is so draconian. The install process also doesn't give an easy way to configure networking. I added the appropriate entries to /etc/rc.conf because it uses the same format I know from FreeBSD.

Thanks to the official documentation, I was able to get going. If it weren't for Google, I wouldn't know I have to use CTRL-ALT-F4 to switch to terminal 4, rather than ALT-4 like most UNIX OS'. I also found the NetBSD package system installs software into places like /usr/pkg/bin/ rather than /usr/local/bin. NetBSD looks to be picky about licenses too. Here's what I saw when trying to install OpenSSH from /usr/pkgsrc/security/openssh:

===> openssl-0.9.6l has unacceptable license: fee-based-commercial-use.
===> To build this package, add this line to your /etc/mk.conf:
===> ACCEPTABLE_LICENSES+=fee-based-commercial-use

I made the change and OpenSSH installed fine. I had trouble figuring out why the /usr/pkg/etc/rc.d/sshd script wouldn't work properly, so I ended up enabling sshd via a 'sshd="YES"' line rc.conf. I then removed the unneeded OpenSSH, OpenSSL, and Perl packages. I was sad to see though that my wireless NIC still didn't work. In any case, every BSD is a little different, so that's why I'm trying NetBSD.

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