NetBSD docs tarpits and kernel compiling

While my VM setup is the way to go I eventually got NetBSD-current going on the spare machines I previously mentioned. It would only be fair to mention that when NetBSD 8 comes out, it will work much better on amd64 systems.

With that said, I've been trucking along to basic usage and compiling the system. For package management, I've been just grabbing binary packages as needed with pkgin, not really interested in trying to compile big stuff with pkgsource yet.

As a beginner, I found the package management scenario presented in a burdened way. The flexibility of (having to) picking your package trees, binary versus sources, pkgsource config, pulling in CVS etc increases the cognitive load. I just needed tmux! So I only do basic pkgin usage for now.

Scan mailing lists

It's worth mentioning, even if you have no intention of running NetBSD-current or getting into the code, if you run into issues, visually scan or search the mailing list archives, someone else likely has already griped about your issue if its even remotely common.

There are actually two approaches to this, you can search GNATS, but its kinda slow to query, and you kind of have to know what you're looking for in issues. Or just check netbsd-bugs and netbsd-users mailing lists for a decent litmus-test.


NetBSD-bugs will be slightly exaggerated noise with GNATS auto replies, but if you're having an issue it will likely be beaten to death by faithful testers here.

Moving on to grabbing tarballs of sources (sets as it were) and compiling the kernel, I googled and ended up at the NetBSD wikis for various things, eg:

I plodded through and things immediately went very badly and in hindsight I should have checked sooner..


long story short: DO NOT USE THE WIKI (for stuff in the guide). It's basically redundant compared to the guide, and has largely fallen to the wayside. I think the guide is in tree next to sources and was mostly up to date.

I still ran into minor issues with the current release and reported them. But overall there was no show stoppers for the kernel compiling section of the guide.

System and kernel compiling

One minor issue I had was the instructions not working as prescribed. But looking at the error output, it was easy to figure out. For people less weathered it might not have been trivial to know to create an 'obj' folder or specify it and run as -U for non-root users. But then again NetBSD demands a bit of knowledge up front. For example (this is after you have dong config <cfgfile>, GENERIC on amd64 here), here's how I got going. Change -j9 to number of cores in your machine +/- 1 for best results. There is a useful file, BUILDING sitting in /usr/src once you have unzipped sets that has full explanations and useful examples. Alternatively the 'building the kernel manually' guide works fine still. I'm interested in using the excellent cross compiling capabilities of though.

$ cd /usr/src
$ mkdir obj
$ ./ -U -u -O obj -j9 tools

(this will take a while, gcc is a bear of a compile)

$ ./ -U -u -O obj -j9 kernel=GENERIC

--- netbsd ---
#      link  GENERIC/netbsd
/usr/src/obj/tooldir.NetBSD-7.1.2-amd64/bin/x86_64--netbsd-ld -Map --cref -T /usr/src/sys/arch/amd64/conf/kern.ldscript -Ttext 0xffffffff80100000 -e start -z max-page-size=0x100000 -X -o netbsd ${SYSTEM_OBJ} ${EXTRA_OBJ} vers.o
NetBSD 7.1.2 (GENERIC) #1: Fri Mar 23 13:51:54 MDT 2018
   text    data     bss     dec     hex filename
14223597         654556  593920 15472073         ec15c9 netbsd
===> Kernels built from GENERIC:
===> ended:      Fri Mar 23 13:51:57 MDT 2018
===> Summary of results: command:    ./ -U -O obj -j9 kernel=GENERIC started:    Fri Mar 23 13:49:31 MDT 2018
         NetBSD version:      7.1.2
         MACHINE:             amd64
         MACHINE_ARCH:        x86_64
         Build platform:      NetBSD 7.1.2 amd64
         HOST_SH:             /bin/sh
         MAKECONF file:       /etc/mk.conf (File not found)
         TOOLDIR path:        /usr/src/obj/tooldir.NetBSD-7.1.2-amd64
         DESTDIR path:        /usr/src/obj/destdir.amd64
         RELEASEDIR path:     /usr/src/obj/releasedir
         Updated makewrapper: /usr/src/obj/tooldir.NetBSD-7.1.2-amd64/bin/nbmake-amd64
         Building kernel without building new tools
         Building kernel:     GENERIC
         Build directory:     /usr/src/obj/sys/arch/amd64/compile/GENERIC
         Kernels built from GENERIC:
          /usr/src/obj/sys/arch/amd64/compile/GENERIC/netbsd ended:      Fri Mar 23 13:51:57 MDT 2018
===> .

Finally, I can start digging in. This compile time certainly helps! Modern computing rules! This VM is not even on a SSD. I'm hopeful if I moved it and gave it a few more cores it could build in 60 seconds. A full release build of tools, userland and X across 16 cores probably still takes 10s of minutes though.

March 22, 2018

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