Wanna Raspberry?

July 30, 2012 posted by Mike M. Volokhov

Demand for a cheap yet powerful computer is pretty high in geek circles. Remember those days when you could take a ZX Spectrum, or Commodore 64, or something like that and attach it to your TV to fill next few days with a great fun. Since then, PCs pushed out these tiny home computers. But today, Raspberry Pi — a little credit-card sized sweet computer — is here. Nick's Raspberry Pi

The Raspberry Pi is built on Broadcom BCM2835 system on chip which contains ARM1176 core running at 700MHz, with VideoCore 4 GPU, and has 256 MB of RAM on board. It provides two USB ports, 100Mb/s Ethernet, HDMI and composite video; audio output presented as well. Operating system loaded from SD flash.

Yet more fun is that the initial NetBSD support was just committed to the NetBSD source tree, and the Raspberry Pi can boot into multiuser now. Currently work on device drivers is in progress. USB and Ethernet are planned to be supported next.

Generally, NetBSD support for the ARM1176 core is in very good shape. The largest parts of the code I committed were the update to the plcom serial driver and the infrastructure to support the low level parts of the bcm2835 (interrupt controller, bus_space, and timer) — says Nick Hudson, who did the bringup. However, the porting has some hard nuts to crack: The graphics part is a bit of a challenge. But I hope to get dumb framebuffer support relatively soon. There is a publicly available datasheet for part of bcm2835, but certainly not the video controller.

Matt Thomas, the port-evbarm portmaster, was very knowledgeable and helpful in answering all my questions. I'd like to also thank Stephen Borrill for getting me an RPI in the first place. Stephen spoke to Eben Upton in Cambridge and soon after an RPI arrived — adds Nick.

So, there is a boot log from the very first NetBSD driven RPI board, and work on the device is in full swing. Many people exposed interest, and eventually the Raspberry Pi could became a good alternative for number of well supported, but aging single board computers.




Very nice

Posted by Boo on July 30, 2012 at 09:58 AM UTC #

Can you give us a single worthwhile reason _why_ to put any effort into porting NetBSD to the Raspberry Pi, that's something better than "it's a self-indulgent wank of a neckbeard manchild" ? How will NetBSD running on the RPi help the Raspberry Pi Foundation's specific educational charter? The RPF is dedicated to improving the state of self-directed and formally taught pre-tertiary student computer programming literacy, and having a loosely 'standard' platform for the community of users and educators to share knowledge about, like the BBC microcomputers that inspired the founders, is what the RPF needs. (After several iterations, it looks like the Raspbian project is going to be it.) ... NetBSD on the RPi...that'll be used by at best 0.01% of the users, and 0.00000% of any school-based programming classes. Tell me where I'm wrong in saying porting for that aspect is a complete waste of time.

Posted by Chris Baird on July 31, 2012 at 11:53 AM UTC #

Wow Chris, what a downer! First off having NetBSD on the RP will benefit all NetBSD users, and not just those using related ARM hardware! For the RPF, NetBSD support will show that the platform can be truly open (especially if they can help us get full graphics support working). Who knows? Maybe some higher-level educators (maybe even colleges and universities) will choose to use NetBSD on the RP as a teaching tool as well. Nothing like this is ever a waste of time. Indeed it's time very well spent!

Posted by Greg A. Woods on July 31, 2012 at 05:51 PM UTC #

The best possible argument for NetBSD/rpi that can be made is 'the port can contribute to students understanding of computer operating systems for those advanced enough'...but NetBSD, really? Can anyone even point to any tertiary-level scholastic use of NetBSD after 1997 or so? There _will_ be 5 orders of magnitude more useful community in Linux-land to assist the Raspberry Pi student-hacker delving in kernel-space, and there's the same quantities in Linux kernel /documentation/ and guides that can be actually understood by non-grad students. So I'm to make the same conclusion again.

Posted by Chris Baird on July 31, 2012 at 06:14 PM UTC #

1) I'm certain RBPi shares value among both - the students and the DIY folks 2) its probably the very 1st unix distro which was booted on RBPi 3) check what the title of this website says - "of course it can run NetBSD" 4) we can probably name this kind of symbiosis one of the cheapest unix platforms

Posted by flegmatoid on July 31, 2012 at 07:14 PM UTC #

Thank you Nick Hudson for the work you are doing in porting NetBSD to the Raspberry Pi. Your work is appreciated. Best regards, John Boyd.

Posted by John Boyd on July 31, 2012 at 09:26 PM UTC #

Good stuff, I was waiting for this!

Posted by Alex on August 01, 2012 at 12:43 PM UTC #

Come on Chris, that's not fair: 1. NetBSD on PI won't take the PI away from anyone who don't want to use it. It's an *option*, not a prerequisite 2. Linux has several problems of itself, including the viral licensing (GPL) and the fact that it's bigger, more complex and *less*elegant* than NetBSD

Posted by Boing Boing on August 01, 2012 at 03:06 PM UTC #

Wow Chris.. talk about a self-indulgent wankfest. Your self-assigned position as Guardian of All That's Good and True for the Rasberry Pi Foundation seems to have blinded you to the fact that NetBSD is a project too. The stated goals of the NetBSD project are design elegance and portability. Porting the OS and userland to the RasPi is a direct test of those goals. Every new platform forces us to re-examine our assumptions about how an OS should be organized and what 'portability' actually means. There's more than an academic possibility that lessons learned from the RasPi port will flow back to the more mainline branches of NetBSD. Beyond that, you *really* need to get over the idea that you're fit to judge whether someone else's investment of effort and time is 'worthy'. Mike invested his time and effort in creating something functional that might be useful -- or at least interesting -- to others. You invested yours in pissing on his shoes.

Posted by mike stone on August 02, 2012 at 12:32 AM UTC #

The great part of this, is long after the Raspberry project is dead, NetBSD will still run on it. Chris, I am amazed at how large your ego is to come over to our yard and start spewing crap over the relevance of our project. If you feel it is so insignificant, then why should it even bother you? Granted, I'm not a neckbeard, but I think it is you who needs the towel. We've outlived far more useful trolls than you.

Posted by Cryo on August 02, 2012 at 08:00 PM UTC #

Maybe he did it just because it was fun.

Posted by Stathis on August 05, 2012 at 09:29 PM UTC #

Hello there, I've been following these news since their inception, but I must say that this is still a good and useful thing. About Chris, just ignore the troll, maybe he is one of those linux zealots (don't get me wrong, I like both, although with a little bit mose bias to *BSD). Regards!!

Posted by camilito on August 06, 2012 at 02:13 AM UTC #

Bravo to the NetBSD porters! Yes, RPI "ships" with Debian, but you could say that Suns ship with Solaris, PCs ship with Windows, and Macs ship with MacOS, but there's a great benefit to having options, especially when one of those options is the stable, predictable, consistent (both across architectures and over time/releases) NetBSD. I, for one, am eager to try out NetBSD on RPI.

Posted by SAQ on August 07, 2012 at 03:50 PM UTC #

Hey Thanks for doing this. With all the ridiculous devices that run NetBSD, I think it is funny that someone is surprised that it is ported to any platform:) I have 2 questions I'm looking for a small NetBSD platform the can netboot and have good support for GPIO. It seems the Raspberry PI would require usb interface to any GPIO and it doesn't support netbooting. Is this true? Thanks, Ben

Posted by Ben Greenfield on August 10, 2012 at 07:03 PM UTC #

@Ben: the Pi has a GPIO connector directly on board (top left of the main board in the picture above; has two black and one white wires going to it from whatever the extra board at the top is). However there's no NetBoot.

Posted by Tommy on August 17, 2012 at 03:43 PM UTC #

great news!

Posted by Vee on September 05, 2012 at 11:47 AM UTC #

Thanks for your work on this Mike. Is there any place online where we can see progress? I'm looking forward to testing on my Pi.

Posted by projectdp on September 17, 2012 at 09:24 PM UTC #

This is awesome. Now I can put my small foldable keyboard to use. Thanks for making this portability a reality.

Posted by JoeShmoe on September 25, 2012 at 05:31 AM UTC #

We want NetBSD for RPi! Videocore is ARMs stuff, I think.

Posted by GhstWlf on September 29, 2012 at 08:02 AM UTC #

I bought a RP and payed almost US$80 to put it over my desk. It works with Linux, but I want to use it on BSD, and Netbsd is the way to go.. I have access to about 2000 servers all running FreeBSD (because of ZFS...) if I could put the terminals (now running netbsd diskless, on old pc hardware) running on RP, I could put about 2000 machines on NetBSD...

Posted by sergio on October 02, 2012 at 05:08 PM UTC #

I think putting NetBSD on the RPi will be great. It's awesome seeing how things have progressed so far. Do you think it could ever get to the point where you could download an ISO specifically for the ARM architecture and go through a real installation as opposed to cross compiling? NetBSD can be used for a million different things for both servers and desktops of course. In my experience, NetBSD has performed at its best when used as a rock solid server with just a regular command line console. This is what the Raspberry Pi needs. After owning the RPi for a few months now, I don't even try messing with anything Xorg related. It's just too slow. For my purposes in the command line, NetBSD makes the perfect choice for the RPi.

Posted by Mark Shaw on October 16, 2012 at 04:32 PM UTC #

Great work! NetBSD is all^Wmostly about portability, so getting it onto a Raspberry Pi should further prove the capability of NetBSD as a portable platform. I commend the efforts of Nick in getting this bootstrapped.

Posted by philj on October 17, 2012 at 10:17 PM UTC #

Good news! All NetBSD users celebrate this port! :) Thank you.

Posted by Albert Espín on October 23, 2012 at 10:19 AM UTC #

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