"I Just Bought a Dreamcast to Run NetBSD. What do I do now?"

Getting NetBSD up and running on the Sega Dreamcast is pretty easy, as long as you know what's involved. This document is aimed at the NetBSD newbie as well as the DC/NetBSD newbie. However, a familiarity with some flavor of UNIX is recommended. Information for this document has been culled from the mailing list archive at http://www.netbsd.org, Marcus Comstedt's homepage at http://mc.pp.se/dc, BeTips.net http://www.betips.net, and personal trial and error.

Project 1

1) Requirements

You will need the following:

2) Make a Bootable Kernel CD

  • Using DiscJuggler, burn the bootable kernel image file
  • Pop it in the DC and turn on the power
  • you should see a bunch of boot info scroll by, and then it will prompt you for a root FS

If you've gotten this far, you know your DC is of the correct manufacture date. If it is later than September of 2000, please report it to the mailing list.

3) Make Root Filesystem CD

  • Retrieve the HPCSH tarballs from http://www.netbsd.org
  • untar them into their own dir on your *BSD/Linux PC
  • run the MAKEDEV script. This will create your console, as well as other needed devices.
    		# sh MAKEDEV all
        
  • using mkhybrid, create an ISO9660 image from the HPCSH distribution with the freshly made /dev/* stuff.
    		# mkhybrid -o DCBSD.img -V DCNetBSD -a -r /path/to/files
        

    The -V is the volume label, the -a means all files in the source dir, and the -r is for rock ridge extensions (this may not be necessary, but it didn't sem to have any adverse affects on my experience)

  • using cdrecord, burn the image as a regular ISO9660 CD (as opposed to the bootable kernel image)

    4) Try it Out

  • Boot the DC from your bootable kernel CD
  • When it prompts you for the root FS, you want it to point to the GDROM, so type in:
    		# gdrom0
        
  • When it prompts you for a dump device, just press "Enter"
  • At this point you should swap the bootable kernel CD for the Root Filesystem CD you just burned
  • you should have a prompt for filesystem type type in:
    		# cd9660
        

    Hitting enter" with the root filesystem CD in the DC should start the DC in single user mode. It'll prompt you again for shell and terminal type (vt220 or vt100 is fine).

    5) You're done!

  • While this is exciting, it's not very useful at this point. You can't use an editor that requires temp space (vi), and you can't modify anything. There are a few options from here:
  • Boot the DC from a read/write FS via NFS (requires the Broadband Adapter)
  • create a custome Root FS cd with all the programs you need to run and let it go, doing its thing The first option brings us to...

Project 2

To be continued...
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