Netbooting NetBSD/vax - was Re: MicroVax II

Toby Thain toby at
Sat Jul 30 11:18:17 CDT 2016

On 2016-07-30 12:09 PM, Greg Stark wrote:
> On Sat, Jul 30, 2016 at 2:38 AM, Mouse <mouse at> wrote:
>>> What OS's can I use with this hardware?  NetBSD?
>> Yes.  Recent (and some not-so-recent) versions are broken, in that they
>> can't self-host; as far as I know nobody knows exactly what's wrong.
>> My impression (as someone who hasn't tried it, but who has seen it
>> discussed on port-vax) is that something breaks somewhere in the
>> compiler when running native.
>> You may also find recent(ish) versions are too resource-hungry; the
>> MicroVAX-II can't have more than 16M RAM, which is pretty tiny by
>> modern NetBSD's standards (pretty much ever since they relegated most
>> ports to second-class, er, sorry, "organic" status).
> The Micro VAX II supports mop booting so you can boot NetBSD entirely
> diskless with an NFS from a BSD or Linux NFS server just fine. This is
> supported right up to current versions of NetBSD though I recommend
> NetBSD 6.1.5. Later versions have bugs GCC which cause massive
> headaches. Even the GCC in 6.1.5 is a bit buggy. I had to recompile
> awk with -O0 or else various
> I followed:
> I forget where I diverged from it so if you run into any issues just
> ask and I'll check what I did.

FWIW I also put this HOWTO together for NetBSD 1.4.1.


> The hardest part was getting mopd on Linux to serve up the NetBSD boot
> loader properly. The mopd for Linux didn't support ELF images and the
> NetBSD boot loader isn't in mopd format in more recent versions of
> NetBSD like it was in older versions. Now it's just ELF. But it's
> finally working. If you use NetBSD to serve mopd this isn't an issue.
> If you want to use Linux I can send you an mopd format copy of the
> boot loader.
> ...

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