Anyone interested in ARCNET, Token Ring, FDDI, HIPPI, Strip network code?

David Brownlee abs at
Wed Jan 15 05:09:41 CST 2020

On Tue, 14 Jan 2020 at 19:34, Al Kossow via cctalk
<cctalk at> wrote:
> On 1/14/20 9:47 AM, David Brownlee via cctalk wrote:
> > The code is quite old and the drivers are not MP safe, so its being
> > proposed that the code be dropped
> Goose step to the monocuture
> netBSD, we USED to run on everything..

A monoculture in this context would be for everyone to switch to Linux :)

Older versions of NetBSD are not going away, but in the interest of
there being something other than *just* older versions, people
continue to develop. To effectively run on current hardware it needs
to be able to use multiple processors, including NUMA and big/little
topologies. So it comes down to remaining portable only for a wide set
of older hardware, including some combinations for which literally no
users exist, or balancing older hardware with new.

A good example of the latter is a current thread on how to get
jemalloc to work correctly across the various m68k platforms which
have different page sizes, without switching to a dynamic page size
and the concurrent overhead, plus recent changes to the audio mixer
subsystem to ensure it is fast enough to play on those same m68k

I like being able to run NetBSD on my work laptop, run xen (likely to
switch to nvmm soon) to virtualise a bunch of Linux test boxes for
work, and use ZFS on my home server, with syncthing for data
redundancy to multiple remote locations. Losing that ability to rely
on it day to day in order to keep support for older hardware for which
no-one has stood up and offered to write code or even test changes...
seems a bad trade.

On that final point - on the NetBSD list it appears that several
people have spoken up regarding an interest to keep using ARCNET on
NetBSD, in some cases they just have hardware and a willingness to
test, which is the difference between "we need to update the code, but
have no users", and "someone finds this useful"

NetBSD is pretty reluctant to drop actual hardware platforms - to my
recollection it has effectively dropped three
- da30, a custom wire wrap board of which possibly only one ever existed,
- pc532, a home-brew NS32532 board which was dropped when gcc dropped
processor support
- acorn26, the original 26bit address space ARM2 based machines

We live in an imperfect world, but NetBSD is pretty much the only *nix
still actively trying to keep a modern OS running on older hardware,
and they're doing it by focussing on machine independent subsystems
and drivers rather than "fork another copy and hack for each case".



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