Subject: Suggestions for easing 1.1 i386 installations
To: None <port-i386@NetBSD.ORG>
From: Greg Earle <>
List: current-users
Date: 10/07/1995 19:13:32
Based on my existing experiences with PC NetBSD installs, I thought I'd toss
this out to be chewed on.

My biggest problem with doing NetBSD installs has been getting the bits onto
the disk.  The PC I was using had an NE2000 Ethernet card in it, but it did
not use the default address/IRQ settings that the install kernel used, so it
was never recognized as "ed2" (or "ed0", I forget).  So I was really stuck
insofar as getting the rest of the distribution on the disk.

This probably sounds stupid, since there's probably not much notion of console
I/O at that point in time, but is there ANY way to write an Ethernet driver
such that if it's configured into the kernel and probing doesn't find anything
at the given settings, that somehow you could be prompted to provide some
alternate settings?  If the ed probe failed on my PC and it said "Hey, I don't
find any ed card, is there one?" and I could say "Yes" and it prompted for
new address/IRQ settings, I enter them and it re-probes and successfully
finds them, oh boy would that be great.  Because the system *is* on an
Ethernet with another host that does have the remainder of the system on it,
and it seems to me that (from my limited experience) the PC architecture is
a lot more likely to have network interface cards that aren't at the "expected"
address/IRQ settings.  To put it another way: on my NetBSD/SPARC system, I'm
never worried that any NetBSD kernel won't be able to find my "le0" interface!

(I suspect that since this stuff is hard-wired in "config", it's probably
 next to impossible, but I thought I'd throw it out anyway.)

If the above is impossible, then some drastically improved way of enabling the
mounting of a DOS partition (read-only) to get at the distribution files would
be really great.  Again, the PC I worked with had an NE2000 card, and it had
Novell software under DOS/Windows, so it was no problem downloading the other
NetBSD distribution files onto the DOS partition, if need be.  But getting *at*
them proved to be a real b*tch.  I was able - after much wrangling with "fdisk"
and "pfdisk" and "disklabel", even resorting to hand-editing disk labels with
"ed" from the install root until they worked - to mount a DOS partition onto
the install root, but it was extremely painful; furthermore, many months later
when I attempted it again (SCSI disk had gone toast in the meantime, and was
out for repair for quite a while), I'd forgotten all the black magic again.


	- Greg