Subject: Re: HELP ON 1.3 BOOT (fwd)
To: Curt Sampson , Jukka Marin <>
From: Nico van Eikema Hommes <>
List: current-users
Date: 11/17/1997 07:59:04

(Please CC: replies to me, I'm not on current-users. Thanks)

>> >>Basically, you need to boot into single-user and edit the file
>> >>/etc/rc.conf so that the line that currently says:
>> >>rc_configured=NO
>> >>says
>> >>rc_configured=YES
>> ...
>> I'd definitely consider this a bug, not a cute new feature.
>> Forcing a user (in particular if (s)he is new to netbsd) to fiddle
>> with files while in single user mode, without giving any instructions
>> on what to do, is ridiculous.
>And you don't find booting a machine without a hostname, an IP
>adddress, or any of the other things we tend to take for granted
>on a machine running in multi-user mode `ridiculous'?

No, for the reasons I wrote a bit later: When the machine boots multi user
with a bare bones setup, in particular without networking or even accepting
serial line connections, it is no problem if it is called "myhost", with
"" as domain and no IP address. Note that this is not a real
multi user state in the sense "multi user" is usually interpreted, but
rather a standalone mode, set up correctly, however, for entering all the
necessary configuration data.
In principle, it should be possible to realize this while not yet in
multi user mode, see below.

>The install program, if it's not rewriting /etc/rc.conf with the
>hostname and all of that, is quite correct in not setting rc_configured
>to `yes'.
>> IIRC, "RC_CONFIGURED" was introduced to increase security, i.e. to avoid
>> letting the machine boot in multi-user in an insecure setup.
>No. It was added to keep a machine from booting without being
>configured. (I was the one who added this.)

Don't misunderstand me here: I'm not against the idea, but I oppose the
current implementation. If booting stops at a point where filesystems are
not yet checked and mounted and / is still mounted read-only, then it is
unnecessariliy difficult for most non-gurus to actually perform the setup.
People then ask for help and are told to just set rc_configured=YES, and
that turns the whole thing into a useless nuisance.

Jukka Marin wrote (albeit in slightly different order):
>IMHO, the new configuration system (rc.conf) is great - you don't have to
>know which magic files to create (myname, defaultroute, etc.) - you just
>edit one simple file which already has all the variables so you don't
>easily forget anything.
>Maybe we should have a script which would ask the "right" questions and
>fill in the essential information in rc.conf?  Like "hostname", "domainname",
>"IP address", "defaultroute"..?

Yes, indeed. This would be even better. How about the following:

1. Whatever the setting, booting proceeds until filesystems are checked and
mounted read/write. Then, rc_configured is checked and, if not set to YES,
the configuration script is called. Once all information is entered and
confirmed, the system boots multi user. Otherwise, it starts a shell to let
an expert user make additional changes (s)he wants.

>I still wish we had samples of all config files that the user may need.
>I had to read netstart to know what to put into "ifconfig.ep0" (I couldn't
>find the instructions anywhere I looked).  A sample of ipf.conf would also
>be nice (the amount of information on the man page is so overwhelming that
>it scares me :-) etc.
>Other than these things, I found the new installation system (on i386)
>very nice.  Only one floppy was required and the environment felt more
>usable than in 1.2.  Oh yes, could we have 'set -o emacs' set by default
>in the shell? :-)  And the TERM variable?

The script could even take care of this, but an ifconfig.sample  etc. would
still be good.

Best wishes,


  Dr. N.J.R. van Eikema Hommes     Computer-Chemie-Centrum       Universitaet Erlangen-Nuernberg
  Phone:    +49-(0)9131-856532     Naegelsbachstr. 25
  FAX:      +49-(0)9131-856566     D-91052 Erlangen, Germany