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Re: New Qube2 owner with questions.

Mark Smith wrote:
Hi there,

I've managed to bag myself a very nice condition Qube2, I came across mention of them from an SGI user group and decided it was just what I need for a small and discreet home NAS. So I did a search and found myself one .. just it had no power supply :-( Still easily fixed with a cheap 12V 5Amp PSU and a paper clip broken in half to be the "connector" ;-) .. getting some of those KPPX-3P connectors from the US shortly.

Hi Mark,

Welcome to the NetBSD/cobalt :)

The Qube's original PSU is a weak point, so you have managed to avoid
that right from the start.

Anyhow the Qube2 has now been upgraded to 256Mb of RAM (must be fate to have a bag of the correct 128MB 72 pin EDO 3.3V SIMMs in the cupboard :-) and shall soon be getting a 750GB drive.

I've done a test install of NetBSD 4.0 from a RestoreCD kindly created up uploaded by Sevan / Venture37 ... thanks! :-) And that was remarkably painless. (well I did have to create a virtual machine in Parallels, boot the CD in the guest and have my internet router disconnected so it's DHCP server didn't clash :-)

Given your intended use as a NAS (file) server, network stability is
somewhat critical.  For a long time there has been a problem with
NetBSD/cobalt hanging with large network transfers.  However excellent
work by Izumi Tsutsui has resulted in a couple of patches that reputedly
solve this problem.  If possible make sure that your installation
includes these patches.

I have recently built a new 4.0 restore CD including (hopefully!) these
patches, and Dennis is currently hosting it (search for recent posts).

The questions I have are both techie related to the Qube2 and to NetBSD:

1) Can I boot from a IDE Cardflash adapter (jumpered as Master) and have a 750GB drive as the slave on the built in IDE ? Master/Slave works OK with the built in IDE ? I'll move swap to the 750GB drive once it's installed. I'm pretty sure I can secure the compact flash card somewhere safe inside the Qube.

AFAIK an IDE flash card is just seen by the system as an IDE drive, so
it should just work.  Shon has successfully run two IDE drives from the
Qube's internal IDE port, so that should also not be a problem.

The 750G drive is probably 7200RPM - the only thing to be careful of is
excess heat generated inside the Qube's small case with small exhaust
fan.  The standard drives are 5400rpm in order to reduce the heat

2) What PCI devices are supported by the Cobalt port of NetBSD ? I'd like to put in a something like a Firewire/USB combo or eSATA/USB combo (like the Adaptec Duo connect) so if I want to put in more storage later I can hook it up externally .. eSATA or Firewire would be nicer than USB, but USB is still a "must have" option :-)

Again AFAIK any standard PCI device should work, provided it is
supported by NetBSD.  Quite a few people have tried to get various USB
cards working in a Qube with mixed results.  If you do get one working,
please let the list know :)

3) What filesystems are supported by NetBSD ? I'd quite like to format with a journaled filesystem as the power in my area is a little flakey so I need something robust. Can an existing filesystem created by the RestoreCD be converted online ? Or the RestoreCD amended to use a different filesystem ?


A small UPS would probably be an even better idea ;-)

I do not know if a file system can be converted online, however it may
(should?) be possible to edit the restore CD to format the disk with a
different file system during the network install process.

4) How do I install packages for the Cobalt port using "pkgsrc" ? It wants to be pointed at a repository but I don't know where to look for them yet :-(

The pkgsrc Guide http://www.netbsd.org/docs/pkgsrc/ is essential
reading.  It includes sections on installing pkgsrc and keeping it up to

Personally I usually just download each release (the most recent is
2008Q1), untar it into /usr/pkgsrc, and go from there.


5)  How do I do an upgrade of NetBSD ?  Is it a re-install thing ?

As with any NetBSD port, you can do a binary upgrade without losing
anything.  I have done that in the past on my Qube, going from 3.0 to
3.0.1, and again from 3.0.1 to 3.1.

Of course it depends on how patient you are - the Qubes are not the
fastest machines around, and recompiling the kernal and the world takes
a long time.

Doing a backup, full reinstall and restore has the benefit of cleaning
out any cruft lying around - I tend to do that every now and again under
both NetBSD and FreeBSD.

6) Does the Cobalt port (from that RestoreCD) have all the tools required to make a new RestoreCD ? And build new kernels etc ?

Not sure, but Tsutsui-san has released an archive containing scripts,
patches and instructions to create a restore CD.

7) Can the two network interfaces be bound into one logical interface with a single IP ?

Heh, no idea on this one.


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