Subject: Re: _IS_ your laptop running NetBSD?
To: Steven M. Bellovin <>
From: Terry Moore <>
List: port-i386
Date: 11/19/2007 03:04:52
For what it's worth....

My solution (probably not to everyone's liking) is to run NetBSD 
under VMware on XP.  Works very well for me -- and the NetBSD machine 
w/256M of ram in the VM is faster for compiles by a lot than the 
native Windows with the native 2G of RAM.  The only thing that's a 
pain is keeping the clock in sync -- there's too much jitter, and the 
clock doesn't auto update after XP hibernate.  I also have to restart 
X sessions when I reboot Windows, which happens once a week or so.  I 
run a GENERIC kernel.  I don't care about USB peripherals from NetBSD 
very much, although VMware can bring them into NetBSD -- I just use 
Windows USB, which has better support and is a more accurate 
implementation of teh standards than any of the open source products 
that I've found (except posibly MacOS X).

I use XWin32 for the X client on Windows, so I don't have to worry 
about making X work with VMware.

Essentially, then, I'm using XP as a (fat) abstraction layer for the 
hardware and power management.

I have to do development for Windows -- for this, I use a version of 
Emacs that is able to deal with line-ending variations, and smbfs 
with c: cross-mounted as /c/.  smbfs may not be the answer to 
everybody's problems, but in a vm environment, it's very helpful.

Same approach will work with VMware Fusion on a Mac -- I'm not sure 
I'd use NetBSD in that context, however, as all of the tools I need 
have been ported to Mac OS X.  However, the Apple hardware doesn't 
have what I need in several key respects.


At 02:47 AM 11/19/2007 +0000, Steven M. Bellovin wrote:
>On Fri, 2 Nov 2007 08:05:04 +0100 (CET)
>Ulrich Habel <> wrote:
> >
> > Hej fellow NetBSD users,
> >
> > I attented the Systems in Munich and ran a NetBSD booth there. The
> > most asked question the Systems was:
> >
> > Is my laptop able to run NetBSD?
> >
> > Huh, that's a difficult question!
> >
> > I would like to work on a NetBSD Laptop model page like the one in
> > FreeBSD. (Yeah, I know - the Linuxish people, too). So you could help
> > me out with a few answers:
> >
> > - Does your laptop is able to run NetBSD (3.1/4.x)
> > - What's the model, type, hardware configuration
> > - What's working for you? (X11 accel, wireless, modem)
> > - dmesg/Kernel config file/X11 config file
> >
> > Send your feedback to and I will sum it up and put it
> > on the NetBSD webpage for documentation. I will put a link in the
> > community wiki, too - in order to keep this proccess ongoing.
> >
> > I know reed has already made a page, however it's slightly outdated
> > and I think starting a new one will make sense.
> >
>It's a good question.  In fact, it's a good question for any
>non-Windows operating systems for generic x86/amd64 laptops.  Right
>now, I'm *very* unhappy.
>I just got a new Thinkpad t61.  I have yet to find a usable OS to run
>on it.  (I'm sure most people on this list will agree with me that
>neither Vista nor XP are "usable", though at least they have drivers
>for the hardware.)
>I tried out the power management branch of NetBSD-current.  I applaud
>the efforts of Jared and company, but there were still major gaps as
>of the last kernel I tried (this is as of about two weeks ago; I
>should build another LiveCD and try some of this again).  Leaving out
>the *serious* bug in ahcisata support -- briefly, don't use it; use
>compatibility mode instead, if you value your disk -- suspend/resume
>has problems.  You *must* switch to a text-mode console before
>suspending if you're in X, though that can be automated via powerd. You
>lose the USB ports after a resume. There's a strange interaction
>between the touchpad and the audio driver.  If you have a CD mounted
>during suspend, you'll have to unmount/remount to use it on resume.  It
>doesn't resume when you open the lid; you have to hit Fn. There's no
>way to hot-swap devices in the Ultrabay, though this is a generic
>NetBSD problem.  Dual-core CPUs aren't supported, though that support
>is probably close. There are sometimes interrupt storms that appear to
>be associated with one of the USB controllers.
>Ubuntu Linux 7.10 (Gutsy Gibbon) is in many ways far worse.  Suspend/
>resume is *very* flakey, enough to make the distribution unusable on
>T61s in my opinion.  The work-arounds for this don't seem to do the
>trick.  A bleeding-edge kernel might help; I'll have to try it.
>Hibernate/resume -- an option not available on NetBSD -- seems to reset
>some of the problematic areas.  I have an Intel graphics chip, which is
>good, but the nVidia option is far worse, according to assorted web
>sites. The Linux kernel also experiences these interrupt storms;
>however, it detects the problem and disables the port; the result is
>that the two USB ports on the right side don't work, but the one on the
>left side does.  The wireless interface -- I have an Intel 3945abg,
>supported on NetBSD via wpi -- sometimes *vanishes*.  It wasn't there
>the last time I resumed; it has since reappeared, but the network
>manager doesn't seem to know about it yet...  The Gentoo wikis suggest
>that it has similar problems, which is of course not surprising.
>FreeBSD is next on my list to try, but it doesn't support the 3945
>wireless card at all.  There's a very new driver in -CURRENT.  Using a
>FreeBSIE LiveCD, I was not able to suspend/resume.  I haven't tried a
>disk installation yet.
>Right now, I'm kinda wishing I'd bought a Mac instead.
>                 --Steve Bellovin,