Friday, 27 July 2012

Nice NetBSD/dreamcast shell script, but can you do it under Windows?

I posted about the dc-burn-netbsd script on one of the Dreamcast forums, and someone asked if they could run the script under Windows.

I suspect pointing him at Microsoft's current *nix-on-Windows solution (Interix? Windows Services for Unix?  Subsystem for UNIX-based Applications? Grudgingly Provided but Subtly Maladapted Compatibility Subsystem for Customers Who Otherwise Would Use Some OS Begining with L?)... might have (quite rightly) have been met with a vigorous but somewhat impolite reply, so I decided to generate an image for him to burn directly.

I also took the opportunity to cleanup dc-burn-netbsd a little more:
  • split out 'extract sets' from 'setup extracted data for live usage' (now -l) - after all, why should I assume my live setup is the One True Way?
  • tweaked live setup further (do we *really* want to try to rebuilding the X11 fontcache? I think not), and /etc/motd was not reporting the kernel version (tsk, fer-shame)
  • making -l default to the right kernel and minimal sets. I have a deep seated antipathy towards typing many options on a command line. (If I'm building a live CD then it should be able to work out that it needs some sets and a non ramdisk kernel - but only as a default of course, if the user wants to explicitly select something apparently stupid... "here is rope")
  • Adjusting default behaviour to generate but not burn the image (added -b to burn). Ah, now I have a naming crisis as it no longer "does what it says on the tin" by default. Foo. I'll come back to that later
He also asked another question - to paraphrase it - "why?"

Currently the motivation for all this has been "because its there" - while NetBSD/dreamcast can run a whole bunch of standard unix software (see for example), not all of it necessarily makes sense on such a platform.

But again... "here is rope" :)

I also put together a README (I'll quote it below - mainly on the grounds I've already spent time writing it, got distracted watching the Olympics opening ceremony, and its a cheap way to pad out the rest of this entry)


Sample NetBSD/dreamcast live image (Generated by "dc-burn-netbsd -l -n"):

- Dreamcast or gxemul emulator (*)
- If using a real Dreamcast, blank CD-R & Dreamcast keyboard
- Optional: Dreamcast BBA (broadband adaptor) for network access

- Download netbsd-dreamcast-6_BETA2.iso.7z and uncompress to get .iso image
- To burn to CD for booting on Dreamcast:
  - On Windows use
  - On NetBSD no need to download this, use
    and run 'dc-burn-netbsd -l' directly
- To boot in gxemul (*) run
  "gxemul -XEdreamcast -d co23965696:netbsd-dreamcast-6_BETA2.iso"
- Once booted enter "gdrom0" and return three times when prompted
- Login as "root"

This is still a work in progess, in particular future goals for future versions
- Including installed binary packages such as some from
- Switching to a shell with command line editing
- Support for Serial-SD and potentially Serial-Ethernet adaptors
- Better X support (currently insufficient memory to effectively run)

(*) Running under gxemul requires gxemul-0.6.0nb3 or later from pkgsrc, or the patch applied to gxemul-0.6.0

Interestingly X doesn't  start under gxemul - I'll need to test on real hardware before I dig further into that, but as my DC is in my office, and I'm currently in a Days Inn in Winchester (not Inglewood - that was a rather different experience), that will have to wait...

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