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Old 12-04-2004, 04:54 AM   #1
frob23
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NetBSD Moment of Appreciation.


Okay, this is not a question. I just wanted to rant about NetBSD and what it has done for me. I guess this would fall under success stories but I have a feeling it fits better in the BSD section because it isn't about Linux and I am not exactly a newbie about setting up my computer. If you want to know why I use NetBSD then you can read further. You will not find why I use NetBSD instead of anything else. This is not that type of article. I don't really need half a dozen responses about how XX.YY verions of ZZ distro does just that and possibly better.

A long time ago, probably half a year now but maybe more, I decided to take my old computer and use it as the gateway in my house. The computer was considered useless by mostly everyone and I just used it as a testbed for playing with systems. I did some research and read about NetBSD and its kernel PPPoE. This factor alone was honestly the reason I decided to go with it over FreeBSD (my personal favorite) or OpenBSD for the security. Yes, I traded this "feature" over security. I can admit that because I know that NetBSD is not an insecure system it just is less secure by default than OpenBSD.

The basic setup, including PPPoE took less than a couple hours. I spent a few more configuring a nameserver, DHCP, port tunnelling for certain applications, and a firewall. Overall setup time was probably under 12 hours and that includes all the reading I did to ensure I was doing things in a manner that would not create problems in the future. This is one time when the excellent documentation came in very handy. After that moment, I took the monitor off the computer and have been able to just leave it in the corner of my room. It currently has a bunch of books and loose papers stacked on top of it.

One thing that soon became clear is that I was forgetting about the existence of this computer. The whole family was. We stopped thinking about the network and started thinking about what we actually were trying to do. We started to just assume that the network was going to work. One of the few complaints I have heard since this computer was installed was about the Internet being slow. This is not NetBSD's fault. I am a bandwidth hog and the DSL connection is only so fast. In fact, one of the first questions anyone has when the network is even the tiniest bit slow is, "Eric are you downloading something?"

It became very apparent how much we came to expect the computer to just work shortly after the hurricanes tore through Florida. Once the power was back on the network was back on. This is mostly because I went in and turned all the powerstrips on again because I had switched them all off during the storms. Our power was a little intermittent at times but usually it stayed on. The computer didn't seem to mind the lights dimming, as long as it got enough power. One day I was at work and I got a frantic call. From the panic in her voice I thought my mom was about to tell me something serious had happened. Apparently the network was not working! This was now a class three emergency in our house as the expectation of it being available was ingrained.

After asking a few questions it became apparent that the power had gone out through the night. The computer that NetBSD is on does not power-up automatically when power is restored. I had my mother walk into the room and find the tower laying under the pile of books and papers (the same ones that are still there). She pushed the power button and went to make a pot of coffee. By the time she sat down in front of her computer with her cup of coffee, the NetBSD box had been able to fsck its disks and bring itself up without any user interaction. And the network was "just working" again.

It has been almost half a year and I do not have to think about my NetBSD box. That is success to me. I don't need to worry about it because I know it is just working. In the case that something horrible happens, I have backups of all my important configuration files and that install CD sitting on the shelf in my room. I'm betting I could do a whole reinstall on a fresh machine in under an hour. I don't want to try that out but I am positive it could be done. I play around with computers a lot and I enjoy it. But there is another type of joy that comes from knowing a computer is going to keep working exactly like it is currently working until you tell it otherwise.

I log in about once a week just to make sure everything is normal. Making sure that everything is plugging along without change. It is a very boring machine, to be honest with you. But I love it because it is boring.



Anyway, rant mode off.

Last edited by frob23; 12-04-2004 at 06:25 AM.
 
Old 12-04-2004, 06:08 AM   #2
hypnos
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Nice rant. There's a ready-made NetBSD solution for this type of job: http://www.dubbele.com/
And NetBSD 2.0 is just about to be released any day now.
 
Old 12-04-2004, 06:34 AM   #3
frob23
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Yeah, I've been watching for 2.0 to come out. I'm probably not going to upgrade right away -- again with the whole distaste for shutting it down. But I might do it depending on what people are saying when it comes out. I hate to mess with what is working perfectly.

Of course, you know the engineer's creed: "If it aint broke then it hasn't got enough options yet!"

I did notice this one comment on the page you listed:
Quote:
# Stability. It is based on NetBSD, one of the most stable platforms for the PC. Install it, stick it in the basement behind the stairs, and never look back.
Isn't that the truth!

The project looks pretty cool. I might have benefited from it a few months ago and saved a couple hours. But who knows... I like to roll my own sometimes.

Edit: as one other little side note, I would have to change at least one item from that install. I am a faithful Erisian and the number 23 is very special. My ip range in house is 172.23.23.0/24 -- why? Because I can. And, of course, my personal desktop is 172.23.23.23. But even if I "needed" to make that change it would take a couple minutes.

Last edited by frob23; 12-04-2004 at 06:37 AM.
 
Old 12-06-2004, 03:30 PM   #4
chort
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Very nice. Now OpenBSD has in-kernel PPPoE as well (at least in -current), although every time I've had to fsck it did require keyboard interaction.
 
Old 12-07-2004, 07:47 AM   #5
gani
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Meaning on 3.7 it should be available? Well if, it will be just few months from now - could be March 2005. One of the carriers DSL CPE here is always PPPoE.

If only NetBSD's site reacts faster with my websearching and if it has allowed me before to do a fast download, I could have tested it already. It is too slow not unlike with OpenBSD and FreeBSD site that has allowed me FTP installations of 3.6 and a bit faster FBSD 5.3 downloading via my 384k ADSL.
 
Old 12-07-2004, 09:40 AM   #6
frob23
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I've never had a problem with the netbsd site in regards to speed. I have downloaded files on really fast links and don't remember it being slow compared to the rest. But I don't know for sure. I haven't downloaded a lot recently and I have never done any tests to see which is fastest. It never really occured to me since I was only going to download it once. I will say that speed is not an issue once it is running on your hardware. I've never noticed it to be slow.

I have grown to love NetBSD over the last few months. I have learned to deeply appreciate the cleaness of the entire system and how good it feels.

All the BSDs have that quality but NetBSD really seems to drive it home for me. I might move on to 2.0 when it comes out. But we'll see because I really am super content with 1.6.2. Once I am content with something it is hard for me to justify a change.
 
Old 12-07-2004, 12:15 PM   #7
gani
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I'm just surprised at this time why it become faster and I'm actually downloading now the i386cd.iso and it looks that it will just complete for an hour according to the download meter.

Before I'm trying this in XP Pro (that is too slow) but at this time in OpenBSD 3.6 win KDE 3.2. Though it is off peak hour now for the internet (already past 2am) here.

Even just browsing the packages in XP is really too slow and one time it could not even display the packages page. But when I compared it with FreeBSD's site - it's normally fast.

Enways, is the iso just really one per flatorm?
 
Old 12-08-2004, 10:58 PM   #8
gani
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I replaced my XP browser with Firefox 1.0 and it has enabled me now to download i386cd.iso of version 2.0.

I decided to use Firefox because I'm being continuously annoyed with too many pop-ups and some sites are even doing maliciously inside my box like changing my default home page and opening too many IE blank window pages.

There is one site that when I jailed it in "restricted sites", you'll be amazed of seeing later that an "*" is prepended already that will render this restriction useless.
 
Old 12-09-2004, 07:39 AM   #9
hypnos
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@gani:

If you find browsing the NetBSD ftp site slow, you should try some mirror site that is geographically closer to you. http://www.netbsd.org/mirrors/#ftp
Test with different mirrors and when you find the fastest one, write the address down because you can also use it from NetBSD. You'll probably need to download more stuff, the installation CD only contains the NetBSD base system (plus X Window System). Later on there'll be an extra CD image for i386, containing more packages.

In Windows you can also access NetBSD ftp mirrors using an FTP client program, such as FileZilla.
 
Old 12-09-2004, 09:23 AM   #10
gani
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I tried both in my two XP system using IE, its really too slow going in to any of the download mirrors even the ones nearest to me. Actually it's not just of being slow but it can't either connect.

Firefox has now solved my problem and it's fast even using the master site.
 
Old 12-22-2004, 04:10 PM   #11
mjolnir
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Let me add my vote for NetBsd. I just finished installing it twice. I am dual booting XP and NetBsd-2.0. The docs are great. Pkgsrc took some getting used to but I installed opera 7.54 and am posting from it now. I know the OS isn't bleeding edge but this is the system I am going to learn from the ground up.
 
Old 01-09-2005, 09:27 AM   #12
frob23
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Just yesterday I decided to upgrade my little box to 2.0 (from 1.6.2). I had put it off because I didn't want to mess with something which worked so well.

The upgrade was a freaking dream (and only 20% of that is because I did it while half-asleep). Everything went smoothly and in under half an hour my system was back up and you would never notice. I only had to change one sysctl because I had an old custom kernel that had forwarding on automatically... I'll probably hone down the new kernel eventually as well.

Overall, this is a very nice OS... every day it wins me over just a little bit more.

Last edited by frob23; 01-09-2005 at 09:28 AM.
 
  


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