For anybody that wishes to experiment and track NetBSD evbarm(aarch64) -current on the latest Raspberry Pi4 – I have compiled this how-to guide.
- RPi4 Model B
- Working Linux distribution on which we will prepare the environment
- microSD card + USB adapter (4 GB minimum)
- 2 USB flash drives/sticks (try to use different size USBs – it makes Identification much easier)
- one 32 GB minimum to hold the NetBSD system (I have used 32GB SanDisk USB fash)
- one 1 GB minimum to hold the NetBSD installer ISO (I have used 8GB Kingston USB flash)
- Keyboard + Mouse (best experience is with wireless keyboard + touchpad combo which uses one USB HID slot on the RPI4)
- HDMI monitor or LCD attached to the RPi4 (I have used the Waveshare 800×480 LCD)
- working network environment (wireless works only with 3rd party USB dongles) – Ethernet
A little note on the USB flash sticks I have used here
32GB USB 3.1 SanDisk 3.2Gen1 attaches to the “blue” USB ports of the RPi4
8 GB USB DataTraveler 2.0 attaches to the “black” USB ports of the RPi4
What does not work on NetBSD
- Inbuilt Wireless/Bluetooth – works with 3rd party dongles
- HDMI audio
- DRM/KMS graphics acceleration
1.1 Preparing the UEFI drive
First we need to build an UEFI microSD card
mkdir -p $HOME/RPI4/UEFI cd $HOME/RPI4/UEFI wget https://github.com/raspberrypi/firmware/archive/master.zip wget https://github.com/pftf/RPi4/releases/download/v1.20/RPi4_UEFI_Firmware_v1.20.zip unzip master.zip rm master.zip
Remove the kernel files in firmware-master/boot/ extracted directory
rm -f firmware-master/boot/kernel*
Now we will prepare a microSD card (I have used a 32GB with a USB adapter) Attach it to the computer USB port. We will re-format and re-label the microSD card now.
Unmount it first if there as a FS already present when you attached the card
sudo umount /path/to/mount
Make sure to check the partition is W95 FAT32 on the corresponding device
node of the microSD card (in this example it is /dev/sdc – make sure you check yours ! )
If unsure run dmesg and check for the last events to see what device node
the microSD card registered as. Adjust accordingly ! Otherwise data-loss may occur
sudo fdisk /dev/sdc
Make sure we only have one partition type B (W95 FAT32), if not create it.
Next we will need to re-format the microSD and label it as UEFI
sudo mkfs.vfat /dev/sdc1 -n UEFI
Eject the drive or re-insert. If you dont have automount, mount the miscoSD accordingly.
In this example it is mounted under /media/user/UEFI
Now we will copy over the boot UEFI directory as follows to the microSD
cd $HOME/RPI4/UEFI sudo cp -rv firmware-master/boot /media/user/UEFI/ sudo cp RPi4_UEFI_Firmware_v1.20.zip /media/user/UEFI cd /media/user/UEFI sudo unzip RPi4_UEFI_Firmware_v1.20.zip sudo rm RPi4_UEFI_Firmware_v1.20.zip
The resulting files should look like this
Now we should be done with the UEFI microSD card, unmount it and remove the USB adapter !
lets move on to the NetBSD -current installation ISO
sudo umount /media/user/UEFI
1.2 Preparing the NetBSD install ISO
Download the NetBSD -current evbarm (aarch64) installation ISO
The daily images change each day so download the one that matches
the current day from here http://nycdn.netbsd.org/pub/NetBSD-daily/HEAD/
cd $HOME/RPI4 wget http://nycdn.netbsd.org/pub/NetBSD-daily/HEAD/202105230300Z/images/NetBSD-9.99.82-evbarm-aarch64.iso
I have used an 8GB size drive to make identification easier for the Installer USB. We will take the smaller USB flash drive/stick which should have enough size to hold the NetBSD ISO (minimum 1GB size) and attach it to computer – again if the system automounts the external storage, unmount it and check the device node the USB drive registers under – in this example we use /dev/sdd USB mass-storage device labelled as USB
sudo umount /media/user/USB
And move the NetBSD ISO to a flash drive – I have used an 8GB size drive to make identificiation easier. (unmounted – check the device node it registers under !! Otherwise data-loss may occur – if unsure check dmesg)
cd $HOME/RPI4 sudo dd if=NetBSD-9.99.82-evbarm-aarch64.iso of=/dev/sdd
This should not take long since the ISO file is about 240MB big, once done remove the USB stick and remember that this is the Installer USB drive.
1.3 Preparing the NetBSD install ISO
Next we prepare the larger 32GB USB flash and completely wipe it so that no partitions exist on it whatsoever. Easiest way is to use sgdisk on the drive after you attached it to a Linux computer and unmounted it (if it contained any partitions) Adjust accordingly and be careful what you do ! Data loss may occur if you mistake the drives
sudo umount /media/user/SANDISK sudo sgdisk -Z /dev/sdd
Once done unplug the drive from the Linux machine.
2.1 Booting RPi4 and installing NetBSD
Insert the UEFI microSD card into the RPI4 slot and attach the USB installer flash (8GB to the black USB port) , plus the larger USB flash(32GB to the blue USB port) to the RPi4. Also make sure you have an external keyboard attached to the RPi4.
As you can see above the “Silver” 8GB Kingston drive is in the “black” USB slot and the faster/larger SanDisk is attached to the “blue” USB slot. Once all is in place we can power on the RPi4
When the device powers up a Raspberry Pi logo shows up, make sure to hit <ESC> to get to the boot menu
Hit <ESC> and enter the UEFI menu (if you are not fast enough just unplug the power cord the RPi4 and repeat again)
In the menu you can use the arrow keys and choose the Boot Manager
Locate the smaller USB drive that hold the NetBSD installer image – in this case it is UEFI Kingston Data Traveler – check those nice USB identifiers Im leaking here :) and hit <ENTER>
The NetBSD installer should load and you will end up in the classic setup ncurses menu
We will choose to install NetBSD to a hard disk (but we will use USB Flash)
Now this is an important screen to understand which USB drives we can chose (remember the different USB flash sizes ? This helps here greatly) We will chose the larger one sd0 as the disk to install to
We need to use GPT for the evbarm NetBSD disk
Chose Set the sizes of NetBSD partitions and configure them as follows
Use MB for input units, set 28299M for root / , 1024 for swap and 5% for /tmp
Now select what you want to install – we want a: Full installation (there seems to be a bug present in the aarch64 evbarm installer – since the xorg-
packages wont be installed, but we will fix that manually over SSH once the system is installed)
Next we will tell the sysinst installer from where to install the sets (CD-ROM)
And tell the installer to use sd1 since it does not know the real CDROM drive (we have none)
Finally the sysinst installer starts installing the filesets ! The speed here depends on how fast your USB flash stick is, but on the USB 3.1 it is really fast. Once done we will need to configure a couple of last things like network passwords etc.
Go on and configure the network (genet0) , users, enable SSHD and NTPD and finish your configuration. Please note here that for static IP address the installer leaves dhcpd=YES in /etc/rc.conf so after you reboot the RPi4 this needs to be changed if you use static IPs (like me) – also remember that because of some bug the Xorg packages don’t get installed so we will do that later once the system is up and usable.
Now exit the installer and reboot the device. Once the device is rebooted – remember to hit <ESC> again in the UEFI firmware to get to the boot menu and choose the new USB disk with the installed NetBSD
3.1 Booting RPi4 with NetBSD
Now we will finally boot into the newly installed NetBSD system
Now if you are using static IP, you need to remove the dhcpd=YES from /etc/rc.conf and reboot again to verify the network is working well. Once done lest move on to install the forgotten Xorg packages from the installer ISO (the USB 8GB stick should still be attached to your RPi4)
Now for the convenience I just ssh to the NetBSD system from my Linux machine (static IP assigned to NetBSD is 10.0.2.91)
NetBSD 9.99.82 (GENERIC64) #0: Sun May 23 01:34:17 UTC 2021 Welcome to NetBSD! This is a development snapshot of NetBSD for testing -- user beware! Bug reports: https://www.NetBSD.org/support/send-pr.html Donations to the NetBSD Foundation: https://www.NetBSD.org/donations/ rpi4$ rpi4$ su Password: rpi4#
Remember the “CDROM” installer USB was sd1 ? We will mount it and copy over the missing installsets to the root /
rpi4# mkdir /mnt/disk rpi4# mount /dev/sd1a /mnt/disk rpi4# cd /mnt/disk/evbarm-aarch64/binary/ rpi4# rpi4# ls -la total 20 drwxr-xr-x 4 1003 1002 2048 May 23 01:34 . drwxr-xr-x 4 1003 1002 2048 May 23 01:34 .. drwxr-xr-x 2 1003 1002 2048 May 23 01:34 kernel drwxr-xr-x 2 1003 1002 4096 May 23 01:34 sets rpi4# cd sets rpi4# ls MD5 kern-GENERIC64.tar.xz xbase.tar.xz SHA512 man.tar.xz xcomp.tar.xz base.tar.xz misc.tar.xz xetc.tar.xz comp.tar.xz modules.tar.xz xfont.tar.xz dtb.tar.xz rescue.tar.xz xserver.tar.xz etc.tar.xz tests.tar.xz games.tar.xz text.tar.xz rpi4#
We will need all the x-packages so copy them over to the root /
rpi4# cp x* / rpi4# cd / rpi4# ls -la total 146422 drwxr-xr-x 21 root wheel 512 May 23 02:10 . drwxr-xr-x 21 root wheel 512 May 23 02:10 .. -r--r--r-- 2 root wheel 1186 May 23 01:34 .cshrc -r--r--r-- 2 root wheel 702 May 23 01:34 .profile drwxr-xr-x 2 root wheel 512 May 23 01:34 altroot drwxr-xr-x 2 root wheel 1024 May 23 01:34 bin drwxr-xr-x 1 root wheel 16384 Jan 1 1980 boot drwxr-xr-x 9 root wheel 33792 May 23 01:38 dev drwxr-xr-x 30 root wheel 2560 May 23 01:57 etc drwxr-xr-x 3 root wheel 512 May 23 01:48 home dr-xr-xr-x 2 root wheel 512 May 23 02:10 kern drwxr-xr-x 3 root wheel 2560 May 23 01:34 lib drwxr-xr-x 3 root wheel 512 May 23 01:34 libdata drwxr-xr-x 5 root wheel 512 May 23 01:34 libexec drwxr-xr-x 3 root wheel 512 May 23 02:08 mnt -rwxr-xr-x 1 root wheel 17152160 May 23 01:34 netbsd dr-xr-xr-x 1 root wheel 512 May 23 02:10 proc drwxr-xr-x 2 root wheel 3072 May 23 01:37 rescue drwxr-xr-x 2 root wheel 512 May 23 01:36 root drwxr-xr-x 2 root wheel 3072 May 23 01:34 sbin drwxr-xr-x 3 root wheel 512 May 23 01:34 stand drwxrwxrwt 2 root wheel 0 May 23 01:57 tmp drwxr-xr-x 12 root wheel 512 May 23 01:38 usr drwxr-xr-x 24 root wheel 512 May 23 01:34 var -rw-r--r-- 1 root wheel 5925028 May 23 02:10 xbase.tar.xz -rw-r--r-- 1 root wheel 6046184 May 23 02:10 xcomp.tar.xz -rw-r--r-- 1 root wheel 27340 May 23 02:10 xetc.tar.xz -rw-r--r-- 1 root wheel 28993608 May 23 02:10 xfont.tar.xz -rw-r--r-- 1 root wheel 17439548 May 23 02:10 xserver.tar.xz rpi4#
And extract them
rpi4# unxz xbase.tar.xz rpi4# unxz xcomp.tar.xz rpi4# unxz xetc.tar.xz rpi4# unxz xfont.tar.xz rpi4# unxz xserver.tar.xz rpi4# tar -xvf xbase.tar rpi4# tar -xvf xcomp.tar rpi4# tar -xvf xetc.tar rpi4# tar -xvf xfont.tar rpi4# tar -xvf xserver.tar rpi4# rm *.tar
Once we are done we can test th X server if we have an external HDMI attached. Now as user we have created login to the console on the RPi4 and run startx
So now a working X session on the HDMI attached to the RPi4 should be available !
One last thing is to shutdown NetBSD now (this is done via root shell # shutdown -p now) command and remove the USB drives (we will not need the Installer anymore) and re-plug the 32GB larger USB flash to the “black” USB port of the RPi4 while keeping the “blue” free.
We will use the “blue” USB port for additional dongles like Wi-Fi.
If you want to use Wi-Fi then attach a compatible USB dongle to the free “Blue” USB port on the RPi4 (generally Realtek based devices work well – DWA-131 example here)
[ 51.325931] urtwn0 at uhub2 port 1 [ 51.325931] urtwn0: Realtek (0x2001) Wireless N Nano USB Adapter (0x3319), rev 2.10/2.00, addr 5 [ 51.395933] urtwn0: MAC/BB RTL8192EU, RF 6052 2T2R, address aa:bb:cc:dd:ee:ff [ 51.395933] urtwn0: 1 rx pipe, 3 tx pipes
Next we will install CDE on the latest NetBSD evbarm aarch64 RPi4 device so we can make it look even more nicer with some 1337 retro CDE look !