NetBSD/Dreamcast Setup Guide

So you're interested in running NetBSD on your Sega Dreamcast console? This guide should help you get your Dreamcast up and running NetBSD quickly. This guide assumes the usage of a NetBSD machine for services required by the Dreamcast to run from a remote file system.

What you'll need:

Optional things that make life nicer:

What you'll need to do:

  1. Make a working IP Upload Slave CD. This is essential; without the IP Upload Slave you can't send a kernel to the Dreamcast. Details on making a bootable Dreamcast CD can be found at Marcus Comstedt's Dreamcast Software site.
  2. Download dreamcast-world.tar.gz, unpack the file and prepare the install:
    1. Find a good place for your Dreamcast's file system to live. /mnt/exports/dc is a logical location. Note that this location is going to be exported via NFS, which generally requires the top-level NFS location to be a local file system mount point.

      cp dreamcast-world.tar.gz /mnt/exports/dc

      cd /mnt/exports/dc

      tar -xvzpf dreamcast-world.tar.gz

      rm dreamcast-world.tar.gz

      Make sure you use tar's p option as root to preserver file permissions.
    2. Create the swap file.

      dd if=/dev/zero of=.swap bs=32k count=1024

      chmod 600 .swap

      This will create a 32M file /.swap for the Dreamcast to use as swap and give the file good, safe permissions. If out-of-memory problems occur, bump up the size of the swap file to 64M by using 64k for the bs value when you make the swap file with dd.
    3. Fix up some of the Dreamcast's config files in /mnt/exports/dc/etc. Pay special attention to fstab (you'll probably need to change the IP the root file system is being mounted from), rc.conf (hostname, ifconfig_rtk0, defaultroute) and resolv.conf (search, nameserver). mk.conf could be updated as well.
  3. Set up the host machine. This requires configuring NFS and DHCP servers, installing netcat, copying scripts to the right places and editing those scripts to taste.
    1. Make sure DHCP and NFS servers are set to start on boot. On a NetBSD machine, starting DHCP and NFS at boot are accomplished by turning on some things in /etc/rc.conf:
    2. Set up /etc/exports on the host PC. /etc/exports is what the NFS server reads to find out what file systems to export. The Dreamcast's file system resides on a single NFS share, so a single-line /etc/exports would look like this:

      /mnt/exports/dc -maproot=root dreamcast

      "/mnt/exports/dc" is the path to your NFS share. "-maproot=root" is required to properly map files to the root user on the Dreamcast and "dreamcast" is the hostname of the machine we want to allow connections from, the Dreamcast.
    3. Set up /etc/dhcpd.conf and /var/db/dhcpd.leases. To create /var/db/dhcpd.leases, which is required by dhcpd, just

      touch /var/db/dhcpd.leases

      as root and the file is ready. /etc/dhcpd.conf will need to be customized for your network configuration, but could look similar to this dhcpd.conf (<1K, MD5). Lots of things in dhcpd.conf will need to be changed depending on your network setup.
    4. Install netcat. On a NetBSD machine, execute the following commands to install netcat if you have the pkgsrc system working.

      cd /usr/pkgsrc/net/netcat

      make install

    5. Install the scripts. On a NetBSD machine, can go in /etc/rc.d and can go in /usr/pkg/bin. If you put in /usr/pkg/bin, the only variables that should need to be changed in are HOSTNAME and MAC_ADDRESS. In, HOSTNAME, PATH_TO_FILE and possibly FILENAME may need to be changed if you deviate from the install path and files used in this guide.

      To start the scripts at boot, I added

      /etc/rc.d/ start

      to my Dreamcast's /etc/rc.local.
    6. You may want to reboot the host PC to make sure everything starts up correctly. Check /var/log/messages for errors and watch the console for messages.
  4. Try it out! Once you're confident the host PC and the Dreamcast's files are ready to go, stick the IP Upload Slave CD in the Dreamcast, make sure it's connected to the LAN and turn on the Dreamcast. If everything has went well, you'll be greeted by some boot messages and eventually a login prompt.

What you'll get:

Things you should do after NetBSD/Dreamcast is running:

What's left to do?

There's lots of areas in NetBSD/Dreamcast that could use work. Find part of the project that interests you and give the project a hand. Some of the more "technical" issues are things like:


The people and organizations that have helped me along the way with my NetBSD/Dreamcast exploits:

Page created 20030105 23:46.
Page modified 20070419 09:38.
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