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c33ris2's gentle guide to installing NetBSD in a prgmr DomU (January 2009)

Note: By June 2010 (or earlier) some of the dom0 hosts have packed the installer files into the /distros collection available to many recovery images. In these cases, the fetching activity is no longer required.

Getting Started

Installing NetBSD as DomU is easy, but not trivial.

Boot your preconfigured system, in order to discover, and note for later use, YOUR_IP, NETMASK, GATEWAY, and NAMESERVER as follows:

Run 'ifconfig eth0' and note your "inet addr" and "Mask" values.
Run 'route' or 'ip route' and note the IP of the default gateway.
Run 'cat /etc/resolv.conf' and note the IP of the nameserver

From the control menu on your dom0 host, destroy/shutdown the instance, and restart ("create/start") it, selecting the "rescue" option from the bootloader. Login as 'root'.

Your fixed disk, as known to the linux rescue image, is /dev/xvda. Later, when booted to the NetBSD installer, it is identified as /dev/xbd0.

For NetBSD, this disk must be partitioned, and the NetBSD installer files placed therein.

fdisk /dev/xvda

From within fdisk,

  • delete the existing partition, *which will destroy your current OS image and dataa*
  • create a new primary partition #1, with first cylinder at default=1 and last cylinder at +32M
  • write the new parition table to the disk.
  • exit fdisk

Success to this point is evidenced by the prseence of /dev/xvda1 which must now be formatted, mounted, and a /boot directory created:

mkfs.ext2 /dev/xvda1
mount -n /dev/xvda1 /mnt
mkdir /mnt/boot

If the file 'netbsd64.tar.gz' exists in /distros, skip over to #Unpacking the Installer

Otherwise you'll have to proceed here with:

Fetching the Installer

Setup IP with

ifconfig eth0 up 64.62.205.XXX/26
route add -net gw eth0

wget and extract to /mnt/boot/ :

(or newer)

Create a file boot/grub/menu.lst with this content:

timeout 5

title NetBSD run
        root (hd0,0)
        kernel /boot/netbsd-XEN3_DOMU

title NetBSD install
        root (hd0,0)
        kernel /boot/netbsd-INSTALL_XEN3_DOMU

Skip to #Booting the Installer

Unpacking the Installer

This section presumes the presence, in the rescue instance, of /distros/netbsd64.tar.gz
Unpack this into the new boot menu, and shutdown.

tar zxf /distros/netbsd64.tar.gz -C /mnt/boot/
shutdown -h now

Booting the Installer

Returning to the control menu on your dom0 host, destroy/shutdown your instance if it is running, and create/start it again, this time selecting first the "user bootloader configuration" from the options presented by the dom0, and after that select the installer from your new user bootloader. This should take you to the NetBSD Installer, for which a tutorial exists at

I'll return to editing this page later.

Install onto xbd0(!).

IMPORTANT: Change disklabel such that xbd0a starts after the end of the ext2 partition. Add a disklabel for the /boot partition, so you can update the kernels and adjust the menu.lst later. (You can find out its sectors by using fdisk /dev/xbd0). Here is an example disklabel setup for a 3072M disk with a 32M boot partition:

 We now have your BSD-disklabel partitions as:
 This is your last chance to change them.
    Start  MB   End  MB  Size  MB FS type    Newfs Mount Mount point
    --------- --------- --------- ---------- ----- ----- -----------
 a:        31      2912      2882 FFSv1      Yes   Yes   /
 b:      2913      3040       128 swap
 c:         0      3071      3072 NetBSD partition
 d:         0      3071      3072 Whole disk
 e:         0        30        31 Linux Ext2
 f:         0         0         0 unused
 g: Show all unused partitions
 h: Change input units (sectors/cylinders/MB)
>x: Partition sizes ok

Install by FTP, setup networking by the noted data. Adjust the FTP paths to the snapshot you use.

Reboot, now with "NetBSD run".


19:30, 3 February 2009 (UTC)