[nycbug-talk] FreeBSD and Cobalt boxes

Brown, James Jim JBrown
Mon Nov 1 19:59:04 EST 2004


-----Original Message-----
From: talk-bounces at lists.nycbug.org
To: NYC Bug List
Sent: 11/1/04 3:22 PM
Subject: [nycbug-talk] FreeBSD and Cobalt boxes


I'm looking to grab a few of the little 1U cobalt boxes to use as 
nameservers.  Any issues I should be aware of under FreeBSD?  Any
for the LCD screen/buttons?



Charles Sprickman
Bway.net - New York's Best Internet - www.bway.net
spork at bway.net - 212.655.9344


A company I know bought several 1U i386 RaQ4s when they first came out,
and put them in service.  30 minutes later they were streaming po^wspam.
The apps and/or kernel were not hardened very well and they were hacked.
So out they came and they sat around collecting dust for a long time.

About 10 months ago I got my hands on a couple of them for a look-see.
There was a notice that someone had ported NetBSD to them.
Unfortunately the port was for the MIPS Cobalt Qube.  The
cobalt page at http://www.netbsd.org/Ports/cobalt/
specifically says:  "Note that the i386-based RaQ 3, RaQ 3i and RaQ 4 
models are not supported by the cobalt port."

Undeterred, I charged ahead.  I spent the better part of a week trying
to get something going.  Nada.  I then learned that the Cobalt ROM had
been open sourced- and that there was a mailing list
so I ventured further.

I signed up and wrote in asking if anyone had ever gotten a BSD up
on the RaQ4 series.  Tim Hockin, one of the original developers, kindly
answered that no, noone has been able to get it working- and that they
are Linux guys, not BSD guys.  He commented further:

  > > >Nope.  As far as I know, there are about 10 people in the world 
  > > >care.
  > > >Every time I ask for someone to provide more info/assistance, I 
  > > >silence in return.  The code is tehre, have at it.

So the short answer is, as far as I know, noone has gotten it working.

The problem is getting the boot environment set up correctly in RAM.
The RaQ4 uses a Linux ROM kernel to boot.  It reads a Linux kernel in
from ext2 disk, decompresses it in RAM and jumps to the main entry point.

I'd still like to get this working.  It's just one of those quirky, cool
things I'd like to do before I die (somewhere around #5625).

So if anyone has any boot/startup experience and can lend a hand getting
this going, drop me a line.  Warning: detailed low-level ix86 assembler,
and BSD kernel startup experience is required- not just ISO this or 
PXE-boot that.  And it goes without saying- a lot of time is also required.

Check the cobalt archives for some further notes:


Best Regards,
Jim B.

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