NetBSD may not be on the radar of many embedded developers. But it now ranks number five in embedded operating-system popularity, according to a recent survey of developers by Evans Data Corp. Available from Wasabi Systems, NetBSD 1.5.2 can be downloaded at www.netbsd.org.
This OS supports 44 different platforms, such as those based on ARM, Alpha, Hitachi SH, MIPS, 68k, PowerPC, and SPARC. Newly supported platforms include Apple's iBook and PowerBook. An array of new devices are supported in the new version, like ATA ultra-DMA/100, 802.1Q virtual LAN support, and Cisco's Aironet wireless LAN.
NetBSD users running on Intel platforms have a new option. This version of NetBSD supports Linux VmWare from VmWare Inc. Linux VmWare allows multiple OSs to run concurrently with NetBSD.
Performance improvements have been added in a number of areas, including the sendmail and dhcpd Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) server deamon. This version of NetBSD still includes Windows XFree86 version 3.3.6 support instead of the newer 4.1.0 support. The latter is now available online.
Security fixes are included for Kerberos, BIND, ssh, ntpd, ftpd, telnetd, and IP filtering. In fact, NetBSD is known for tight security. Most of the fixes have been available as individual downloads.
NetBSD is a descendant of BSD from the University of California, Berkeley. Wind River recently purchased BSD Inc., a company that supports BSD. BSD Inc.'s open-source counterpart is available from www.freebsd.com. All BSD variants are distributed using the BSD license, which can be more restrictive than the GNU General Public License (GPL) used with Linux. For example, vendors using BSD don't have to distribute source code for their products that are linked with the OS.
BSD and NetBSD can compile most applications written for Linux. A wide array of applications are designed to run on both platforms. NetBSD uses the X Windows system for graphical display environments. The NetBSD TCP/IP stack is the reference platform for Unix.
NetBSD 1.5.2 costs $24.95. Contact Wasabi Systems for pricing on support contracts.
Wasabi Systems Inc., 104 West 14th St., fourth floor, New York, NY 10011; (646) 638-2424; fax (509) 461-7283; www.wasabisystems.com.