386BSD:Porting Unix to the 386: Three Initial PC Utilities
The second article in the "PORTING UNIX TO THE 386" series discussed the utilities we had to build to test the port on an actual 80386 PC.
First thing the kernel does is open its root filesystem - so we need a way to write a filesystem onto the hard disk, adjacent to the DOS filesystem, which is what this utility does.The Third PC Utility: cpsw.exe
Once the system is debugged and tested, the next step was to load on more code to expand with. So we moved "tar balls" to the swap space with this utility to provide a primative file upload capability.Where We Go From Here
Ironically, these utilities advanced progress fast enough that once the kernel was operational, the biggest obstacle became booting off of DOS. So the next step was to implement a bootstrap and standalone system so that we could rid ourself of DOS entirely.The 386BSD Project and Berkeley UNIX
Synopsis of what 386BSD was intended to be in the 1989-1990 timeframe.
This, the first article, is the first published mention of 386BSD. By this time, the project had been operational for 18 months, and William Jolitz was at Berkeley working on the Net/2 release.
We'd gathered books and equipment to begin the port in 1989. Most critical was the Crawford and Gelsinger book.
The 386BSD specification was in two parts - one that detailed getting to a operational system that could build itself and basic console applications, and a more extensive community involvement part, called "A Modest Proposal".The Definition of the 386BSD Specification
Choosing how far to go in supporting X86 architecture in order to get a basic BSD UNIX system to be able to bootstrap the futre efforts.386BSD Port Goals: A Practical Approach
We decided to shoot for a system that emphasized novel 386 support code to create a basic BSD environment on the 386. We assumed that by making it freely available, others will extend the work to remaining areas.Segmentation and 386BSD
Reconciling segmentation to UNIX has never been easy, and with 386BSD its an even greater chore. The issues of supporting X86 segments in a Berkeley UNIX world.Kernel Linear Address Space Overhead
386BSD ignored as much as possible the segmentation hardware of the x86, preferring to use a "flat" address space.Virtual Address Space Layout
386BSD executed programs with a virtual address similar to a VAX running UNIX. In February 1991, this changed so that the format of the process virtual address space memory usage could be arranged differently.386 Virtual Memory Address Translation Mechanism
The 386 Paging Memory Management allocates memory in 4KB and 4MB allocation units. This impacts the way programs execute and share file data.User to Kernel Communication Primitives
One surprise with 386BSD was that the 80386 doesn't honor write protection on the user page addresses, requiring a work-around. This was fixed in 80486 and all subsequent X86 processors.Berkeley UNIX Virtual Memory System Strategy
386BSD started out in 1989 with a derivative virtual memory system from the VAX by way of a 68030. In February/March 1991, it was cutover to a totally different one cut out of CMU's MACH system, and released with Net/2.Structure of Per-Process Data (u.)
The "u." in more detail, handling kernel stack overflows in 386BSD.Process Context Description
Hardware context switch state description and the part where 386BSD context switching intrudes into the machine independent code semantics.Other Processor Faults
Catching terminal processor faults.Microprocessor Idiosyncrasies
Sometimes you're forced to use processor features - like hardware context switching. Origionally, the earliest versions of 386BSD didn't use the hardware context switch TSS feature - but you still had to have one anyways.System Call Interface
How to call the system's kernel from a process, using existing industry standards accross the X86 platform.System Specific (ISA) Issues
The AT platform itself requires support in order to have an operational system. And with growth of elovling industry standards, this morphs over time into newer ones as well.ISA Device Controllers
ISA devices that attach to the AT standard through controllers field a broad number of devices various categories.ISA Device Auto Configuration
To find controllers and devices, we use tables to instruct device drivers where to probe and attach found peripherals and connect them with low-level drivers and high-level kernel subsystems.Interrupt Priority Level Management
Part of the specification also details the interrupt control mechanism that allows device interrupts to be blocked/unblocked and caught by device drivers interrupt handling code.Bootstrap Operation
How to bootstrap the system from hardware, loading the kernel program, itself a protected mode executable from secondary / nonvolatile / disk storage.Summary: Where is 386BSD Now?
The state of the 386BSD world back in mid-1990 is synopsized here. By the time this appeared, EISA and other "beyond AT" support had been added. CSRG only let other UC institutions have code, although a complete binary and source release was present and tested for 6 months.Porting Unix to the 386: The Standalone System
This article, last of the original three done altogether in 1990, on getting the critical pieces functioning independantly that we needed to do the port. Once these we obtained, the kernel was inevitable.Watching for Land Mines
Anticipating problems allowed us to find flaws in our work. We use the standalone system for bootstrap to load test programs that work machine-dependant portions of the kernel.Prevaricating with the Standalone System
We didn't just load and debug the kernel; we chose to prove portions first. That way we learned the dependances first, and could try alternatives seperately. Later we used the same means to revise them later.Porting Unix to the 386: Language Tools Cross Support
We describe the need and use of a cross-support environment to create 386 code from a non-386 machine, so as to create the initial binarys before our port can generate them.Why Develop Cross-Tools?
We used another proven UNIX system - a Symmtric 375, to cross compile 386 code (bootstrap, kernel, shell, utilities) to get the first system running.386BSD Cross-Tools Goals
Our use of cross-tools was simply to bootstrap onto the 386 - not to perfect ongoing development. So, if we found a problem with the tool, we bypassed it with a one time workaround - cross tools didn't need to work for everything.What's in the Tool Chest?
The tool chest for 386BSD cross support included compiler, assembler, loader, libraries and include files. It did not include an emulation environment.Cross-Support Methodology
Our methodology was to prove that we could get a usable, tested executable across onto the native machine to be useful there. As we found and fixed, this methodology sped getting enough good and working native components, such that we could begin native development.Which C Standard?
BSD started before ANSI C, and still seems wedded to it even in 2006! GCC with the "traditional" flag didn't quite work, so we compromised.Choosing a Sensible Cross-Host
Our Symmetric 375 was close but not identical to a 386 - its National 32000 series microprocessor was different. Yet it was a good choice for cross host in a cross development environment.Where Do We Go From Here
With cross tools we could make utility programs for our nascent system. The next step would be incorporating them into a filesystem so that they could run on the native 386, with the kernel program.Porting Unix to the 386: Copyrights, Copylefts, and Competitive Advantage
We describe the origin and orientation of the "Free Software" vs. "Open Software" efforts via respective licenses.Copyright vs. Copyleft
The view of copyright and the GPL as it was back in the early 90's.Porting Unix to the 386: The Initial Root Filesystem
We build the first instance of the root filesystem - before any operational system is present on the 386 to build one. Part of the bootstrapping cycle of getting up the first running system on a new architecture.The Role of the Root Filesystem
The root filesystem is a small, essential portion of disk storage, providing functionality to expand its resources to use storage other than the root itself, and configure system operations. The root usually survives intact when a system crash occurs, allowing system operation during recovery.A Brief Review of the Root
A breakdown of the various uses of the root filesystems, and the considerations for each as we prove out the operation of the system step by step.Initialization: /sbin/init, /dev/console, and /bin/sh
With the kernel running, we do a "high level bootstrap" to initialize the operating system, by executing certain programs located in the root filesystem.Filesystem Creation
Where do you get the root filesystem, when you need it to make itself? Answer - you make it on another system, in this case one quite different, and then you break the recursion.Why Do We Need a Root Filesystem?
Whats different about operating systems like Unix that use a root filesystem, and other systems that don't require a filesystem to be mounted initially to operate?Porting Unix to the 386: Research and the Commercial Sector
Understanding the boundary between research and development with BSD, and where a balance between commercial efforts can be struck.