FreeBSD on a 486DX - BSD

This is a discussion on FreeBSD on a 486DX - BSD ; Good Afternoon Newsgroup! I have an Intel 486DX2 machine with 16MB of memory laying around. I'd like to turn it into an emergency terminal, which could allow me to connect to our server on the network via ssh protocol 2. ...

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Thread: FreeBSD on a 486DX

  1. FreeBSD on a 486DX

    Good Afternoon Newsgroup!

    I have an Intel 486DX2 machine with 16MB of memory laying around.
    I'd like to turn it into an emergency terminal, which could allow me to
    connect to our server on the network via ssh protocol 2.
    Simple character-mode access is all I need.
    Now, I tried to install FreeBSD 6.2-RELEASE on this machine last night,
    but it didn't work. Reading up on the 6.2R docs I found that it needs at
    least 24MB memory.

    The questions are:
    1., can I get 6.2R somehow to boot on this 486DX2 with only 16MB memory or
    should I go backwards with the release number and try 5.xR or 4.xR ?
    I assume I will need to build a custom kernel on a more modern system
    anyway, and then transfer that custom system to the 486DX.

    2., I am not really familiar with the performance indicators of a 486DX
    machine, but I do know that I need to expect certain cumputational power
    for the encryption of an ssh protocol 2. Should my 486DX2 be sufficient
    for this, or will it be painfully slow and probably unusable?

    3., In case the above two points give me no reason to stop this project
    right now, is there any guide or material on how to build FreeBSD on such
    a low-end old machine? Any pointer is appreciated!

    Thanks and best regards,
    Keve

    --
    if you need to reply directly:
    keve(at)mail(dot)poliod(dot)hu

  2. Re: FreeBSD on a 486DX

    Keve Nagy wrote:

    > Good Afternoon Newsgroup!
    >
    > I have an Intel 486DX2 machine with 16MB of memory laying around.
    > I'd like to turn it into an emergency terminal, which could allow me to
    > connect to our server on the network via ssh protocol 2.
    > Simple character-mode access is all I need.
    > Now, I tried to install FreeBSD 6.2-RELEASE on this machine last night,
    > but it didn't work. Reading up on the 6.2R docs I found that it needs at
    > least 24MB memory.


    If you have some "junk" shops around you may be able to pick up some memory
    for next to nothing if you know exactly what you're looking for. I'd say
    put more memory in and try it, if you can. On the order of at least 32MB,
    with 64MB being better.

    > The questions are:
    > 1., can I get 6.2R somehow to boot on this 486DX2 with only 16MB memory or
    > should I go backwards with the release number and try 5.xR or 4.xR ?
    > I assume I will need to build a custom kernel on a more modern system
    > anyway, and then transfer that custom system to the 486DX.


    It has reached EOL, but may still be something to consider - from the web
    site FreeBSD 4.11 Release Info page:

    "FreeBSD for the i386 requires an 80386 or better processor. The
    sysinstall(8) installation program requires 16MB of RAM; after
    installation, FreeBSD itself can be run in 4-8MB of RAM with a pared-down
    kernel. You will need at least 100MB of free hard drive space for the most
    minimal installation; a more realistic minimum is on the order of
    250-350MB. See below for ways of shrinking existing DOS partitions in order
    to install FreeBSD."

    Make sure you turn off any 1MB "memory hole" in BIOS or it will fail as it
    will only see 15MB Ram.


    > 2., I am not really familiar with the performance indicators of a 486DX
    > machine, but I do know that I need to expect certain cumputational power
    > for the encryption of an ssh protocol 2. Should my 486DX2 be sufficient
    > for this, or will it be painfully slow and probably unusable?


    Can't really help you much here. The DX2-66 had a fairly decent math co-proc
    in it for it's time, if memory serves. It might be a tad slow by modern day
    standards, but my gut feeling is that it may very well be useable for what
    you have in mind.

    > 3., In case the above two points give me no reason to stop this project
    > right now, is there any guide or material on how to build FreeBSD on such
    > a low-end old machine? Any pointer is appreciated!


    If you have the time give it a try and see. I'd bet there are still people
    around using such things as a basic firewall/gateway box. Mine was retired
    in favor of a Pentium 75 overclocked at 100MHz with 64 MB Ram, which has
    since been retired in favor of the AMD K6-2 500MHz/128MB Ram I'm using now.

    -Jason



  3. Re: FreeBSD on a 486DX

    Keve Nagy wrote:
    >
    > The questions are:
    > 1., can I get 6.2R somehow to boot on this 486DX2 with only 16MB memory or
    > should I go backwards with the release number and try 5.xR or 4.xR ?
    > I assume I will need to build a custom kernel on a more modern system
    > anyway, and then transfer that custom system to the 486DX.

    It's unlikely that 6.x will install on a 486.
    >
    > 2., I am not really familiar with the performance indicators of a 486DX
    > machine, but I do know that I need to expect certain cumputational power
    > for the encryption of an ssh protocol 2. Should my 486DX2 be sufficient
    > for this, or will it be painfully slow and probably unusable?
    >

    Initial key generation will take a while, but ssh will work fine.

    > 3., In case the above two points give me no reason to stop this project
    > right now, is there any guide or material on how to build FreeBSD on such
    > a low-end old machine? Any pointer is appreciated!
    >

    I'd suggest starting with 5.X, you might find this account helpful:
    http://www.zefox.net/~bob/FreeBSD/5.1-486.html
    In that situation the target machine had 20 megs of RAM, but I don't
    recall if that was mandatory.

    Good luck,

    bob prohaska


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