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NEXTSTEP In Focus, Fall 1993 (Volume 3, Issue 4).
1993 by NeXT Computer, Inc. All Rights Reserved.


Fun with booting

When you start up a PC with NEXTSTEP, you get the boot prompt, boot: This is your chance to send commands to the booter and change how the system starts. For example, you can select a different boot disk than the computer normally uses or load special drivers. Here's how to do it.

Booter syntax

The booter syntax for NEXTSTEP for Intel Processors is this:

xx[(d[,p])]kernel [-s] [options]

Items in square brackets are optional. There must be no spaces in the command, except within options. The command is not case-sensitive. (For a quick summary of the options while you're booting, type ? at the prompt.)

n xx is either hd for an IDE disk or sd for a SCSI disk.

n d is the drive number, like 0.

n p is the partition letter, like a.

n kernel is the name of the kernel you want to load; usually you'll use mach_kernel.

n -s starts NEXTSTEP in single-user mode.

At the end of the command, you can specify additional options of the form keyword=value. Keywords that are made up of more than one word must be enclosed in quotation marks, and there can be no spaces between the keyword, the equals sign, and the value. The keywords are these:

n config Specifies the configuration data to use to start up the computer. Instance0 selects the current configuration you created with Configure; Default selects the configuration from the installation CD-ROM, plus any drivers you loaded during installation.

n maxmem Indicates the amount of memory in your computer in kilobytes. For example, for a computer with 20 megabytes of memory, use maxmem=20480.

n rootdev Specifies the device containing the root file system. For example, if the root device is on partition a of SCSI disk number 1, use rootdev=sd1a.

n ``Boot Drivers'' Specifies the drivers the computer should load when booting. Enclose the list in quotation marks, with no space between the = and the quotation mark. For example:
``Boot Drivers''= ``Adaptec1542B PS2Keyboard PS2Mouse''

n ``Active Drivers'' Specifies the drivers to load during system initialization. These drivers can't operate a boot device, such as the hard disk containing the computer's root filesystem. The list must be in quotation marks, just like ``Boot Drivers''.

n ``Ask For Drivers'' Indicates whether the booter should ask while it's booting which additional device drivers it should load. The default is No. For example:
``Ask For Drivers''=Yes

Booting from an external SCSI drive

One common boot option is booting the computer from an external SCSI hard disk drive. How you do this depends on what other drives your computer uses.

If you have two SCSI disk drives with IDs 0 and 1 and want to boot from the SCSI drive 1, type this at the boot: prompt:

sd(1,a)mach_kernel rootdev=sd1a

If you have an internal IDE drive but want to boot from a SCSI drive, you have two options:

Use the floppy disk that comes with NEXTSTEP

Normally, the computer boots from the IDE disk, usually drive C. However, if there's a disk in the floppy disk drive (DOS drive A), and the floppy controller isn't disabled, the computer boots from the floppy disk drive.

Insert the NEXTSTEP boot floppy (labelled, CD-ROM Installation Disk) in the floppy disk drive and restart the computer. At the boot: prompt, type:


The computer boots the Mach kernel and the rest of NEXTSTEP from the SCSI disk.

Install a mini NEXTSTEP partition on the IDE disk

You can install a miniature NEXTSTEP partition on your IDE disk, one that your computer can boot from but that leaves plenty of space on the disk. However, following this procedure erases anything already on the disk:

1 Boot NEXTSTEP from the SCSI disk as described above.

2 Log in as root.

3 Start up the Terminal application and use fdisk to create a non-DOS partition on the IDE drive for NEXTSTEP:

/usr/etc/fdisk /dev/rhd0h

Note: It's rhd0h, not rhd0a!

4 Create a NEXTSTEP file system for this partition:

/usr/etc/disk -i /dev/rhd0h

This also creates the necessary NEXTSTEP boot blocks for the IDE drive. (See the UNIX manual page for disk.)

Now when you boot the computer, the NEXTSTEP boot manager on the IDE disk presents the boot: prompt. At the prompt, type this command:


As above, the computer boots the Mach kernel and NEXTSTEP from the SCSI disk.

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Filling your NEXTSTEP library

If you're looking to add to your library of system administration references, or are just starting to acquire one, here's a list of excellent texts to consider. The list was compiled by Bob O'Connor, an independent consultant--he's included comments on many of the books.

Anderson, Gail, and Paul Anderson. The UNIX C Shell Field Guide. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1986. ISBN 0-13-937468-X.
An excellent step-by-step tutorial on scripting.

Comer, Douglas. Internetworking with TCP/IP, Volume I: Protocol and Architecture, 2nd edition. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1991. ISBN 0-13-468505-9.
A good conceptual overview; useful for non-programmers.

Comer, Douglas. Internetworking with TCP/IP Volume III: Client-Server Programming and Applications. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1991. ISBN 0-13-474222-2
A more advanced discussion of these topics than is in Volume I.

Garfinkel, Simson, and Gene Spafford. Practical UNIX Security. Sebastopol, CA: O'Reilly & Associates, 1991. ISBN 0-937175-72-2.

Hunt, Craig. TCP/IP Network Administration. Sebastopol, CA: O'Reilly & Associates, 1992. ISBN 0-937175-82-X.
Includes a discussion of sendmail files.

Krol, Ed. The Whole Internet: User's Guide and Catalog. Sebastopol, CA: O'Reilly & Associates, 1992. ISBN 1-56592-025-2.
Provides both an excellent big-picture understanding of the Internet and a great discussion of tools and resources to be productive.

Lamb, Linda. Learning the vi Editor. Sebastopol, CA: O'Reilly & Associates, 1990. ISBN 0-937175-67-6.
Part of the ``Nutshell Handbook'' series. Short and concise, an excellent reference. Includes a useful quick reference card.

Nemeth, Evi, Garth Snyder, and Scott Seebass. UNIX System Administration Handbook. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1989. ISBN 0-13-933441-6.
An excellent introduction for beginners.

Specialized Systems Consultants. UNIX System Command Summary for Berkeley 4.2 and 4.3 BSD. Seattle, WA: Specialized Systems Consultants, 1986. ISBN 0-916151-17-4.
A very useful quick reference guide.

Stern, Hal. Managing NFS and NIS. Sebastopol, CA: O'Reilly & Associates, 1992. ISBN 0-937175-75-7.
Describes how NFS works and is loaded with diagnostic and problem-solving tips.

Todino, Grace, and Dale Dougherty. Managing UUCP and Usenet. Sebastopol, CA: O'Reilly & Associates, 1992. ISBN 0-937175-93-5.
Another in the ``Nutshell Handbook'' series. Choppy, but informative as a reference.

Todino, Grace, and Dale Dougherty. Using UUCP and Usenet. Sebastopol, CA: O'Reilly & Associates, 1991. ISBN 0-937175-10-2.
Part of the ``Nutshell Handbook'' series. Choppy, but an informative reference.

Other lists of books

Others have compiled lists of useful texts as well. One to check out is Samuel Ko's A Concise Guide to UNIX Books. To get it, contact him at

For another extensive list of more general UNIX and C books, see YABL--Yet Another Book List. It's available via anonymous ftp at

Special thanks to Bob O'Connor for this list and the accompanying comments! Bob is an independent consultant specializing in a variety of operating systems. He welcomes comments and additions to this list and can be reached at

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