How to Install NetBSD in VirtualBox

NetBSD can often be the forgotten Unix distribution. Forgotten to the popularity of FreeBSD, OpenBSD, PC-BSD and others. In truth, NetBSD has been around a very long time.

NetBSD originated in the early 1990’s, founded by four former members of the 386BSD project. Due to internal dispute between developers and generally not satisfied with the direction of 386BSD, the members formed NetBSD with a clear focus toward clean design and “code done right”.

NetBSD has a very loyal following of users and developers. Almost cult like! All history aside, you may want to know how you can give NetBSD a try. Well, you can using Oracle VM VirtualBox.

There is a small trick with getting NetBSD to boot correctly in VirtualBox. By default, it will halt and present a kernel error message and not boot.

Assuming you have correctly installed VirtualBox, create a new virtual machine called NetBSD. You must then launch the machine via a terminal with the following command:

vboxsdl --norawr0 --startvm NetBSD

NetBSD should now boot as normal and without any error messages. I have tested this on NetBSD 5.1.2 and the latest 6.0 release(s) without issues.