Frequently Asked Questions

  • What hardware does SPIN run on?

    We maintain a list of hardware configurations that SPIN has run on. Once you get SPIN working, we would like to add yours to the list.

  • Why FreeBSD and Linux?

    The IX86 version of the SPIN Operating System uses code borrowed from the FreeBSD Operating System for its device driver layer. The build environment we use at the University of Washington uses AFS. At the time that SPIN was ported to the x86 platform, an AFS client for FreeBSD did not exist. Consequently we don't build SPIN using FreeBSD, at least not yet. For the time being our customers will have to use Linux as their build environment. The alternative is to attempt to build SPIN on FreeBSD on your own.

  • What if I already have FreeBSD installed?

    If you already have a machine running FreeBSD you may be able to avoid reinstalling it provided you also have a DOS partition on this same machine. What you can do is edit the Autoexec.bat file on your dos.salboot diskette so that it only contains the line:

    Now boot your FreeBSD machine with this dos.salboot diskette. After booting, salboot.com will run and you're ready for remote booting.

  • How long does it take to build SPIN?

    On a Pentium 90MHz with 32 MB RAM it takes about 1 hour and 40 minutes. This was with no other user processes running.

Common Boot Errors

  • "Permission denied" message.

    This most likely means that one of the directories in the path to your kernel doesn't have execute permission enabled. This path is spin/kernel/sal/i386_freebsd/compile/SPIN/kernel, including any directories above your spin directory. You may also want to be sure that the path to your scripts directory, spin/user/scripts, also has execute permission set.

  • "fetch: SALNET_TIMEOUT" message.

    This is a fairly common message. Just try the boot command again. If you continue to get this message, try re-booting your crashbox by typing halt at the >>> prompt.

  • After the boot command, the wrong IP address is displayed.

    Try running bootp from the rconsole prompt. This should get the IP address of the bootp server and tell the crashmachine what it's IP address is as well. Here's what you'll see:

    >>> bootp
    bootp: Served by yakko(, default kernel "/spin/null"
    The first IP address is for the crashmachine, the second for the bootp server. The default kernel is just the MOUNT_POINT followed by null.

  • After booting SPIN, there is no response to keyboard input over rconsole.

    Your rconsole daemon may be "hung". Quit rconsole, restart rconsoled and reconnect to the crashbox with rconsole. Hopefully you'll see the SPIN prompt.


Copyright (c) 1997 The University of Washington. All rights reserved.