Installing NetBSD ARC on Qemu

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NetBSD is of course a very portable Net/2 derived BSD OS. And it's got all kinds of different platform/cpu support. On the heels of the whole Windows NT MIPS on Qemu thing I thought it'd be interesting to see what else can be installed on Qemu's ARC emulator.

First take note, that this is going to be very tedious... And currently there is no networking support.


For anyone interested you can just download a ready to run image here.


  • Qemu 0.12.3
  • A download of NetBSD 1.5.1 for the ARC here
  • The i386 'big floppy' for NetBSD 1.5.1
  • A Windows NT CD (version 3.1-4.0 something with MIPS support)
  • A copy of the ARC Bios (now freeware!)
  • mkisofs

Install steps

This is a rough guide on what I did to install NetBSD MIPS


I'm going to assume that you've got your Qemu built, and the the mips64le executable somewhere. Next you'll need the ARC BIOS in some location you can get to as well. You will also need the x86 version of Qemu as NetBSD will panic the kernel under heavy disk IO.

Make the emulated hard disk

This should be pretty straight forward.

qemu-img create -f qcow2 netbsd151.disk 2G

Install a Windows NT system partition

You'll need a Windows NT CD to now install a system partition. This is really simple. Just boot up Qemu like this:

qemu-system-mips64el -M magnum -L . -hda netbsd151.disk -cdrom windows_nt_4_workstation.iso

The emulator should now boot up, with the arc menu. Then choose the option to 'run a program' and type in:


Now create a system partition of at least 10 megabytes.

Once the system partition is formatted we are good, and you can exit back to the main ARC bios (hit escape a few times) then you can close Qemu.

Create a NetBSD cdrom

I like to setup a NetBSD cdrom that boots on the i386 so we can setup the partition and extract it that way, but contain the MIPS userland.

In the directory of the MIPS files run mkisofs something like this:

mkisofs -J -V NetBSD -o ..\netbsd151.iso 

Boot the i386 NetBSD

Ok, now with the disk setup with an NT system partition, and our BSD cd ready to go, we'll boot the i386 qemu emulator to setup the disk, and unpack NetBSD MIPS.

To be finished later....