Manual browser: afterboot(8)

AFTERBOOT(8) System Manager's Manual AFTERBOOT(8)


afterbootthings to check after the first complete boot


Starting Out

This document attempts to list items for the system administrator to check and set up after the installation and first complete boot of the system. The idea is to create a list of items that can be checked off so that you have a warm fuzzy feeling that something obvious has not been missed. A basic knowledge of UNIX is assumed.

Complete instructions for correcting and fixing items is not provided. There are manual pages and other methodologies available for doing that. For example, to view the man page for the ls(1) command, type:

man 1 ls

Administrators will rapidly become more familiar with NetBSD if they get used to using the manual pages.

Security alerts

By the time that you have installed your system, it is quite likely that bugs in the release have been found. All significant and easily fixed problems will be reported at It is recommended that you check this page regularly.

Additionally, you should set “fetch_pkg_vulnerabilities=YES” in /etc/daily.conf to allow your system to automatically update the local database of known vulnerable packages to the latest version available on-line. The system will later check, on a daily basis, if any of your installed packages are vulnerable based on the contents of this database. See daily.conf(5) and security.conf(5) for more details.


Login as “root”. You can do so on the console, or over the network using ssh(1). If you have enabled the SSH daemon (see sshd(8)) and wish to allow root logins over the network, edit the /etc/ssh/sshd_config file and set “PermitRootLogin” to “yes” (see sshd_config(5)). The default is to not permit root logins over the network after fresh install in NetBSD.

Upon successful login on the console, you may see the message “We recommend creating a non-root account...”. For security reasons, it is bad practice to login as root during regular use and maintenance of the system. In fact, the system will only let you login as root on a secure terminal. By default, only the console is considered to be a secure terminal. Instead, administrators are encouraged to add a “regular” user, add said user to the “wheel” group, then use the su(1) command when root privileges are required. This process is described in more detail later.

Root password

Change the password for the root user. (Note that throughout the documentation, the term “superuser” is a synonym for the root user.) Choose a password that has numbers, digits, and special characters (not space) as well as from the upper and lower case alphabet. Do not choose any word in any language. It is common for an intruder to use dictionary attacks. Type the command /usr/bin/passwd to change it.

It is a good idea to always specify the full path name for both the passwd(1) and su(1) commands as this inhibits the possibility of files placed in your execution PATH for most shells. Furthermore, the superuser's PATH should never contain the current directory (“.”).

System date

Check the system date with the date(1) command. If needed, change the date, and/or change the symbolic link of /etc/localtime to the correct time zone in the /usr/share/zoneinfo directory.


date 200205101820
Set the current date to May 10th, 2002 6:20pm.
ln -fs /usr/share/zoneinfo/Europe/Helsinki /etc/localtime
Set the time zone to Eastern Europe Summer Time.

Console settings

One of the first things you will likely need to do is to set up your keyboard map (and maybe some other aspects about the system console). To change your keyboard encoding, edit the “encoding” variable found in /etc/wscons.conf.

wscons.conf(5) contains more information about this file.

Check hostname

Use the hostname command to verify that the name of your machine is correct. See the man page for hostname(1) if it needs to be changed. You will also need to change the contents of the “hostname” variable in /etc/rc.conf or edit the /etc/myname file to have it stick around for the next reboot. Note that “hostname” is supposed include a domainname, and that this should not be confused with YP (NIS) domainname(1). If you are using dhcpcd(8) to configure network interfaces, it might override these local hostname settings if your DHCP server specifies client's hostname with other network configurations.

Verify network interface configuration

The first thing to do is an ifconfig -a to see if the network interfaces are properly configured. Correct by editing /etc/ifconfig.interface or the corresponding “ifconfig_interface” variable in rc.conf(5) (where interface is the interface name, e.g., “le0”) and then using ifconfig(8) to manually configure it if you do not wish to reboot.

Alternatively, you can configure interfaces automatically via DHCP with dhcpcd(8) if you have a DHCP server running somewhere on your network. To get dhcpcd(8) to start automatically on boot, you will need to have this line in /etc/rc.conf:


See dhcpcd(8) and dhcpcd.conf(5) for more information on setting up a DHCP client.

You can add new “virtual interfaces” by adding the required entries to /etc/ifconfig.interface. Read the ifconfig.if(5) man page for more information on the format of /etc/ifconfig.interface files. The loopback interface will look something like:

lo0: flags=8009<UP,LOOPBACK,MULTICAST> mtu 32972 
	inet netmask 0xff000000 
	inet6 fe80::1%lo0 prefixlen 64 scopeid 0x3 
	inet6 ::1 prefixlen 128

an Ethernet interface something like:

	inet netmask 0xffffff00 broadcast 
	inet6 fe80::5ef0:f0f0%le0 prefixlen 64 scopeid 0x1

and a PPP interface something like:

        inet --> netmask 0xffff0000

See mrouted(8) for instructions on configuring multicast routing.

Check routing tables

Issue a netstat -rn command. The output will look something like:

Routing tables 
Destination    Gateway           Flags  Refs     Use  Mtu  Interface 
default     UGS      0 11098028    -  le0 
127           UGRS     0        0    -  lo0         UH       3       24    -  lo0 
192.168.4      link#1            UC       0        0    -  le0   8:0:20:73:b8:4a   UHL      1     6707    -  le0  0:60:3e:99:67:ea  UHL      1        0    -  le0 
Destination        Gateway       Flags  Refs  Use     Mtu  Interface 
::/96              ::1           UGRS     0     0   32972  lo0 => 
::1                ::1           UH       4     0   32972  lo0 
::ffff:  ::1           UGRS     0     0   32972  lo0 
fc80::/10          ::1           UGRS     0     0   32972  lo0 
fe80::/10          ::1           UGRS     0     0   32972  lo0 
fe80::%le0/64      link#1        UC       0     0    1500  le0 
fe80::%lo0/64      fe80::1%lo0   U        0     0   32972  lo0 
ff01::/32          ::1           U        0     0   32972  lo0 
ff02::%le0/32      link#1        UC       0     0    1500  le0 
ff02::%lo0/32      fe80::1%lo0   UC       0     0   32972  lo0

The default gateway address is stored in the “defaultroute” variable in /etc/rc.conf, or in the file /etc/mygate. If you need to edit this file, a painless way to reconfigure the network afterwards is to issue

/etc/rc.d/network restart

Or, you may prefer to manually configure using a series of route add and route delete commands (see route(8)). If you run dhclient(8) you will have to kill it by running

/etc/rc.d/dhclient stop

If you run dhcpcd(8) you will have to kill it by running

/etc/rc.d/dhcpcd stop

before you flush the routes.

If you wish to route packets between interfaces, add one or both of the following directives (depending on whether IPv4 or IPv6 routing is required) to /etc/sysctl.conf:


As an alternative, compile a new kernel with the “GATEWAY” option. Packets are not forwarded by default, due to RFC requirements.

Secure Shell (SSH)

By default, all services are disabled in a fresh NetBSD installation, and SSH is no exception. You may wish to enable it so you can remotely control your system. Set “sshd=YES” in /etc/rc.conf and then starting the server with the command

/etc/rc.d/sshd start

The first time the server is started, it will generate a new keypair, which will be stored inside the directory /etc/ssh.

Host names and DNS

The system resolves host names according the rules for hosts in the name service switch configuration at /etc/nsswitch.conf. By default, it will query /etc/hosts first, and then the DNS resolver specified in /etc/resolv.conf.

If your network does not have a usable DNS resolver, e.g. one provided by DHCP, you can run a local caching recursive resolver by setting “named=YES” in /etc/rc.conf and either rebooting or running the following command:

/etc/rc.d/named start

named(8) is configured in /etc/named.conf by default to run as a local caching recursive resolver. Then, to make the system use it, put the following in /etc/resolv.conf:


RPC-based network services

Several services depend on the RPC portmapper rpcbind(8) - formerly known as portmap - being running for proper operation. This includes YP (NIS) and NFS exports, among other services. To get the RPC portmapper to start automatically on boot, you will need to have this line in /etc/rc.conf:


YP (NIS) Setup

Check the YP domain name with the domainname(1) command. If necessary, correct it by editing the /etc/defaultdomain file or by setting the “domainname” variable in /etc/rc.conf. The /etc/rc.d/network script reads this file on bootup to determine and set the domain name. You may also set the running system's domain name with the domainname(1) command. To start YP client services, simply run ypbind, then perform the remaining YP activation as described in passwd(5) and group(5).

In particular, to enable YP passwd support, you'll need to update /etc/nsswitch.conf to include “nis” for the “passwd” and “group” entries. A traditional way to accomplish the same thing is to add following entry to local passwd database via vipw(8):


Note this entry has to be the very last one. This traditional way works with the default nsswitch.conf(5) setting of “passwd”, which is “compat”.

There are many more YP man pages available to help you. You can find more information by starting with nis(8).

Check disk mounts

Check that the disks are mounted correctly by comparing the /etc/fstab file against the output of the mount(8) and df(1) commands. Example:

# cat /etc/fstab 
/dev/sd0a / ffs     rw              1 1 
/dev/sd0b none swap sw 
/dev/sd0e /usr ffs  rw              1 2 
/dev/sd0f /var ffs  rw              1 3 
/dev/sd0g /tmp ffs  rw              1 4 
/dev/sd0h /home ffs rw              1 5 
# mount 
/dev/sd0a on / type ffs (local) 
/dev/sd0e on /usr type ffs (local) 
/dev/sd0f on /var type ffs (local) 
/dev/sd0g on /tmp type ffs (local) 
/dev/sd0h on /home type ffs (local) 
# df 
Filesystem  1024-blocks     Used    Avail Capacity  Mounted on 
/dev/sd0a         22311    14589     6606    69%    / 
/dev/sd0e        203399   150221    43008    78%    /usr 
/dev/sd0f         10447      682     9242     7%    /var 
/dev/sd0g         18823        2    17879     0%    /tmp 
/dev/sd0h          7519     5255     1888    74%    /home 
# pstat -s 
Device      512-blocks     Used    Avail Capacity  Priority 
/dev/sd0b       131072    84656    46416    65%    0

Edit /etc/fstab and use the mount(8) and umount(8) commands as appropriate. Refer to the above example and fstab(5) for information on the format of this file.

You may wish to do NFS mounts now too, or you can do them later.

Concatenated disks (ccd)

If you are using ccd(4) concatenated disks, edit /etc/ccd.conf. You may wish to take a look to ccdconfig(8) for more information about this file. Use the ccdconfig -U command to unload and the ccdconfig -C command to create tables internal to the kernel for the concatenated disks. You then mount(8), umount(8), and edit /etc/fstab as needed.

Automounter daemon (AMD)

To use the amd(8) automounter, create the /etc/amd directory, copy example config files from /usr/share/examples/amd to /etc/amd and customize them as needed. Alternatively, you can get your maps with YP.

Clock synchronization

In order to make sure the system clock is synchronized to that of a publicly accessible NTP server, make sure that /etc/rc.conf contains the following:


See date(1), ntpdate(8), ntpd(8), rdate(8), and timed(8) for more information on setting the system's date.


The system should be usable now, but you may wish to do more customizing, such as adding users, etc. Many of the following sections may be skipped if you are not using that package (for example, skip the Kerberos section if you won't be using Kerberos). We suggest that you cd /etc and edit most of the files in that directory.

Note that the /etc/motd file is modified by /etc/rc.d/motd whenever the system is booted. To keep any custom message intact, ensure that you leave two blank lines at the top, or your message will be overwritten.

Add new users

To add new users and groups, there are useradd(8) and groupadd(8); see also user(8) for further programs for user and group manipulation. You may use vipw(8) to add users to the /etc/passwd file and edit /etc/group by hand to add new groups. The manual page for su(1), tells you to make sure to put people in the ‘wheel’ group if they need root access (non-Kerberos). For example:


Follow instructions for kerberos(8) if using Kerberos for authentication.

System boot scripts and /etc/rc.local

/etc/rc and the /etc/rc.d/* scripts are invoked at boot time after single user mode has exited, and at shutdown. The whole process is controlled by the master script /etc/rc. This script should not be changed by administrators.

The directory /etc/rc.d contains a series of scripts used at startup/shutdown, called by /etc/rc. /etc/rc is in turn influenced by the configuration variables present in /etc/rc.conf.

The script /etc/rc.local is run as the last thing during multiuser boot, and is provided to allow any other local hooks necessary for the system.


To enable or disable various services on system startup, corresponding entries can be made in /etc/rc.conf. You can take a look at /etc/defaults/rc.conf to see a list of default system variables, which you can override in /etc/rc.conf. Note you are not supposed to change /etc/defaults/rc.conf directly, edit only /etc/rc.conf. See rc.conf(5) for further information.

X Display Manager

If you've installed X, you may want to turn on xdm(1), the X Display Manager. To do this, set “xdm=YES” in /etc/rc.conf.


Edit /etc/printcap and /etc/hosts.lpd to get any printers set up. Consult lpd(8) and printcap(5) if needed.

Tighten up security

In /etc/inetd.conf comment out any extra entries you do not need, and only add things that are really needed. Note that by default all services are disabled for security reasons.


If you are going to use Kerberos for authentication, see kerberos(8) and “info heimdal” for more information. If you already have a Kerberos master, change directory to /etc/kerberosV and configure. Remember to get a srvtab from the master so that the remote commands work.

Mail Aliases

Check /etc/mail/aliases and update appropriately if you want e-mail to be routed to non-local addresses or to different users.

Run newaliases(1) after changes.


NetBSD uses Postfix as its MTA. Postfix is started by default, but its initial configuration does not cause it to listen on the network for incoming connections. To configure Postfix, see /etc/postfix/ and /etc/postfix/ If you wish to use a different MTA (e.g., sendmail), install your MTA of choice and edit /etc/mailer.conf to point to the proper binaries.

DHCP server

If this is a DHCP server, edit /etc/dhcpd.conf and /etc/dhcpd.interfaces as needed. You will have to make sure /etc/rc.conf has “dhcpd=YES” or run dhcpd(8) manually.

Bootparam server

If this is a Bootparam server, edit /etc/bootparams as needed. You will have to turn it on in /etc/rc.conf by adding “bootparamd=YES”.

NFS server

If this is an NFS server, make sure /etc/rc.conf has:


Edit /etc/exports and get it correct. After this, you can start the server by issuing:

/etc/rc.d/rpcbind start 
/etc/rc.d/mountd start 
/etc/rc.d/nfsd start
which will also start dependencies.

HP remote boot server

Edit /etc/rbootd.conf if needed for remote booting. If you do not have HP computers doing remote booting, do not enable this.

Daily, weekly, monthly scripts

Look at and possibly edit the /etc/daily.conf, /etc/weekly.conf, and /etc/monthly.conf configuration files. You can check which values you can set by looking to their matching files in /etc/defaults. Your site specific things should go into /etc/daily.local, /etc/weekly.local, and /etc/monthly.local.

These scripts have been limited so as to keep the system running without filling up disk space from normal running processes and database updates. (You probably do not need to understand them.)

Other files in /etc

Look at the other files in /etc and edit them as needed. (Do not edit files ending in .db — like pwd.db, spwd.db, nor localtime, nor rmt, nor any directories.)

Crontab (background running processes)

Check what is running by typing crontab -l as root and see if anything unexpected is present. Do you need anything else? Do you wish to change things? For example, if you do not like root getting standard output of the daily scripts, and want only the security scripts that are mailed internally, you can type crontab -e and change some of the lines to read:

30  1  *  *  *   /bin/sh /etc/daily 2>&1 > /var/log/daily.out 
30  3  *  *  6   /bin/sh /etc/weekly 2>&1 > /var/log/weekly.out 
30  5  1  *  *   /bin/sh /etc/monthly 2>&1 > /var/log/monthly.out

See crontab(5).

Next day cleanup

After the first night's security run, change ownerships and permissions on files, directories, and devices; root should have received mail with subject: "<hostname> daily insecurity output.". This mail contains a set of security recommendations, presented as a list looking like this:

        permissions (0755, 0775) 
        user (0, 3)

The best bet is to follow the advice in that list. The recommended setting is the first item in parentheses, while the current setting is the second one. This list is generated by mtree(8) using /etc/mtree/special. Use chmod(1), chgrp(1), and chown(8) as needed.


Install your own packages. The NetBSD packages collection, pkgsrc, includes a large set of third-party software. A lot of it is available as binary packages that you can download from or a mirror, and install using pkg_add(1). See and pkgsrc/doc/pkgsrc.txt for more details.

Copy vendor binaries and install them. You will need to install any shared libraries, etc. (Hint: man -k compat to find out how to install and use compatibility mode.)

There is also other third-party software that is available in source form only, either because it has not been ported to NetBSD yet, because licensing restrictions make binary redistribution impossible, or simply because you want to build your own binaries. Sometimes checking the mailing lists for past problems that people have encountered will result in a fix posted.

Check the running system

You can use ps(1), netstat(1), and fstat(1) to check on running processes, network connections, and opened files, respectively. Other tools you may find useful are systat(1) and top(1).


Note: The standard NetBSD kernel configuration (GENERIC) is suitable for most purposes.

First, review the system message buffer in /var/run/dmesg.boot and by using the dmesg(8) command to find out information on your system's devices as probed by the kernel at boot. In particular, note which devices were not configured. This information will prove useful when editing kernel configuration files.

To compile a kernel inside a writable source tree, do the following:

$ cd /usr/src/sys/arch/SOMEARCH/conf 
$ cp GENERIC SOMEFILE (only the first time) 
$ vi SOMEFILE (adapt to your needs) 
$ config SOMEFILE 
$ cd ../compile/SOMEFILE 
$ make depend 
$ make

where SOMEARCH is the architecture (e.g., i386), and SOMEFILE should be a name indicative of a particular configuration (often that of the hostname).

If you are building your kernel again, before you do a make you should do a make clean after making changes to your kernel options.

After either of these two methods, you can place the new kernel (called netbsd) in / (i.e., /netbsd) by issuing make install and the system will boot it next time. The old kernel is stored as /onetbsd so you can boot it in case of failure.

If you are using toolchain to build your kernel, you will also need to build a new set of toolchain binaries. You can do it by changing into /usr/src and issuing:

$ cd /usr/src 
$ K=sys/arch/`uname -m`/conf 
$ vi $K/SOMEFILE (adapt to your needs) 
$ ./ tools 
$ ./ kernel=SOMEFILE


At this point, the system should be fully configured to your liking. It is now a good time to ensure that the system behaves according to its specifications and that it is stable on your hardware. Please refer to tests(7) for details on how to do so.


This document first appeared in OpenBSD 2.2. It has been adapted to NetBSD and first appeared in NetBSD 2.0.
October 2, 2012 NetBSD 7.0