Dream Setup

Sam0000

New Member

Reaction score: 3
Messages: 11

Hello! I've been itching to get my hands on a machine to install FreeBSD on, for about a year now. During this time I've stumbled upon three laptops and two stationary computers, non of which were capable of running the system (You guessed it - driver problems ;) ). The point is, I think I've been going about this the wrong way. Instead of trying random parts and hoping for them to be compatible with FreeBSD, I've decided I'm going to specifically tailor the hardware to the system. And what better way to get plausible options than to ask the community (or what I've been doing so far, checking the compatible hardware benchmarks from the hardware notes for 13.0 but as you can imagine there are a lot of options)?
What I'm interested in is a laptop. And I've seen:
https://wiki.freebsd.org/Laptops
https://forums.freebsd.org/threads/how-do-i-find-a-laptop-fully-compatible-with-freebsd.68670
http://laptop.bsdgroup.de
The thing is, when I say laptop what I really mean, is portable computer :)
And from the above, I only saw one that spoke to me (the Thinkpad T480), but when I looked at the price I almost fell off my chair considering the parts inside it:
Integrated graphics (bleh), average cpu :(, and worst of all, by default shipped with Win10, which I would end up wiping anyway.
So imagine you had 1520$ to spend, to create your portable dream machine that is fully compatible with FreeBSD, what parts would you use to build it?
(Yes, I'm asking for the parts, not specific laptop models (anymore :( - I've spent too much time on that).
And I am hell-bent on getting a fully working laptop even if it means I will have to make a case for it myself, even if it means I'll have to carry my 'portable' computer in a suitcase :p )
Here are some guidelines for the 'shopping' list:
  • Wireless adapter,
  • Bluetooth adapter,
  • Dedicated GPU (preferably nvidia, NOT integrated, and NOT some weird hybrid autobot either ;) )
  • Ethernet adapter,
  • Sound card with phone jack (3.5mm) (NO built-in mic!),
  • Relatively portable monitor (not larger than 20inch in diameter),
  • Good battery (at least 2h of work time),
  • Good CPU (this would have to be the crown jewel),
  • No touchpad required (An external mouse will do :) ),
  • At least one USB type C,
  • At least one USB 3.0 or higher,
  • At least 16GB of ram,
  • Some storage device (either HDD or SSD but at least 200GB no RAID required).

Any ideas would be sincerely appreciated :)
 

sidetone

Daemon

Reaction score: 908
Messages: 1,864

You don't need to spend much for a desktop. A monitor under 20" will be under $150, and that will be reused as long as they last. You can use your stationary monitor or television as a secondary (dual or duplicate output) display for your laptops.

SSD harddisks are cheap. For this, get new ones meant for important file storage. This will be good for both laptops and desktops.

For the desktop, go with an AMD motherboard and CPU that are supported, as recently it has been outperforming Intel in price, power usage and processing power. Compatible CPU's can be switched out. A used one would be good for this. Sound hardware comes on most motherboards, and they're pretty standard.

Integrated AMD CPU GPU, are unlike what's been common knowledge of the 90's to use a dedicated card. Modern integrated CPU's GPU's actually work well. A supported Ryzen would be the only integrated CPU/GPU to go with for now. I don't remember the AMD equivalent that's only a CPU.

For Bluetooth, use a usb dongle, so this can be interchanged as needed. FreeBSD only supports Bluetooth v1.1 and v2, plus newer versions for audio only Bluetooth devices. You can also use dongles for wifi.

For the desktop, use the cases and power supplies you already have, provided they aren't too old to support the motherboard.
 
OP
S

Sam0000

New Member

Reaction score: 3
Messages: 11

You don't need to spend much for a desktop. A monitor under 20" will be under $150, and that will be reused as long as they last. You can use your stationary monitor or television as a secondary display for your laptops.

SSD harddisks are cheap. For this, get new ones. This will be good for both laptops and desktops.

For the desktop, go with a Ryzen motherboard and CPU that are supported. I know you said not integrated. This integrated CPU GPU, is unlike what's been common knowledge of the 90's to use a dedicated card. Modern integrated CPU's GPU's actually work well. You can also switch out compatible CPU's. A used one would be good for this. I don't remember the AMD equivalent that's only a CPU, but go with that, as recently AMD has been outperforming Intel in price, power usage and processing power. Sound hardware comes on most motherboards, and they're pretty standard.

For Bluetooth, use a usb dongle, so this can be interchanged as needed. FreeBSD only supports Bluetooth v1.1 and v2, plus newer versions for audio only Bluetooth devices. You can also use dongles for wifi.
Would you happen to know of a setup (I mean specifics like CPU model name etc...) that has been working well for you over the years? It doesn't have to be super new; I just want something reliable.
You mentioned a Ryzen motherboard, got a favorite one in mind?
 
OP
S

Sam0000

New Member

Reaction score: 3
Messages: 11

That is incredibly back luck, and statistically improbable. I have got Freebsd running with DE on every single machine that I have tried.
When I said they weren't capable of running the system, I should have clarified that I meant they did not meet my expectations, for example, the first laptop I tried was okay (by okay I mean the vesa driver (800x600) so it wasn't perfect either XD ) when it came to the graphics, but there was no hope for wifi and I hate dongles, I mean they are a last resort for me :D
The second laptop wouldn't even boot after the install, but it was such an old piece of junk that I just disposed of it; The third laptop was a contender, but again the sound card was a no go, and finally on both stationary computers the gpu had no supported driver, so yeah, I decided it would be more profitable (time-wise) to ask for feedback on setups that actually work, because I'm guessing that somebody actually pulled off such a feat as getting a FreeBSD PC up and running :), and who else better to ask than the pros? ;)
 

drhowarddrfine

Son of Beastie

Reaction score: 2,350
Messages: 4,312

Same here. I can walk into any local computer shop and easily pull parts off the shelf that will run FreeBSD. I have two laptops and two purchased desktop computers with FreeBSD installed without issue. I don't understand the problem.
 

Argentum

Aspiring Daemon

Reaction score: 289
Messages: 608

Would you happen to know of a setup (I mean specifics like CPU model name etc...) that has been working well for you over the years? It doesn't have to be super new; I just want something reliable.
You mentioned a Ryzen motherboard, got a favorite one in mind?
It was already mentioned here that FreeBSD works almost on anything. Even if some exotic part in the configuration does not work, the whole machine will still work. There have been problems with UEFI boot with some branded motherboards, but this is rare and can usually be circumvented.

I have personally experimented with older AMD APU-s (Radeon) and can confirm that they work. Almost all (especially older) network adapters will work. Used 10 year old computers are for sale and probably all of these will work.

You can only expect problems with most recent and expensive pieces of high-end hardware.
 
OP
S

Sam0000

New Member

Reaction score: 3
Messages: 11

Same here. I can walk into any local computer shop and easily pull parts off the shelf that will run FreeBSD. I have two laptops and two purchased desktop computers with FreeBSD installed without issue. I don't understand the problem.
Could you list me a specific model name for the components mentioned in the first post?
That is all I'm asking for :) I just want to buy compatible parts that will work with the FreeBSD system, any recommendations are welcome.
Especially components that you have tested and whose reliability you can confirm.
 
OP
S

Sam0000

New Member

Reaction score: 3
Messages: 11

It was already mentioned here that FreeBSD works almost on anything. Even if some exotic part in the configuration does not work, the whole machine will still work. There have been problems with UEFI boot with some branded motherboards, but this is rare and can usually be circumvented.

I have personally experimented with older AMD APU-s (Radeon) and can confirm that they work. Almost all (especially older) network adapters will work. Used 10 year old computers are for sale and probably all of these will work.

You can only expect problems with most recent and expensive pieces of high-end hardware.
It's the 'almost' part that has me worried. Could you list me the model names of hardware that has been working well for you?
 

Geezer

Aspiring Daemon

Reaction score: 378
Messages: 668

On really, really old machines, it is probably better:
with i386 rather than amd64
ufs rather than zfs
anything rather than gnome or kde
 

Argentum

Aspiring Daemon

Reaction score: 289
Messages: 608

On really, really old machines, it is probably better:
with i386 rather than amd64
ufs rather than zfs
anything rather than gnome or kde
I have somewhere in my junk a very old AMD dual core machine with AGP bus and Nvidia Quadro. It still works fine with FreeBSD, however feels a bit slow. The only thing with the Quado was that Nvidia dropped the driver support for that. I think this is their overall policy. Nvidia drivers are closed source.
 
OP
S

Sam0000

New Member

Reaction score: 3
Messages: 11

I know that a lot of computers should 'work' out of the box with FreeBSD, but that is not my experience, which is exactly why I am asking for SPECIFICS, not the general names of brands :)
So, if indeed so many computers work with FreeBSD, I see no reason why it would be difficult for someone possessing a working device to post the MODEL NAME (for example Intel Corei9 11900K) of his core components (wifi adapter, cpu, gpu, sound card, motherboard storage device, etc.). So please, by all means post your setup if you may ;)
 

Trihexagonal

Son of Beastie

Reaction score: 2,419
Messages: 2,946

So, if indeed so many computers work with FreeBSD, I see no reason why it would be difficult for someone possessing a working device to post the MODEL NAME (for example Intel Corei9 11900K) of his core components (wifi adapter, cpu, gpu, sound card, motherboard storage device, etc.). So please, by all means post your setup if you may
If I had $1500 to spend on a laptop I'd start watching for listings of business lease lot returns on ebay, snatch me up a Lenovo Thinkpad W520 for under $300, have another laptop like I'm using now, the one that serves as my dedicated mp3 player and $1200 in my pocket to pimp it out to 32GB RAM, etc.

But "High-end mobile workstations for CAD and digital art" that run FreeBSD out-of-the-box like the Thinkpad W520 are exactly what you do not want according to your list.

Not like my mp3 player at 120 days uptime, 152 days now. But who's counting...

120daze.jpg


Or the one I'm using now.

dreamgirl.jpg


Thinkpad W520
Intel Quad Core i7-2760QM (2.40GHz, 6MB L3, 1600MHz FSB, 45W)
8 GB RAM PC3-10600
Hitachi TravelStar 500GB HDD @ 7200 RPM
Nvidia Quadro 1000M with 2GB DDR3 and 96 CUDA cores with Optimus Technology
15.6" TFT display with 1920x1080 (FHD) resolution with LED backlight
Microsoft USB TrackBall Optical Mouse

Bottom is an Intel Quad Core 2nd Gen i7-2760QM @ 2.40GHz that I paid $286 for delivered last Summer.

Just sayin'.
 

Argentum

Aspiring Daemon

Reaction score: 289
Messages: 608

It's the 'almost' part that has me worried. Could you list me the model names of hardware that has been working well for you?
AMD RX 550 and RX 570 chipset based cards for example. Not the latest model, but 550-s are still in production and good entry level GPU-s. This is just an example.
 

dd_ff_bb

Member

Reaction score: 71
Messages: 79

NYC*BUG New York City *BSD user group collecting dmesgs since 2004. From their website:
"Launched in 2004, dmesgd aims to provide a user-submitted repository of searchable *BSD dmesgs"

Someone might find it useful:

 

astyle

Daemon

Reaction score: 476
Messages: 1,102

AMD RX 550 and RX 570 chipset based cards for example. Not the latest model, but 550-s are still in production and good entry level GPU-s. This is just an example.
That's my hardware that was just mentioned, and I can tell you, it will run 13-RELEASE just fine! 😤😎

As for OP, just use pcpartpicker.com to pick out the hardware. As a minimum, a CPU, motherboard, RAM, GPU, and an SSD. It will help you pick out some older stuff, too - they can go all the way back to AMD Opteron, or a B-chipset board. Just the clean stuff with nothing pre-installed.
 

Geezer

Aspiring Daemon

Reaction score: 378
Messages: 668

Dream Setup ... 1520$ to spend ...laptop models ...

For $1,500 you can get a good laptop. Not a dream setup.

Be prepared to do some work (and enjoy doing it) to get it up and running.

It seems as though Lenovo laptops are generally good with Freebsd.

There is no right answer. You do the commitment. You make the choice. You pay for a machine. You do the work.
 

Jose

Daemon

Reaction score: 990
Messages: 1,196

I know that a lot of computers should 'work' out of the box with FreeBSD, but that is not my experience, which is exactly why I am asking for SPECIFICS, not the general names of brands :)
So, if indeed so many computers work with FreeBSD, I see no reason why it would be difficult for someone possessing a working device to post the MODEL NAME (for example Intel Corei9 11900K) of his core components (wifi adapter, cpu, gpu, sound card, motherboard storage device, etc.). So please, by all means post your setup if you may ;)
I've ordered a Frame.work laptop. I'll report my experiences here if it ever arrives.

I've never had a problem running Freebsd on a computer I built even back when I couldn't always afford good parts. Some particular things might not work, like accelerated graphics, the latest WI-FI standard, the shiniest Linux desktop bloatware, etc., but I've always wound up with a workable computer.
 
OP
S

Sam0000

New Member

Reaction score: 3
Messages: 11

OMG!!! Wow, will this actually work with FreeBSD???
I mean, according to https://www.freebsd.org/releases/13.0R/hardware/#proc
All 64-bit x86 processors are supported including AMD64 CPUs from AMD and Intel® 64 CPUs from Intel including Xeon and Core processors.
So considering the fact that this baby has an i7-11800H it should be compatible, right?
But then I looked at the RTX 3050 Ti, and I'm starting to have doubts as to whether it's supported:
From https://docs.freebsd.org/en/books/handbook/x11/#x-config:
From https://download.nvidia.com/XFree86/FreeBSD-x86_64/465.19.01/README/supportedchips.html
I could not find the RTX 3050 Ti listed :(, I'm guessing this means it's a no go, right?
+ I'm not sure about the model of the wifi adapter, I couldn't find it listed :(
 

drhowarddrfine

Son of Beastie

Reaction score: 2,350
Messages: 4,312

I've ordered a Frame.work laptop. I'll report my experiences here if it ever arrives.
Was just talking to my wife about that this morning after seeing an article about it.

Sam0000 I have a Gigabit motherboard, Intel I7 processor, nVidia dual port graphics, Atheros ethernet, off-the-shelf everything else I can't remember.
 
Top