Hardware compatibility list

There is no actual list of compatible hardware in the Release Notes.

This is the actual list I am referring to.

For example: The latest Dell storage controllers listed are
  • DELL PERC H830
  • DELL PERC H730/P
  • DELL PERC H330
These controllers are at least 4 years old. The same goes for other brands and components.
No new off the shelf servers have any controllers listed in the hardware compatibility list.
 

SirDice

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It's not specific cards that are supported, it's the chipset on those cards. There are plenty of variants of any one chipset made by different manufactures. Not all of them are mentioned, but the chipset could still be supported.

Dell, HP and Broadcom all make cards using LSI2xxx or LSI3xxx chipsets for example. Those are all supported by the same mfi(4) or mrsas(4) driver. It's next to impossible to list all the cards that use this chipset. It's even more troublesome because some might work, while a different implementation of a different manufacturer might not.

If you're wondering about specific cards, provide the type/model number, somebody might have that exact card.
 
It's not specific cards that are supported, it's the chipset on those cards. There are plenty of variants of any one chipset made by different manufactures. Not all of them are mentioned, but the chipset could still be supported.

Dell, HP and Broadcom all make cards using LSI2xxx or LSI3xxx chipsets for example. Those are all supported by the same mfi(4) or mrsas(4) driver. It's next to impossible to list all the cards that use this chipset. It's even more troublesome because some might work, while a different implementation of a different manufacturer might not.

If you're wondering about specific cards, provide the type/model number, somebody might have that exact card.

Thanks for the clarification.

My issue is that I am trying to bid on a contract for a server and one of the requirements is that its components must be listed on the FreeBSD compatibility list which I am finding out to be a bit unrealistic.
 

SirDice

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Do you have the specs of that server? We can have a look, I'm sure we have someone on the boards that can verify it.

You can also have a look here: http://bsd-hardware.info/ It's not an extensive list (it's all voluntary) but it might have the hardware you're looking for.
 
Do you have the specs of that server? We can have a look, I'm sure we have someone on the boards that can verify it.

You can also have a look here: http://bsd-hardware.info/ It's not an extensive list (it's all voluntary) but it might have the hardware you're looking for.

I am not looking for a "hey I have the same server and it works" kind of response. That won't cut it for contracting purposes. A 3rd party site won't cut it either.

I was just wondering why there is no modern equipment in the hardware compatibility list.

Thanks for your suggestion though.
 

SirDice

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You could generate a list of all the vendor and chipset IDs that are supported. But it's still not going to tell you if that particular card you have is supported or not. Even if the vendor and chipset ID match it could still not work because it's some variant that didn't change the IDs, or the manufacturer implemented something that wasn't in de reference design.
 
I was just wondering why there is no modern equipment in the hardware compatibility list.
Nobody wants to be responsible for saying something works and then get dogpiled about it not working? 🤷‍♂️

When people do get something to work, they just make a commit and nobody writes down what they got working? Dunno, seems like a process failure.
 
You could generate a list of all the vendor and chipset IDs that are supported. But it's still not going to tell you if that particular card you have is supported or not. Even if the vendor and chipset ID match it could still not work because it's some variant that didn't change the IDs, or the manufacturer implemented something that wasn't in de reference design.

I do understand that it would be impossible to certify every individual card that exists. This is not what i'm after.
Credit to FreeBSD, it actually provides a list of compatible components.

What I find lacking is that I am unable to make a purchasing decision based on the compatibility list because all the hardware listed there is old and no one makes it anymore.

Having at least 5 modern storage cards would at least give me 5 options to choose from. There is not even 1 at the moment.

I understand that there are 3rd party tools to give me this information. but this is for a client with its own IT department.
I just need to purchase the hardware and ensure that it's on the compatibility list. I cannot do this at the moment.
 
Welcome to FreeBSD Forums.

… am I missing something?

Yes and no.

Not a full story, but here are some glimpses.

2018-05:

Hardware Test Lab

… We are going to build a hardware test lab, integrated into the Continuous Integration system, to perform full system testing on many different hardware devices. The system will also allow hardware to be shared between CI and developers, allowing hardware to primarily serve developer needs but also be used for testing when it is otherwise not needed.

2018-10-01:

New Hardware

The Foundation purchased 4 new build machines for scaling up the computation power for the various test jobs. These newer, faster machines substantially speed up the time it takes to test amd64 builds, so that failing changes can be identified more quickly. Also, in August, we received a donation of 2 PINE A64-LTS boards from PINE64.org, which will be put in the hardware test lab as one part of the continuous tests.

2020-12-30:

Test Lab Infrastructure

John-Mark Gurney is developing a management interface for remote access to hardware test labs, to allow reserving a device in the lab, controlling power, providing console access, and managing network-booted root filesystems.

2022-01-20:

Via the official Hardware Donations page we see that the Ports Management Team requires some ten-year-old XServe G5 PowerPCs for a package building cluster.

The Secretary has been informed :)

– and so, that (one) most amusing requirement disappeared from the wiki.



Glimpses; not intended to convey a full picture.

I assume that some items of hardware become listed as compatible with a RELEASE of FreeBSD only after they have been suitably tested with the branch for the release.

Assumptions aside, at <https://www.freebsd.org/releases/13.0R/hardware/> it's noted:

The device lists in this document are being generated automatically from FreeBSD manual pages. …

So, a simple omission from a manual page might cause the hardware notes for a RELEASE to be incomplete.



None of that really helps you, or people in your situation, to support a purchasing recommendation. Sorry.
 
jrm@ please: with or without your Foundation hat, might you have anything to add here?

In particular, respectfully:

… What I find lacking is that I am unable to make a purchasing decision based on the compatibility list because all the hardware listed there is old and no one makes it anymore.

Having at least 5 modern storage cards would at least give me 5 options to choose from. There is not even 1 at the moment.

I understand that there are 3rd party tools to give me this information. but this is for a client with its own IT department.

I just need to purchase the hardware and ensure that it's on the compatibility list. I cannot do this at the moment.

My interpretation of each set of hardware notes at www.freebsd.org is that lists (within any one set of notes) are not intended to be comprehensive; words to that effect.
 
I think the basic problem here is at the other end. As Andriy said above, actual hardware compatibility lists don't exist any more, haven't existed in a long time, and are not coming back. The hardware ecosystem has changed too much. A good example is HBAs (where lots of OEMs vendors simply use LSI/Broadcom/Avago chips, and are perfectly compatible but don't disclose that); a bad example is WiFi dongles (where branded vendors use random chips du jour without changing their model numbers). And then hardware vendors make sure they are compatible with the dominant OS in their market place (Windows for desktop/laptop, a small number of Linux distributions for server), because there is no point investing effort into boutique OSes.

The underlying reason is that the market for piece-part computers is somewhere between shrinking and collapsing. Twenty years ago, lots of users (companies) built their own servers, often using small systems integrators as suppliers. Today, there are mostly two sources of computing hardware: Brand-name (Dell, HP, IBM, Lenovo) using software stacks provided and supported by the OEM, and on the other side the cloud (AWS, Azure, Google). One good indication is this: Of enterprise-grade hard disks, 98% of all sales go to fewer than a dozen customers, namely the FAANG-style cloud companies, and big systems companies.

In a nutshell: The OP has to tell his (potential) customer that they are stuck in the past, and need to get with the program. To exaggerate a little bit: Just tell them to stop buying computers, and instead use a cloud service. I understand that this is a cruel thing to do, since (a) the OP will not have a business, and (b) the OP's customer probably is not in a position to do that. But in the meantime, asking for "lists of compatible hardware" is just unrealistic.
 
Because we are not in 90-s anymore and there are too many types of hardware, too many vendors, etc; in short, too much hardware to have a complete and accurate list of everything supported.
There no hope of being able to generate vendor/device IDs tables automatically from drivers? With that, being able to index those into other databases would make questions like this somewhat answerable.
 

Andriy

Developer
There no hope of being able to generate vendor/device IDs tables automatically from drivers? With that, being able to index those into other databases would make questions like this somewhat answerable.
It's doable, of course, but it's not trivial and it won't tell the whole story.
The same chip may work fine in one piece of hardware but not so much in another.
There can a same chip ID but a different revision with its own quirks.
Also, you may not know chip IDs of a piece of hardware until you actually get your hands on it, you would only know its marketing name.

In any case, the idea of an "official" support list for a volunteer project seems rather bogus.
It's not like there is an "official" test / certification team, "official" support team, "official" support contract, etc.
The community effort and database of hardware that people actually use is the best we can get (for free).

If anyone needs better, then they should go to vendors or system integrators, etc.
 
You might have to pick a card that's new enough. A third party isn't enough, though you may be the one providing somewhat of a guarantee from your own ability, confidence and testing. It's possible to try a new card, but there's no guarantee there, unless you had the resources to make it work, which I kind of doubt, and you may end up giving back way more than you get. If you had the resources to get one card to work, that will be around for a while, that may be worth it. Then, if a hardware is scarce, that may be a reason to charge your customer a little more to cover the price of that hardware.

If you're looking for the absolute cheapest prices out of several to shop around for the newest cards to get the lowest bid, rather than otherwise conservative prices on what's available for FreeBSD or going with a few specific chipsets, that may not be a good way. If you're bidding, odds are that to compete, others may cut corners in business so that customer will get the best quality for the lowest price. Even if taking a loss to make a customer, there's no or little guarantee that customer won't go to the next person with the lowest price. I'm thinking that a chipset would be around for some time, to be used across different cards and possibly manufacturers, that they invested enough in those chipsets, to be at least sold for a few years.

Look for brands that are more open to opensource. At least, it was easy to select on a preference for graphics cards. Controller cards may be a more difficult.
 

jrm@

Developer
jrm@ please: with or without your Foundation hat, might you have anything to add here?

In particular, respectfully:

My interpretation of each set of hardware notes at www.freebsd.org is that lists (within any one set of notes) are not intended to be comprehensive; words to that effect.

Others have done well to describe why it's difficult these days to maintain such a list, but I also agree that we should try to do better. I poked around and a developer who knows a bit about storage says,

For the Broadcom storage controllers, all the series through 95xx are supported by mpr(4). The 9600 series needs a new driver. There's also the SAS models, and I'm not entirely sure how those relate to the 9xxx models.

If the hardware list can be edited after the 13.0 release, I will update it with this information and any other information that I can find.
 
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