How Do I Find a Laptop Fully Compatible With FreeBSD?

Scribner

Member

Reaction score: 2
Messages: 31

First off, I am a complete newbie in every possible way. I am not much of a computer person, though I was able to get Ubuntu working, but only because it was so easy.

FreeBSD is a different beast. I have my heart set on getting it to work, but I know it won't be easy. I have another thread in the "Installing and Upgrading" forum if you want to help me there.

I have just learned that getting a FreeBSD laptop isn't as easy as buying whatever laptop you like and installing from a USB drive. I previously wanted a Dell Latitude 3590, but k.jacker graciously pointed out that some of the hardware might not work (such as the wireless and graphics).

I just now found this very helpful page that lists the compatibility of various laptops with FreeBSD: https://wiki.freebsd.org/Laptops You will notice that most of the laptops are old and, therefore, not relevant to someone like me. There is one, however, from 2018 that looks like it should work. It's the Thinkpad T480. The only thing that isn't defined for that model is "Needs configuration." I do see that the Thinkpad T470s, which I take is its predecessor, needs configuration, so I think one can reasonably assume this one will as well. Does anyone know what this will entail, and if it will be easy for a newbie like myself to do a special configuration? I also found this thread in the FreeBSD Forums that relates to a patch someone made for the Thinkpad T480: https://forums.freebsd.org/threads/freebsd-on-new-thinkpads-t480.66319/ What exactly does that mean for the compatibility of this laptop?

Lastly, assuming this is the only new computer that is (almost) fully compatible with FreeBSD, does it matter which configuration I buy (i.e. there are different configurations of the Thinkpad T480 that have different specs -- things like processor and memory)? By the way, I am planning to use FreeBSD as my primary computer for things like browsing the web, listening to mp3s, and editing documents in LibreOffice. Basically, I want to run FreeBSD as an alternative to Mac or Windows.

Thanks in advance.
 

xtaz

Well-Known Member

Reaction score: 106
Messages: 410

I am thinking the exact same thing. I want a new laptop but want to make sure it 100% works with FreeBSD. My plan was to go for something which had Intel CPU, Intel Graphics, and Intel WiFi in the hope that makes it compatible. I know that AMD Ryzen and Nvidia graphics both cause issues.

I was looking around the shops earlier this week and found a Lenovo Ideapad 530S which looked like it might fit the bill. Intel UHD 620 graphics, core i5, intel 8265 wifi which I believe works with 12.0 with the iwm driver. Need to check about the sound too. It calls it "Harman Audio" which I think is some realtek thing. Still thinking about it though!

It's a shame the live USB only boots into a shell and not a full desktop session or it would be useful to test it first. You can still do a lot of testing using the shell, but it's much more difficult trying to configure wifi using kldload, ifconfig etc. in a shop with someone eying you up suspiciously.
 

twllnbrck

Active Member

Reaction score: 116
Messages: 179

I have the best experiences with ThinkPads. Actually Im running 11.2-RELEASE (not upgraded yet) on T420s with 8GB RAM, a 150 GB SSD and a 350GB HDD, Intel and Nvidia Graphics. I don't need the newest hardware - everything works like a charm (except the bluetooth struggle) even suspend/resume. Maybe you could get a discarded business TP (they're quit cheap :)). For power management on laptops you should take a look at vermaden's nice tutorial. I got +5h with a 3 years old battery.
 

scottro

Daemon

Reaction score: 478
Messages: 1,368

Generally, you'll be better off with older laptops. These days, (in the double oughts this wasn't the case) it can be difficult to find out what wireless and graphics adapter they have. With drm-next now in release versions, that part is pretty easy. I don't know about dual Intel/NVidia setups, I have not had one.
Wireless can be tricky. One can always find a relatively old USB to wireless adapter that will work--the Edimax 7811UN works, but is rather slow. As far as I know (but I could be wrong with Atheros cards) you won't get 802.11AC speeds with wireless, although a FreeBSD install will see a 5GHz card and can use it. But the speeds will be far slower than Linux.

So, I think the Intel video should be OK now. If you can find the wireless card model (maybe from reviews of the laptop or something, sellers usually no longer give that info, expect, perhaps for Dell) and do a search for that model card and FreeBSD, you can often find out if it's easy or hard to get it to work.
 

Trihexagonal

Daemon

Reaction score: 847
Messages: 1,465

I have a Thinkpad X61, two T61's, a T400 and the W520 I'm on now all running FreeBSD. Not to mention an Sony and a GateWay/Acer clone.

The W520 is the most powerful with:

Intel Core i7-2760QM @ 2.40GHz
8GB RAM
500GB HDD
Nvidia Quadro 1000M GPU
5.6" TFT display with 1920x1080 (FHD) resolution with LED backlight

I got it off ebay for a little over $200. The T61's each cost approx $50 and have 2.0GHz-2.4GHz Intel Core2 Duo, 4GB RAM and 200 or 500 GB HDD. Both those run Nvidia fine, too.

The T400 has a 2.4GHz Core2 Duo and 8GB RAM with 200GB HDD. I bought an extra 4GB RAM and 200GB HDD separate so I have about $150 in it.

I used to use the T61 and T400 all the time. All have enough resources for everyday desktop activities and I when I load mine up they never bog down.

There are deals galore to be had on business returns and private sellers if you're looking at the right time and know what to look for in signs of wear like shiny keys, shiny spot on the spacebar, nicks and dings, etc. Are the stickers still on the hand rest? A good sign.

And always check the sellers feedback. A few dollars more for another machine may save a fortune in added headache on what seems like a good deal from a bad seller.
 

Phishfry

Son of Beastie

Reaction score: 1,247
Messages: 3,617

I went the Dell route. I found several deals at a good price on ebay. Sandy Bridge and Ivy Bridge.
Looking at the FreeBSD 'Notebook Wiki' you quoted it is sorely lacking on the full range of these machines.
Sandy Bridge supported:E6220, E6320, E6420, E6520, E6620
Ivy Bridge supported: E6230, E6330, E6430, E6530
These are just the Latitude series for Sandy and IvyBridge.
I bought mine off lease and they were carcasses. No memory, CPU or disk. 4 in one batch and 3 in another.
So a shell for $50-$100. One has a locked BIOS. 2 had Optimus. One has a cracked bezel. All had good screens.
I put in new illuminated keyboards in all. I got a red backlit one from an Alienware and I really like that one best.
New keyboards are not much and can really give you that fresh machine feel.

I like choosing what CPU for what screen size. I find the i3 chips have less frills and that means more battery and less fans on.
The baby sized E6220 with 12" screen and i3 is my current road machine. I use 64Gb SSD's in most. The hard drive has the door mounted on the end so no tray and one screw and your swapping disks..

I have quad core 35W 3632QM at the top end for my Ivy Bridge with Optimus. It use that one for my Windows CAD workbox.

So Bluetooth works but I have not used it. I use a few Sierra cellular modems and Atheros AR9380 radios in all.
Dell ships these with Intel wifi and 3X MIMO antennas, but I put in Atheros AR9380 with its 3X MIMO connectors.
The cellular modem antennas also come pre-wired on all my Dells.

Look at the Dell 7xxx (Haswell) on the list or newer.
I would try to find something not newest but with a NVMe onboard would be nice. Quite a pop there.
https://wiki.freebsd.org/Laptops/Dell_XPS13_9360
 

Phishfry

Son of Beastie

Reaction score: 1,247
Messages: 3,617

What brand NVMe does your XPS13 use? Do you know off hand...
Dell XPS13
Was the wifi module you swapped miniPCIe or M.2 interface?
Any cellular modem slot and antenna leads?
 

Phishfry

Son of Beastie

Reaction score: 1,247
Messages: 3,617

Nevermind the NVMe brand I see from your dmesg it is a Toshiba.
Exactly what I wanted to hear. I have 5 of these. I have lumped them together in all various forms of FreeBSD UFS RAID.
They work fine but I only see around 950GB/s and I expected more.
nvd0: <THNSN5512GPUK NVMe TOSHIBA 512GB> NVMe namespace
nvd0: 488386MB (1000215216 512 byte sectors)
Hopefully they give us a nice long lifetime.

I have one pair of NVMe that I have been beating up on and they are really hanging tough.
4 are mfg. in Philippines and one in China.
I bought them in all different lots, so different firmwares on many.
The one from China has a different memory controller chip onboard and is slightly slower

I am using yuripv trick and it shows up as nda instead of nvd
nda0 at nvme0 bus 0 scbus8 target 0 lun 1
nda0: <THNSN5512GPU7 TOSHIBA 57HA4103 86DS1027TTNV>
nda0: nvme version 1.1 x4 (max x4) lanes PCIe Gen3 (max Gen3) link
nda0: 488386MB (1000215216 512 byte sectors)
 

wolffnx

Active Member

Reaction score: 23
Messages: 207

lenovo thinkpad t430 today..everythin works even suspend/resume , 120 ssd disk, 8GB of ram , intel core I5 and intel graphics.
also a thinkpad t400 and also run well
 

dch

Active Member

Reaction score: 43
Messages: 111

They work fine but I only see around 950GB/s and I expected more.
How do you get that figure? I assume its either GB/hour or MiB/s ...

I' been poking my desktop NVMe drive the last week, and a single dd gets ~ 1.1GiB/s but I can run 16 dd in parallel and get easily double that sustained. I don't think the laptop could do that. My latest figures are 2.7 GiB/s sustained read, I'm more than happy than that. For comparison my laptop can do 1.6GiB/s for 16 parallel dd sessions - that's pretty damn good too!

Code:
for f in (seq 0 640 10240)
    dd if=/dev/nda0p2 of=/dev/null bs=1m count=32k skip=$f &
end
I'd speculate that ZFS performance (e.g. zfs send @snap > /dev/null) would be around 1/3 of that raw figure depending on age and fragmentation of the zpool and datasets.
 

xtaz

Well-Known Member

Reaction score: 106
Messages: 410

There is a new 2019 model of the Dell XPS 13. Has anybody any experience with that yet? I'm tempted to get that if it works as well as the older model.
 

Phishfry

Son of Beastie

Reaction score: 1,247
Messages: 3,617

How do you get that figure?
Using diskinfo -ti /dev/nda0
I know its not the greatest but it gives me a baseline and is built into base.
Code:
Transfer rates:
    outside:       102400 kbytes in   0.131510 sec =   778648 kbytes/sec
    middle:        102400 kbytes in   0.115559 sec =   886127 kbytes/sec
    inside:        102400 kbytes in   0.124211 sec =   943404 kbytes/sec

Asynchronous random reads:
    sectorsize:    460508 ops in    3.000199 sec =   153492 IOPS
    4 kbytes:      541646 ops in    3.000733 sec =   180505 IOPS
    32 kbytes:      87905 ops in    3.004251 sec =    29260 IOPS
    128 kbytes:     26631 ops in    3.014730 sec =     8834 IOPS
 

Nicola Mingotti

Well-Known Member

Reaction score: 142
Messages: 371

First off, I am a complete newbie in every possible way. I am not much of a computer person, though I was able to get Ubuntu working, but only because it was so easy.

FreeBSD is a different beast. I have my heart set on getting it to work, but I know it won't be easy. I have another thread in the "Installing and Upgrading" forum if you want to help me there.

I have just learned that getting a FreeBSD laptop isn't as easy as buying whatever laptop you like and installing from a USB drive. I previously wanted a Dell Latitude 3590, but k.jacker graciously pointed out that some of the hardware might not work (such as the wireless and graphics).

I just now found this very helpful page that lists the compatibility of various laptops with FreeBSD: https://wiki.freebsd.org/Laptops You will notice that most of the laptops are old and, therefore, not relevant to someone like me. There is one, however, from 2018 that looks like it should work. It's the Thinkpad T480. The only thing that isn't defined for that model is "Needs configuration." I do see that the Thinkpad T470s, which I take is its predecessor, needs configuration, so I think one can reasonably assume this one will as well. Does anyone know what this will entail, and if it will be easy for a newbie like myself to do a special configuration? I also found this thread in the FreeBSD Forums that relates to a patch someone made for the Thinkpad T480: https://forums.freebsd.org/threads/freebsd-on-new-thinkpads-t480.66319/ What exactly does that mean for the compatibility of this laptop?

Lastly, assuming this is the only new computer that is (almost) fully compatible with FreeBSD, does it matter which configuration I buy (i.e. there are different configurations of the Thinkpad T480 that have different specs -- things like processor and memory)? By the way, I am planning to use FreeBSD as my primary computer for things like browsing the web, listening to mp3s, and editing documents in LibreOffice. Basically, I want to run FreeBSD as an alternative to Mac or Windows.

Thanks in advance.
If you want to save yourself some time, install Freebsd into a Virtual Machine.

Till about 6 months ago i was using WMware in a macbook, Freebsd was working very well. Lately i use VirtualBox running on a Win10, I have alternating issues with audio, the rest works.

Since a long time i decided that VM shall be my only way for BSD and Linux on laptops.

bye
n.
 
OP
OP
S

Scribner

Member

Reaction score: 2
Messages: 31

I'm glad people are still discussing this thread. I was bit by the FreeBSD bug again today, and I am looking for a compatible laptop again, even though I announced on these forums I was giving up for the foreseeable future.

I hope I don't sound redundant, but does anyone know of any NEW laptops fully (or almost fully) compatible with FreeBSD? If not, I may need to go to the secondary market -- something I wasn't considering before.

Call me crazy, but I just really want to use FreeBSD!
 

AlexanderProphet

Active Member

Reaction score: 31
Messages: 145

I tend to be drawn to shiny new MacBooks and the like, but I bought an ex-business ThinkPad x220 impulsively for FreeBSD and I'm constantly surprised by just how much I like it. The typing experience is actually better than my MacBook.
Once you get over the whole "ew. It's used. I deserve new stuff" thing, and actually assess the laptop on its own merits, you may find you made a great decision.
My ThinkPad was £130. The only bad thing about it is the four hour battery life... Apple are **** good at batteries and power management.
 

tedbell

Active Member

Reaction score: 45
Messages: 115

How did you get FreeBSD to work well with your Lenovo? did you do research on the laptop first or did you just buy it/ install freeBSD and it just worked?
I took the forum suggestion here that Thinkpads/Ideapads work well with freeBSD :)
The only problem I had was the speakers not cutting out when I inserted headphones which was fixed by editing /boot/device.hints. Now works 100%
 

vermaden

Son of Beastie

Reaction score: 1,123
Messages: 2,729

I want a new laptop but want to make sure it 100% works with FreeBSD.
This is an oxymoron in FreeBSD world. You can not get new laptop and be sure everything will be supported ...

Older laptops like ThinkPad T420/T420s/X220/T520/W520 and T430/T430s/X230/T530/W530 EVERYTHING will work for sure. Same with Dell E6410/E6510.

In recent laptops like ThinkPad X1 Carbon 5th/6th Generation or X260/X270 MOST things should work.

As for Bluetooth keep thinking that FreeBSD is OpenBSD here - no Bluetooth at all - a secure guess.
 
Top