How Do I Find a Laptop Fully Compatible With FreeBSD?

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Scribner

Scribner

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One of my original questions was if it matters which configuration of a compatible laptop model one buys. For example, are all Thinkpad [insert model number here] created equal? Some have different processors, RAM, and probably other more important things when talking about compatibility.
 

Trihexagonal

Daemon

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I personally try to ban Lenovo and HP for a specific reason :

Particularly for Laptop, they have a BIOS with hardware white listing, so banning any other hardware on mini pci ports, so it is difficult further to update and change a simple Wifi card.
Not so long ago, we could find some hack removing the bios white listing....but these damned and f.... people of HP came back with a signed BIOS feature.
Hacking a bios will result with a different fingerprint, so the machine reject it.
The Lenovo whitelist can be done away with by flashing the Middleton BIOS:

Notebookreview.com-forum user 'middleton' created a modified BIOS which enables SATA II, disables the miniPCI Whitelist (allowing you to use any wifi card), and even contains an optional FN-Ctrl swap. Lastly, if you were brave enough to install an IPS SXGA+ screen on a regular X61, 'middleton' has a BIOS mod that enables it.

I've never had the need to use it on any of mine but is what several of those at the Thinkpad forums I frequent for fulgent facts forward.
 
OP
Scribner

Scribner

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Scribner, the FreeBSD Journal covered laptop usage in their march/april issue from 2018 and there is an article on different models here. Maybe its helpful for you
Thanks, Lanakus. That article is really helpful.

Sorry for asking the same ignorant question, but, if I got a Lenovo Thinkpad X270, would I need to make sure the particular configuration is compatible, or are all X270 configurations equally compatible?

If a few people can confirm an answer to the above question, I will place an order! I'm very excited about this possibility!
 

jcb2016

New Member


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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.
Thanks. i will look into the ThinkPad T420/T420s/X220/T520/W520 T430/T430s/X230/T530/W530 and the Dell E6410/E6510. This fourm is more active then the #freeBSD irc channel. how sad.
 

vermaden

Son of Beastie

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Everything seems to work on my x220 except suspend/resume.
I also have X220 and suspend/resume works.

Try these:
  • disable Bluetooth in the BIOS
  • disable TPM in the BIOS

Generally you can see all my BIOS configuration in screenshots here:
 

twllnbrck

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Sorry for asking the same ignorant question, but, if I got a Lenovo Thinkpad X270, would I need to make sure the particular configuration is compatible, or are all X270 configurations equally compatible?
Well, I have experience only with thinkpads and my T420s fits very well with FreeBSD.
You should cope well with the X270 but check FreeBSD 12.0-R Hardware Notes on processors and wlan interfaces etc. Intel HD graphics will work actually with drm-next. All other specifications (RAM, HDD vs SSD, 2nd hard drive,...) depending on your needs. But you wont find a matched macbook equivalent for FreeBSD.
 

AlexanderProphet

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Hi vermaden,
I changed all my BIOS settings to match yours and still don't have suspend/resume. Did you do anything else? Which version of FreeBSD do you have installed?
 

vermaden

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It worked for sure on 11.2, I do not remember if I tried 12.0 on it.

Which BIOS version do you have there?
 

balanga

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One of my original questions was if it matters which configuration of a compatible laptop model one buys. For example, are all Thinkpad [insert model number here] created equal? Some have different processors, RAM, and probably other more important things when talking about compatibility.
In my experience the main thing to look out for is whether they support amd64 CPU's.

I have a lot of old ThinkPads and FreeBSD i386 seems to run OK on them. I'm not exactly sure which ones won't support amd64.. probably none of the T4* range, although the T/X6* range is variable. My T60 doesn't but my T61 and X61 does.

Although I doubt that many people (apart from me :) ) use such old junk...
 

ralphbsz

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I still have several T2x and a T61 at home. The T61 was used roughly a year ago for a week, as a testbed to install FreeBSD on (no GUI, no wireless, no sleep). The T2x haven't been booted in several years. Matter-of-fact, now that you say that, I should spend a few hours cleaning up that bookshelf, find which computers don't work any more, put those into electronics recycling, and save exactly one old laptop.
 

balanga

Son of Beastie

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I just tried out my X21 which I got free a few years ago, and that boots FreeBSD OK - albeit after resetting the date because the BIOS battery is dead. My recently acquired X41 also works fine.

I ought to start disposing of the old ThinkPads from my ThinkPad graveyard, but you never know what you need to salvage if something goes wrong with one which has been working.

I still have this forlorn hope of resurrecting some of the dead ones...
 

Lars Skogstad

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Running a , Lenovo T470 (1080p) with gfx: Intel HD Graphics 620 - cpu: i7-7500u . I know for sure that T470s should work just fine aswell.
Currently using KDE 5

Everything except suspend/resume seems to work now after some tweaking with acpi. This worked sometimes when I was running XFCE or Gnome so I'm not sure what to make out of that, havent bothered.
Just configed so when lid close it just locks/turns off screen at the moment.
 

tanis

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I experienced the same lack of information in 2018, after a lot of research using google I settled with:
Lenovo x270
- Intel(R) Core(TM) i5-7200U CPU @ 2.50GHz, 8 GB Memory
- Intel Wireless 8265 / 8275
- docking station, two 24" screens attached

running FreeBSD 11.2-RELEASE-p14.

Use it for my daily business as workstation and I'm very satisfied. Sometime the fan noise is a little bit annoying during "heavy" Firefox sessions, but it's bearable. Suspend/resume is the one exception which isn't quite reliable.
 

userxbw

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Yes, older 'used' laptops, but not too old, for drivers to all of the new hardware still maybe needed to be written.

Kernel 12.0-RELEASE-p10
HP EliteBook 8460p
HP EliteBook 840 g2

though at this time and point FreeBSD RC2 12.1 locks up at boot. So I cannot even install it to see what it can and cannot do, but v12 works like a charm.
 

scottro

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One problem for me, so far i that I've yet to find a BSD that can use the iwm driver at 5GHz speeds. For example, if I dualboot with Linux, I'll get 20MB in the LAN on Linux vs at best 11-12 on FreeBSD, and that was awhile ago with 12 being CURRENT at the time. Last time I looked though, maybe a few months ago it was pretty muchthe same--that 11-12 MB was unusual too, usually it was more like 2MB. This slow transfer speed however, is only a nuisance on rare occasions. I have a Lenovo yoga2 and Thinkpad L420, as well as a Clevo gaming laptop from around 2007 and all run Free (or Open) BSD without problems.
 

gpw928

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If you want to save yourself some time, install Freebsd into a Virtual Machine.
I agree with Nicola Mingotti. High spec laptops and FreeBSD don't generally work well together. Something will be a problem, e.g. battery life, backlit keyboard, WiFi, ...
If you want an old Lenovo laptop, or really want to experiment at the leading edge, I applaud your choice of FreeBSD.
Otherwise use a native O/S with a complete suite of drivers as a bootloader for FreeBSD as a VM.
Like Nicola, I currently use Windows and VirtualBox on my notebook.
However, for my next notebook, I will probably look for a something with good Linux support and use KVM.
 

Alain De Vos

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Note : For wifi the solution is very easy, just put in a cheap wifi usb dongle.
 
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