My annoyances with FreeBSD 11.1-Release on my laptop

pensador_13

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#1
I would like to share with you annoyances that I had with FreeBSD 11.1-Release on my laptop :(
Here we go:

1) My laptop's wireless card is not supported.
2) The Intel GPU is not supported and the Nvidia GPU doesn't have a open source driver available, which is bad for people who would like to avoid proprietary software.
3) The portuguese console keymap doesn't recognize some characters out-of-the-box e.g. "ç".

I did not have this problems with GNU+Linux distributions that I used!
Honestly, I don't know if FreeBSD is the best choice for me right now...
 

tankist02

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#2
Well, I have the following issues with Dell Precision 6400:

1) Optimus is not supported, luckily I could disable Intel card in BIOS and NVidia now works with their driver
2) Synaptics is not supported, without it I cannot use the two-finger scroll
3) I get hissing sound in headphones, it looks it is a known problem in the driver

When I tried Fedora on that laptop I did not have any of the above issues.
 

scottro

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#4
There is less manpower available to FreeBSD than there is for Linux Whether you consider this explanation or excuse, the bottom line is that its hardware support is not as good as Linux. Laptop support has lower priority than server oriented code. The upside is that you don't get something like RedHat's cripping of text install because they felt their main user base wanted GUIs.

So, yes, it may not be the best for you. For Intel video cards on machines in the last 4 years or so, you probably still need CURRENT. (I know some people get Haswell to work in 11.x but it didn't for me with a yoga2.) Fewer wireless cards are supported, and when they are, they may not do 802.11ac. If your job (or interest) concerns FreeBSD servers, it is probably worth trying to make the effort to see if you can get it to run, because it might help you with the servers, and also, you just get more and more familiar with the system. If you're looking to replace your Linux laptop, it may not be the best choice. I haven't used the dual video card models, my personal experience is just that later Intel cards don't work and Intel wireless doesn't yet do 802.11ac.
There will also be a few programs that work on Linux that won't work on FreeBSD--in my limited experience, at the time I tried them, TeamViewer and Cisco's NetExtender didn't work on FreeBSD.

Due to manpower limitation, I don't think any of these are going to get fixed very quickly. GhostBSD and TrueOS are aimed more towards the desktop, but I don't know that they've fixed any of these things--I think they pull from FreeBSD-CURRENT, meaning the Intel video at least, would probably work, but I could be wrong.

As for synaptics, I have found on two laptops that using the wiki instructions gets me somewhat sluggish two finger scrolling, although if I run synclient it says no synaptics device. This is from 2009, but adding the required lines to loader.conf, rc.conf and some form of xorg.conf (most people these days do an xorg.conf.d and in that directory, put something like 50-synaptics.conf file), got two finger scrolling, at least, working for me.
https://wiki.freebsd.org/SynapticsTouchpad

It's really something you're going to have to choose for yourself. It will be less convenient than Linux and some things may be missing. As I said above, in some cases, it depends upon your reason. If you want to better learn FreeBSD, then it's a good way to do so.
 

gpw928

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#5
Hi,

Linux has better laptop support than FreeBSD, for sure, but even Linux lags the latest "feature" sets.

Things like back-lit keyboards, battery life, latest video drivers,... are all big issues.

For my Samsung S9 notebook, neither Linux nor FreeBSD can cut it. I use Windows as a boot loader for VirtualBox. There are several guests, two of them being FreeBSD.

I get the Windows drivers that I need, and the O/S that I like.

Cheers,
 

Sensucht94

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#6
I've never had an up to date laptop once in life, so always speak for myself. My most recent laptop is dated 2011, and this results in all of my hardware being supported, Broadcom wireless excluded, whose ndis driver I learnt to deal with. If trying to get BSD on laptop, being open to try other BSD Unix OSs is a good idea. With my first laptop Celeron's integrated GPU had problems getting along with i915 and xf86-video-intel (had gone with scfb meanwhile, and stayed with it for years). I looked up on google, and found my graphics were reported and confirmed working on DragonflyBSD. I installed Dragonfly, and justhappily lived with it. On second laptop wifi, bluetooth, suspending (with sone struggle), printers, special function keys, webcam, power management, are all well working on STABLE. For Intel graphics later than Haswell, OpenBSD and Dragonfly are a very good choice. I tested both on Kabylake for fun and they perform flawlessly, graphics are detected immediately, wothout any need for further effort..

As for Haswell, I'm honestly sorry scottro had no luck with it. Based on my experience, I believed haswell support to be better: I can speak for the Haswell 2013 Macbook Air (which unfortunately doesn't belong to me), on which i915kms and x11/xf86-video-intel seem to work perfectly, as well as touchpad (the latter only after 2 days of failed attempts though).

I have only a modern desktop I built recently, designed to work with Linux (I didn't think of first of putting any BSD on it at first). Anyway, I found myself discovering that a 2017 mobo with a Kaby Lake CPU, dedicated sound card (Desktop is music playing-oriented), M.2 SATA SSD, GTX 1060 6Gb were all well supported.
I had put an Asus PCIe Wireless Card inside of it, based on a Realtek chipset: FreeBSD 11 didn't recognize it, but I saw that chipset's support had been hadded on 12 CURRENT, so took the new rtwn driver from github and successfully connected to wi-fi.

I saw several guys reporting recent AMD Radeons working well on CURRENT with Wayland, using drm-next-kmod.

To sum up, I think BSD support for common laptop's hardware is not even nearly as good as Linux, still it's not that bad, and it's definitely good on relatively old hardware (like the 2013 Macbook). See also Trihexagonal posts, who seems in charge of opening a Thinkpads' stockhouse. He appears being very satisfied and enthusiastic of his experience with BSD on laptop. The lesson to learn here is that, unless you need very powerful hardware for working purposes, just get a 4-5 years old laptop and put BSD on it.

In order to have BSD on laptop (here excluding the rather advisable option of buying supported hardware):

- be open to "distro-hop" and try different BSDs

- be ready to go with CURRENT or TrueOS if presented with recent hardware


- be eager to use binary blobs (really, there other great ways of supporting FOSS. If our goal is BSD on laptop we cannot afford being choosy. What about wifi firmware there? Drop all wifi dobgles running with urtwn and closed-source firmware? No definitely to avoid being that purist if dealing with laptops, though you can try LibertyBSD.


As a side note, NetBSD CURRENT has nouveau implemented in kernel, and enabled by default: https://nouveau.freedesktop.org/wiki/NetBSD/, tested it to on laptop and works well. Bear in mind though that, as for Linux, starting with Pascal generation, nouveau won't work (and rather cause a kernel panic), AFAIK due to the hardcoded firmware. Unlike AMD nvidia has never encouraged or supported the developement of open-source drivers. Nouveau is completely reverse-engineered and the result of this are for me pretty evident: performance is disappointing,and I have an inkling the project is going to die out soon.

- be prone to use SCFB framebuffer driver

- don't let ourselves been left down by a not recognized wifi NIC. See if it works on any other BSD first, see if it works on CURRENT. Only then, if it doesn't just buy a micro/nano wifi dongle. I mean they are less than 10$ worth, 3x10 mm large (external head), and work out of the box.

- BSD on ARM (even aarch64) is good, and in my opinion it's keeping up with Linux. Can't run BSD laptop? Wan't FOSS hardware/software? Buy a BeagleBone Black and put BSD on it.

Finally, we can't just put FreeBSD on laptop and expect it to work immediately as well as we whished, and without personal work: efforts to develop FreeBSD are not and will never be directed towards desktop usage, laptops in particular
 

scottro

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#7
Just to make sure I haven't missed something with 11-1 and Haswell
The procedure would be install xf86-video-intel and kldload i915kms, correct? Are there other things that need be done? (And if so, where are they documented these days, the wiki article seems way out of date).
 

scottro

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#8
Actually, it looks like starting X with the intel driver automatically loads the module. Regardless, I still get a black screen when I do it. Perhaps it has to do with the yoga2 having a high resolution screen? (Wild guess from an outdated wiki statement.)
 

Sensucht94

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#9
Just to make sure I haven't missed something with 11-1 and Haswell
The procedure would be install xf86-video-intel and kldload i915kms, correct? Are there other things that need be done? (And if so, where are they documented these days, the wiki article seems way out of date).

Hi, as far as I know, the Intel Kernel Mode Setting driver is not required for, as it cannot handle a Xorg Session (should return: cannot run in framebuffer mode), but is only used by Newcons to set ttys resolution at boot time as well as the other vt(4) sysctl values in /boot/loader.conf. As opppsite, DRM drivers on CURRENT graphics/drm-next-kmod can handle video acceleration and can be used for Xorg (tried on VM at least)


For x11-drivers/xf86-video-intel, I guess there's only little that can be done. Configuration options for driver to be compiled are limited to choosing Sandy Bridge Archtecture over all the others, which is not this case.

I usually add also a .conf file in /usr/local/etc/X11/xorg.conf.d to specify the "intel" driver for Card0 Device. The Macbook for instance would require doing so, or it would have loaded vesa otherwise. Obviously I also check the xorg.conf file to see if thebdefaulr output has has been wrongly set to VESA


If you're sure Xorg is using intel driver (I guess you checked logs, or tweaked with conf files), really there's nothing else I'd been able to suggest, aside from statically setting resolution as well inside a configuration file in xorg.conf.d.

Looking at This guy's experience with yoga2, it seems to confirm the impossibility of making the integrated graphics work with intel driver

Anyway if you want to avoid CURRENT (you could disable all the debug options and see if it's feasible for everyday use, or go with TrueOS) I'd recommend trying DragonflyBSD. It's the closest to FreeBSD you can get, ports are the same (dports' repo is thiner though, while it accounts some native Dragonfly addition too), while packages are precompiled with different options
 

scottro

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#10
As it's a relatively unimportant laptop for me (ssh sessions, web browsing, video, as its hi res screen is nice for that) there's no reason for me to avoid CURRENT. As I put on my page about it, the first thing I do is change to GENERIC-NODEBUG kernel. This was more curiosity as others have success with Haswell and 11.x
 

Snurg

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#11
... is only used by Newcons ...
Did you guys with the laptop problems try this already?
- make a kernel with Newcons (vt* options) and VESA.ko (options VESA, pulled in by newcons) disabled
- and using sc instead of vt (set in /boot/loader.conf)

The vesa.ko module causes known problems in conjunction with nvidia cards.
Maybe some Intel vgas, like yours, also have problems when vesa.ko is loaded?
 

scottro

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#12
Just tried, still gave a black screen. For now I'll stick to CURRENT which requires little to no work to get working, but thanks for the suggestions.
 

Trihexagonal

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#13
Sensucht94 said:
The lesson to learn here is that, unless you need very powerful hardware for working purposes, just get a 4-5 years old laptop and put BSD on it.
All my laptops were made in or before 2008, the most powerful being my Thinkpad W520 with Intel Quad Core i7-2760QM @ 2.4GHz, 250GB HDD @ 7200, NVIDIA Quadro 1000M with Optimus and 8GB RAM. It's classified as a mobile workstation and was in fact a business lease return I picked up for a little over $200.

It came with a 500GB HDD loaded with Win10Pro and I played Elder Scrolls IV Oblvion on it for a while as I had a level >50 character saved. I have Skyrim on it too but I hate steam. I run OpenBSD on it now and Optimus is supported out of the box.

My most powerful FreeBSD box is a Gateway/Acer clone with AMD Phenom II x 3 N830 Triple Core @ 2.1GHz, 500GB HDD @ 7200, ATI Mobilty Radeon HD 4250 and 4GB RAM. It came with Win7Pro on it and is what I used to play Oblivion originally. It has an HDMI outlet and I'm planing on making it my Kodi box.

The one I'm on now is a Thinkpad T61 with Intel Core2 Duo T7700 @ 2.4GHz, 500GB HDD @ 7200, Quadro NVS 140, and 4GB RAM. It too is classified as a business machine. Nvidia is a breeze to set up. I use it for everyday general desktop purposes and it is more than up to the task.

The one I actually prefer to use is just like it only with a T7300 @ 2.0GHz and 15.4" 1680x1050 (WSXGA+) widescreen I paid a little over $50 for. It has a really nice picture, and though you can detect slight stuttering now and then on a 4k youtube video it is totally watchable.

My Thinkpad X61 with T7300 @ 2.0GHz, Intel 965, Intel HD Audio, 12.1" @ 4:3 screen ratio, 250GB HDD @ 7200 and 4GB RAM serves as the music source to my vintage stereo system. I run a 20 ft cord from the headphone jack to the back of my Graphic Equalizer and sometime just listen to it with lightweight headphones as it sits within reach of my recliner. If there was any hissing involved or it lacked in audio quality I sure wouldn't be using it for that purpose.

My oldest is an 11 year old i386 Sony Vaio with T2060 @ 1.6GHz and 2GB RAM. Even it is up to snuff when it comes to working with files, listening to music, watching videos and surfing the web. I use a screenshot of it on the index page of my site to show how FreeBSD can breath new life into old machines and shamelessly promote it as such.

All my hardware is supported and though it may be due to my familiarity with it prefer FreeBSD above all as my desktop OS.
 

rufwoof

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#14
Re: Annoyances ... ? how would you rate : https://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=news_item&px=Ubuntu-17.10-BIOS-Corrupter
Canonical has temporarily pulled the download links for Ubuntu 17.10 "Artful Aardvark" from the Ubuntu website due to ongoing reports of some laptops finding their BIOS corrupted after installing this latest Ubuntu release .... Should your BIOS be corrupted, you may need to replace your motherboard if there is not a removable flash chip.
 

scottro

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#15
I think, if advocacy is the purpose here, saying this one or that one has problems too is irrelevant. Ubuntu has issues. So do most of the other distributions, not to mention Windows or Mac. But, the bottom line is that I can usually put a Linux on a laptop and have wireless and GUI working out of the box without need to google. Not trying to troll here, but when someone says they have problems compared to Linux, and we start putting down Linux, it reminds me of the old days when the Linux folks love to put down Windows.

I think the Linux hatred that I often see here is rather counterproductive. Linux has a larger market share, and supports more hardware. Windows has an even larger market share and any hardware vendor will be writing drivers for it. Point is the OP is having issues that they wouldn't have on most Linux distributions.
 

Minbari

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#16
For me the current release 11.x it's working perfect on my Thinkpad T430 and I mean everything (wifi, Fn's key, sd card, phone (Android)). I don't know what future brings but now I'm very satisfied with what FreeBSD offer.
 

k.jacker

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#17
I have 3 haswell systems. Two desktops that I build myself and a Dell Latitude business laptop.
On all of them the i915kms driver works flawlessly since FreeBSD 11.0.
Out of curiosity I recently popped a Broadwell Core i5-5675C (Iris Pro 6200) onto my Asrock Z97 motherboard and tried the next-gen i915kms driver from 12-CURRENT. Works for me: build from ports, loaded from /boot/modules
I don't recommend using CURRENT though, and for me it was the first time ever I tried it (and I've been using FreeBSD sice 4.3).

The only issue I had with Haswell on FreeBSD 11.0 (which I guess will mostly happen with new drivers/new CPUs) was a missing pciid.
So with my Core i3-4370, the i915kms driver would not attach.
tobik@ quickly pointed me in the right direction when I asked here on the forum and it was easy to grab the kernel sources, add my missing pciid and build a new kernel which then attached to my i3 right away. Filed a bug and the pciid was added and MFC only three days later.

On both Haswell and Broadwell I started Xorg without xorg.conf at first and it worked like a charm.
If you have issues, take it step by ste. Load the driver from the command line... CHECK!... start Xorg... CHECK!...
For me, creating xorg.conf and configuring a login manager are the last steps, after everything else works.
Don't start building a house by the roof ;)

For laptops:
Don't just buy something. Do your research here at least:
https://wiki.freebsd.org/Graphics
https://www.freebsd.org/releases/11.1R/hardware.html
Google around for reviews and try to find out if people use FreeBSD (or Linux) on that device and if they experience problems.
I, personally, would avoid dual graphics.

If you find a laptop that looks like the right one for you, but say... it's Wifi is not supported, check the manufacturers website or youtube if the laptops base can be removed and if it's possible to replace the Wifi.
If that is not possible, consider another laptop.
If you allready have that laptop that isn't well supported, consider selling it and get something else. That's throwing away a little bit of money vs happiness and no headache :D
Please don't blame FreeBSD. Blame the manufacturers for creating stupid empty shells that rely on firmware and driver blobs.

Going with business laptops, new or refurbished, is often more satisfying as they usually contain "real" hardware.
Think about that from a printer perspective like "Postscript" vs "some crappy selfinvented printer language for Windows" og a "real modem" vs "a stupid empty win-modem".
It's like that sadly.
 

Snurg

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#18
Going with business laptops, new or refurbished, is often more satisfying as they usually contain "real" hardware.
Think about that from a printer perspective like "Postscript" vs "some crappy selfinvented printer language for Windows" og a "real modem" vs "a stupid empty win-modem".
It's like that sadly.
I can really confirm this. There are a few reasons why I am buying refurbished hardware, laptop as well as desktops and printers.
You get real hardware, well-constructed and usually quite solid and durable. No shining shells with cheap crap inside.

Regarding notebooks, two years ago I researched and then bought a Thinkpad T420. It paid off to have researched before - the hardware is *fully* supported. Even the laptop specific stuff like lid sensor, battery charge indicator etc worked fine. It is fast enough for all things I do when underways. And it was damn cheap compared to a new high end FHD notebook.
 

scottro

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#19
Both Newegg and techmobilitypc.com will have refurbished business notebooks for great prices. No, they won't have the latest Intel graphics nor usb-C nor 802.11ac but as Snurg says, fast enough for most things. I have one that I use at work, basic use to ssh into something in the data center, or do some testing.
 
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pensador_13

pensador_13

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#20
- be eager to use binary blobs (really, there other great ways of supporting FOSS. If our goal is BSD on laptop we cannot afford being choosy. What about wifi firmware there? Drop all wifi dobgles running with urtwn and closed-source firmware? No definitely to avoid being that purist if dealing with laptops, though you can try LibertyBSD.
I just to want to clarify that I am not, by all means, against the use of binary blobs, however it would be great, in terms of choice, to have both FOSS and proprietary drivers of Nvidia :)
In GNU+Linux distributions that I used, xf86-video-intel and xf86-video-nouveau worked with good performance for simple laptop tasks.
 
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pensador_13

pensador_13

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#21
For laptops:
Don't just buy something. Do your research here at least:
https://wiki.freebsd.org/Graphics
https://www.freebsd.org/releases/11.1R/hardware.html
Google around for reviews and try to find out if people use FreeBSD (or Linux) on that device and if they experience problems.
I, personally, would avoid dual graphics.
Before I bought my laptop, I did my research in the links you said, in here https://wiki.freebsd.org/Laptops and with Google ;)
I wanted to have a laptop launched at this year, however when I realized that FreeBSD does not have good support for "current" laptops, it was too late :(
Since I want to use this laptop, I will use a GNU+Linux distribution with a good support for it.
 

k.jacker

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#23
If you REALLY want to use FreeBSD, you should accept you didn't research good enough.

Sure, it's allways easier to complain that it's others fault, but in the long run you'll be happier if you accept you made a mistake with that laptop.
If you get yourself a better laptop now, you'll earn experience with FreeBSD from now and not some day in the future.

Honestly, it doesn't make any difference if you get the most recent laptop or a model from say, the Haswell generation (HD graphics supported since 11.0)

My used business Dell Latitude 7240, with Core i7-4600U (Haswell, idles at around 42°C with fan only spinning under constant high load), 8GB RAM, mSATA SSD (can take a second one, hello ZFS :D), FHD display, very good backlit keyboard, trackpad with 2 sturdy buttons and of course an easily removable base will outperform any home user laptop for the years to come with FreeBSD support, usability and longevity.
 

Trihexagonal

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#24
My used business Dell Latitude 7240, with Core i7-4600U (Haswell, idles at around 42°C with fan only spinning under constant high load), 8GB RAM, mSATA SSD (can take a second one, hello ZFS :D), FHD display, very good backlit keyboard, trackpad with 2 sturdy buttons and of course an easily removable base will outperform any home user laptop for the years to come with FreeBSD support, usability and longevity.
I wouldn't trade any of my Thinkpads for a new laptop off the shelf from Walmart.

My brother-in-law dropped a can of something on the handrest of my Gateway and borked the HDD. They were going to throw it away and gave it to me.

My Thinkpads all have rubber rails on the HDD caddy and other technology built in to prevent such an occurrence.
 
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pensador_13

pensador_13

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#25
If you REALLY want to use FreeBSD, you should accept you didn't research good enough.

Sure, it's allways easier to complain that it's others fault, but in the long run you'll be happier if you accept you made a mistake with that laptop.
I said that "I did my research", I never said that "I researched good enough". Also I never complained that it's others fault and I know that it is my fault for not doing a good research which resulted in a bad laptop choice for using FreeBSD, so please don't make assumptions.

If you get yourself a better laptop now, you'll earn experience with FreeBSD from now and not some day in the future.
Thank you for the suggestion, but my final decision is to use this laptop like gpw928:
I use Windows as a boot loader for VirtualBox. There are several guests, two of them being FreeBSD.

I get the Windows drivers that I need, and the O/S that I like.
 
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