kern/74182: FreeBSD 5.3: PCI VGA graphics crashes SMP and Single User Kernel

O. Hartmann ohartman at
Sat Nov 20 18:00:49 PST 2004

>Number:         74182
>Category:       kern
>Synopsis:       FreeBSD 5.3: PCI VGA graphics crashes SMP and Single User Kernel
>Confidential:   no
>Severity:       critical
>Priority:       high
>Responsible:    freebsd-bugs
>State:          open
>Class:          sw-bug
>Submitter-Id:   current-users
>Arrival-Date:   Sun Nov 21 02:00:48 GMT 2004
>Originator:     O. Hartmann
>Release:        FreeBSD 5.3-RELEASE-p1/FreeBSD 5.3-STABLE
Department of Geophysic Johannes Gutenberg-Universitaet Mainz
FreeBSD 5.3-RELEASE-p1 FreeBSD 5.3-RELEASE-p1 #76: Sun Nov 21 02:09:38 CET 2004     root@:/usr/obj/usr/src/sys/EDDA  i386

Investigating in an wierd error behavior of a FreeBSD 5.3 box with SMP I found out that PCI VGA graphics cards seem to trigger those problems I reported.
I use a ASUS CUR-DLS mobo with two P3 at 1GHz, 1GBytes RAM, U160 SCSI equipment and built in 4MB ATI Rage XL PCI graphics. Problem was: Machine freezes spontanously in SMP mode, especially doing a lot of graphics output or simply using Mozilla/FireFox intensively. 
In single user mode (for update and upgrade purposes) the console freezes after doing a lot of output (while showing what' getting compiled or installed).
This 'freezing' does not occur using a Matrox Millenium II PCI! Single user mode works great and stable - but I can not boot machine in multi user mode anymore, the console get stuck with a blinking cursor. That is really weird and seems to be a software problem. Disabling SMP keeps the system running for days with the built in ATI Rage XL PCI graphics, but it still breaks single user mode! I ran into harsh situations while trying to do a buildworld and getting stuck due a dying system when libs got installed!
SMP brings down the machine very rapid when doing a lot of graphics!
Changing to a Matrox Millenium II, 4MB PCI graphics card keeps single user mode working but freezes the box when coming up into multi user mode! Machine get stuck with a blinking green carret but is still responsive via network.
      Use FreeBSD 5.3-RELEASE  with PCI graphics and SMP!

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