Need advice

Vulpes Velox v.velox at
Sat Sep 11 12:18:19 PDT 2004

On Sat, 11 Sep 2004 05:37:16 -0400
"Bill Schmitt (SW)" <software at> wrote:

> I'm a newbie to FreeBSD, and I like what I've seen so far. I've been
> trying it on a machine I have here to get an idea of the plusses and
> minuses of using it as a basic desktop system. I could use a little 
> advice to guide me in the process.
> I'm working with Version 4.10 now, simply because at the time I 
> downloaded it, the 5 release kept locking up in the middle of the 
> detection process. Also, my configuration seems to indicate that I 
> should be using XFree86, too, and a lot of the comments here have
> stated that 5 will begin the use of xorg. However, xorg doesn't seem
> to support the graphics adapter on the machine I'm working with
> (though, tweaking XFree86 has been a bit of a challenge!).

Tweaking it gets easier with time ^_^

> The machine I'm working with is a Gateway with a 300MHz PII that had
> otherwise been retired. It started with 32MB of memory which I
> replaced with a single 128MB chip. The motherboard has a built-in
> graphics adapter that was put out by a company called Mpact, which
> doesn't appear on any support list I've been able to find.
> Apparently the company was acquired by somebody, who was then
> acquired by somebody else (ATI, I believe) which then retired the
> processor. Because of that, when it didn't work right away I didn't
> put too much effort into it. Instead, I added a Diamond Stealth 2001
> I had with the Arklogic 2000pv chip set and 2MB of DRAM (from
> another retired machine) and used xf86cfg to create a configuration
> file that disabled the onboard adapter and worked with the Stealth
> adapter. While I'm not done tweaking it, I have managed to bring up
> xfce at 800x600 in a low color mode, so far. I intend to try out the

Check out X -configure. :)   That makes it easy. Then just tweak the
video mode settings using xf86cfg -textmode.  You may have to go in by
hand and change the depth manually to 24bit. IIRC it defaults to 8bit.
You really should not be noticing tobad of performance in the graphics
area, not going to vouch for that card though. BTW you probally want
VESA for that card. Not to familar with that line of cards though.
You may want to try the S3 or s3virge. A bit of googling showed that
some diamond cards used those chips. :/

> various desktops and Window managers I've seen documented but chose
> xfce to start because the comments here have generally indicated
> that it's a good choice for a light, speedy, environment to begin. I
> did a full install of FreeBSD, beginning with a minimal system from
> a CD, then switching to FTP to continue, which seems to give me more
> options to choose from. I used xf86cfg to get to the point where I
> can where I can use xstart to bring up xfce with the a basic desktop
> on it. First, I got it working with the basic VESA driver, and then
> with the ARK driver. However, While I don't expect the machine to be
> a speed demon, it still seems quite slow in comparison to the MS
> Windows versions (95 and ME) that had previously been on the machine
> (I did a completely clean install, so there are no Windows
> components, or anything else, left on the drive).

Depends on what you are trying on it. XFCE should not bring it down,
but something like KDE or Gnome will easily drop performance. This
slow down is most likely cuased by a crappy video card or badly setup
X. Also not running in 24bit means a slight slow down to, but probally
thing truely noticeable from it

What applications you having trouble with?

BTW does not really make a difference if windows is installed or not
since windows has very primitive FS support(can't read UFS and ect),
and FreeBSD does not really care what windows has installed on it or
any thing. /me has his multimedia box dual boot between releng_5 and
xp corporate.

> Considering all of that, my questions are:
> - Am I being unrealistic in choosing a machine with a 300MHz
> processor?- If I add another 128MB of memory, should I expect to see
> a dramatic improvement?

More mem is all ways good. It allows for more stuff to be loaded
before swapping out and allows for larger cache sizes. My sisters
machine just has a 200MHz p2 in it.

> - Could the graphics adapter itself be the bottleneck?

Quite possibly. A good graphics card will speed things up imensely
because of optimized drivers and ect. This is especially try with the
recently released Xorg 6.8.0(which should be hitting the ports soon),
because of the heavier use of RENDER extension.

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