Need advice

Bill Schmitt bilsch at
Mon Sep 13 08:02:36 PDT 2004

   Thanks, Arden. I picked up a more current card over the weekend. Of
   course, that isn't going so smoothly, either, so you'll probably see a
   new thread later today.
   arden wrote:

On Sat, 2004-09-11 at 10:37, Bill Schmitt (SW) 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!).

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 
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).

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 
- Could the graphics adapter itself be the bottleneck?
- If I picked up a newer graphics adapter that was supported by xorg, 
would a switch to 5.x and/or xorg be expected to pick up the speed a bit?

Thanks to anyone who might help fill in the blanks.


>From my limited experience I'm not expert when it comes to free BSD 

It depends what you expect from the box but 

I have a similar box (amd 400) running 5.2.1 and its quite happy :)
in my opinion adding ram to any box will may things improve 

I added a cheap Nivdia 64meg video card that works well with Xf86 and
the driver is on the Nvidia site if you want 3d to work 

plan to play with this weekend just downloaded 5.3 

hope this helps 



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