Status of 6.0 for production systems

Ted Mittelstaedt tedm at
Thu Nov 10 20:52:37 GMT 2005

>-----Original Message-----
>From: owner-freebsd-questions at
>[mailto:owner-freebsd-questions at]On Behalf Of Gayn Winters
>Sent: Thursday, November 10, 2005 8:03 AM
>To: 'Ted Mittelstaedt'; freebsd-questions at
>Subject: RE: Status of 6.0 for production systems
>> There are some things broken in 5.4 that are still broken in 6.0
>> with regards to support of older hardware.  In particular the ida
>> driver is a mess - EISA support in that was busted years ago,
>> then 5.X busted support for more 'modern' systems like the
>> Compaq 1600R   HP  "DL" series of systems are kind of a moving
>> target anyway, unfortunately.  For those sytems I still use 4.11
>> (in fact I just setup 2 new 4.11 production systems two days ago)
>> However, 6.0 is a requirement for currently shipping hardware, in
>> particular the Intel series of boxed "server" motherboards, if you
>> want to use raid and sata drives, since Intel seems to like to change
>> it's motherboard chipsets as fast as most people change their
>> underpants.
>> I'm actually building a 6.0 production server today.  (5.4 and earlier
>> will not recognize the disk array)
>> It would be nice if we could get more support for SATA raid in
>> the atacontrol program.
>> Ted
>On the plus side, I've thrown a lot of hardware at FreeBSD with great
>success. On the other hand, FreeBSD's primary weakness seems to be the
>support of newer hardware. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised to hear of
>problems with older hardware as well, and Ted's solution of pairing
>older hardware with an older release seems reasonable if in fact one has
>the experience to support the older release.  (I don't, since I jumped
>to FreeBSD at release 5.1.)
>I recall sos@ complaining (well, at least "mentioning") that his work on
>ata was hampered by a lack of hardware. I'm sure other developers that
>support drivers have the same problem. I've been wondering what could be
>done about this -  at least for 6.0++.

More lack of access to hardware - he doesen't need to have the hardware
in possession to work on this stuff.  If you setup a system with for
example a dodgy controller in it, on the Internet that he can get at,
that would probably work just as well or even better.

>I assume we don't have enough volume to interest many hardware
>manufacturers into developing FreeBSD drivers for their hardware.  BUT,
>do our driver developers get early access to specs and (if it would
>help) source code to other drivers?  What would that take?  Do we have
>relationships with hardware manufactures to get samples and prototypes
>for our driver developers?  Or, do we simply have to wait and buy retail
>versions of the hardware?

Most companies that do not make programming info available to the public
on a website or some such,
want you to sign an NDA which kills chances of developing open source
drivers for the hardware.  For example Nvidia.  My experience in getting
eval gear is usually if the manufacture does have an eval program, they
run it through a reseller, and resellers aren't interested in anything
doesen't create money for them.  So if your a big company with an
relationship with a reseller and you have bought a lot of gear
the reseller will take the time to process the paperwork to get you eval
copies of things.  Otherwise if your a nobody to the reseller, you call
them and they never call you back.

The real problem I am afraid is that not many people go out and buy brand
new hardware specifically to run FreeBSD.  They go out and buy brand new
hardware to run the latest bloated version of Windows, then they take
years' hardware that was running Windows perfectly fine until the next
version of Windows came out, and want to use it for FreeBSD and then
bitch when drivers aren't available.

The solution is getting the people who write RFP's for a living for new
hardware, to include FreeBSD as a mandatory operating system that
the hardware must be compatible with, even though the intended use of
the hardware is Windows.  This requires people to plan for the future
which is of course, rather difficult.


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