[FreeBSD 7] Radeon Mobility M10/9600 + xorg 7.3 + ati/radeon driver causes complete system hang/freeze

Bob Johnson fbsdlists at gmail.com
Tue Mar 18 14:34:18 UTC 2008

On 3/17/08, Mark Ovens <parish at magichamster.com> wrote:
> Torgeir Hoffmann wrote:
> > I have the following problems with my xorg 7.3 installation, even after I
> > have pkg_delete -a, and reinstalled all with packages. The system was
> > updated with freebsd-update from 6.3-release to 7.0-release.
> >
> This sounds similar to the problem I have with 7.3 and a Radeon 8500LE
> card. Never had this problem with any previous version of Xorg (or XFree86).
> when the system hangs I can ssh(1) in from another box and find that
> Xorg process is sucking as much as 400% - yes four *hundred* percent -
> CPU ????? It is holding a Giant Lock - State is *GIANT
> I can kill the Xorg process but on the affected box I just end up with a
> blank black screen so have to Ctrl-Alt_Del to reboot.
> The problem seems to come and go as I update installed ports. If I've
> got the problem then updating the ports gets rid of it (sometimes) and
> when the system is working a port upgrade starts it off again
> (sometimes). It seems to be one of the X ports being updated that is the
> cause but I don't know which - xorg-drivers seems a likely culprit.
> One thing I did do was to delete the port xf86-video-radeonhd which
> fixed the problem once. I don't know what installed it as a dependency
> but it hasn't been reinstalled - although the problem still comes and goes.
> I've had this on 6.3 and on 7.0 (completely clean build, not an upgrade
> from 6.3).
> As I said, this has only been a problem since u/g Xorg from 7.2->7.3 and
> it is becoming a PITA. I wonder if it's just that Radeon cards don't
> work too well with FreeBSD and/or Xorg?? Perhaps it's worth swapping to
> nVidia?

On two of my systems (out of four) I've had a lot of problems with Xorg 7.3.

My older system has run happily for a few years using the nvidia
proprietary driver to drive two monitors and an old mga card to drive
a third monitor. I was eventually forced to upgrade Xorg on it because
so many ports couldn't be installed or updated without it. Since
upgrading to X.org 7.3, the mga card is unusable and the nvidia card
configuration will no longer work with dual monitors. After spending a
week fighting it, I've given up on that system. It was an upgrade and
there is no telling how much cruft is left over from the older nvidia

At the time this happened, I was preparing to move to a new system
with an ATI card, so I turned my attention to the new system. I find
the radeonhd driver configuration to be extremely fragile if I try to
drive two monitors with it. Many configurations which should be
entirely legal (e.g. specifying PreferredMode) lock up the system to
the point that the only way to recover is to unplug the power.

If I only had those experiences, I would conclude that Xorg 7.3 is
total junk. But at home I have two systems that work fine with it. One
is even using the radeonhd driver with two monitors -- a configuration
similar to the one that gives me so much trouble with lockups.

Overall, I think the older Xorg was much more stable and usable. I'm
not at all sure the new features were worth the price.

- Bob

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