Dell workstation / server Freebsd's compatibility

doug doug at
Sun Jun 27 15:01:15 UTC 2010

On Sun, 27 Jun 2010, Jerry wrote:

> On Sun, 27 Jun 2010 02:16:26 -0400
> Steve Polyack <korvus at> articulated:
>> On 6/26/2010 6:07 PM, Tim Judd wrote:
>>> On 6/26/10, Olivier GARNIER<ap1-10 at>  wrote:
>>>> Hi,
>>>> I've got an old workstation wich i use to have FreeBSD server on it
>>>> (http/samba/ 4 disk on RAID)
>>>> It's summer time and the old workstation will not work at the end
>>>> the summer time (too warm for it)
>>>> So ii wish to change it.
>>>> I don't need a big server, a tiny workstation will be enough.
>>>> I wish a inter CPU and dell construction (i'm use to use there
>>>> work) So herre is the question :
>>>> If you have dell computer (wich is still sold by dell) and if
>>>> you're working with FreeBSD on it with no more problem, can you
>>>> tell me witch computer you have ?
>>>> (it would be great to have the same list as laptop
>>>> (*laptop* For workstation and server ...)
>>> You have more people with success on generic hardware you buy at
>>> for example than you will with Dell or any other OEM.
>>> Moreover, you won't get support from Dell or an OEM for support
>>> issues, including hardware replacements because they didn't sell the
>>> machine with BSD.
>> This isn't true.  Dell won't give you any operating system support,
>> but they will honor your hardware warranties just fine.  We've had
>> various failures that were replaced with very little hassle from
>> Dell.  The most trouble they will give you is if it's an obscure
>> issue, in which case they'll ask you to boot Linux and run their DSET
>> tool.
>>> If you want a company that supports BSD, use iXsystems.
>>> If you want general compatibility that generally works better than
>>> any OEM, use general parts from newegg, etc.  iXsystems is the
>>> exception because they test and support BSD on the parts they sell.
>> iXsystems products look very solid.  We've had a good bit of luck
>> with the various Dells we've had.  Mostly 8th and 9th gen PowerEdge
>> servers, and then the new R710s.  They're all very solid systems and
>> we've had very few driver issues.  They FreeBSD team has done a great
>> job at patching the issues we have had.  We also have a handful of
>> their Optiplex desktop workstations that run BSD quite well.
> Th only serious problem that I have had with compatibility between Dell
> and FreeBSD is that FreeBSD does not have drivers for the 'N' class
> wireless cards that Dell uses. However, FreeBSD does not have drivers
> for most of the newer wireless cards anyway, so if you are not using
> wireless, or don't mind using the older depreciated A/B/G protocols,
> you should not have any problems.
> -- 
> Jerry ?
> FreeBSD.user at

My Dell experiences track this. Good for servers. Support is better if you buy 
as small biz rather than an end-user. In 1995 when I started, I got and used 
(many times) 4 hour support. The worst thing is RAID can not be hot swapped. I 
had a PE2400 that failed 1 month before they would not extend the warranty any 
further and they replaced everything but the disks.

For a FreeBSD desktop however, unless you either an Xorg driver maintainer, an 
Xorg developer, or like beating yourself with chains, Dell should be avoided. 
Old hardware gradually gets un-supported and I have a new Inspiron 1764 that I 
can either use as a build system or a paperweight as far as FreeBSD goes. The 
newer Dells use the new Intel video chipsets which are not AFAIK yet supported 
in Xorg.

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