Building a FreeBSD desktop.

Daniel Feenberg feenberg at
Tue Aug 21 11:39:59 UTC 2012

On Tue, 21 Aug 2012, doug at wrote:

> On Mon, 20 Aug 2012, James D. Parra wrote:
>> I was looking to build a desktop to learn FreeBSD and was wondering if 
>> there
>> is a list of parts to build one or to just look at the hardware
>> comparability list? I just don't want to order wrong parts.
>> ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
>> If don't want to make the full commitment to building a desktop, a good way 
>> to learn about FreeBSD is to install within a virtual machine. Either 
>> VMWare or VirtualBox will serve you well.
> If you have a system you want to try you can also check out 

That is a great resource for laptops, too bad it isn't mentioned in the 
Handbook compatibility chapter.

We have purchased many desktop motherboards for FreeBSD over the years, 
from Intel, Gigabyte, ASUS, MSI and others. None mentioned FreeBSD 
compatibility, none was on any list promising FreeBSD compatibility and 
none has failed to boot and run well.

That said, rarely the onboard ethernet has not been recognized and we had 
to add a PCI NIC until the next version of FreeBSD included the proper 
drivers. No NIC has ever been incompatible in our experience.

We have not ever tested APM or ACPI, and if you follow the newsgroup you 
will know that those are sometimes problematic. Notice how few laptops 
support APM or ACPI with FreeBSD. Also, while onboard video has always 
worked for us, some people will notice that the drivers do not always 
provide the full performance available in Windows.

We have not found the Handbook compatibility list very helpful. The list
is mostly by chip, which card vendors don't mention in their literature. 
It would be nice to see a list of currently available products, by retail 
model number. That doesn't exist as far as I can tell.

So it comes down mostly to your feelings about those issues. If you will
be upset by less than optimal 3D graphics perforance, there is a risk. 
Otherwise, don't worry.

But why order parts? If you want to learn FreeBSD, just take any old
windows box and install FreeBSD over the existing windows install. It will 
work fine and won't cost you anything.

daniel feenberg

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