Can't get graphical desktop environment on FBSD12

Polytropon freebsd at
Thu Sep 19 19:40:43 UTC 2019

On Thu, 19 Sep 2019 15:21:21 -0400, Trey Sizemore wrote:
> HI all-
> Just did an install recently of FreeBSD 12 on a Thinkpad X! Carbon (Gen 5).
> Following the directions here[1] as well as here[2] I'm unable to get
> anything other than a command prompt when I restart the machine.  

The instructions sometimes don't match reality. :-(

> I should say when I reboot, it appears to hang and I only get a black
> screen (issuing either 'reboot' or 'shutdown -r now') and I have to
> power down and back up using the laptop's power button.

That looks strange, but let's keep this as a different problem for
the moment.

> I'm actually wanting to get Cinnamon (which I've installed as well)
> up and running as the DE.

Good choice - I find it superior to Gnome 3.

> I've installed gnome-desktop, gdm, xorg, and  gnome3

It looks you missed to install the graphics driver for X, right?
What kind of graphics does your system include? From there on,
find out if you need to load the KMS driver via /boot/loader.conf
or /etc/rc.conf. Then do diagnostics in _small_ steps, i. e.,
start X first without anything. For testing, a .xinitrc file
with something like "exec xterm" should be fully sufficient.
Examine /var/log/Xorg.0.log for possible errors when you do _not_
get a desktop running an X terminal.

Use "pciconf -lv | less" to find out what graphics card is in
your system.

Example for Intel graphics in a Lenovo R61i:

In /boot/loader.conf:


Installed for X:


Example for ATI / AMD "card" in a HP DM-1:

In /boot/loader.conf:


In /etc/rc.conf:


Installed for OS:


Installed for X:


However, in this specific setup, 3D support does not work (X uses
the software renderer).

> I have the following in my /etc/rc.conf:
> $ less /etc/rc.conf
> hostname="lenovo"
> wlans_iwm0="wlan0"
> ifconfig_wlan0="WPA DHCP"
> sshd_enable="YES"
> ntpdate_enable="YES"
> ntpd_enable="YES"
> powerd_enable="YES"
> # Set dumpdev to "AUTO" to enable crash dumps, "NO" to disable
> dumpdev="AUTO"
> gnome_enable="YES"
> moused_enable="YES"
> dbus_enable="YES"
> hald_enable="YES"
> gdm_enable="YES"

Looks correct so far. Suggestion to add:


Just in case. :-)

> This is /etc/fstab:
> $ less /etc/fstab 
> # Device        Mountpoint      FStype  Options Dump    Pass#
> /dev/nvd0p2     /               ufs     rw      1       1
> /dev/nvd0p3     none            swap    sw      0       0
> proc            /proc           procfs  rw      0       0

Probably not relevant here, but looks correct.

> And I have an .xinitrc file with the following:
> $ less .xinitrc 
> exec /usr/local/bin/gnome-session

That's probably wrong. If I remember correctly, Gnome resuires you
to use "ck-launch dbus-something -with-something-polkit gnome-esseion",
but I don't remember because I dumped Gnome long time ago. :-)

> $ ls -alF | grep xinitrc
> -rw-r--r--  1 trey  trey     34 Sep 19 11:29 .xinitrc

Correct permissions.

> Have I mis-typed something or what am I missing?

Probably not. I assume you simply forgot to install the _drivers_
needed for graphics (as mentioned above), which has become a
significant hurdle in recent FreeBSD (as compared to the past
when things were a lot simpler, and better documented), but
well, that's the price of "modern" hardware... ;-)

Summary: Find out what graphics card you need to support, install
the appropriate drivers, test with a minimal configuration first,
then extend to what you need for your desktop environment; in case
of errors, examine the X log file.

Magdeburg, Germany
Happy FreeBSD user since 4.0
Andra moi ennepe, Mousa, ...

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