Monitor "Blinking" on and off during 6.1 install on Ultra 60

Patrick Reich dminor at
Sat Aug 19 06:46:38 UTC 2006

On Sat, 2006-08-19 at 01:50 -0400, James Tanis wrote:
> On 8/19/06, Patrick Reich <dminor at> wrote:
> > Hi,
> >
> > I have an ultra 60 with dual 450Mhz UltraSparc processors
> > and a creator3d video card.  The video card has a 13w3
> > adapter connected to a gateway FPD1530 15" flat panel
> > monitor.  When I boot from the 6.1-RELEASE install CD,
> > the monitor starts "blinking" on and off which makes
> > the install impossible (I'm 40 years old and my eyes
> > don't work that well anymore :)  I also tried the most
> > recent Sparc64 snapshot with the same result.
> >
> It shouldn't be the freebsd, I honestly have the same exact setup with
> no problems. The only difference between our two set ups that I see is
> the monitors used.
> > This monitor is capable of 1024x768 at 75kHz and I have
> > the output-device environment variable in OBP set to
> > screen:r1024x768x75.  I've tried a few different
> > iterations of this setting but all I can do is
> > slow the blinking down - it never completely stops.
> >
> Are you sure these are valid values for the openprom? My knowledge is
> honestly limited here but I believe Sun has typically in the past used
> specific resolution/frequency settings with their monitors as opposed
> to the typical "multsync" type monitors most of us use. I'm unaware as
> to whether this limitation is enforced by the monitor, openprom, or
> both. I've never used a Sun with a monitor that supports less than
> 1152x768 at 75hz so I've never needed to bother forcing a particular
> resolution, I let the prom choose it for me.

output-device screen:r[horiz]x[vert]x[freq] came from two places;
google and the OBP handbook.  Without these values, OBP wants to
set this monitor to 800x600 but this is incorrect (besides, it
blinks at 800x600 as well).  This monitor has an optimal resolution
of 1024x768 at 75Hz which is from the manual.

> > I tried connecting a Samsung SyncMaster 712N 17" flat
> > panel capable of 1280x1024 at 75kHz.  This monitor
> > does NOT blink on and off during install but unfortunately
> > this monitor belongs elsewhere.  The blinking is also
> > present when I boot the system off the hard disks
> > with the 15" monitor reconnected again.
> This looks to be caused by either your monitor not supporting
> 1024x768 at 75hz or perhaps malfunctioning. Other possibilities include
> the openprom or creator3d card not supporting that mode, I'm pretty
> sure it should.. I'm just not positive. If it works with *any*
> monitor, it is far less likely to be caused by the system/os in my
> experience.

I agree with your last sentence but I'm sure the creator3d supports
this resolution because Solaris 10 lists 1024x768 at 75 as the one
currently running.  I don't think the monitor is malfunctioning
as it is perfectly happy at this resolution with 4 other
operating systems (see below).

> >
> > Has anyone else experienced this issue?  I checked mailing
> > lists and bug reports but I'm not finding anything.  Is
> > there an argument I can pass in to OBP to remedy this?
> > I'm fairly positive the monitor is not at fault; OpenBSD,
> > NetBSD and Solaris behave fine but I'd prefer to run
> > FreeBSD on this machine.
> While that is odd, process of elimination would seem to insinuate that
> this is not an issue with freebsd at all and is either caused by your
> monitor, your openprom, or an incompatibility between your settings
> and their capabilities. Off the top of my head I can't remember, but
> check if its possible to force 1024x768 without specifying a specific
> refresh rate. This should eliminate the possibility of you attempting
> to force a resolution/refresh combination that your openprom or
> creator3d card does not support.

Without the refresh rate added to the end of the string in OBP,
the resolution runs at 800x600 but it blinks there as well.

> Does it do the blinking even before the operating system is loaded?

Yes it starts to blink immediately AFTER the loader starts the

> More specifically, how about when at the openprom prompt after having
> hit stop-a before the boot loader starts up the kernel? 

No, there is no blink at STOP-A; the monitor is perfectly happy
there at any supported resolution.  My OBP is version 3.31.0 which
is the latest for the u60 as far as I can tell.

> If not,
> perhaps it is freebsd and the driver simply does not support this
> mode? 

It's pretty clear that FreeBSD is not happy with something ;)
I'm just not sure what it is.  I thought maybe there might be
some obscure argument that one can pass to the loader to specify
a particular refresh/resolution.  I'm not sure how ofw gets this
data, probably from OBP.

> Also, are your positve that the other operating systems are
> still running at the entered resolution/refresh rate when they are
> booted up (with the 15").. perhaps those other OS's have taken some
> sort of corrective action..? I have a Sun Ultra 60 with 2x450mhz
> processors and creator3d card running FreeBSD 6.1.. I've never hard a
> problem like this -- but I've only ever run at a few resolutions..
> 1152x768 & 1280x1024 being the most common.

For the record, I've never had this problem before either so I'm
not sure where to go with it; that's why I posted.  I've run
NetBSD (with X), OpenBSD (with X) and Solaris 10 (with Xsun) all
running happily at 1024x768 at 75 without any trouble.  God
forbid I have to connect to a windoze machine again!

Also, for the record, I just tried 6.0 and the same issue is
there.  It seems that if I lower the frequency to 60Hz in OBP,
there is a much longer time span between the "blinks" (5-8 seconds
or longer).  At 75Hz, it blinks fast enough to make it impossible
to type or read anything.

Perhaps this combo just doesn't sit well with FreeBSD.  If so,
not a problem - I have a well defined justification for my wife
when she asked me why there is a new 17" monitor on my desk :)

Thank you for your replay James; I appreciate it.


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