Graphic card that works?

Adam K Kirchhoff akirchhoff135014 at
Tue Jun 28 20:34:44 UTC 2011

On 06/28/11 14:17, Patrick Lamaiziere wrote:
> Le Fri, 24 Jun 2011 09:56:22 +0200,
> Michal Varga<varga.michal at>  a écrit :
>> Nvidia GTX 460 works perfectly fine on FreeBSD and same goes for any
>> modern/supported Nvidia hardware (which is basically all of them, save
>> for some brain-dead stuff like Nvidia Optimus).
> Here it does not work. Watching a video is enought to freeze the box
> (using the Xvideo extension). I've tried all the drivers available from
> Nvidia with various issues.

Long ago I gave up on getting a stable system with the nvidia drivers.

> That could be. But this is very hard to find the cause, I've moved from
> amd64 to i386 to see, and reverted to ad0 instead using ada0.
> I'm sure the hardware is working fine (checked memory, works very well
> on Windows 2008).
> I know that should work, I've got a Macbook pro (nvidia) that works
> nicely and my previous machine worked fine too.
> Anyway, I would not say that NVidia always works, that is my fourth
> box using a nvidia card and only two cards worked well (since FreeBSD
> 4.7).
> So my question is still open:
> "Could you tell me a graphic card (pci express) that will work fine
> on FreeBSD? (If i can use a dual screen it will be better)"

Unfortunately, modern non-nvidia video cards can be problematic on 
FreeBSD.  I think the only ones that are going "work"** are from AMD.  
Any radeon card up to and including the HD4950 will provide 2D and basic 
3D acceleration, including modesetting on two monitors via xrandr.  
Separate screens will break acceleration (as will xinerama) so you 
pretty much have to use xrandr.  3D acceleration is good enough for some 
light games and/or 3D compositing with kwin/compiz.  If you need to use 
3D acceleration on a linux application, you will want to use 
FreeBSD/i386 as DRI doesn't work with linux apps on AMD64 at the 
moment.  There is no kernel modesetting, so there is no DRI2 or gallium3d.

You should be able to get 2D acceleration and full modesetting on HD5xxx 
GPUs.  No 3D (not without KMS).  There is no acceleration or modesetting 
for HD6xxx GPUs without KMS, so don't get one of those.

** A few caveats and the reason for the quotes around work...
A) QT apps often have serious rendering issues.  This is true on Linux 
when not using KMS, too, but the driver developers don't care much about 
bugs with the UMS path these days.
B) On one machine of mine, if I restart X, the entire box locks up 
within seconds.  There is no kernel panic dumped to the serial console, 
so I know no way of debugging this further.  If I have to restart X for 
some reason, I must reboot.
C) Previously, on this machine, before adding an extra 2 gigs of memory, 
if I restarted X, Xorg complained about not being able to allocate 
enough RAM, and Direct Rendering would be disabled, so I'd be running 
entirely without 2D acceleration.  Unloading and reloading the radeon 
kld would simply prevent X from starting.
D) I know on IRC this is at least one person for whom the radeon driver 
will completely lock their machine solid as soon as X starts.

All in all, the lack of KMS is really impacts the usability of FreeBSD 
on the desktop for those of us who can't/won't use nvidia.  As far as I 
know, there is no one working on KMS for radeon cards, and there has 
been no progress update on the KMS work being done for Intel GPUs.  In 
addition, KMS for intel wouldn't do you much good anyway, as Intel 
doesn't make discreet PCIe cards.

Having said all that...  There may be GPUs from other manufacturers that 
can be bought on discrete PCIe cards that have drivers for Xorg.  Full 
xrandr  (to drive two monitors) is likely not supported on anything 
other than radeon cards, though.


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