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KMS For FreeBSD Is Still A Work In Progress

BSD

Published on 05 February 2012 02:51 AM EST
Written by Michael Larabel in BSD
2 Comments

FreeBSD still lacks mainline support for kernel mode-setting (KMS) on modern hardware, but at least it's still being worked on.

As I routinely get such questions via email, for those wondering about the state of kernel mode-setting (KMS) or the ability to use the latest Linux DRM (Direct Rendering Manager) drivers on FreeBSD, it's still out-of-tree and is considered a work-in-progress to be used by experienced BSD desktop users.

Since last summer when writing about the sad state of GPU drivers on BSD and Solaris, sadly not much has changed. The recently-released FreeBSD 9.0 doesn't have any KMS drivers, but the only viable solution for now for those concerned about accelerated graphics and a feature-rich graphics driver under BSD is to use NVIDIA's binary x86/x86_64 graphics driver.

FreeBSD has been paying for some Intel KMS love by paying an independent developer to port the Intel Linux DRM driver to FreeBSD. The Intel driver is working for several generations of hardware under FreeBSD, but this support is just distributed as an out-of-tree patch at present. The patch size is 1.9MB to get going and will require rebuilding your FreeBSD kernel.

Only the Intel DRM driver is covered by this project and not the Radeon or Nouveau DRM drivers (or any other niche Linux DRM drivers). As such, only the Graphics Execution Manager (GEM) is ported to the FreeBSD kernel and there isn't work on bringing a full-fledged TTM memory manager to the FreeBSD kernel as would be needed by the Radeon and Nouveau drivers.

Those wanting to try to bring up Intel integrated graphics under FreeBSD can find details in full from this FreeBSD.org Wiki page. The work-in-progress Intel DRM for FreeBSD patches can be found in this FreeBSD.org directory, with the latest patch revision having been uploaded in late January.

The best choice that FreeBSD/PC-BSD desktop users have for the foreseeable future is just using the binary NVIDIA graphics driver.

About The Author
Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com and founded the web-site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience and being the largest web-site devoted to Linux hardware reviews, particularly for products relevant to Linux gamers and enthusiasts but also commonly reviewing servers/workstations and embedded Linux devices. Michael has written more than 10,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics hardware drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and OpenBenchmarking.org automated testing software. He can be followed via and or contacted via .
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