When it comes to kernel mode-setting and open-source graphics drivers, the BSD operating system with the best support is presently FreeBSD. For those, however, using NetBSD, improvements are forthcoming with an investment by the NetBSD Foundation.
FreeBSD 9.1 introduces Intel KMS support
after it was an out-of-tree porting project for quite a while. While not yet merged, Radeon KMS is also being ported to FreeBSD
. For other BSD platforms, the support level varies but it's mostly out-of-tree work at this point. For more details see BSDs Struggle With Open-Source Graphics Drivers
Taylor Campbell of NetBSD announced on the mailing list earlier this month that the NetBSD Foundation hired him to port the current generation Linux DRM (Direct Rendering Manager) support to NetBSD. This work includes bringing forward KMS (Kernel Mode-Setting) and GEM (Graphics Execution Manager) to this BSD distribution.
The driver support being focused upon first is Intel DRM followed by -- if time allows -- Radeon and Nouveau support. Campbell is hoping to leverage some of the DRM code now found within the FreeBSD kernel.
His initial work announcement can be found on the tech-x11 mailing list
. On Monday he then announced his Git repository
where he's porting the code.
It's not known at this point when any Intel/Radeon/Nouveau KMS/DRM support will be readied into a NetBSD release. This driver support will be important if NetBSD still ultimately pursues their plans to be a desktop operating system
, which has been talked about as a project for years but not really acted upon in any meaningful way.