OpenIndiana With Intel Sandy Bridge?
Written by Michael Larabel in Oracle on 8 October 2011 at 07:15 AM EDT. 2 Comments
While Oracle Solaris has Intel KMS/DRI2 support, the Solaris port of this Intel Linux driver code isn't yet part of the open-source Solaris distributions.

OpenIndiana 151a was released last month, but sadly it still fails badly with modern graphics support. This new OpenIndiana release, which uses the Illumos fork of OpenSolaris, doesn't have ported the modern Linux graphics driver functionality for Intel, Radeon, and Nouveau.

This isn't a terrible surprise though considering Oracle just has the Intel KMS/DRI2 support, but not the latest Radeon or Nouveau support. Fortunately, NVIDIA makes their proprietary graphics driver available to Solaris users and it's largely the same quality as their Linux driver. In the BSD world, at least they have a developer working on porting the GEM memory manager and related infrastructure to the FreeBSD kernel so that there can be modern Intel graphics support with hardware acceleration.

The Intel FreeBSD code is working, but it's not ready to be merged and will not appear in FreeBSD 9.0. There's also been some other less coordinated work in the DragonflyBSD community and elsewhere to port the Radeon DRM and other graphics driver components, with varying degrees of success, but nothing that's mainline and supported. From late August see my article about the sad state of GPU drivers for BSD and Solaris.

Even without proper Intel GPU driver support, I decided to try out OpenIndiana 151a on an Intel Sandy Bridge system just to see how the rest of the hardware support was and the compute performance compared to the OpenIndiana release from a year earlier. Unfortunately, even with the VESA driver, OpenIndiana fails with Sandy Bridge. When it came to loading the VESA X.Org driver, the screen would be black with some corruption along the top of the screen. In another case, the old frame-buffer contents of the earlier HP boot screen would re-appear with some corruption. So unless you just plan to SSH into a head-less Sandy Bridge system with OpenIndiana or have an alternative graphics card, it probably won't go too far. At least FreeBSD 9.0 made it a bit further on the same hardware. Schei├če!

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Michael Larabel is the principal author of and founded the site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience. Michael has written more than 10,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter or contacted via

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