Dell Inspiron 1300 with FreeBSD review

I have just completed installing and configuring FreeBSD and necessary software on my new Dell Inspiron 1300. I have to say that I like it.

What worked not at the beginning and what still worketh not.

ACPI. I have not expected ACPI to work from the very beginning, since I know that it is still one hell of incompatibilities and bugs. One problem that was really annoying is that closing and reopening lid with ACPI enabled was leading to display turned off and there was no apparent way to turn it back on. At first I decided to disable ACPI but then found out that in this case I would be unable to check battery status and CPU temperature. CPU temperature is not that important to me since I believe that it should be okay under normal circumstances, but battery status is another story. I really like typing acpiconf -i0 and getting something like “Remaining capacity: 100%” in return. So I decided to enable ACPI back and find out how to make lid behave well. And I found out. A nice config file /etc/devd.conf now containeth:

notify 10 {
match “system” “ACPI”;
match “subsystem” “Lid”;
action “/etc/rc.lid $notify”;

where /etc/rc.lid is:


if [ “$1” = “0x00” ]; then
logger -t Lid Closed
logger -t Lid Opened

(I had to replace out0 with lcd0 after upgrading from 6.1 to RELENG_6_2.)

Now the lid worketh as it should, and as a bonus I get a message in my log when I close or open the lid. Very nice. Suspend/resume still worketh not, but I care not since I need it not anyway. Turning off display to save power seemeth reasonable, but why put system to sleep when I can just turn it off instead – everything booteth up and shutteth down very fast anyway.

Modem and WiFi. WiFi is listed in pciconf -l -v, but it seemeth that there is no driver. Well, maybe there is one somewhere, but I never tried to look since I need it not anyway. Modem is not even in pciconf -l -v, which surpriseth me extremely since everything connected to bus should show up there. But I need it not either, so might as well forget about it.

Sound. There is no driver in kernel, but there is one being developed. It worketh pretty nice. I heard that there is no recording support and some problems with volume control other than PCM, but I need not neither recording support nor anything except PCM, so I have everything I need.

DRI/XVideo. It seemeth that there are some strange problems with AGP on i915. Well, another thing that is nice to have, but I care not of. I intend not play games on this laptop, nor something that would require XV. Playing video worketh fine with -vo x11, which is supposed to be slower than XV, but suffices for my needs, like anime watching.

Everything else worketh fine including 1280×800 native video mode and integrated Ethernet (well, who ever heard of Ethernet not working in Unix?). CD worketh too, of course. But I need not to burn anything here so I am not sure that CD burning worketh. See no reason for it not to work, though.

Now I can: play video and sound, use ICQ, mail and surf the Web with Firefox, use Japanese and English dictionaries. I could do more, but I need not.

Keyboard is pretty nice, and here I can feel all the power of Unix, where thou needest not much keys like “Home/End”, arrows and such. Working in Vim here is very cool, I can feel it when I type something in LogJam, for example, which useth more Windows-like keys. Touchpad is another thing when Unix power cometh handy simply because thou needest not it much! Many things can be done with keyboard much more efficiently.

In general, laptop is very nice. The only thing I miss is Bluetooth, which I would like to be integrated rather than have a separate USB device. But it is not that much of inconvenience and can be tolerated.

P. S. Some things I discovered later:

Upgrade to RELENG_6_2 improved not situation with XVideo, but then I realized that it is acpi_video’s fault. Disabling it enableth DRM and everything. So I can either have lid working but no XVideo or XVideo but either not working lid or no ACPI support at all. I chose no XVideo since I need not it that much. Upgrading to CURRENT might help, but I want not unstable system.

There is indeed no driver for WiFi, but Windows one worketh fine!

Modem seemeth to be connected through sound card somehow, considering how I made similar sound card working in Windows XP on another laptop – I had to install fresh drivers, then sound card showed up and so did modem. So I have to play around with sound card driver and/or try to install some special modem drivers in order to get it working. Not that I need it, though ^_^

So now I only have not working modem, mentioned conflict between DRM and acpi_video and no suspend/resume. Everything else is perfectly fine.

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