Archive for February, 2014

Newcons coming to Debian GNU/kFreeBSD (testers wanted!)

February 22, 2014

FreeBSD vt(4) -commonly known as “Newcons”-, which is planned to replace Syscons as the default FreeBSD console, is now available on Debian GNU/kFreeBSD.  It is enabled by default, but only in kfreebsd-11 packages from experimental.

Newcons provides many interesting new features, such as KMS support, Unicode, double-width CJK characters, etc. More details are available in FreeBSD wiki.

Ironically, Debian GNU/kFreeBSD is in a bit more of a hurry to deploy Newcons than FreeBSD is. The reason for this is that Newcons is practically a requirement for using the new KMS drivers. While FreeBSD Ports, in order to ensure a smooth transition, preserve support for UMS (User Mode Setting) in their X11/DRI userland, Debian supports many kernels and (contrary to some ill claims I heard) gives priority to new features on Debian GNU/Linux port, which is the one with most users and developers. In this case, it means KMS is the only option when it comes to X11/DRI userland in Debian.

Anyway, we’ve been making some nice progress. Here’s a screenshot of Newcons in action in a Debian system (running on VirtualBox, thus with VGA backend):


The idea is to backport this to kfreebsd 10.0, as FreeBSD plans to merge it into stable/10 anyway. However, it is still in the process of being tested (and being polished on FreeBSD, I hear they plan to merge it on March).