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

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).


22 Responses to “Newcons coming to Debian GNU/kFreeBSD (testers wanted!)”

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  11. joel xfire Says:

    Hey, what are the chances of some progress on kdelibs-bin and fam/gamin?

  12. kerenskyy Says:

    Does the radeon module in kfreebsd-image-11.0-0-amd64 support the HD 4250 chip?
    “glxinfo” shows:
    unknown chip id 0x9715, can’t guess.
    libGL error: failed to create dri screen
    libGL error: failed to load driver: radeon

    However I do get a high-resolution console, with a xorg.conf .

    But KDE/Qt applications show some graphics corruption.

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  15. Newcons coming to Debian GNU/kFreeBSD | FreeBSD News Says:

    […] The Debian GNU/kFreeBSD team are now looking for volunteers: Newcons coming to Debian GNU/kFreeBSD (testers wanted!) […]

  16. Rogério Brito Says:

    Robert, given all this init system experimentation, what are the equivalents of, say, passing init=/foo/bar in a kFreeBSD system?

    Some years ago, I remember reading on loader and it seemed that Debian used a system that was different from upstream FreeBSD…

    Also, what would be the equivalent of passing the single as the kernel command line?

    loader seems to use something like the -s option, but I would like to try kFreeBSD again.

    • robertmh Says:

      Well, the difference is that we use GRUB as default. But nothing stops you from using the FreeBSD loader on Debian GNU/kFreeBSD, or using GRUB on FreeBSD.

      Each loader presents a different user interface, but when it comes to kernel parameters it’s basically the same: -s option enables single-user mode (with standard /sbin/init). If you want to replace /sbin/init with something else you can set kern.init_path sysctl variable from bootloader command-line.

      I’m not sure about FreeBSD loader, but with GRUB you could do this with a command like:

      set kFreeBSD.kern.init_path=/sbin/something:/sbin/init:/whatever

      Note however that aside from SysV init, currently we only support OpenRC which is a replacement for the init scripts but not for /sbin/init itself. There’s also an Upstart port in the works but it is not ready yet (and sadly, given the current state of affairs, it might never be…).

  17. Parsix GNU/Linux 6.0 Test 2 | NewsCanada-PLUS News, Technology Driven Media Network Says:

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

  18. Robert Millan: Newcons coming to Debian GNU/kFreeBSD (testers wanted!) | Open World Says:

    […] Newcons provides many interesting new features, such as KMS support, Unicode, double-width …read more […]

  19. Cameron Norman Says:

    Hey, as I am unfamiliar with FreeBSD’s graphics stack, would you mind telling me if this guy is in the kernel, or in userspace? I know that on Linux, a number of people are eager to use CONFIG_VT=n, and use systemd-consoled for a userspace console. I was wondering what the situation was on other systems.

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