FreeBSD 8 on Dell XPS M1330

       440 words, 3 minutes

I have a Virtual Lab to setup and my Dell XPS M1330 has 8GB of RAM.
Let’s see what we can do with FreeBSD on this…


Already tried Windows Server 2008 on it and I don’t like it…
I could probably run NetBSD/xen on it but I’d like to also test VirtualBox. Unfortunately, wip/virtualbox does not compile and I’m a bit in a hurry to setup that virtual lab.
I quickly tried OpenSolaris but it a mess… No default installation for OpenOffice or VirtualBox.
OpenBSD does not have any decent virtualization software (AFAIK) and I would like not to use Linux :p
FreeBSD looks like a natural choice then… And it’s been a while since I play with such a box… Probably 5 years ago, when the -STABLE version was v4.x…

Installation and configuration notes

I grabbed and installed FreeBSD using the FreeBSD 8.1-RELEASE/amd64 memstick. So far, so good. Less than 10minutes were enough to have a FreeBSD minimal system running. Whoot!

CPU Frequency

The CPU is SpeedStep aware. This will allow the CPU speed to vary according to the laptop’s activity.

Add the following entries to /etc/rc.conf:

powerd_flags="-a adp -b adp -i 85 -r 60 -p 100"

Wireless and WPA

Configuration of the wireless interface is described in the HandBook.

Add the following entries to /etc/rc.conf:

ifconfig_wlan0="WPA DHCP"

Create the following /etc/wpa_supplicant.conf file:



Then, either reboot or run /etc/rc.d/netif start.

X Window System

I will need a graphical interface to deal with the workstation tool (Web browser, Mail client, … VirtualBox :)

Installation and configuration is well described in the HandBook. Start with:

# export PACKAGEROOT=  
# pkg_add -r xorg-minimal  
# pkg_add -r xf86-video-intel xkbcomp setxkbmap  
# pkg_add -r xfce4

Add the following to /etc/rc.conf:


And run /usr/local/etc/rc.d/dbus start and /usr/local/etc/rc.d/hald start.

Add a few basic packages:

# export PACKAGEROOT=  
# pkg_add -r rxvt-unicode

Configure the .xinitrc file and run startx.

Note: as I’m using a french keyboard layout, I had to issue setxkbmap -model pc102 -layout fr. This can be added to the.xinitrc file.


After a whole day of downloading packages, I saw the wireless card going down every two hours or so… I quickly checked for solution but couldn’t find any. I’ll stop my testing here as I need a “production” machine quickly.

Before taking FreeBee out of my laptop, I could reboot (once again) and try quickly VirtualBox. For the record, the binary installation was OK and I could start Windows Server 2008 x64 installation. If that damm wireless card worked better I probably would have kept FreeBSD on that machine.