Many PC-BSD users successfully use PC-BSD on their laptops. To determine if the hardware on your laptop is supported, search the FreeBSD Laptop Compatibility List. Consider adding to this list if your model is not listed or the information is out-of-date.
Depending upon the model of laptop, you may run across some issues. These typically deal with:
- sleep/suspend: unfortunately, ACPI is not an exact science meaning that you may have to experiment with various sysctl variables in order to achieve successful sleep and suspend states on your particular laptop model. If your laptop is a Thinkpad, read man acpi_ibm. Thinkwiki is another excellent source. For other types of laptops, try reading the SYSCTL VARIABLES section of man 4 acpi. The Tuning with sysctl section of the FreeBSD Handbook demonstrates how to determine your current sysctl values, modify a value, and to make a modified value persist after a reboot.
- internal wireless: some chipsets don't have a FreeBSD driver yet. If you would like to try converting a Windows driver into a FreeBSD module, use the instructions on the Wireless Testing page.
- internal ATI or Radeon graphics: at this time, these chipsets will only support 2D graphics. This should be fixed by PC-BSD 9.1.
If you wish to test your laptop's hardware, consider using PC-BSD Live Mode before committing to an installation.
Thinkpad BIOS Versions with Known Bug
If you wish to install PC-BSD on an older IBM/Lenovo Thinkpad laptop, it is important to first check your Thinkpad model number to see if its BIOS has a known bug. This bug is rather nasty and will render the computer completely unbootable--even the BIOS will be inaccessible. This situation occurs as the BIOS thinks that the PC-BSD (FreeBSD) partition number represents the IBM repair partition. The only way to get the affected laptop to boot again is to physically remove the hard drive, insert it into another laptop, wipe the drive, and insert the drive back into the system. While the hard drive is in the other system, you'll note that PC-BSD boots just fine as the problem is with the BIOS, not the hard drive. Once the BIOS is accessible again, you should upgrade (or possibly downgrade) the BIOS to a version number that fixes this bug. See Table 2.4 for the models which are affected, the BIOS version number that fixes the bug, and links to the BIOS software should you need to upgrade your BIOS. The BIOS needs to incorporate the fix "The system cannot boot from a hard disk drive with partition ID of n5h where n is 1 or greater".
Table 2.4: Thinkpad BIOS Versions with Known Bug
|Model Number||BIOS Version That Fixes Bug||Notes|
|A20m||1.08 - IWET54WW|
|A20p||1.05 - IVET62WW|
|A21m (except Sxx models)||1.02 KXET24WW|
|A21p||1.04 - KYET27WW|
|A22m (except Sxx models)||1.02 KXET24WW|
|A22p||1.04 - KYET27WW|
|T20||1.10 - IYET49WW|
|X20||2.16 (IZET96WW)||not version 2.10 as stated on IBM page|
|X21||2.16 (IZET96WW)||not version 2.10 as stated on IBM page|
Laptops with Built-In Intel Video Chip
The FreeBSD Foundation and iXsystems are funding a project to add native DRI, GEM, and KMS support to the FreeBSD kernel for version 9.1. In the mean time, video drivers that require these kernel hooks currently use the Xorg driver with those features disabled. Usually this means that the card works but may be missing features such as 3D acceleration.
It has been reported that Centrino based-laptops will fail to boot the installation DVD in both live and install mode. If your laptop has a built-in Intel chipset and will not boot the installation media, select "Run X in VESA mode" from the installer's boot menu. Once the installation is complete, you will need to select the default vesa driver from the display settings menu as selecting an Intel driver will freeze the system. Once DRI/GEM/KMS support is available in PC-BSD, you will be able to use the Intel driver.
Before starting, you should review the MacBook on FreeBSD Wiki.
Starting in PC-BSD 9.0-RC1 support has been added for installing directly to BootCamp partitions.
First, you can install a OSX boot-manager, such as rEFIt (optional)
Next you will need to make some free space to install on. You can use the MacBook's BootCamp utility to make a primary partition of at least 25 GB in size.
After creating the BootCamp partition you will need to boot off the PC-BSD install media and proceed with a normal installation. When you get to the disk selection screen, be sure to select the ada0p3: linux-data partition for installation. After installation you can reboot and select BSD from the rEFIt boot-menu to boot into your new PC-BSD installation.