Hardware Configuration, Audio/Video

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Information on audio and video configuration of hardware.


GPU Hardware

Here is a list of FreeBSD supported video cards, Check the latest compatibility information before purchasing a graphics card. Different brands of video cards generally don't work well together, but with newer software or implementation of this software, this may change.

At the time of FreeBSD 11, the VESA driver works with sc(4), and graphics cards which use KMS (ATI and Intel) need the vt(4) driver. Most video drivers can be selected for installation by running make config from x11-drivers/xorg-drivers . To automate this, edit make.conf, and recompile x11-drivers/xorg-drivers . If another driver is specified and configured, removing the VESA driver is optional.

x11-drivers_xorg-drivers_UNSET=VESA SCFB

The argument to select specific driver for installation from x11-drivers/xorg-drivers is under the respective section below.

When you set these cards, permissions must be set to allow access for them. Add your user to the video group in /etc/group. Then give drm and dri permissions to the video group through /etc/devfs.rules:

add path 'dri/*' mode 0666 group video
add path 'drm/*' mode 0666 group video

Be sure this location is referenced through /etc/rc.conf:


Do not load ATI, Intel or Nvidia cards by compiling their drivers into the kernel. ATI and Intel drivers are capable of auto-loading, but setting them in rc.conf will prevent them from falling back to the VESA driver for the console. Don't load ATI and Intel drivers through /boot/loader.conf.

There may be firmware error messages seen from the dmesg output, when using newer cards. If you inspect after that line with | grep -A3 as an argument, the firmware loads after the error message is given.


Many ATI Radeon cards are compatible with FreeBSD, However, not all outputs or functions may work on partially supported video cards.

Radeon cards require the ATI setting in x11-drivers/xorg-drivers . Here is how to set it for installation through make.conf:


MACH64 and R128 are only also required if you have those specific older models.

To configure the Radeon driver to load on boot-up, add the following to rc.conf:


Newer ATI chipsets

graphics/drm-stable-kmod supports fairly new ATI chipsets, and graphics/drm-next-kmod has experimental support for more recent ATI cards. These drivers only work from FreeBSD 11.2 (Beta) onward. Sources for kernel must be propagated, before either of these two ports is built.

To use ATI GPU's, AMDGPU in x11-drivers/xorg-drivers must be set. Many programs rely on the VDPAU wrapper for use on ATI cards, so this can be set from /etc/make.conf.

x11-drivers_xorg-drivers_SET=ATI AMDGPU

Depending on your driver, enable it from rc.conf:





For the status of Intel cards, see To set Intel cards for installation, use this argument in make.conf:


To load an Intel graphics card on start up, insert into rc.conf:


Broadwell, Skylake and Kabylake Intel cards are expected to be functional in FreeBSD 12 (current): as of now, they are represented in graphics/drm-next-kmod . If you're testing this driver on current, set an absolute path, instead of the default, in rc.conf to:



For the status of Nvidia cards, see

The driver for older Nvidia cards can be set to install by using this argument in make.conf:


This card is perhaps loaded through /boot/loader.conf, instead of /etc/rc.conf.

For setting up newer Nvidia cards, see FreeBSD Forums HOWTO: Setup Xorg with NVIDIA's driver.

Multiple Monitors

Use the program xrandr to be able to use and configure multiple monitors. With this program, a basic video card can use both of it's HDMI and DVI outputs for dual configured monitors, as in different outputs for each monitor.

Example of command line that can be used in the file .xinitrc:

xrandr --output DVI-0 --right-of HDMI-0

Using the gui x11/arandr is another option. For the obsolete way of configuring dual monitors for Nvidia cards, see Dual Screen

Disabling overscan

Enabling audio on HDMI can crop the edges of the display on televisions. Toggle the 'overscan' function on the remote to adjust it properly. If the TV doesn't have the overscan function, you can insert into your window manager configuration file:

xrandr --output HDMI-0 --set underscan on

If this stops working, use xrandr to adjust the resolution:

xrandr --output HDMI-0 --auto --set underscan on

To increase it's borders use:

xrandr --output HDMI-0 --set "underscan hborder" 5 --set "underscan vborder" 5

Audio Selection

See Sound card for initial set up. To check the information on which sound output is used, type:

% cat /dev/sndstat

Example of command to choose the soundcard:

sysctl hw.snd.default_unit=0

To make the selection permanent, insert into /etc/sysctl.conf:


Radeon HDMI audio out

Partially supported Radeon video cards, linked to in the section "GPU Hardware" below, usually don't support HDMI audio out. Other Radeon cards require extra configuration.

To do this, edit the line int radeon_audio in /usr/src/sys/dev/drm2/radeon/radeon_drv.c to:

int radeon_audio=1

After this, you may rebuild the modules only or whole kernel as typical:

/usr/src/sys/modules/drm2/make clean; make; make install

See the previous section for selecting HDMI audio out, and reboot. Xorg should automatically load the Radeon driver for this to work. If working from a console, add kld_list="radeonkms" to /etc/rc.conf. You can see the loaded Radeon drivers by typing kldstat.


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