FreeBSD Administration

FreeBSD on a Dell M1330 XPS Laptop

    The Dell M1330 XPS is a fantastic laptop.  It’s fast, light, and has everything I need to use built right in. Getting FreeBSD to run on it wasn’t much of a problem but it did take sme work to get it to recognize all the different hardware in it. This is an account of what I did to get FReeBSD 7.x to work with the hardware. I still don’t have it working with all the hardware (or not as well as I would like), so this is an on going article that I will be updating as more and more of the hardware is supported.

The Dell M1330 Hardware

    The Dell M1330 XPS is also similar to the M1530 XPS (the M1530 is just a larger screen) so this article may alloy to the M1530 as well. The hardware may vary slightly from unit to unit as you can order this laptop with a number of different hardware options.  Here is what is listed in mine.

  • Dell M1330 XPS
  • T7500 2.2Ghz Dual Core Duo CPU
  • 2GB RAM
  • 200GB 7200rpm Hard Drive
  • NVidia GeForce 8400M GS
  • Dell Truemobile 355 Bluetooth
  • UPEK Touchchip Fingerprint reader
  • Intel 82801HEM/HBM SATA Controller
  • Ricoh xD/MMC/SD/Memory Stick Controller
  • Ricoh OHCI 1394 Firewire Controller
  • Dell Laptop Integrated Webcam
  • Intel Wireless 3945ABG NIC
  • Broadcom Netlink Fast Ethernet NIC
  • SigmaTel HD Audio Codec

Installing FreeBSD

    The problem with partitions.

    FreeBSD 7.x will boot and install on this Dell without any problems if you are going to fully replace the Windows Vista that came with the system.  If you are going to try an dual boot it (as I wanted to) then you will run into problems.  There are already 3 primary partitions on the drive.  One for the Dell diagnostics, one for Vista, and one for the Media Direct stuff.  I wanted to put XP, Vista, and FreeBSD on the3 laptop. Shouldn’t be a problem since a system can have up to 4 primary partitions and I don’t need the Dell or the Media Direct stuff.  Well it didn’t go that well…. On bootup the Dell BIOS looks for those partitions and will erase the partition (or at least hose it) so that I could not boot. I tried everything and finaly gave up on trying to have the operating systems.  Just FreeBSD and Vista. 
    I’m not going to go into how to dual boot FreeBSD and Vista. There are a number of howto’s out there on the net.  I might write some thing up in the future though. 
    P.S. If anyone gets XP, Vista, and FreeBSD partitions working on this latop, can the drop me a note… or better yet, write something up and I’ll post it here.

    The built-in NIC is a 10/100MB Broadcom BCM5906M. FreeBSD 7.x does not yet support this NIC (at least as of 25-06-2008) but there was enough information out there to put together a patch.  There was a patch submitted to the FreeBSD mailing list by Benjamin Close that added this device for 7.0-RELEASE but I was not able to get it to apply on my FreeBSD 7-Stable so I rolled my own.  Benjamin’s patches are located at and where submitted for MFC so they may be in the newer stable version by the time you read this. 

    Click here to download the patch for the bge interface and do the following to apply it…

# cd /usr/src
# patch < *.diff

    Check to make sure all the patches applied without any errors, then rebuild your kernel and reboot.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *