Running FreeBSD on a Dell Inspiron 8600

I have a Dell Inspiron 8600 with the nVidia GeForce FX Go5200, and a 1920x1200 15.4" LCD. I installed with FreeBSD 5.2 then updated to -current (3/Feb/04) to be able to use if_ndis. I have the base Centrino wireless (802.11b) option, Firewire, and DVD writer combo drive.

Of some interest may be my dhclient-exit-hooks script which sets up tinyproxy to conect to the correct upstream depending on where I am connected (home/work/unknown) so that I don't have to keep changing browser settings, as well as mounting NFS drives. It used to change my hostname so that it resolved to the IP just leased, but that screws X over, so now it just remains as inchoate.localdomain.


The if_bfe driver handles the onboard ethernet fine
bfe0: <Broadcom BCM4401 Fast Ethernet> mem 0xfaffe000-0xfaffffff irq 11 at device 0.0 on pci2
bfe0: Ethernet address: 00:0d:56:b3:99:6e
miibus0: <MII bus> on bfe0
bmtphy0: <BCM4401 10/100baseTX PHY> on miibus0
bmtphy0:  10baseT, 10baseT-FDX, 100baseTX, 100baseTX-FDX, auto
A commit was made to the bfe driver on the 2nd of March 2004 to fix a hang when a bad packet was received.


I am using the nVidia binary only drivers (the X.Org ones don't seem to work but I didn't try too hard). These can be installed from /usr/ports/x11/nvidia-driver. I used this X config file. This configuration file drives both the LCD panel and the composite video out. The LCD remains the primary display, but applications can be run on the TV out display by setting the DISPLAY variable to ":0.1". eg
env DISPLAY=:0.1 mplayer /tmp/movie.avi
The video card seems capable of driving both 3d and XV in both displays simultaneously. It should also be possible to drive any 2 of the VGA, TV and LCD outputs by changing the ConnectedMonitor settings.

I was sent an email by Ian Langworth who has an Xorg config file for an i8600 with a 1680x1050 display which you may find useful.


I got the driver from here and unpacked it with unzip. I then did...
# cd /sys/modules/ndis ; make ; make install
# cd /sys/modules/if_ndis
# ndiscvt -i ~/Centrino/Drivers/WINXP/w70n51.inf -s ~/Centrino/Drivers/WINXP/w70n51.sys -o ndis_driver_data.h
# make ; make install
And then kldload if_ndis, and voila!
ndis0: <Intel(R) PRO/Wireless LAN 2100 3A Mini PCI Adapter> mem 0xfaffc000-0xfaffcfff irq 11 at device 3.0 on pci2
ndis0: NDIS API version: 5.1
ndis0: 802.11 address: 00:04:23:a4:12:74
ndis0: 11b rates: 11Mbps 2Mbps 1Mbps
I found that it doesn't seem to show any AP's without configuring it first, so an 'ifconfig ndis0 ssid default up' gets it talking to my DWL-1000AP.

DVD/CD Combo Drive

I have successfully read DVD's, and written DVD+R and DVD-R media (with a firmware update that makes the drive think its a 5500A instead of a 5100A from


Daniel O'Connor
Last modified: Mon May 9 10:47:17 CST 2005