Story 2014-06-24 3PG FreeBSD's new console project is almost ready for primetime

FreeBSD's new console project is almost ready for primetime

in linux on (#3PG)
story imageFor a server OS, FreeBSD has certainly had what I'll affectionately call a "lousy" console for a long time. In fact, it was my first disappointment the first time I installed FreeBSD on a server. Fortunately, I'm not the only one who felt that way.

Phoronix now reports The FreeBSD "Newcons" effort to provide a new VT console driver continues making progress for its more proper debut in the next major FreeBSD release. The new code includes full Unicode support including wide characters (Chinese, Japanese), kernel mode setting, better font maps, and support for more graphical modes to provide prettier consoles during boot time etc. It is expected to be included in the next major release.

The FreeBSD wiki Newcons page has the details.
Reply 8 comments

Really? The console? (Score: 2, Interesting)

by on 2014-06-24 16:38 (#28Y)

Maybe I'm old.

I don't get it. VT100 support. Check. Good to go, right? What else do you want from your console?

Not good enough? Fire up emacs and console from there.

What more is there?

Re: Really? The console? (Score: 1)

by on 2014-06-24 16:44 (#290)

I'm supposing you never downloaded a file with foreign characters then. I have this problem in Gentoo a lot. I download two files with distinct names, but all I see in a file listing is "??????". I wouldn't say the console is horrid in FreeBSD, but it's outdated and small problems like that have been piling up over time.

Re: Really? The console? (Score: 0)

by Anonymous Coward on 2014-06-24 22:24 (#293)

Good point. Same problem in windows with chinese fonts. Programs will not use the files and file management is a pain. Yes, I know, fixable ... but still a pain.

Re: Really? The console? (Score: 1)

by on 2014-06-30 15:24 (#29R)

Huh. Yeah, I guess I never came across that - but I can see where that'd be an issue.

Well, good on 'em, then!

Re: Really? The console? (Score: 2, Insightful)

by on 2014-06-25 08:56 (#295)

I don't ask much from a console, but my Linux virtual consoles generally look pretty good including - up until recent kernel changes I think - some faint bitmapped graphics in the back. The font is usually chosen to render cleanly at whatever resolution my monitor is running at. On FreeBSD my 1440x900 screen console usually renders as though the terminal were expecting 800x600 and vidcontrol provides some but not enough control over that to make it pleasing to the eye. Sounds like this is an improvement. To me, at least.

Maybe not lousy... (Score: 1)

by on 2014-06-24 16:40 (#28Z)

I've never had a problem with the FreeBSD console, and vidcontrol works well enough to change the text size etc. REALLY looking forward to being able to switch away from X11 to a terminal on my laptop though.

Good ... but how important? (Score: 1)

by on 2014-06-26 13:17 (#29B)

First, let's be clear that I think it is dandy to address this shortcoming.

Having said that, and the tiny sprinkling of FreeBSD workstations aside, who uses the local text-mode console in a FreeBSD server for anything aside from dealing with hardware failure and dealing with a boot process which has gone awry?

All my text mode interaction with FreeBSD servers is through ssh, whether from a text mode terminal (very occasionally) or using an X terminal (most of the time). Does this change have any effect on that at all? Because it appears to work fine as is.

[2][root@fnjomega ~/unitest]# locale
[2][root@fnjomega ~]# mkdir unitest
[2][root@fnjomega ~]# cd unitest
[2][root@fnjomega ~/unitest]# touch ͲͻΉΏπξηθ
[2][root@fnjomega ~/unitest]# cat > ЉЏГЯШ
now is the time
[2][root@fnjomega ~/unitest]# ls -l
total 4
-rw-r--r-- 1 root wheel 0 Jun 26 09:07 ??ΉΏπξηθ
-rw-r--r-- 1 root wheel 16 Jun 26 09:08 ЉЏГЯШ
[2][root@fnjomega ~/unitest]# cat ЉЏГЯШ
now is the time
[2][root@fnjomega ~]# rm ͲͻΉΏπξηθ
[2][root@fnjomega ~/unitest]#

I'm guessing the "??" in the Greek string above is a font shortcoming rather than a basic problem using unicode in bash on FreeBSD.

Re: Good ... but how important? (Score: 1)

by on 2014-06-30 17:04 (#29V)

You wind up using it a bit in the early stages of setting up a new server, and it's pretty unpleasant on the eyes - jaggy, blocky fonts and all that. It also somewhat affects your visual impression of the boot-up process if you're sitting in front of a workstation. PC-BSD for example - this will allow them to have a slightly more impressive graphical boot up (graphical still meaning console interface, but perhaps something equivalent to the penguin at the top of a Linux console running a framebuffer, for example.