ivoras’ FreeBSD blog Just another FreeBSD Developer’s weblog

January 9, 2008

fit-pc, part II

Filed under: FreeBSD — Tags: , , , , , , — ivoras @ 7:13 pm

Unfortunately, the FreeBSD boot loader doesn’t work on fit-pc, though apparently loaders of other BSD’s and Linux’s GRUB work withot problems. Yay for FreeBSD. I tried many things, including using GRUB (which boots the pre-installed Ubuntu), without luck. I agree with the diagnosis proposed by other similar users: something in the loader disables USB in the middle of booting. At the end, I took its drive to another machine, installed FreeBSD there and returned it.

FreeBSD is not exactly a good choice for fit-pc. There are no drivers for its USB 2 (USB1 works) controller, its audio controller and its built-in hardware crypto acceleration (AMD Geode AES). All of these things work on Linux. On the other hand, at least the network ports (Realtek chip) and other basic components (IDE controller, motherboard devices) work.

Performance is also comparatively bad. Compare these results from Linux:

                     INDEX VALUES
TEST                                        BASELINE     RESULT      INDEX

Dhrystone 2 using register variables        116700.0   571456.1       49.0
Double-Precision Whetstone                      55.0      145.2       26.4
Execl Throughput                                43.0      670.2      155.9
File Copy 1024 bufsize 2000 maxblocks         3960.0    39876.0      100.7
File Copy 256 bufsize 500 maxblocks           1655.0    13583.0       82.1
File Copy 4096 bufsize 8000 maxblocks         5800.0    81499.0      140.5
Pipe Throughput                              12440.0   119989.9       96.5
Pipe-based Context Switching                  4000.0    50492.8      126.2
Process Creation                               126.0     3156.8      250.5
Shell Scripts (8 concurrent)                     6.0       49.3       82.2
System Call Overhead                         15000.0   311780.0      207.9
     FINAL SCORE                                                     101.8

with these from FreeBSD:

                     INDEX VALUES
TEST                                        BASELINE     RESULT      INDEX

Dhrystone 2 using register variables        116700.0   693280.0       59.4
Double-Precision Whetstone                      55.0      133.3       24.2
Execl Throughput                                43.0      354.3       82.4
File Copy 1024 bufsize 2000 maxblocks         3960.0    15604.0       39.4
File Copy 256 bufsize 500 maxblocks           1655.0     9514.0       57.5
File Copy 4096 bufsize 8000 maxblocks         5800.0    20514.0       35.4
Pipe Throughput                              12440.0   133086.9      107.0
Pipe-based Context Switching                  4000.0    43656.6      109.1
Process Creation                               126.0     1571.3      124.7
Shell Scripts (8 concurrent)                     6.0       56.0       93.3
System Call Overhead                         15000.0   127173.8       84.8
     FINAL SCORE                                                      66.3

(bigger is better)

What puzzles me is that it still “feels” snappier – ssh key generation and handshake are even significantly faster than on Linux (unfortunately I didn’t save Linux results so I can’t claim this objectively).


  1. Hi. Thanks for publishing this investigation. You have probably saved me a lot of heartache. I am running XP on the FitPC because like you I was astonished at how badly Ubuntu performed (swapping) but mainly because I couldn’t get wireless working.
    XP works very well, with the exception of the audio drivers which I have not managed to get working without annoying ticks when adjusting the master volume. I’m not a MS advocate but XP works much better than Ubuntu out of the box.
    My aim was to install PC-BSD and run KDE via VNC giving me a (hopefully) low overhead graphical network interface for my apps (amarok basically). So, when I get my Homeplug AV kit I guess I’ll now install the optimised Gentoo and load KDE manually.
    Pity. I wanted to make the move to BSD as my UNIX of choice.

    Comment by Ken Carroll — July 11, 2008 @ 10:29 am

  2. On the bright side, there have been some significant developments in FreeBSD lately: there’s a soon-to-be-committed crypto driver, the boot loader has been updated and improved (I think 7.1 will have the new loader, 8.x certainly), and the USB thing is a matter of a simple tweak, which I hope to get committed soon. Audio is a no-go.

    Comment by ivoras — July 11, 2008 @ 10:55 am

  3. With Fit-PC2 you save 96% of the power use by a standard desktop.Fit-PC2 is the most power efficient PC,fit-PC2 is made of an embedded grade motherboard in a die-cast aluminum shell in the design no millimeter and no milliWatt is wasted.

    Comment by Fit PC — November 15, 2010 @ 11:02 am

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