Using Intel graphics cards on Debian GNU/kFreeBSD

(Last updated 2011-03-15)

Recently, I installed Debian GNU/kFreeBSD and experienced the problem of my Intel graphics card only being used at a resolution of 1024x768, despite having a 1440x900 LCD monitor. Needless to say, I found this quite frustrating, but initially assumed it to be a driver issue that the kFreeBSD devs would eventually sort out.

However, after a few days of Googling, I eventually stumbled across 915resolution. Apparently, this problem used to exist with Linux, and was simply "fixed" by a hack involving replacing one of the modes in the video BIOS with a different resolution. This page tells you how you can fix up your resolution on a Debian GNU/kFreeBSD system, if you have one of the affected Intel cards.

First, download either my own version of 915resolution, or the one supplied by the original developer. The source code in both is the same; the only modification I have made is in the Makefile, so that it installs to /usr/local instead of to /usr. The upstream version comes with a binary that will not run under GNU/kFreeBSD because it was built on Linux; whichever one you download, you must compile the source yourself with the usual method:

$ make && sudo make install

Once you have built and installed 915resolution, add a line like this to your /etc/rc.local (before the exit 0 statement):

/usr/local/sbin/915resolution 54 1440 900 32

You may need to change the arguments passed to it for your own purposes. To find a list of modes supported by your video BIOS, run the following command as root:

# 915resolution -l

The first number (54 in my case) must correspond to one of the mode numbers. The next two numbers are the resolution (1440x900 for me), and the last one (32) is the number of bits per pixel. You may like to experiment with this manually before putting it into your /etc/rc.local.

And that's it! Next time you boot into Debian GNU/kFreeBSD, your display should use its full resolution.