Friday, November 1, 2013

Newcons system console project update

Aleksandr Rybalko continues to make good progress on the FreeBSD-Foundation sponsored Newcons project.  This project will provide a replacement for the legacy syscons system console.  Newcons provides a number of improvements, including better integration with graphics modes, and broader character set support.

FreeBSD's introduction of Kernel Mode Setting (KMS)-enabled graphics drivers for X11 produced a regression when combined with syscons: it was no longer possible to switch back to a console after starting X.  Newcons integrates with KMS and restores this ability.

Newcons adds UTF-8 support and currently includes Latin and Cyrillic characters; additional ones will be added over time.  Aleksandr has an example of Cyrillic display and keyboard input in his blog posting at http://raybsd.blogspot.com/2013/10/newcons-international-keyboard-input.html

I have switched my laptop, a Thinkpad X220, to a Newcons kernel.  In addition to the improved X11 integration mentioned above, a happy side effect is that suspend and resume again works.

Newcons has a small number of outstanding issues which are currently being fixed, with integration into FreeBSD HEAD to follow shortly.  More details on the project can be found on the FreeBSD wiki, at https://wiki.freebsd.org/Newcons.

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