BSD Hardware

Letting the developers of FreeBSD know what kinds of hardware that it's being installed on can help development

FreeBSD, as you might be aware, has limited developer resources, so it makes sense for them to prioritize working on things that will get the most 'bang for their buck', so to speak. But how do they know what to focus on? There are lots of expensive ways to do that, which we won't get into here, and also some free ways. One of the easiest free ways1 is to use a program called sysutils/hw-probe.

You install hw-probe in the usual way, either by pkg: pkg install sysutils/hw-probe, or with ports2. Once it's installed, read the package messages, which tell you to run hw-info -all -upload which will take a few seconds, generate a report, upload them to, and give you a link to your personal report, showing you what hardware got detected and its current status. You can look at mine at this link.

The website says that it doesn't collect things like MAC addresses or other personal information. If you omit the -upload argument, you can look through the information that the probe collects to verify that it doesn't expose anything that you don't want it to.

So, should you upload your scan to the database? I can't answer that for you. You might have good reasons for uploading it and you might have good reasons for not uploading it. In the situation with my personal computer, I don't mind giving this information if it means that the team will use it to produce a better product3. I also don't mind giving this kind of information voluntarily if I'm asked nicely.


  1. 'Free' referring to price. It does take a few minutes of time and some bandwidth, so it's not completely and utterly free, but you get the idea.
  2. If you're installing from ports, I'm going to assume that you know how to install something from ports and don't need me to tekk you how to do it
  3. Spinning up a bunch of VM's and submitting a bunch of nearly identical probes probably won't help as much, but if I'm actually using VM's, then it might actually be useful.

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