I'm a newbie to FreeBSD, and I like what I've seen so far. I've been trying it on a machine I have here to get an idea of the plusses and minuses of using it as a basic desktop system. I could use a little advice to guide me in the process.

I'm working with Version 4.10 now, simply because at the time I downloaded it, the 5 release kept locking up in the middle of the detection process. Also, my configuration seems to indicate that I should be using XFree86, too, and a lot of the comments here have stated that 5 will begin the use of xorg. However, xorg doesn't seem to support the graphics adapter on the machine I'm working with (though, tweaking XFree86 has been a bit of a challenge!).

The machine I'm working with is a Gateway with a 300MHz PII that had otherwise been retired. It started with 32MB of memory which I replaced with a single 128MB chip. The motherboard has a built-in graphics adapter that was put out by a company called Mpact, which doesn't appear on any support list I've been able to find. Apparently the company was acquired by somebody, who was then acquired by somebody else (ATI, I believe) which then retired the processor. Because of that, when it didn't work right away I didn't put too much effort into it. Instead, I added a Diamond Stealth 2001 I had with the Arklogic 2000pv chip set and 2MB of DRAM (from another retired machine) and used xf86cfg to create a configuration file that disabled the onboard adapter and worked with the Stealth adapter. While I'm not done tweaking it, I have managed to bring up xfce at 800x600 in a low color mode, so far. I intend to try out the various desktops and Window managers I've seen documented but chose xfce to start because the comments here have generally indicated that it's a good choice for a light, speedy, environment to begin. I did a full install of FreeBSD, beginning with a minimal system from a CD, then switching to FTP to continue, which seems to give me more options to choose from. I used xf86cfg to get to the point where I can where I can use xstart to bring up xfce with the a basic desktop on it. First, I got it working with the basic VESA driver, and then with the ARK driver. However, While I don't expect the machine to be a speed demon, it still seems quite slow in comparison to the MS Windows versions (95 and ME) that had previously been on the machine (I did a completely clean install, so there are no Windows components, or anything else, left on the drive).

Considering all of that, my questions are:
- Am I being unrealistic in choosing a machine with a 300MHz processor?
- If I add another 128MB of memory, should I expect to see a dramatic improvement?
- Could the graphics adapter itself be the bottleneck?
- If I picked up a newer graphics adapter that was supported by xorg, would a switch to 5.x and/or xorg be expected to pick up the speed a bit?

Thanks to anyone who might help fill in the blanks.


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