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Changing the console resolution in FreeBSD 12 with UEFI boot

There are many pages on the Web that explain how to change the console resolution in the FreeBSD boot process, either for BIOS or UEFI boot. All of them generally agree that the way to do it is to put a line into /boot/loader.rc.local, either mode X or, more recently for UEFI, gop set X.

With FreeBSD 12, all of that went out the window.

FreeBSD 12 now defaults to the “Lua loader”, that is, the last stage of the boot process is now implemented in Lua rather than Forth. I’m not sure why, but probably because Lua is just the embedded language all the cool kids are using these days.

The thing is, while the manpages on loader(8) and related topics confidently imply that loader.rc.local is a platform-independent source of configuration data, in reality it is not.


The simplest way to work around the issue is to switch back to the Forth-based loader:

cd /boot
ln -f loader_4th.efi loader.efi

This will restore loader.rc.local to its former glory, i.e. it will be read and applied.

Do not, as I just did, try to cp loader_4th.efi loader.efi; cp overwrites existing destination files and it just so happens that loader.efi is loader_lua.efi (a hard link), so the cp command will overwrite the Lua loader with the Forth one.


The alternative is to replace loader.rc.local with its newfangled Lua replacement:

cd /boot/lua
cat >local.lua <<<EOF
loader.perform("whatever you want")

Put your preferred loader command inside the quotes; if you want to run multiple commands, each needs its own loader.perform() call, I think.

By the way, even though gop set X works for me on the loader command line, it does not work in either loader.rc.local or lua/local.lua. The older mode X command works everywhere.

Written on April 29, 2019