I'm looking for a new desktop (tower) system to run Debian 11. I'd like to avoid having to download proprietary drivers for the hardware to work properly.


  1. Reasonably recent CPU (Intel i7 or better equivalent)
  2. 16GB of RAM (upgradeable)
  3. Two screens with resolutions higher than 1920x1080

Especially with point 3 I had a bad experience in the past: On an older system with Intel UHD 550 (IIRC) graphics hardware, I had to add an external card (GeForce GT730) to even recognise my bigger screen, which seemed to work fine with the free Nouveau drivers, but crashed my XFCE session when sharing my screen on Zoom. I had to install proprietary NVIDIA drivers which are working OK now.

  1. Is there a graphics configuration that works without having to install proprietary drivers?
  2. Are there any built-in options (such as Intel UHD 770), or will I need to get an extra card?
  3. Are AMD systems/graphics cards better supported by free drivers than Intel ones?
  4. If I need an external card, which one would have the best (Free Software) driver support?

NB: There's no need for fancy 3D gaming acceleration.

1 Answer 1


After reading the Phoronix article Intel Arc Graphics Running On Fully Open-Source Linux Driver, I decided for a system based around the following hardware:

  • Intel Core i7 13700KF CPU
  • MSI PRO B760M-P DDR4 mATX Motherboard

Here is my experience:

  • Debian 11 (bullseye):
    • Booting the live ISO used only one of my 1920x1080 screens (the other one wasn't detected) at its native resolution, albeit using the CPU-based (llvmpipe) renderer. I found this encouraging, so I installed the system.
    • The installed system also used only one screen, but at resolution 1024x768 which is pretty bad.
    • Since the Phoronix article mentioned I need a newer kernel than bullseye's default 5.10, I managed to upgrade it to 6.0 (via Debian Backports).
    • I also installed the i915 firmware as per the helpful example in the Firmware missing from Debian page. Still no improvement to the resolution, renderer or second screen though.
    • The Phoronix article also mentioned Mesa should be >=22.2, unfortunately I couldn't find a way to install that on the system due to package version conflicts (any hints on how to do this are welcome).
    • At this point, I gave up on Debian 11 (bullseye).
  • Debian 12 (bookworm):
    • I found the package versions of bookworm more promising as the kernel is already >=6.0 (currently 6.1.0-3) and mesa >=22.2 (currently 22.3). I used the Debian Installer Bookworm Alpha 2 release.
    • There's no live ISO (yet), so I did a straight install. Again, the installer image used the (one) screen's native resolution of 1920x1080, but the installed system went back to 1024x768 and again, the 2nd screen wasn't recognised.
    • Since the bookworm release, the firmware-misc-nonfree package (which includes the Arc firmware) is in the non-free-firmware section (it used to be in non-free), so that section needs to be added to the /etc/apt/sources.list file. Still, the i915 kernel module wasn't used yet; dmesg |grep i915 revealed that the kernel needs an extra parameter. This issue was already mentioned in the Phoronix article and still applies to the bookworm kernel.
    • To add the parameter i915.force_probe=56a1 to the kernel command line (check with cat /proc/cmdline), I needed to extend the value of GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT in /etc/default/grub to include i915.force_probe=56a1, followed by running sudo update-grub to apply it.
    • And after a reboot, success: Both screens came up at their native resolution and the glxinfo |grep renderer returned Mesa Intel (R) Arc(tm) A750 Graphics (DG2) instead of llvmpipe.

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