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FREESCO Support • View topic - When is hardware too old?

When is hardware too old?

Support section for FREESCO v0.4.x

When is hardware too old?

Postby PurpleMeanie » Mon Dec 17, 2012 8:41 am

I have been running Freesco for close to a decade. Initially starting with a broadband connection @ 600Kbps. And for the last few years that has been 10Mbps. Then doubled to 20Mbps a couple of months back. All running sweet on Freesco v4.00. Speedtest.net always showing within 98% of the 20Mbps speed.

I have just been upgraded to a new VirginMedia Netgear router. I set this to "modem only" mode. And confirmed the modem supplies 62Mbps as a broadband connection. As tested with Speedtest.net and a Win7 laptop directly connected to that modem.

I then reconnected to my old Freesco network setup. Gave everything a quick reboot to be sure all was happy.

BUT... now it is connected to my old Freesco router I am getting only a fraction of that 60Mbps speed. I seem to be stuck at 20Mbps. (Even dropping to 10-15Mbps some mornings)


So I am starting to troubleshoot. And a question for the Freesco users out there. How slow an old PC can you get away with?

I am still running 1996 technology. An old AMD586 with only 64MB of old 72-pin memory. Is this now too old and slow to keep up?

The network cards are both 3Com 3c905 100bTX. And this then connects to a Gigabit network run around the house via a couple of network switches.

Can someone give a quick glance over my report.txt attached and give any comments please. Do I need to just replace the hardware now with something newer? Or is there a setting buried in Freesco I need to tweak to release the full 60Mbps to my house network?


I will also be stripping out my network later today to check the fault is not with that. I know some of the cabling is pretty old now. It is just a bit of a pain to reach to mess around with at the moment. So I thought I'd come and check in with you guys to see how old your kit is you run, and what kind of spec kit you get away with to run modern 100Mbps broadband.
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Re: When is hardware too old?

Postby PurpleMeanie » Mon Dec 17, 2012 8:47 am

Ignore this post.... still hunting...
Last edited by PurpleMeanie on Mon Dec 17, 2012 9:38 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: When is hardware too old?

Postby PurpleMeanie » Mon Dec 17, 2012 9:16 am

Last edited by PurpleMeanie on Mon Dec 17, 2012 9:39 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: When is hardware too old?

Postby PurpleMeanie » Mon Dec 17, 2012 9:29 am

Stripped back the network to just a Win7 Laptop and a single Ethernet cable to the Freesco box. Cutting out all other computers, switches, cables, etc. Just the laptop, the router, and the VirginModem.

And still I am stuck at a low speed. Now it is 10Mbps!! Which is even slower than it was previously on the old hardware.

Yet when I test with that same laptop directly connected to the modem, I get 62Mbps.


So what is the slow point here? Do I need a new NIC? New Router hardware? Or a tweak in Freesco settings?

Puzzled...

(And also I just seen my new post count and laughed. I ain't that much of a newbie!! I just don't have the time to spend round these parts I used to. Guess a forum update wiped the old post counts. :))
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Re: When is hardware too old?

Postby Lightning » Mon Dec 17, 2012 11:57 am

It definitely takes a lot more horsepower to run a broadband connection and I am pretty sure the AMD is not enough. I would suggest going to something like a PIII in the 400Mhz+ range and install a 686 kernel to support it's internal processes. I would also recommend installing a Gigabit internal network card. FREESCO now supports the rtl8169 chip set which comes on a number of cards and the list is posted here viewtopic.php?f=1&t=17430 . Even though your network speed doesn't require that type of card, it was a noticeable difference on my network with response and it is easier for the switch to deal with. Of course I use a 1Ghz PIII on my own router, but it has a LOT of services and servers running on it as well.

Hopefully some others on the forum have some experience they can share with regards to horsepower versus bandwidth requirements.
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Re: When is hardware too old?

Postby PurpleMeanie » Mon Dec 17, 2012 12:30 pm

Hi Lightning,

Thanks for getting back to me. It will be a pity to retire the old AMD586 and its monster 133Mhz CPU after just short of ten years non-stop Freesco'ing!! It was happy to keep up with the 20Mbps, but looks like 60Mbps is scaring it!!

Looks like a project for Xmas then. Into the scrap kit to find something of use. I may just bite the bullet and jump up into the early P4 world if that makes sense. Get something ready for the next Ten Years. (I think the AMD Athlon 1Ghz I have around were a little hot \ power hungry) Trying to get a balance of future proofing as well as keeping the power needs down. Will certainly try and dig out some rtl8169's

Ah - that also means I'll have to actually have a FAN on my router's CPU now!! Now where did I put those Zalaman Coolers...


Still be interested to hear what other kit is still in use out there on fast broadband connections. I don't really run many packages beyond the stock router. But there is often six to ten devices in use behind the router. PCs, TVs, BluRay players, Phones, tablets.... certainly a different setup in the house compared with ten years ago!!
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Re: When is hardware too old?

Postby Lightning » Tue Dec 18, 2012 4:11 pm

I "suspect" what would work VERY nicely for your purposes would be a PII 333Mhz slot 1 machine. They do not require a fan when they have the large heat sink and I ran one for quite a while with very good performance. They are also not very power hungry. If you have access to any recycling center they are worth there weight in metal and plastic. I might even still have one around if you want to pay shipping.

I took a look and I do still have a "HP small PC 20" in a pile of old stuff.
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Re: When is hardware too old?

Postby PurpleMeanie » Wed Dec 19, 2012 5:08 am

A Dell PIII 500Mhz has popped out of the woodwork. Slot 1 classic. Comically it already has Freesco on it as I had built it for a mate who doesn't use it now. Got it back from him last night. Just need to update the floppy and good to go. Then need to upgrade the old network cards for the better bandwidth.

I also have in the boxes a few bigger, spikier heat sinks. So will try a few runs without fan. Just have to remind myself what was "too hot" for a CPU of that age.

I've also found a couple of Intel and VIA boards with Celerons in. And a PIII 700Mhz Coppermine. Not sure if the latter works yet. So a combination is coming out of the heaps. Years of hoarding are paying off :D
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Re: When is hardware too old?

Postby PurpleMeanie » Thu Dec 20, 2012 1:44 pm

Now this is a new one to me... cleaned up the old Dell and booted it up. All seems happy. Especially once I replaced the CMOS battery.

BUT... I now have an issue I have never seen before. When in the BIOS the clock is running at mega-speed!! It is counting at one minute per second. Which has it roaring away like mad.

Should I scrap the machine now? Or will Freesco be able to keep the time correctly and ignore the BIOS clock? The trouble is a reboot of the server would seem to take a DAY or two according to the calendar, so would Freesco pull that kind of error back again checking with the time server on boot?
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Re: When is hardware too old?

Postby Lightning » Thu Dec 20, 2012 7:52 pm

Hmmmm a very good question, to which I am not sure. I know that BIOS time and Linux time are not the same thing and a time correction will reset the BIOS clock accurately. But whether the time is re-read from the BIOS or if it is stored and used differently I am not sure. One thing to consider would be to see if there is an upgrade BIOS for your machine and try to flash the BIOS with it.
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Re: When is hardware too old?

Postby PurpleMeanie » Sat Dec 22, 2012 9:00 am

I have reflashed the A10 Dell BIOS that was already on the ancient beast. A10 being the newest one available for this old pre-millennium Dell. (Big credit to Dell for still having pages of data on these ancient systems!!)

BIOS display has reverted to sanity mode again. Time has slowed back down to "normal" again. Have noticed a couple of other items like the Service TAG reappearing in the BIOS so I assume this was corrupted CMOS.

So all good to go now. Will be whacking the Freesco 045 Beta on there to test complete with a pair of rtl8169s sourced from Ebay. 640MB of PC100 RAM located and shoved into the memory slots. 1GB Compact Flash card installed as "hard disk".

I have killed the onboard NIC, Audio, COM and LPR ports as I assume these have no real use to Freesco.


Now just have to remind myself about RAMDISKs, kernels and the like to get the best use out of the system. Trouble with Freesco is it works so well that I forget too many of the settings between installs. :)
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Re: When is hardware too old?

Postby Lightning » Sat Dec 22, 2012 2:49 pm

If you are afraid that you might make a mistake. The chances are high that you will never learn anything.
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Re: When is hardware too old?

Postby dingetje » Fri Jan 04, 2013 12:56 pm

Nice thread, I especially liked "Years of hoarding are paying off" :D

I use a COM port as control port for an old UPS to survive a (rare) power dip. The UPS is controlled and monitored by my "NUT" package.
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Re: When is hardware too old?

Postby PurpleMeanie » Fri Jan 04, 2013 1:20 pm

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Re: When is hardware too old?

Postby PurpleMeanie » Sat Feb 16, 2013 5:25 pm

Hahaha..... errr... Wow!

This is comical. Finally have got round to getting the PIII into place running Beta v0.4.5 (b014) and did a test using speedtest.net.

Ping 9ms
Download 61.19Mbps
Upload 2.91Mbps

Nice!! And I'm not even on the top package from my ISP!!! This is a pretty bonkers speed. 100 times the speed compared with when I first installed Freesco in 2003\4.

This does go to show something in that old PC was just being pushed too far. Will now watch how the Beta v45 behaves.
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