For the better part of my adult life, I’ve been dealing with the myth that if there were certain settings that could speed up Windows, Microsoft would make those settings the default for the operating system. The pundits who perpetuate this myth have their reasons for doing so, but that didn’t make them true. Now, [...]
The cost of a decent SSD skipped the $299 mark and zoomed all the way down below $249.
Super Talent’s MasterDrive MX is available in several capacities, but the most interesting one to people who want performance on the cheap is the 30 GB model, which Newegg is selling for $239.
There’ve been a few times that I’ve met someone who was stuck in an old Windows 98 PC because it had all their software and data on it, it was set up the way they liked it, they may or may not have all the installation media, and it would take several days’ worth of labor to set up a new one like the old one.
So usually in that situation I just bubblegum and duct tape the system together as best I can.
No longer. Not now that I’ve discovered PC Mover.
I’ve talked system optimization a lot over the past week. I think I’m done for now, so I’ll talk about why you would want to do these things, and how I got interested in it.
So, I rebuilt a Dell Dimension 4100 last night. I didn’t make any hardware changes other than replacing the Western Digital hard drive inside, which was on its last legs.
Along the way, I learned a few things.
I found an interesting editorial called If I had my own Linux Distro. He’s got some good ideas but I wish he’d known what he was talking about on some others.
Every once in a while I get a question like this one, which showed up Thursday night on this page:
I found a search in my log analysis for “disadvantages of windows 3.1,” which I found interesting. I can talk about that.
Freesco works. Yesterday was D-Day. I brought a copy of Freesco over to Gatermann’s, set it up, and watched it go. Well, at first it didn’t–it got the two Ethernet cards confused. So I switched the cards and it fired up. Absolutely smashing, as they’d say in Britain. I dumped it to his old 1.2-gig Quantum Bigfoot hard drive, and it boots up in about 35 seconds. When living on a hard drive, Freesco wants to dual-boot with MS-DOS. He didn’t have DOS on that drive, so Tom dug out an old Windows 95 boot disk, with which I SYSed the drive. Then I just took the file router.bat that Freesco dumped to the drive and copied it to autoexec.bat. Then I rebooted and we got a laugh.
Starting Windows 95…. Then it briefly displayed the Windows 95 splash screen. Then the splash screen went away. Loading Linux, it said. Ah, Linux comes and kicks Windows aside. We both got a chuckle.
And Tom had a great observation. “The only time I ever have to reboot Linux is when I take the system down to try a different distribution,” he said. That’s about right.
I was talking about what a great use this would be for old, no-longer-useful PCs–as long as it can run Linux, it can be a caching DNS, a router, or something else useful. That means any 386 with 8 MB of RAM is a candidate.
But don’t throw away the 286s yet. Then someone had to one-up me. Dev Teelucksingh, master of DOS utilities, sent me a link: http://www-acc.scu.edu/~jsarich/ieweb/main.htm .
What is it? A DOS-based router. System requirements: DOS 5 or higher, 286 CPU, 1 MB RAM. Astounding. So even a 286 can be useful, even in this day and age. Licensed under GPL, so it’s free. No caching DNS, but hey, on a 286 with a meg of RAM and running DOS, whaddya want? And just giving the program a quick look, a hard disk should be optional–the program is 430K zipped, so it should fit on a high-density floppy along with DOS, HIMEM.SYS, and packet drivers for the NICs. Boot it off a 5.25″ 1.2-meg drive just to see what looks you’ll get.
Come to think of it, I have a 286 with a meg of RAM around here somewhere. Part of me (the insane part, surely) wants to give it a go. The question is, can I get two NICs working in 8-bit slots, since I know that 286 only had one or two 16-bit slots and I think they’re occupied by the disk controller and video card…
Here’s Dev (his site’s definitely worth a look even if you have no interest in IP masquerade–I’ve never seen a better collection of DOS programs):
Been reading your posts regarding IP masquerading and I found two DOS solutions (just waiting to get a ISA networking card to try either of them )
IProute v1.10 http://www.mischler.com/iproute/IPRoute is PC-based router software for networks running the Internet Protocol (IP). It can act as a demand-dial router between your LAN and a PPP or SLIP link, and allow transparent access from your LAN to the Internet using a single IP address through network address translation (NAT). It can also act as a PPP server for dial-in connections, or route between LANs. Other features include routing between multiple ethernet and serial interfaces, packet filtering, RIP, and event and packet logging to a remote syslog daemon. More recent features include proxy ARP, remote management via telnet and ftp, support for RealAudio & RealVideo, a RADIUS client, and a DHCP client. Shareware. (1 hour demo available for download)
The Internet Extender is a DOS based program designed to function as an Internet Gateway Router that performs Network Address Port Translation. The program must be used in an multi-homed machine, or a machine with two network interface adapters connecting to separate networks. The two possible configurations are: 1.) Connected to the Internet through a Modem 2.) Connected to the Internet through a Network Interface Card
Freeware, (published under GNU license) so source code is also available
A partial retraction. OK, Southwestern Bell isn’t responsible for all my missing mail. I had a second POP3 client running that I forgot about, which was grabbing some of my mail. But my computer couldn’t find a DHCP server all day, so even though one problem wasn’t their fault, another one was. So I’m still gonna write Casey Kassum with a request and dedication: Todd Rundgren’s “I Hate My Frickin’ ISP,” dedicated to my beloved Southwestern Bell.
Running, uh, no, executing Windows NT 4.0 on a Pentium-75 with 16 MB RAM. Disclaimer: Before you start thinking things that include my name and words like “crack” or “LSD,” let me state emphatically that this was not my idea. I was only following orders. (I’m not on drugs. I’m not nuts–I’m certifiably sane. I’m not even depressed.) All that clear? Good.
That said, the stated minimum hardware requirements for NT 4 are a 486 CPU with 12 MB RAM. And I did once build a print server out of an old IBM PS/2 that had a 486SLC2/50 CPU and 16 megs of RAM. Hey, I was young and I needed the money, OK? Besides, it was a very experimental time and I didn’t think anybody would get hurt…
OK, I’m done turning druggy double entendres.
Needless to say, NT on this machine is anything but pretty. (And I’ll put a marginal machine into service as a server where no one ever interacts with it directly long before I stick one on an end-user’s desk.) The video card in my flagship PC has more memory and processing power. But we’re out of PCs, and this poor girl needs a computer on her desk (though she’s never done anything to deserve this fate), so here’s what I did to try to make life on this machine more tolerable. These tricks work much better on fast machines.
- Pull out all network protocols except TCP/IP. I also double-checked all TCP/IP settings and made sure the closest DNS server was first on the list.
- Use a static IP address. The DHCP service uses memory and CPU cycles, and on machines like this, every byte and cycle counts.
- Remove Office Startup, Find Fast, and LoadWC from Startup. The first two are in the All Users start menu. The last is in the registry. All eat memory and provide no useful functionality.
- Move the swap file to a second physical hard disk. This machine happened to have a second drive, so I put the swap file there for better performance.
- Turn off unnecessary services. The Scheduler service and Computer Browser service normally aren’t needed. If the network never sent out notifications (ours does), I’d also turn off the Messenger service.
- Remove unnecessary fonts. I won’t do this without her present, since I might inadvertently nuke her favorite font. But if she doesn’t use it, it’s gone.
- Keep free space above 100 megs. Windows slows to a crawl when forced to live on a drive that’s as crowded as a mosh pit.
- Defragment! Making matters worse, this drive didn’t seem to have a single file on it that wasn’t fragmented. I ran Diskeeper and there was more red on the screen than at a Cardinals game when Mark McGwire’s chasing home run records.
- When you have two drives, put the OS on the faster of the two. Unfortunately, the OS is on an ancient Seagate 420-meg drive, with a 2.1-gig drive in as the secondary drive. The roles really should be reversed. When in doubt, the bigger drive is usually faster. The newer drive almost always is. I may just Ghost the OS over to the 2.1-gig drive, then switch them.
- Switch to Program Manager. She’s probably not comfortable with the old Windows 3.1 interface (I’ve only ever met one person who liked it) so I probably won’t do this, but that’ll save you a couple megs.
Yes, when Radiohead made the album in mind… Even with these adjustments, it’s still awful. So I’m gonna see if I can dig up some memory from somewhere. That’ll help more than anything. But as tempting as overclocking may be, I won’t do it.
Time to see if I can write another song. No, not about computers. I’ve got a great concept and a couple of salvagable lines. Now I need a couple more salvagable lines, then I can start thinking about making up or (more likely) stealing a rhyme scheme. The rest will probably fall into place after that. It usually does. I totally don’t understand why my songwriting process works, but that’s OK.