Bad NICs

Stephen L Arnold arnold.steve at
Wed May 12 23:27:48 GMT 1999

When the world was young, Paul Sherwin carved some runes like this:

> I suspect a number of the reported performance problems in this list
> are related to this - people tend to stick Linux and Samba on an old 486
> then use this to serve an office full of brand new PIIs running WNT.
> Why the performance figures for the 3c509 were so much better I haven't a
> clue, unless the fact that it was an ISA card slowed the data rate
> sufficiently to minimise the windowing problem?

I hate to disagree (wait a minute - no I don't) but I like the fact 
that a real OS (like linux) can clearly show when you have a bad 
piece of hardware (whether failing or marginally designed).  You 
may be right about some of the performance problems (in a sense) 
but the fact is that it's due to bad hardware, NOT just because 
you're running linux on a 486.  If the 486 hardware is good, then 
there should not be any problems such as you describe.  Certainly a 
486 running linux will not be able to serve an unlimited number of 
samba connections, but that's not what we're talking about here.

An example:

At work we have a mixture of newer Dell PII-266 machines running 
(of course) win95 (with DEC 21040 based PCI NICs) and a similar 
number of older machines of various types (486-pentium) with all 
different ISA NICs (eg, WD 8*13, ne2000 clones, Intel, SMC, etc - 
even a real Novell ne2000 card).  My linux boxes are a 486-100 and 
a 586-100.  We even have a half coax and half UTP ethernet setup.  
Performance is pretty consistent across all machines (around 850-
950 k/sec for both smb and ftp).  The best throughput I measured 
was an ftp transfer between the NT box (PII-450) and my 486 linux 
server; about 980 k/sec.  Besides the samba stuff, that box also 
runs apache, MySQL, etc.  I have seen nothing in this environment 
that supports your analysis shown above.  Nice try though ;-)

I stand by my evaluation of the RealTek 8029/WinBond chips as crap, 
while the DEC and AMD chips are known to work fine (and the price 
difference is negligible).  I'm not asking for bleeding edge, 
overclock-your-300a-to-450MHz performance.  I'm only asking for 
nominal 10 Mbs ethernet performance; if they can do it over the ISA 
bus, they can certainly do it over the PCI bus...


Stephen L Arnold            
#include <std_disclaimer.h>

More information about the samba mailing list