Need PC hardware suggestions for Linux

Need PC hardware suggestions for Linux

Post by Brian T » Fri, 20 Jan 1995 17:45:49



Hi folks,

Short version:  I need hardware suggestions for running Linux + X11.  :)

Long version:  My lab Taipei, Taiwan will be purchasing a couple of
high-powered compute servers (PowerChallenges and/or RS/6000 590's) for
our simulation work.  None of these have graphics capabilities attached
to them (i.e., you shove 'em into a closet and attach external
terminals to them).  We had originally planned to buy a PowerIndigo^2
instead (basically a PowerChallege with a graphics console), but the
pricing here in Taiwan adds about US$12000 to the cost.  :(

    Last week, I setup Linux and XFree86 on the 486/66 PC we use
for office admin work.  The response was quite acceptable, and for
the price differential on the SGI, we could purchase 3 such PC's to
act as X terminals instead of a single SGI.

    Our current PC is a 486DX2/66 ISA/VESA system with an S3 864-based
VESA video card, an Adaptec 1542C SCSI controller, 16 megabytes of RAM,
an ADI MicroScan 5A 17" monitor, and some NE2000-based network card (I
didn't buy the system, it came from the computing center's purchasing
department).  My thoughts on the current setup:

    * SCSI performance is acceptable, considering the bus and
      controller (2.29s dd'ing a 2-megabyte file)

    * I still can't get XFree86 3.1 configured for 1024x768x256
      with this video card and monitor combination.  640x480 and
      800x600 are possible though.  The XF86Config utility does
      not list this particular video card, nor the monitor, so
      I'm stuck with guessing hsync/vsync and dot clock times.
      No luck so far (even with vgaset and vmode helping out).
      OTOH, an ET4000/W32p card I borrowed for one day was
      up and running in 1024x768 in a matter of minutes.

    * NFS performance is dog-slow.  I get about 150K/s on NFS
      reads (the Linux box is the client) but a nearly worthless
      19K/s on NFS reads.  The server in both cases is an SGI
      Indy attached to the same Ethernet.  Should I get a better,
      name-brand network card, or is Linux's NFS code just
      inherently slow?

    I've asked around a little and read some of the FAQ's, and I've
come up with the following system:

    * 486DX2/66 EISA/VLB, 256K cache, 16 megabytes RAM
    * #9 GXE64 Pro VLB video (2 meg)
    * Adaptec AHA-1742 EISA SCSI controller
    * [network card???]

    Since I'm not familiar with PC hardware, the items I've chosen
above probably aren't the most appropriate ones.  The video card
is probably way overkill for what we need to do (I'd like a fast
card that can handle X at 1280x1024x256, with option to upgrade to
a higher resolution or more colours later).  Maybe a Mach-32 based
card instead?  A suggestion for a good 17" monitor would be
appreciated as well.  Something that can be configured to work with
XFree86 straight out of the box.

    The SCSI-howto FAQ says the AHA-1742 is no longer manufactured
by Adaptec, and I don't know if any supplier in Taiwan still stocks
it.  Any other suggestions?  It doesn't have to be screamingly fast,
but again, I don't want any configuration hassles in Linux.

    As for the Ethernet card... I have no idea.  I'd like something
that can handle the full 10Mbps bandwidth (since we will be running
lots of X stuff over it) and is supported by Linux.  The one we have
now seems a bit slow (lagging window redraws in X, local FTP transfer
rates of around 250K/s, etc.), but Linux recognized it immediately.

    Lastly, is an EISA/VLB motherboard a good buy?  Or should I just
get a PCI system?  Or what?  Help!  :)

    Any suggestions (straight out product recommendations, pointers
to other FAQ's, etc.) greatly appreciated.
--

::::::::::: - - --===+ Home page URL = http://www.io.org/~taob/ +===-- - -

 
 
 

Need PC hardware suggestions for Linux

Post by La » Sat, 21 Jan 1995 01:07:51



>Hi folks,

>Short version:  I need hardware suggestions for running Linux + X11.  :)

>    * SCSI performance is acceptable, considering the bus and
>      controller (2.29s dd'ing a 2-megabyte file)

>    * I still can't get XFree86 3.1 configured for 1024x768x256
>      with this video card and monitor combination.  640x480 and
>      800x600 are possible though.  The XF86Config utility does
>      not list this particular video card, nor the monitor, so
>      I'm stuck with guessing hsync/vsync and dot clock times.
>      No luck so far (even with vgaset and vmode helping out).
>      OTOH, an ET4000/W32p card I borrowed for one day was
>      up and running in 1024x768 in a matter of minutes.

>    * NFS performance is dog-slow.  I get about 150K/s on NFS
>      reads (the Linux box is the client) but a nearly worthless
>      19K/s on NFS reads.  The server in both cases is an SGI
>      Indy attached to the same Ethernet.  Should I get a better,
>      name-brand network card, or is Linux's NFS code just
>      inherently slow?

Have you tried using 8k blocks instead of 1k??

- Show quoted text -

Quote:>    I've asked around a little and read some of the FAQ's, and I've
>come up with the following system:

>    * 486DX2/66 EISA/VLB, 256K cache, 16 megabytes RAM
>    * #9 GXE64 Pro VLB video (2 meg)
>    * Adaptec AHA-1742 EISA SCSI controller
>    * [network card???]

>    Since I'm not familiar with PC hardware, the items I've chosen
>above probably aren't the most appropriate ones.  The video card
>is probably way overkill for what we need to do (I'd like a fast
>card that can handle X at 1280x1024x256, with option to upgrade to
>a higher resolution or more colours later).  Maybe a Mach-32 based
>card instead?  A suggestion for a good 17" monitor would be
>appreciated as well.  Something that can be configured to work with
>XFree86 straight out of the box.

A Mach32 or a generic S3-805 is probably the best bang for the buck right
now.

Quote:>    The SCSI-howto FAQ says the AHA-1742 is no longer manufactured
>by Adaptec, and I don't know if any supplier in Taiwan still stocks
>it.  Any other suggestions?  It doesn't have to be screamingly fast,
>but again, I don't want any configuration hassles in Linux.

Go PCI and get the NCR SCSI.

Quote:>    As for the Ethernet card... I have no idea.  I'd like something
>that can handle the full 10Mbps bandwidth (since we will be running
>lots of X stuff over it) and is supported by Linux.  The one we have
>now seems a bit slow (lagging window redraws in X, local FTP transfer
>rates of around 250K/s, etc.), but Linux recognized it immediately.

Get a NE2100 clone (not the real thing, clone's using the lance chip are
better), this is the fastest and best supported ISA card around.  The new
PCI Lance 100Mb/s cards are out, (cheap too!) and Donald Becker has
drivers for them in the lastest kernel (>1.1.71?)

Quote:>    Lastly, is an EISA/VLB motherboard a good buy?  Or should I just
>get a PCI system?  Or what?  Help!  :)

For the price and performance, go PCI.  With the Xserver from Xinside,
you can even run multiple cards & monitors.

Kin Lau

- Show quoted text -

>    Any suggestions (straight out product recommendations, pointers
>to other FAQ's, etc.) greatly appreciated.
>--

>::::::::::: - - --===+ Home page URL = http://www.io.org/~taob/ +===-- - -


 
 
 

Need PC hardware suggestions for Linux

Post by Brian T » Fri, 27 Jan 1995 19:45:45



>Have you tried using 8k blocks instead of 1k??

    Yes, I tried both... approximately the same results in either
case.  I've since switched to FreeBSD 2.0 and the NFS performance
using the same network hardware is far superior.  I am now getting
about 450K/sec on reads and about 230K/sec on writes.  Linux 1.2's NFS
code should give similar results.

Quote:>A Mach32 or a generic S3-805 is probably the best bang for the buck right
>now.

    Balancing the cost, speed and support for a video card, I think I
am going with a 2-meg Mach32 card.  A #9 GXE of some flavour is a good
alternative too.
--

::::::::::: - - --===+ Home page URL = http://www.io.org/~taob/ +===-- - -
 
 
 

Need PC hardware suggestions for Linux

Post by jle.. » Sun, 29 Jan 1995 17:58:40



>>    Balancing the cost, speed and support for a video card, I think I
>>am going with a 2-meg Mach32 card.  A #9 GXE of some flavour is a good
>>alternative too.
>Whatever you do, don't get a Mach32 card.  I had one for a year or so.
>I finally gave it to someone who was just going to use it for
>MS-Windows.  I then went out and bought a #9.  My year of problems
>ended.

What kind of problems?  I'm running a 1MB Mach32 (OEM GU Pro) and having no
trouble with the Mach32 server for XFree86 3.1.  I'm even running it in a
486dx2-80...so the card can do 40mhz.

The mach32 is a real value, considering the DRAM version can be bought new for
just barely over $100 (1mb)...about the same price as an ET4000w32i.  
Personally, I love the eeprom based mode/sizing/position/frequency
configuration.

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Need PC hardware suggestions for Linux

Post by Richard Sext » Sun, 29 Jan 1995 23:41:13






>>>A Mach32 or a generic S3-805 is probably the best bang for the buck right
>>>now.

>>    Balancing the cost, speed and support for a video card, I think I
>>am going with a 2-meg Mach32 card.  A #9 GXE of some flavour is a good
>>alternative too.

>Whatever you do, don't get a Mach32 card.  I had one for a year or so.
>I finally gave it to someone who was just going to use it for
>MS-Windows.  I then went out and bought a #9.  My year of problems
>ended.

PC video cards are funny, the fastest windows card may not be the fastest
DOS card and vice versa.

However, for what it's worth, the #9 card is the fastest DOS card according
to the benchmarks the Microsoft Flight Simulator people have run (and
it aint to shabby in windows, too). All around a better deal than
the ATI card.

The best #9 card is currently the #9GXE Pro.

--
                      ``Goodbye Alfa Romeo''

 
 
 

Need PC hardware suggestions for Linux

Post by Jon R. Nia » Mon, 30 Jan 1995 12:44:33


What other differences have you seen in the performance of Linux vs. FreeBSD.  I've been thinking about switching, but I've no idea of head to head performance differences.  Especially with X installed.

-Jon
--


 
 
 

Need PC hardware suggestions for Linux

Post by Brian T » Mon, 30 Jan 1995 19:49:51



>Whatever you do, don't get a Mach32 card.  I had one for a year or so.
>I finally gave it to someone who was just going to use it for
>MS-Windows.  I then went out and bought a #9.  My year of problems
>ended.

    I haven't heard any negative reviews about the Mach32 or Mach64
cards, nor for the #9 cards.  Several friends have Mach32 cards and
they are all very happy with them.  What did you use yours for?
XFree86?  Warp?  Both appear to have excellent support for the Mach32.
--

::::::::::: - - --===+ Home page URL = http://www.io.org/~taob/ +===-- - -
 
 
 

Need PC hardware suggestions for Linux

Post by Craig A. Johnst » Mon, 30 Jan 1995 22:29:59






>>>A Mach32 or a generic S3-805 is probably the best bang for the buck right
>>>now.

>>    Balancing the cost, speed and support for a video card, I think I
>>am going with a 2-meg Mach32 card.  A #9 GXE of some flavour is a good
>>alternative too.

>Whatever you do, don't get a Mach32 card.  I had one for a year or so.
>I finally gave it to someone who was just going to use it for
>MS-Windows.  I then went out and bought a #9.  My year of problems
>ended.

Was this an ATI GUPro or some sort of bizarre OEM card?  Neither I nor
anyone I have spoken to has had problems with this card in recent versions
of XFree.  I was using a VLB one, and am now buying a PCI one because
I liked the card so much.  Works great for me.

There are many mach32 cards.  There are DRAM versions, VRAM versions,
OEM versions, onboard versions.  From the folks I've talked to, an ATI
GUPro, 2 megs VRAM mach32 card is one of the safest bets you can make for
XFree.

Just because you had some sort of problem really doesn't indicate that
the rest of the world has.  Try to be a little more even-handed than
"whatever you do, don'y buy an X.."  unless you have reason to believe
the entire world has had problems, or a significant portion of it.

--

                  "Cavitas in dentibus facimus!"

 
 
 

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