Subject: Help me replace a Sun-4/380 mega-News server with a NetBSD/i386 box
To: None <>
From: Dirk Steinberg <>
List: port-i386
Date: 12/20/1994 15:00:03
>>>>> "Greg" == Greg Earle <> writes:

    Greg> So, this got me thinking cost conservation, and that made me
    Greg> think "What about a NetBSD/i386 box?".

I know that is a FreeBSD PC Box in a production
environment under heavy load. From an ftp session:

220 FTP server (Version wu-2.4(1) Mon Aug 15 13:35:59 PDT 1994) ready.
Name ( ftp
331 Guest login ok, send your complete e-mail address as password.
230-Welcome to wcarchive - home ftp site for Walnut Creek CDROM.
230-You are user 262 out of 500 possible.
230-This machine is a 90Mhz Pentium with 192MB of memory & 32GB of disk online.
230-The operating system is FreeBSD  Should you wish to get your
230-own copy of FreeBSD, send mail to for more information.

I don't know about any similar NetBSD machine, though.

    Greg> Thus, what I'm looking for: a recommendation for a PC
    Greg> configuration that can handle a pretty unique mixture, with
    Greg> heavy, heavy emphasis on I/O.  That is the most important
    Greg> thing.  Support for multiple Ethernets is somewhat of a
    Greg> vital necessity as well.

There are PCI Ethernet boards with 4 interfaces on one card.
I don't think there are drivers for these, though. Although they
use the same chips as other PCI Ethernet cards, they also use 
a PCI-to-PCI bridge.

    Greg> I don't know much about PCs.  I know SPARC systems.  Only
    Greg> data points I have:

    Greg> - Might want to consider an EISA server because PCI is "too
    Greg> flakey" still(?)

A Intel Plato board with a Pentium 90 or 100 should be stable.

    Greg> - Only PCI SCSI support is for an "NCR 53C810 PCI SCSI host
    Greg> adapter"; how stable/reliable are these cards/software
    Greg> support in NetBSD for them?

I second this question. I'd really like to know how these drivers
behave under really heavy load. How about disconnect/reconnect,
Fast/Wide/Sync negotiation, tagged command queuing?

    Greg> - How much memory can NetBSD/i386 support?  Is there any
    Greg> problem with >16 Mb configurations?

I don't think so, but I remember there is a compile-time constant for
the max. amount of memory supported. The above-mentioned machine has
192 MB, so there shouldn't be any major problems.

Your SCSI adapter should be a 32 bit busmaster (EISA, PCI, VLB)
though to address memory beyond 16 MB.

    Greg> - What are the best/most screaming Ethernet cards for a
    Greg> high-end PC that NetBSD supports?  I don't know anything
    Greg> about the WD/Novell/3Com/AT&T cards.

There are PCI busmaster Ethernet cards using the AMD 79c970 chip
(called PCnet-PCI). There is a driver for Linux. Don't know
about NetBSD/FreeBSD, though. Anyone?


Dirk W. Steinberg - German National Research Center for Computer Science (GMD)
Institute for Application-Oriented Software- and Systems Technology   (ISA-NW)
Network Engineering Department  -  Rathausallee 10  -   D-53754 Sankt Augustin
Phone: +49 2241 14-3182 - Fax: +49 2241 14-3038 - Email: