...From Scratch.

Rumour Mill

So... what's going to (possibly) be in the next version of Freesco? Here's a quick list of collected rumours about Freesco 0.3 mixed with a sneak-peek at the alpha version.

>> "Support for up to 6 network cards."

That ought to be enough for anyone. Could you even fit six cards into a single machine? Best we could manage would be four, maybe five if we were to remove the video card, and that's not including problems of IRQ allocation. Not to mention, six networks coming together at one point gives you fantastic cabling problems.

>> "Support for up to 12 modems."

Again, more than enough. The number is somewhat dubious though. Alpha versions show the four standard COM ports and an option for an "AST Unix four / eight port board", giving a theoretical maximum of 12 serial devices.

With twelve modems, you'll have problems with the cabling long before you have to worry about whether or not Freesco supports it. Freesco is starting to get to the stage where it's viable to use as a dial-in server for ordinary network users. Would twelve people dial-in simultaneously? Couldn't you just add another Freesco computer onto one of the six supported network cards that Freesco supports if they did?

>> "Support for up to 8 networks."

Making a distinction between networks and network cards.

>> "Still work off a floppy with all these features."

It wouldn't be Freesco otherwise. 1.44Mb of pure, wholesome goodness. If that ain't impressive enough for you, try to do the same with any operating system other than Linux.

>> A 32,000 masq port kernel was discussed.

For those with a large number of machines routing through Freesco (or those who like to play lots of games online...).

>> PPPoE (PPP over Ethernet).

>> DNRD.

The DNS server that was introduced late into Freesco 0.2.7 as an official package. Seems to have been popular, without any major problems and avoids some problems that the BIND of Freesco 0.2.7 did have.

>> "Same kernel as 0.2.7."

Tried and tested but which blows out some ideas about the more fancy requested features such as USB, SCSI, IPSEC etc. No doubt some ungrateful people will complain. :-)

>> "A new package system."

Still as easy as the current one from a user's viewpoint, but also simplifies new package development for the authors. This does mean, however, that packages for 0.2.7 will have to be re-packaged to make them compatible with 0.3, but the package system always was a last-minute bodge-job anyway.

At least this way we have a set standard that, once stuck to, can indeed last through future versions. Apparently, it'll make packages fit in a single file, so helping those maintaining package mirror sites and the like.

Also, the setup program now has options to allow the user to install, uninstall, view documentation and configure any number of packages through it's interface. Very useful indeed.

>> Support for 1 or 2 ramdisks and the capability to install packages into them.

Not sure whether it was stated as a package or a built-in feature but Freesco 0.2.7 had support for extra ramdisks through a package anyway. The capability to install to ramdisks may be useful for those packages that are small and disk-intensive and may help stop those annoying pauses if you want to put the hard disk in sleep mode.

>> Newer version of setserial.

To help you configure all those modems?

>> thttpd 2.20

>> You'll need more then 8Mb to use 0.3.0.

<sarcasm> Oh no! No! RAM is so rare and expensive that we can't get 8Mb into our router! No! </sarcasm> :-)

We remember when we ran our first ZX Spectrum game that said "128Kb required." The disappointment. Now we've got over a thousand times as much memory sitting in a nothing-special desktop machine. Is 8Mb really going to worry anyone who's currently running Freesco?

>> It'll require a full re-install rather than an install-over-the-top.

<sarcasm> Oh no! The pain! A full re-install! Of a floppy installation! That means... That means... That means we'd have to make a new floppy for 0.3! </sarcasm> :-)

You've gotta re-install packages anyway, so what's the problem? And your 0.2.7 is probably filled with the fixes and your own custom changes that wouldn't work (or would no longer be necessary) under 0.3. Just dig out those thousands of AOL and Compuserve floppies that they used to give away.

>> Updated DynDNS support out of the box.

So that you don't have to apply that little patch that you do in 0.2.7. Not a massive change, but it saves some hassle. will probably change the protocol just after release anyway, like they did just after 0.2.7 was made... :-)

>> Now we get into silly stuff:

  • Colour / Monochrome option inside setup program

  • Create Report File option inside setup program

  • Playing of Nokia Ringtones on certain events (e.g. new IP's, boot failures etc.). Now we are getting silly.

  • Redesigned setup program. Makes it a little easier to find the option you're after and not so many cryptic questions.

  • WINS Server

>> And, we assume, every thing else that Freesco already has.

The print server, DHCP, web control panel, telnet, etc. etc. etc.

And all those things confirmed not in the next version (maybe 0.4?)

>> "Any FTP daemons in the official distribution."

Although that doesn't discount the possibility of a package (in fact, that's a certainty, really). As the Freesco team frequenty re-iterate, Freesco's main job is to be a router on a floppy. Anything else is going to have to be made by a third-party as it doesn't fit with that goal (i.e. a router with an FTP server, for example, is rightly considered a security risk.)

>> Anything that requires a different kernel from 0.2.7.

>> Probably every little thing that the whingers cry out for.

Bets will be taken on the time between the release of 0.3 and the start of a wishlist discussion on the forum for 0.4. :-)