- What is Freesco?
- How much does Freesco cost?
- What do I need to run Freesco?
- Where do I download Freesco from?
- How do I make a Freesco floppy disc?
- How do I install Freesco once I've made
- What is the latest version?
- How can I install Freesco to a hard disk
instead of a floppy disc?
- How do I upload to the http server built
1) What is Freesco?
Freesco is a free piece of software, developed by the people at www.freesco.org,
which allows you to set up a computer as a "router".
This has many uses, from connecting two different computer networks
together (called bridging), sharing Internet access using a single modem
or Internet connection across an entire network (so that an entire network
in a office can connect to the internet using a single modem / Internet
connection simultaneously), setting up dial-up access to a network (so
that people can use the office network from their home machines).
It's also capable of a whole lot more and it all fits onto one floppy
disc, including it's own operating system.
2) How much does Freesco cost?
Nothing. You download a single hassle-free, advertisement-free program
and install it on a computer which you no longer wish to use (e.g. an
old 486 machine with no monitor etc.). Freesco fits on one single 1.44Mb
floppy disk, and even self-boots, so there is no need to buy a seperate
operating system (like Unix, Windows or DOS) for the machine using Freesco.
It accomplishes this because Freesco uses a custom-modified Linux (a free
Unix derivative) as it's own operating system.
Freesco can be used for any purpose, commercial or not, without payment,
for as many machines as you like. The Freesco site does include a Donation
section where you can support the authors of this great piece of software
but this is, of course, voluntary.
3) What do I need to run Freesco?
A computer. This computer can be anything from an ancient 386 to the
latest and greatest 20,000 GHz computer. This computer will be "sacrificed"
in that you won't be able to use it for other programs or operating systems
while it's being used as a Freesco router (this is not entirely
true, Freesco runs a form of Linux).
The Freesco computer needs to have a working floppy drive and either
a network card and a modem, or two network cards inside it (greater capacity
exists within Freesco for up to two modems and three network cards and
future version will no doubt extend this further).
Freesco does not need:
- a hard drive (though one can be installed and used). Freesco installs
nothing on your hard disk (until you tell it to. See later about Freesco
on a hard-disk), nor does it even write to the hard disk unless you
type a specific command, so your computer will not be affected and will
keep it's old operating system. Removing the floppy disc from the drive
and rebooting will boot your system as normal.
- a monitor (though it's helpful should something not go right first
- a keyboard (though it's helpful when setting up the machine for the
- a mouse (at all)
- a CD-ROM drive (at all)
- a fast processor; a 66MHz machine is more than fast enough for most
networks, the determining factor being the speed of the Internet access
and network bandwidth.
- lots of RAM; in fact, enabling the option to let Freesco use more
than the first 8Mb can cause problems with connecting to some Windows-based
ISP's over a modem! It can run on a machine with 128Mb of RAM, but it'll
only really use the first 8 or 16Mb because that's all it needs.
- an operating system; the Freesco disk includes it's own OS, a cut-down
version of Linux, which is put onto the floppy disk when you make it.
You do need:
- a Linux-compatible modem, either internal (ISA or PCI) or external
(serial port). Not all modems are Linux-compatible. Many recent internal
modems are what are known as Winmodems. A Winmodem can only work
in Windows, because they use cheap components which make the software
drivers (and therefore the actual processor of your computer) perform
the work that the modem should, by rights, be doing.
These drivers have not yet been properly ported to Linux operating systems
and, unless manufacturers decide to cooperate, probably never will be.
Simply put, a Winmodem is a cheap bodge-job of a modem.
Usually, most external modems are not Winmodems and most cheap
internal modems are Winmodems. There are exceptions to the rule,
however, and you can check if you have a Linux-compatible non-Winmodem
at Rob Clark's Winmodem compatibility list at http://start.at/modem/.
- a Linux compatible network card. Most network cards are Linux-compatible,
though some may need to be set to non-Plug-'n'-Play mode. This is a
simple operation and is a standard feature on most network cards. Most
notably, NE2000 compatible cards (the most common type) are supported
in Linux for ISA and PCI cards.
Please note that it is not necessary that other network cards on the
network be Linux-compatible or that the other workstations be Linux-based.
So long as the network itself (including the Freesco workstation) all
use the same network, there is no problem.
For instance, the example setups given in this review of Freesco include
a fairly common example of a Freesco router using a ISA NE2000 card
(set to use a non-PNP mode) and an external modem (which isn't a Winmodem)
being used to allow an entire network of Windows machines to share the
modem connection to the Internet.
- A "spare" computer to be the Freesco computer, i.e. one
that you no longer use or intend to use. As stated above, this can be
just an old, slow, floppy-only desktop computer without a monitor or
- Either these instructions, a knowledge of Linux or the dedication
to read and learn for yourself from the Freesco
- A single, blank 1.44Mb floppy disk (preferably new or relatively unused).
- Access to a DOS or Windows computer to download Freesco and make the
Freesco floppy disc in the first place. This only needs to be done once
so, for example, could be done at a friends house, the office, a library
or an Internet cafè.
4) Where do I download Freesco from?
You can download Freesco from the many mirror sites on www.freesco.info/freesco.org.
We may be putting up Freesco for download from this site at a later date
if we can. The file you want is called freesco-027.zip You may
also want to download the file modules-027.zip at the same time.
modules-027.zip contains extra network card drivers and keymaps
for non-US keyboards. Freesco can be used on a non-US keyboard without
these, but some characters may not be where your keyboard says they are,
e.g. the @ and " keys may be interchanged.
5) How do I make a Freesco floppy disc?
First, download the Freesco .zip file(s) from one of the download
mirror listed on our Links section. The files
you need are called: freesco-027.zip and (optionally) modules-027.zip
You will need to make an new, empty directory (folder) on the hard drive
of a computer (not necessarily the one that will be the Freesco router).
Copy the .zip file(s) into that directory and unzip them using
a utility such as PKZIP, ENZip,
Archiver, ZipMagic or another
similar decompression program.
Using your decompression program, extract the .zip file(s) to
their own directories. This should leave you with a directory with the
|Date command for Unix.
|Date command for Win32
|Dial-in script for Windows DUN
|Describes the history of Freesco and it's various
|Utility used by floppy-makers
|Well, what do you think you should do with this
|Floppy-maker (slow but more compatible)
|Utility used by floppy-makers
Next, insert a blank, formatted disk into your floppy drive A:. Make
sure it is not write-protected (the little black bit of plastic should
be covering the hole). If this disk is not
blank, all data on it will be permanently erased and will be unrecoverable!
Go to the directory that the files for freesco-027.zip were extracted
to and double-click on the program make_fd.bat that you just extracted
from the zip file. A screen will show you:
make_fd - RAWRITE
This batch file will write
the floppy image
"freesco.027" onto a disk in drive
Please insert a formatted diskette into drive A: and press -ENTER-:
If, at this point, you do not wish to make the Freesco disk, press
Ctrl-C and close the window. If you do, press Enter. The floppy disc will
spin for about one minute, then the program will finish (indicated by
"Finished" in the title of the window). You've just made a Freesco
6) How do I install Freesco once I've made
Answer to follow.
7) What is the latest version?
At the time of writing, the latest version of Freesco is version 0.2.7,
with version 0.3 in the pipeline.
8) How can I install Freesco to a hard disk
instead of a floppy disc?
Make a Freesco floppy, boot into it, log in to a console, type
and then reboot. This will create a ROUTER directory on C:\, along with
a file ROUTER.BAT. When run from DOS, this will run Freesco.
Renaming this file to AUTOEXEC.BAT or including the line:
inside AUTOEXEC.BAT will make Freesco boot up from the hard disk every
time you boot the machine.
PLEASE NOTE: Only IDE drives are supported under Freesco (no SCSI support
is planned). Larger IDE drives may also cause problems with Freesco.
9) How do I upload to the http server built
You have several choices:
- Copy your files onto a floppy disk and then copy them onto the Freesco
machines disc manually.
- Use the program snarf (which is already included with Freesco)
from the Freesco machine to download the files from a website or other
computer on the local network with a web server to the Freesco machine's
- Install a third-party package. There are two types of packages which
can help you transfer files to the Freesco machine:
Samba (e.g., samba / smbd from wapr) will allow the Freesco machine
to show up on Windows' Network Neighbourhood, where you can then copy
files across like you normally would between two networked computers.
FTP daemons (e.g. ftpd from Fernando Rocha, proftpd from wydmy) will
let the Freesco machine act as an FTP server, where you can then upload
files as you would upload to any other FTP server.