Cheap, good tulips...

Robert G. Brown
Wed Dec 30 18:51:08 1998

On Wed, 30 Dec 1998, alex wrote:

> > A short while ago there was considerable discussion on the list
> > concerning a source of cheap "generic" NICs with genuine DEC 21140's in
> > them and with a minimum of wrapper crap (of the sort that drives Don
> > nuts adding minipatches to the driver).
> > 
> > This note is just to report that I've had zero problems with the Wise
> > Com tulip NIC.  
> Thanks for posting this.
> I'm in the process of setting up a linux router.  Right now I'm just
> expirimenting, to see how stable the hardware and software is, and
> I've had some problems with my Linksys Etherfast 10/100 cards and rh
> 5.2.  I'm not comfortable going live with the router now.

I've had trouble myself with the Linksys Lite-On cards.  One reason that
I posted...

> The cards work great in my desktop machine, but for some reason the
> routing box tended to lock up once every few days.  I upgraded the
> kernel to 2.1.132 and the tulip driver to .90, and haven't seen any
> problems so far.  I don't know if it's because I've just been lucky,
> or because the problem's been fixed.

I'm actually running an increasingly hideous network at home, with
slackware on one box (with two tulip NICs, configured with IP forwarding
from my inner private to my outer ADSL linkup) and RH 5.2 on the other,
and with Windoze installed on both for dual boot (my boys got a bunch of
Windoze games for Christmas -- I >>wish<< Sierra would start writing for
linux).  The generic tulips are rock-solid under at least modest load,
and I've been using generic tulip NIC's for years now and have a great
deal of confidence in the generic part of the driver.

> Obviously, a router has to be stable.  Would I be a lot better off
> with a different NIC?  The wise com tulip NICs are so cheap that if
> there's any difference at all, it seems like it would make sense.
> I've been thinking about going with an Intel EtherExpress card, but
> they cost about 3 or 4 times as much, and I'm not sure they'll be any
> more reliable.  I'd had to spend $600 on nic cards for my router, only
> to find that it didn't do any good.

In your position I'd give the Wise cards a try, although street prices
for eepro100's should only be twice as much, not 3 or 4 times.  And I do
like eepro100's -- I run a bunch of them and they are very good
performers under load.  Still, if you find "real" tulips with 21140
chips and generic driver disks (the kind with no label that are mass
produced and that you don't even need to use the cards under windows
because they really are generic) the tulip driver is simply awesomely
stable to the greatest extent I've pushed it, which is two interfaces
and hammering on SMP systems in beowulfish context.  I don't know how
they'd do in four NIC configurations, but can't think of why they would


Robert G. Brown	             
Duke University Dept. of Physics, Box 90305
Durham, N.C. 27708-0305
Phone: 1-919-660-2567  Fax: 919-660-2525