Tuesday, March 21, 2006

The neeeeewwwww Asante!

So I started the day backing up files on my laptop to the server, so I can replace my operating system. I had my fill of Windows, and figured out the few things I wanted to figure out on it. I'm getting back into programming, so I may as well have a serviceable platform on my own computer too.

Backing my stuff up, I noticed that I was getting a whopping 150k/sec to my server. This is great if you're on a modem 9 years ago, but for a local machine over a 100 Mb connection it's not so hot. I figure it should be about 50 times that fast, or more.

I tried doing a transfer from another machine connected via an 802.11B wireless connection, and got about 800k/sec. This is reasonable over an 11 Mb wireless connection, so I "knew" that the problem wasn't with the server. It had to be a wiring thing, or my laptop.

Since my laptop is fairly new, I figured that can't really be it, so I started checking out the network activity between the systems. About 20% of the packets I sent ended in receive errors on the server side. That made no sense to me.

Friends of mine thought that it might be a duplex issue, so I started trying out duplex options on my laptop. That didn't matter, but I saw that I could make the errors go away if I forced a 10 Mb connection from my laptop.

I enlisted the help of yet another buddy, who seemed to think that it was a driver issue on the network card in the server. Despite it being fine all around the horn except from my laptop, that made the most sense to him. I trust his judgment, and came pretty close to going out to buy a new network card (since the one in there is very old, and who knows if the drivers are actually working right, or if the hardware is even an issue).

Wanting to make sure it wasn't my router, I plugged the server and my laptop into a hub. There was some weirdo latency starting connections, but everything was fine. A-HA! It's not the card at all! It's the router!

So I plugged the 2 systems back into the router, and it kept on working fine. No more packet errors.

So what happened? In order of likelihood:

  • Loose connection that got "fixed" when I plugged things back in

  • Bad port on the router

  • Bad cable that bending and moving fixed for now

  • Bad NIC that got fixed when I peeled off the Asante sticker to see what kind of a chip was in there

  • Gremlins

I ended up feeling like a dumber version of Kelly Bundy, but I did learn a bunch about Linux, networking, and my newfound commitment to not buying hardware that might not really be broken.

At least I'll feel at home with my own computer pretty soon.

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