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[aprssig] Some Observations On Installing UIview/PMap Server on Older PCs.

Stephen H. Smith wa8lmf2 at aol.com
Tue Jan 20 22:55:22 UTC 2009


I recently set up a dedicated "ham workstation" on an older PC in order 
to determine how practical it is. 

The machine in question is a Dell Dimension L866r mini-tower, nearly a 
decade old, with a 866 MHz Pentium III CPU with 512MB RAM (the max this 
machine can accept).    This machine uses the then-common Intel 810 
shared-memory video display chipset, meaning that part of that 512 MB 
main memory is "stolen" by the video display subsystem for video  RAM.   

Partly offsetting this, this machine has an actual HARDWARE -based 
mother-board sound system based on the Ensoniq "Soundblaster PCI" 
chipset (rather than the CPU-and-memory-hogging software-based "AC'97" 
sound system used in most current motherboards).  Further, this classic 
machine has a REAL SERIAL PORT, sparing one the need to use 
system-resource-hogging USB<-->serial dongles for APRS applications.   

My one concession to modernizing the hardware on this machine was to 
install a PCI-bus 4-port USB 2.0 card with a front panel 4-slot 
flash-card reader.  [I want to be able to read pictures directly from 
digicam flash cards into mmSSTV for slow scan TV operations.] 

I started with a cold install of Windows XP Professional SP3.   This is 
Windows XP Professional with SP3 merged or "slipstreamed" into the 
install CD.  This has major advantages over the usual process of 
installing SP3 after the fact.  Huge amounts of disk space are saved 
over the usual "install SP3 after the fact" since the SP3 updater 
service packs and replaced files are not cached on the hard disk.  
Additionally, it saves almost an hour of setup time not having to run 
the SP3 setup after the initial install. 

[A FREEWARE utility called "nLite" can take your existing XP install CD, 
merge SP3 with it and create a new CD. It's available here:

     <http://www.nliteos.com/>     ]


I then stripped out all unnecessary feature bloat from XP with an 
Australian-developed shareware utility NT Lite available at:

     <http://litepc.com>    (Don't confuse this with the 
similar-sounding  "nliteos.com" above....)

This program can remove hundreds of components from Windows 2000 or XP, 
including (contrary to Microsoft's claims) Internet Explorer.   You can 
easily reduce the hard disk footprint of XP by several hundred megabytes.  

Finally, I disabled many unnecessary background services in XP that load 
at boot and consume considerable RAM and CPU cycles but contribute 
nothing for normal non-corporate home use.  There are several guides to 
doing this floating around the Internet. I used this one: 

     
<http://www.techtree.com/techtree/jsp/article.jsp?article_id=70112&cat_id=584>



I then proceeded to install various ham programs including APRSplus, 
mmSSTV, MixW, AGW Packet Engine, UIview,  PMap Server 7, Precision 
Mapping 8.0, MapPoint 2006 (both North American and Euro versions), 
UIpoint, APRSpoint, andTopoUSA 5.0.    Along with MS Office XP (full 
version with Frontpage and Publisher) and numerous minor utilities, the 
total installed footprint of this setup was under 14 GB and fitted 
comfortably on an old 20 GB HDD.



The results:  Every sound card application (AGWpe, MixW, mmSSTV and 
WinPIx32) worked flawlessly on the first try. As I write this, the L866r 
is currently running MixW in packet mode as a software soundcard TNC, 
UIview, PMap Server 7, and UI-NWS under the slimmed down and stripped 
WinXP SP3.   

Iolo Memory Mechanic reports that this setup is only using about 115MB 
of the available 500MB of RAM.  The PMap display inside  UIview feels 
snappy and responsive; it scrolls and zooms quickly.   

I have tried "maxing out" the UIview setup by running UIpoint (starts 
the resource-sucking MapPoint engine) and NWS-Get (downloads US National 
Weather Service radar images to underlay the PMap Server display in 
UIview)  in addition to everything above.    The response to zoom and 
scroll requests is slightly slower but still completely useable (no 
10-20 second lags switching or zooming screens). 

Memory Mechanic now reports all of 135 MB RAM in use out of the pool of  
500 MB.     I am guessing this is partly due to my creating a fixed-size 
1.5GB Windows swap file on a dedicated partition of the hard disk. 

------------------------------------------------------------------------


An interesting side effect occurred.  The Precision Mapping Server 
inside UIview is, of course, displaying detailed maps of North 
America.   When I started UIpoint, it defaulted to the Euro version of 
MapPoint.   By using two port 14580 filter arguments (one to box the 
area of US/Canada and a second one for  Western Europe), I can watch  
APRS activity down to street level in both regions at the same time. 

[North America inside UIview including the WX radar images, and Europe 
in UIpoint simultaneously.]



------------------------------------------------------------------------

--

Stephen H. Smith    wa8lmf (at) aol.com
EchoLink Node:      WA8LMF  or 14400    [Think bottom of the 2M band]
Skype:     WA8LMF
Home Page:          http://wa8lmf.com  --OR--   http://wa8lmf.net

World Digipeater Map
  http://wa8lmf.net/APRSmaps

JavAPRS Filter Port 14580 Guide
  http://wa8lmf.net/aprs/JAVaprsFilters.htm

"APRS 101"  Explanation of APRS Path Selection & Digipeating
  http://wa8lmf.net/DigiPaths

Updated "Rev H" APRS            http://wa8lmf.net/aprs
Symbols Set for UI-View,
UIpoint and APRSplus:



     



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