"We would like to present an interview with foxbat, the head
admin of the Free Internet Chess Server. The chess server runs on
the Linux platform with about 3,500 people logging in a day! In the
Linux tradition access to the server is free."
"FNN: Give us some background about FICS. How many players do
you have? How many games are played on FICS a day? How many people
help coordinate the development of FICS?"
"foxbat: FICS is the Free Internet Chess Server whose code was
based on the work of Michael Moore and Richard Nash's ICS. The
development of FICS started in late 1994 and early 1995 after it
was announced that ICS had been re-written and would be re-named
and would invoke a membership fee to play. This was an outrage and
several player/programmers at ICS vowed to start a free chess
"FNN: Could you describe the hardware that FICS runs on? Did
Linux impose any restrictions on the hardware that was chosen?"
"foxbat: The main FICS server runs a PII-350 with 256M ECC RAM
with fast/wide SCSI 3 9G disk, fast SCSI 2 4.5G disk and a few IDE
drives for the Linux OS. I used pretty generic hardware and tested
before I shipped the machine out to OneNet. The first 3 years, FICS
ran on a SPARC machine running SunOS that quickly became overloaded
as FICS grew. It was also Chris Petroff's desktop machine, so the
load averages were sporadic at times. In late 1997 I purchased an
AMD k5-233 machine with 192M and we migrated FICS to Linux. It
became clear that this machine was not able to handle the load, and
that the motherboard and lack of ECC memory caused numerous
problems I purchased the PII machine to replace it. Linux never had
a problem running on either platform."
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