FreeSCO: Build A Router With A 386 And A Floppy Disk

FreeSCO: Build A Router With A 386 And A Floppy Disk

Published on: August 21, 2021
Last Updated: August 21, 2021

FreeSCO: Build A Router With A 386 And A Floppy Disk

Published on: August 21, 2021
Last Updated: August 21, 2021

FreeSCO is a router made from a floppy disk for static routing internet connections. It is a smart choice for smaller, lightweight routing routines, when using a heavy-duty industrial router is a bit over the top.

It makes an ideal gateway for the internet at home, or in a small office setting. The best part is that it’s customizable for all kinds of uses in a bigger network. Here are some of its advantages:

  • Simple bridge
  • NAT and firewalling
  • Leased line, dialup, cable router and DSL
  • HTTP server, time, DNS, and DHCP
  • Remote server
  • Print server
  • Allows for two modems and three NICs

Easy to Configure

To operate, you will need a system that is 386 or more recent with 16 MB of RAM and a floppy drive.

You can use a minimum of 8 MB if you run Freesco through your hard drive, using a swap file. If you use a hard drive, it allows for web serving and extensions. Once it is installed, you won’t even need to monitor it.

You can make a disk for Freesco in either Linux or Windows, and you can download it from:

Extract the two main files, and unload them on a short-term directory. The latest version should be 0.2.7.

We recommend using rewrite to make a Freesco floppy through Windows. Start a DOS prompt, and CD to your temporary directory.

Enter ‘rawrite’ and select ‘enter’. When prompted for a name for the disk image, enter ‘freesco.027’. Your target drive should be A.

Rawrite is only going to work under DOS, so if you’re using Windows, use DiskWrite.

Cable Router or Simple DSL

There is a fast, effortless route to connecting a LAN online. Get your old PC that is now going to be your router, and upload two Ethernet cards. With client PCs, these should be installed already, and have enough patch cables for everyone to connect.

Internet – DSL/Cable modem – Freesco router – Hub – LAN

Insert your floppy disk for Freesco and start up the system. On the first screen, enter ‘setup’ and then select ‘enter’ to bring up the configuration code.

You will only have a few seconds to do so, otherwise it will just begin regular start up. Use the Linux instructions to shut down or restart.

Now, you’ve got to wait for the start-up process to complete. Remember, we are using a floppy drive, so it might be a bit on the slow side.

When it shows you a prompt for login, login within 60 seconds otherwise it will go through the normal login process. After you have completed the configuration later, you will need to change your password.

Once you have logged in, a screen with a lot of colours will come up. There are different color-coded options for configuration: green is required, red is for experts, and yellow is optional. Select ‘enter’.

Choose e: Ethernet router. Your first option is going to be Hostname, but you can name it anything. Next, it is going to ask you for the Domain name of your closest network. Inet is default. You can make it anything you want.

For PCI NICs, have the first port address be 0. Select ‘enter’ to go through the rest. The answer is going to depend on your online profile.

The first NIC, which is eth0, will connect to the internet. If your IP is static, then select ‘n’. if you have a dynamically assigned IP, then select ‘y’.

Do not change eth0 as the name of the interface.

Static IP:

Put in your static IP  where it says ‘IP address’, then your netmask on the line below it. Freesco will want the IP range after this. Just enter a hyphen to disable DHCP, because this doesn’t apply.


Hit enter and accept all the defaults that come up, until you get to the second network interface name. Accept the default, which is eth1.

The default netmask and IP address are fine, and you can change it at a later date if you need to. Next, if you don’t have a DHCP server, you will need to define your IP range.

Freesco has more than 100 addresses as default, but just make sure to put in the complete address.

Here is an example:

If you would rather do this statically, you can disable DHCP with a hyphen.

This covers the internet settings. The next part is about services. Don’t change anything that is red, except for if you are experienced.

For the lines that are yellow: enable caching DNS server? ‘S’

Enable DHCP server? If Feesco, ‘s’, if you already have one, then ‘n’.

Enable time server? ‘s’

Enable telnet server? ‘s’

Host gateway? You can get this from your ISP if you’re using static, otherwise a hyphen.

Primary and secondary DNS? These should be sourced from your ISP.

Do you want to export? ‘n’

This is it – now you should restart your computer. You can also connect another computer to test it. Just set the gateway that is default on the new computer to your router’s IP, and use your DNS server settings.

Just remember that you haven’t configured a firewall yet, so you will need to do so for security purposes.

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Written by Bobby

Bobby Lawson is a seasoned technology writer with over a decade of experience in the industry. He has written extensively on topics such as cybersecurity, cloud computing, and data analytics. His articles have been featured in several prominent publications, and he is known for his ability to distill complex technical concepts into easily digestible content.