Operating Systems

I’ve recently discovered (through the use of procmon.exe from sysinternals) that both Firefox and Waterfox make a ton of read/writes to the drive. This will wear out SSDs very quickly. My Waterfox installation was writing GBs worth of data to the drive in only a half-hour AND this was while I just left the browser sitting on YouTube. I was not doing anything in the browser and yet still, it manages to write this much data. SSDs do not have an unlimited number of read/write cycles – eventually they wear out. By making the optimizations I will describe in this article, you will be able to make your SSD last a lot longer.

*** NOTE: If you want it really good (but it will be more effort) goto RAMDisk first ***

I always start out optimizing my install by typing about:config in the address bar. Accept the risks and continue. Type in “cache”.

You will see several entries for cache. Disable “browser.cache.disk.enable” and “browser.cache.offline.enable”.

Look for “browser.cache.memory.capacity”. If it doesn’t exist, then scroll to the bottom of the page and select “Number” and press the “+” button. Type in the amount of RAM in KB you want to use. I put mine at 2097152 (so about 2GB, but you can put more. This is more than enough however.)

Now search for “sessionstore” and look for the value called “…interval”. Change that value to a very high number. I put mine at 1800000. This constantly writes the state of the browser to the disk, so incase it crashes, it will restore everything. Just leave it alone if you are worried about crashes not restoring to your most recent tabs. My browser never crashes, so I turn this up super high so it doesn’t keep writing. You can get an add-on to save your tabs with a click at your discretion if needed.

You may now also search for “telemetry” and disable as many of those as you want. Since I’m using Waterfox, all of this is already disabled for me. I recommend using Waterfox instead of FF if you don’t want any tracking.

Search for “datareporting” and disable that.

If you don’t want your browser to save screen shots of your tabs, then search “pageThumbs” and disable it.


Now, if you want to make it REALLY good, then download a RAM disk software. I use QSoft RAMDisk, but it is now somewhat defunct, so if you can’t get it, then search for a popular RAMDisk driver. Make your RAM Disk several GB. For me 2GB is enough on a system with 16GB RAM, but if you have more RAM, you can make it bigger. After installing your new RAMDisk, launch either FF or Waterfox with the -profilemanager parameter. To make it convenient, you can copy and paste the shortcut to FF and under “target” on the right-click properties, add “-profilemanager” to the end (after and not including quotes). You can now rename that new shortcut with something like “Firefox Profiles” or whatever you like.

Open up Firefox with the old normal shortcut and backup your bookmarks to a file you specify. You can press Ctrl+Shift+B to open your bookmarks manager. In there you will see “Import and Backup”. Choose that and click backup. Now close FF, wait a sec, and launch that new shortcut, it will give you a window allowing you to setup a new Firefox (or Waterfox) profile. Setup that profile on your RAM Disk. It should be self-explanatory – just follow the steps. You can make it your default profile so it starts up automatically with the old FF icon.

Once you have created a new profile on the RAM Disk, you may go back to the bookmarks window and import the bookmarks you saved. Unfortunately, they will be missing their official icons, but they will still work just fine and as you use them, they will load the new icons one by one. If you use any add-ons, you will need to reinstall them.

OPTIONAL: This part is potentially problematic AND you don’t have to do it, but if for some reason you need your Firefox to be EXACTLY the same as before, you can try this. I’ve had issues with this method, so I recommend skipping it. You may attempt to close FF and copy your old profile from “C:\Users\[your name]\AppData\Roaming\Mozilla\Firefox\Profiles” and go inside the folder with the random name like default-xxxxxxxxxx. There should only be one or two in there usually. Copy the files INSIDE that folder (not the folder itself), into your new profile folder on the RAM Disk and replace all. Now you can launch FF or Waterfox (with the original icon, if you made your new profile default) and it should be the same as before. It bugged out with my add-ons though and that’s why it’s not recommended.


You’re done. Now your SSD will last forever, so long as you don’t have a bunch of bloatware processes running in the background. I always completely clear my startup items in msconfig. You can look that up.

Other unnecessary things I do with my RAM Disk:

I always set my downloads and temp folders to the RAM Disk. I like having it this way cause then I know that the temporary junk files don’t keep slowly consuming more space. Setting your Firefox downloads folder to the RAM Disk is easy, so I won’t get into that. If you download really large files often, then don’t do it, but for me, I like to have my downloads be temp and if I decide they are good (something I want to keep), then I move them into a proper folder like documents.

You can open the system properties by right clicking “This PC” and going to properties on Win 10. Look for the link on the left called “Advanced System Settings”. In that new window, you should see a button at the bottom called “environment variables”. Look through BOTH lists and change all the ones labeled “TMP” or “TEMP” to the RAM Disk drive letter (usually “B:\”). This will make all the system temp files go on the RAM Disk and they will be automatically cleared each time you deboot the comp. There is no real risk to this. The only scenario that’s problematic is if a program makes a massive temp file like certain installers will copy their content to the temp folder before copying to the program files. IT’S EXCEEDINGLY STUPID, but that’s how some very rare things are – like 1 in a 500 programs. If your RAM disk is bigger than the software, it will work anyway.

So my radio project is still in the works, but I am waiting on my PCBs for the improved version covering 40m band.

I haven’t posted any retro computing stuff yet, so I’d like to talk about my recent experience with AMD K6-2.

I am attempting to build a computer that is right in-between the DOS era and the Pentium III era (this is circa 1999).

So what games should this system be able to play?

Quake 2

Quake 3

Deus Ex

Unreal 1

Maybe half-life?

It runs my game Oasis! Interestingly, the development environment (AGS) will run on there too, so I could actually make period correct games on the system.

After some research on this subject (including the great website – philscomputerlab.com), I concluded that the best motherboard to use for this would be the Gigabyte GA-5AX. I managed to find the Rev. 4.1 of this board on ebay for a reasonable price of $99. This board supports pretty much any Socket 7 and Super Socket 7 processor out there. This includes AMD, Intel, and even Cyrix. The fastest CPUs come from AMD and are the K6-2 and K6-3 series. What makes this combo special is that it can be used as a DOS PC or a much faster Windows PC by overclocking and underclocking. It can be underclocked enough to run older DOS games at the correct speed as well as windows with the overclock. Overall, it is a good balance with its wide range of speeds.

But that’s about all there is that’s good about it. Its AGP support is extremely buggy and it’s nearly impossible to get both OpenGL and DirectX working. You might get one or the other, but I have not been able to get both of them working at the same time yet. Both NVIDIA and ATI are the least compatible cards in this system and they are the only I have tried as of yet. Matrox and 3dfx are two graphics card companies that no longer exist, but apparently they have the best compatibility with this motherboard. I have tried 5 ATI and NVIDIA cards so far and I will soon try a 3dfx voodoo an report the results.

The cards I have tried are:

ATI Rage Pro 128


NVIDIA Geforce FX5500

NVIDIA Geforce 4 MX 440

ATI Radeon 7000

These have each been tested with Windows 2000 and four different driver revisions. What usually occurs when testing is the system with either immediately reboot upon entering OpenGL or DirectX or it will display the message “The exception privileged instruction 0xxxxxx”. This got me thinking that the problem has to do with the driver using a newer instruction that hasn’t been implemented in this CPU. I will soon try a Voodoo3 3500 to see if their drivers work. A Matrox G400 is also a good card to try. I will first try replacing the K6-2 with a K6-3+ and see if maybe some newer instructions are implemented in this CPU. It doesn’t seem likely and I can’t find any documentation about instructions, but it is possible.

If anyone is having a similar error with OpenGL, I did find that the SciTech GLDirect drivers DO WORK. They basically emulated OpenGL inside of DirectX. This works, but there is a lot of CPU overhead and so it runs very slowly.

To put this in perspective, I am able to run a Radeon HD 4650 in a Dual CPU Pentium III system (CUV4X-D) with no problems and full DirectX 9.0c and OpenGL support. This graphics card was released on Sep 10th, 2008. The CPU and mobo were circa 2001. There is a massive gap here and this type of gap usually exists for most systems, but not for Super Socket 7 which will only work with era correct cards.

There is a website here http://www.amd-k6.com/os-support/

. . .where the guy explains running what seems to be impossible. It is unlikely that he has both OpenGL and DirectX working with the setup he describes. Don’t let this site fool you into tying a Geforce FX card on this type of system. It will not work!

It is entirely possible that this would work better with Windows 98 SE, but I refuse to use it. It’s buggy and its task manager is more like a modern day phone (where you don’t really have a clue what is actually running in the background).

When I get this system working, I’ll report back here maybe with some benchmarks.

Here are the system specs:

GA-5AX Rev. 4.1


AMD K6-2 400MHz

Creative ES1373

Windows 2000 SP4


UPDATE 09-08-2020:

I figured I should update this here rather than making a new post cause this will be brief. For anyone who is wondering what I got working with this system, well, it turns out the voodoo3 card was the best. It worked perfectly with both OpenGL and DirectX. This project is now complete.