I have a two PC setup at home, one has a on-board realtek network card ( running windows XP) and the other one has a D-link Lan card ( running RHEL 4), I have been using internet from Linux machine by configuring Win XP as a gateway with out any problem

Few days back I bought a new 3Com LAN card for my XP machine (as I wanted to connect to the DSL modem with a Ethernet connection instead of a USB connection) and on connecting the computers via the new card I found that the Internet browsing on the Linux machine had become extremely slow, and there was a high packet loss when pinging the computers , that was something really odd for LAN connection of two computers sitting right beside each other

I suspected that there was some fault with the new 3Com card , however after a bit of tweaking the problem was resolved by setting the media type of the LAN card to 10 Mbps , apparently by default the type was set to auto causing the windows to try to use the full 100 Mbps duplex mode which the other (D-link) card in linux machine did not support, resulting in a conflict and data loss over LAN.
So If you are facing a similar problem than make sure to check that the data transfer speeds on both LAN card are set to match each other.

In windows you can configure the parameters of a LAN card by opening the device manager and selecting the advanced tab in the dialogue box for the properties of the appropriate LAN card or Ethernet adapter.

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