9 Apr 1995

Naked Packet Drivers

Packet drivers are supplied for many popular Ethernet cards. They work in Plain Old DOS (and therefore Plain Old Windows). Packet drivers are 16-bit programs, so they do not work in 32-bit operating systems such as OS/2 or Windows NT. It is possible, however, to install a Packet Driver in one DOS session (one virtual machine) running under OS/2. By dedicating the Ethernet adapter to that session (so OS/2 cannot use the LAN card) the shareware Internet software can be made to run in OS/2.

Packet Drivers support primarily the TCP/IP network protocol. They do not support NETBEUI or SNA. If a connection is needed to a Windows NT, OS/2, or Novell file server, then it is best to install the Microsoft, IBM, or Novell client support on the machine first. Then an interface program can be loaded to create the Packet Driver interface on top of the vendor network support.

A subset of the available Packet Drivers is distributed with the WEBTOOLS package in the \WEBTOOLS\PKTDRV subdirectory. The intent is to include the drivers that correspond to frequently used cards. The full set of Packet Drivers can be copied to diskette using public machines.

A packet driver is a resident program loaded by AUTOEXEC.BAT. The name of the packet driver identifies the supported card. Depending on the board, there may be other parameters on the statement to specify values such as the device address, interrupt levels, and other hardware values.

Other programs (such as the Trumpet WINSOCK package) communicate to a Packet Driver by issuing the INT instruction with a numeric value. DOS reserves values starting at 0x60 for this purpose. The Packet Drivers default to use the 0x60 value, but if this number is in used by another program it can be changed using the first optional parameter on the statement that loads the Packet Driver.

When done, AUTOEXEC.BAT will look something like:


The highlighted line has been added to load the Packet Driver for the 3Com 3C503 Etherlink II adapter card. It has been told to use software interrupt value 0x60 (the default) and hardware interrupt level 5 for the board. Any parameters not specified keep their default values.

Available packet drivers and their parameters include:

If your Ethernet card is in this list, use NOTEPAD from the Windows Accessories group, edit AUTOEXEC.BAT. Insert the appropriate statement and parameters based on the previous discussion of Ethernet card hardware options. At this point, reboot the computer. The Packet Driver will print a message when it is loaded indicating if it found the Ethernet card and was able to initialize it successful. Correct any problems (wrong type of card, wrong I/O address) until this message indicates success.

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Copyright 1995 PC Lube and Tune -- Windows on the World -- H. Gilbert