Connecting multiple OS computers

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Connecting multiple OS computers

Postby dr_st » Sat Aug 07, 2004 4:11 am

At this point I have several machines in the house:

* One desktop PC running WinXP Pro
* One desktop PC running Win98 SE
* One desktop PC running MS-DOS (yes, I'm serious)
* One laptop PC running WinXP Pro
* All PCs have Ethernet adapters
* Cable broadband modem which can connect via USB or via Ethernet
* Two printers - one USB, one LPT/USB

I want to set up a network for maximum communication and flexibility:

#1: The two XP PCs and the Win98 PC to share everything, i.e. one can see everything on the others.

That's fairly simple - a hub will do.

#2: The two XP PCs and the Win98 PC to share the internet connection INDEPENDENTLY of each other.

This will require a router, but it's still a pretty trivial task.

#3: It would be nice if the laptop could connect through wireless too. There is no reason to connect the desktop PCs through wireless, because they are not far away (about 3 meters through a wall), but connecting the laptop through wireless would give some additional flexibility to the system.

For this I wanted to get a wireless router, which supports 1 WAN (for the broadband), 4 LAN (for the cable connections) and 200+ WLAN (for the optional wireless laptop connection). Then I could get a wireless PCMCIA/USB adapter for the laptop and that's it.

#4: To share the two printers between the XP PCs and the Win98 PC. Here one option is to connect each printer to one of the PCs, and then that PC will function as a print server to the others. That shouldn't be a problem, as I tried it several times.

However, I also know that some routers can also function as print servers, and they come with a USB port to connect a printer too. Will it work? Does it depend on the printer? Are there routers that can host two printers out there? Is it even worth it?

#5: This task can either become the simplest or the most difficult. I want the MS-DOS PC to be able to connect via the network to the Win98 PC, to allow file sharing and DOS LAN gaming. I have DOS Ethernet drivers on both PCs and I've tested the connection successfully in the past using a simple crossover cable.

Now, the router SHOULD be able to provide the physical interface needed for the computers to communicate, and they should be able to do it regardless of any Windows issues / IP issues. Remember that we're talking about DOS Ethernet here, where IP is irrelevant and unused. Am I right? I always understood that a router can do everything that a hub can, so it should work, in theory.

Seeing as I haven't got any past experience with such strange setups, I'd like to know whether it can work, and if so, what issues am I likely to run into.

Any help will be appreciated.
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Postby Hardware Junkie » Sat Aug 07, 2004 8:07 am

Ok firstly. You can get a router that has wireless, a switch, router and printer all in one. Its hard to get a commercial/cheap router with 2 print servers, my advice there is to just get an additional print server and hook it up via LAN or WIFI.

Recommended Router (s):
http://www.dlink.com/products/?pid=274
Has built in Print Server

http://www.dlink.com/products/?pid=6

Print Servers:
http://www.dlink.com/products/category.asp?cid=10

#5: This task can either become the simplest or the most difficult. I want the MS-DOS PC to be able to connect via the network to the Win98 PC, to allow file sharing and DOS LAN gaming. I have DOS Ethernet drivers on both PCs and I've tested the connection successfully in the past using a simple crossover cable.

Now, the router SHOULD be able to provide the physical interface needed for the computers to communicate, and they should be able to do it regardless of any Windows issues / IP issues. Remember that we're talking about DOS Ethernet here, where IP is irrelevant and unused. Am I right? I always understood that a router can do everything that a hub can, so it should work, in theory.


You are thinking of IPX instead of TCP/IP. TCP/IP uses IP addresses as an identifier, rather then IPX which uses the MAC address of the ethernet card in use. Majour problem is that most routers available do not support the IPX protocol.
I would recommend getting the DOS drivers for your card and then loading the TCP/IP protocol from DOS. Then it will act like any Windows machine.
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Postby dr_st » Sat Aug 07, 2004 8:32 am

Hardware Junkie wrote:You are thinking of IPX instead of TCP/IP. TCP/IP uses IP addresses as an identifier, rather then IPX which uses the MAC address of the ethernet card in use. Majour problem is that most routers available do not support the IPX protocol.
I would recommend getting the DOS drivers for your card and then loading the TCP/IP protocol from DOS. Then it will act like any Windows machine.


The thing is DOS LAN gaming goes through IPX, not TCP/IP.

All the connection I need between the DOS machine and the Win98 machine is on the physical level. I assume that if a physical connection is present, the machines will see each other via the IPX drivers. Isn't that the function of a switch? Can a router provide at least that? See, I don't really need any routing done between those two in DOS mode. I'm not going to pass the internet connection to the DOS machine.

If I need a router that supports IPX, then I saw some routers which feature WLAN support and IPX support. That would do me just fine (we can ditch the print server issue for now). Can you recommend a good router with the above characteristics?

Edit:

Maybe I'm missing the simplest solution... I mean, since I only need the DOS machine to be connected to the Win98 machine, I could just stick an additional Ethernet adapter in the Win98 machine, so the connection between it and the DOS one wouldn't have to go through any routers/switches/etc.
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Postby Hardware Junkie » Sat Aug 07, 2004 12:01 pm

If you need to make a connection between 2 pcs only, I would go with the second ethernet card and a cross over cable.
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Postby pa3lsvt » Sat Aug 07, 2004 1:06 pm

Hardware Junkie wrote:If you need to make a connection between 2 pcs only, I would go with the second ethernet card and a cross over cable.


Yeah, no sense in limiting the router choice with something the router doesn't have to really do. Especially when a new PCI ethernet card for the Win98 box will cost you less than dinner.
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Postby dr_st » Sat Aug 07, 2004 9:15 pm

pa3lsvt wrote:
Hardware Junkie wrote:If you need to make a connection between 2 pcs only, I would go with the second ethernet card and a cross over cable.


Yeah, no sense in limiting the router choice with something the router doesn't have to really do. Especially when a new PCI ethernet card for the Win98 box will cost you less than dinner.


That's true. However, I'd like to have my question answered:

Can a general router that doesn't support IPX for routing provide just the physical connection needed for two machines to be able to see itself via their own IPX drivers?

As I speak, my plan becomes clearer. I'm gonna buy a router and only if it fails to provide the above physical connection, I'm gonna buy a separate Ethernet card.
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Postby subdriver20 » Sat Aug 07, 2004 11:28 pm

Are the HDD's in the systems running XP formated NTFS? If they are then the other systems will not be able to see or share the HDD's. You can get a program for 98se that allows read capability of NTFS drives with limited rite. http://www.sysinternals.com/
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Postby pa3lsvt » Sun Aug 08, 2004 4:47 am

subdriver20 wrote:Are the HDD's in the systems running XP formated NTFS? If they are then the other systems will not be able to see or share the HDD's. You can get a program for 98se that allows read capability of NTFS drives with limited rite. http://www.sysinternals.com/


Not true. Win98 cannot see a NTFS partition on the same physical machine, but I file share my NTFS XP Pro and FAT32 98SE machines with no problems.
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Postby Hardware Junkie » Sun Aug 08, 2004 5:42 am

dr_st wrote:
That's true. However, I'd like to have my question answered:

Can a general router that doesn't support IPX for routing provide just the physical connection needed for two machines to be able to see itself via their own IPX drivers?

As I speak, my plan becomes clearer. I'm gonna buy a router and only if it fails to provide the above physical connection, I'm gonna buy a separate Ethernet card.


I am pretty sure the answer is no

Q: Does the Wireless AP + Cable/DSL Router support IPX or AppleTalk?
A: No. TCP/IP is the only protocol standard for the Internet and has become the global standard for communications. IPX, a NetWare communications protocol used only to route messages from one node to another, and AppleTalk, a communications protocol used on Apple and Macintosh networks, can be used from LAN to LAN connections, but those protocols cannot connect from WAN to LAN.

http://www.linksys.com/support/support.asp?spid=68
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Postby ajrox » Sun Aug 08, 2004 10:21 am

plug a hub into the the router port instead of a single comp. now plug the win98 comp and the DOS comp into the hub. be sure IPX/SPX is installed on the DOS and win 9x protocol stack along with TCP/IP and your there. if you plan on playing the IPX game on 2000 and XP be sure to add NWLINK {which happens to be IPX / SPX} to the protocol stack.
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