Setting Up an Old 386 on Your Home Network
My wife has a profound mistrust of the blessings of modern life. Computer-wise she recently upgraded to a recycled Compaq DeskPro 386/25e after wearing out the XT she bought in 1987. All she needs from a computer is a text editor for writing and a spreadsheet program for organizing. She uses WP 4.2, Norton commander (to move files) and VP Planner (a Lotus 123 clone); all three she got around 1987. But now she wanted me to add her system to our home network, but without changing anything on her system. First she wanted to be able to transfer files from her system to mine. This I solved quite easily. Then she wanted Internet access from her old DOS machine—not so easy.
My home network is made of eight systems that I run as a Beowulf. Each system is different, and I made all of them from recycled parts. So I decided to hook my wife's little computer to the head node. The following is a description of how I did this and the hardware I used.
My system, tenn, (short for Tennessee Tuxedo, a cartoon penguin in the US) is a dual-boot Linux/MS 3.1 PI/166MHz with a 6.4GB hard drive and a PCI NIC. My wife's system, hilde, is a Compaq 386/25e with a 120MB hard drive and a NE2000 clone NIC that I added. Patch cables go from both systems to a D-Link 8-port hub. Looking at the software, she has MS-DOS version 5.0 on her computer. I have a standard install of SuSE 7.2 pro on my system.
The idea was to set this up so that my system was a fileserver to her system. I solved the fileserver problem two times. The first time she wanted to be able to connect to my system as if it was her DOS d:\ partition. To do this, I set up Microsoft's DOS Network client on her computer and then started Samba on my Linux system.
New problem: when I told my wife that I had used MS software to get her system connected, she was not amused at all and demanded that I use open-source software only. It did not sway her when I explained that she was already running MS-DOS. Her reasoning was that MS-DOS was written before MS became the evil empire, so it was okay.
Back to the drawing board. I found in my SuSE CDs a DOS utility called XFS, an open-source NFS client for DOS. This software was what I needed. On her system I set up XFS and on my system I added pcnfsd so XFS could login.
Here, then, is how I set up file sharing both ways. You decide which is better for you.
First you need to download Microsoft's DOS Network client software from their FTP site. There are two files from MS dsk3-1.exe and dsk3-2.exe. If you have the DOS drivers for your NIC, you only need the first file. But it was easier to use the MS disks, so I did.
Here is where you start the MS install. Going from the top of the list, you need to give, i.e., change, your machine a name. I gave hilde as the name on the first two lines, but the other two can be left at the default “workgroup”.
Go back to the main menu and make the next selection, Setup. You can leave all of this set to the defaults.
Now we get to the meat of the setup, Change Network Configuration. At this menu the first thing we should do is “add adapter”. Clicking on this will give you a list of all the drivers MS has. Select the one for your machine. Now we should change settings. If you have a NIC selected, it should show up on this menu. You'll need to add the IO and the IRQ numbers here, as well as the “adapter slot number”, the slot you've put your NIC in. Start with the left slot as number 1 counting to the right, up to number 8. This information is probably needed only for an EISA motherboard.
“Add protocol” is the next step, and the spot where most people mess up. MS will default to IPX, but you need to change it to TCP/IP. At the same time you should delete the IPX line, so that MS will not be confused. To delete the IPX protocol you need to tab to the upper menu and highlight the IPX line. Then tab back to the lower menu and click delete.
At this point highlight the line that says “options are correct” and press Return. MS will take over and install all the software. Now you need to reboot your DOS machine.
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