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Network card installation and IRQ/INT: ISA

 

Before putting in the network card into the PC, I propose to follow a German saying, which was made by Lenin: "Vertrauen ist gut, Kontrolle ist besser" (it would be in English:" it is good to TRUST, but better to CONTROL").

Before continuing, you should be familiar with I/O-addresses and Interrupts/IRQs


I will not make any recommendation, on which card should be used, so I am using for this data based on an NE2000-compatible board (these boards have a fairly old design and are NOT the fastest boards, but have the advantage, that ALL operating systems, like:Windows95, WindowsNT4, LINUX, OS/2,..., come already with drivers for the network board as part of the operating system.

When buying a network board, make sure, that you can get updates of
the Network drivers !

I had some bad experience with purchasing a very new model of network-board:
It was delivered with a BETA-test version of the Win95 adapter-driver, which did NOT work properly for me, I had to put the board away for several weeks, before I could download from the Internet the final release of the driver (Since the manufacturing life-time of new computer equipment is sometimes only MONTHS, some manufactures start already shipping the equipment BEFORE it is fully tested).
For another board, I could not find ANY new driver on the Internet, it was a no-name board with no Internet support site, and I am NOT able to use this board.

My advise:
if you are a newbie to networking and want a trouble-free installation:
get a network board, where the drivers are already included in Win95 !

 

A network card needs for it operation a few resources, an address, an Interrupt (IRQ) and sometime even a DMA channel. And when asking Windows 95 to detect the new hardware automatically, it does NOT always get it right,

If the card is for the PCI-bus, it is fine, then the BIOS will tell Windows95 about the assigned resources , see Network card installation : PCI.

But if it a card for an ISA-slot, then these resources have to be assigned often manually.

I myself prefer cards like the one below:

or the scan of a real board:

It has jumper (and on "good" cards, the info on the jumpers is printed on the card itself, which is good, because it is only a question of time, before you loose the small manual deliver with the card).

Tip: I had myself several times, that I opened an old computer, found
in there a Network-card, but could NOT identify it, and there was
no explanation for the Jumpers and NO MORE card-manual:
Therefor, I take a sticker, write on it all important info like : what
are the jumpers doing, and then stick it ON THE CARD !

Other cards have no jumper, but a floppy with a "Software Configuration" program (and it is usually also only a question of time, before you have lost this configuration floppy).

In both cases (for Jumper-cards and for "Software Configuration " cards), check first in the "Control-Panel","System-Icon" on the tab "Device Manager", then click on "Computer" (the first line/item in the list, then select properties to get your resource usage list:

Look now for an unused Interrupt. Very often, Network cards are pre-configured to use Interrupt 5 or 10, but as you can see, both these were already taken on my system, I selected to put my NE2000 network board on Interrupt 9.

Once you have identified the Interrupt, configure your board for it (at least CHECK it), also checking, that the proper connector/plug is activated on a Multi-Connector Board , then check the floppy provided with the card (if any) to verify, whether and where it contains the required driver for Windows95/98:

Search for a directory "Win95" or similar, and locate the INF-file, containing the Setup-Information. If no floppy disk is provided, then the driver for this NIC should be included already with Windows.

Now, we are ready to install the board.

If you have a PCI-card or a Plug-and-Ply card, Windows 95 will detect it on startup and either will use its own driver (if the card is known)

or will prompt you for the "Manufactures Disk":

where you now need to define the location (directory) for the INF-file.

For other cards, you need to tell Windows95 about it (still to be documented), but if you request Windows95 to "detect the New Hardware", verify, that Windows 95 got it right:

In the Control-Panel, Network-Applet:

check in the Properties of the Network card the Resources:
- is the I/O-address properly detected ?
- is the Interrupt (IRQ) properly detected ?

If your network card has Jumpers or is configured with a Setup-floppy, then these values MUST MATCH the jumper setting/ setup values. If you need to change one of these values, you MUST also change the jumper setting or use the Setup-floppy to configure the board for these values.
However, if your board is a Plug & Play board, when chaning the "Basic Configuration" and then the values for Interrupt and I/O address will program the network board to use the new values.
So, watch out, on which type of board you have.

And once the board is installed and you/Windows have installed the drivers, always check
in Device Manager for any conflicts.

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