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PCMCIA Problems - Part 1

by Tom Donahue


Over the weekend I installed my first PCMCIA card, a Xircom Ethernet adapter. It's a long story, but here are a few things I found out just in case anyone else is about to try the same.

To start off, the Xircom installation program was excellent. After a quick look at the docs I plugged in the card and launched the program. I answered a few questions; it automatically scanned my system and chose the appropriate IRQ, I/O port and memory locations. All I had to do was run Windows for Workgroups (WfW) Network Setup and I was ready to go after only 10 minutes. Except...WfW boots with a dialog box saying that MS Network didn't start because the network driver failed to load.

My first thought was, I should have loaded Card and Socket Services. This is a software layer that hides hardware details from the card manufacturer's driver and provides services like power management and the ability to switch cards without rebooting. Since I only have one card I thought I didn't need it, but sure enough, a look at IBM's ThinkPad manual turns up the statement that C&SS is required for all PC cards.

OK, rewrite CONFIG.SYS to include C&SS and run the Xircom install program again. It works fine. Except...after the hardware detection phase it stops and says please insert your Ethernet card. The card is inserted and connected, but apparently it can't see it.

Back to the manuals. The Xircom manual has a section on the ThinkPad 360, which says that I need to insert the statement MEMWAITSTATES=1 in PROTOCOL.INI. What is this? My 360 has a lowly 33-Mhz 486, so it must be the pokiness of the ThinkPad memory system, which I've read about before. Whatever, at this point I'm not going to argue. I find PROTOCOL.INI in the Windows directory, and now the question is where to insert that statement. There are 5 sections in the file with names like [NETBEUI] and [XIRC$XPSNDIS]. They couldn't mean insert it anywhere, so I insert it in all 5 sections and try again. No go.

I begin to suspect a hardware problem. The 16 MB memory card that arrived in the same shipment didn't work so I had to send that back (to First Source International, who were very prompt and courteous about exchanging it). Also the metal sleeve of the original WfW floppy #6 came off inside the ThinkPad... a hardware problem is a possibility. But when I run Xircom's excellent diagnostics program the card passes with flying colors...[end day 1]

The next day I decided I was having better luck without the Card and Socket Services, so I removed those and tried configuring the IRQ, memory location, etc., manually. This was a process of running the install program, setting up the network and rebooting the computer and WfW to see the dialog box that says the network driver didn't load. By the time Network Setup had backed up PROTOCOL.018 I decided that this approach wasn't working and I should try something else.

Back to the manuals. The Xircom manual had a whole list of suggestions, which I tried, including moving the adapter to the other socket and attempting to check the parameters assigned by Card and Socket Services. One that I wasn't able to try was plugging the dongle cable directly into the hub: both sides have female connectors. I also tried freeing up more low memory, remembering how WinJ wouldn't load on another machine until I installed QEMM. No joy.

Finally it occurred to me that I should look at the CONFIG.SYS on my main machine where WfW is working. There was a statement,

DEVICE=C:\WINDOWS\IFSHLP.SYS

that wasn't there on the ThinkPad. When I put it in, the network driver loads, WfW comes up and asks for my password. Eureka!

Moral 1:

Regardless of what it says in the manual, Card and Socket Services are not required for all PC cards. The next challenge is to figure out why I can't install the card with C&SS enabled, but for now it's working fine without.

Moral 2:

WfW Network Setup will make various changes to your Autoexec.Bat and Config.Sys files, but it won't insert IFSHLP.SYS. If it isn't there, you need it. [end day 2]

Now that WfW was running, I had to try it out. First I tried to access the CD-ROM drive on the other WfW machine. That was one of the main incentives for doing this, so I wouldn't have to install any more software from floppies. But File Manager on the ThinkPad reports "[no files]". Hmm. Back to the manuals.

In the WfW manual I read that to share CD-ROM drives MSCDEX needs the /S switch. So I add the /S switch and reboot. MSCDEX reports "Cannot share drives" and refuses to load at all. Hmmm. Version is OK. Maybe it's because I'm loading two drivers at once? Try removing the Nakamichi driver... no, that's not it.

Where were the MSCDEX docs? Ah yes, a doc file came with the Sanyo CD-ROM drive. Here it is: the /S switch "Instructs MSCDEX.EXE to patch DOS to allow sharing of CD-ROM drives on MS-NET based network servers". Terrific, it patches DOS. Will it patch DOS/V?

Then I had my second brilliant idea of the weekend. There was also a Win95 machine on the network.

Insert the disc, Share As.., and there it is!

Moral 3:

If you upgrade to Win95, you don't have to worry about MSCDEX.

So for now I appear to be set up. The current plan: to install Win95J on the ThinkPad leaving WfW in place for a couple of English apps. Also to upgrade my main machine to Win95E ASAP.


© Algorithmica Japonica Copyright Notice: Copyright of material rests with the individual author. Articles may be reprinted by other user groups if the author and original publication are credited. Any other reproduction or use of material herein is prohibited without prior written permission from TPC. The mention of names of products without indication of Trademark or Registered Trademark status in no way implies that these products are not so protected by law.

Algorithmica Japonica

April, 1996

The Newsletter of the Tokyo PC Users Group

Submissions : Editor


Tokyo PC Users Group, Post Office Box 103, Shibuya-Ku, Tokyo 150-8691, JAPAN