Chapter 10. Networking with SoftWindows

SoftWindows includes network drivers which enable you to share files with other PCs, or run multi-user applications on a network.

This chapter gives full details of how to set up networking within Windows 95.


SoftWindows offers you the same network functionality as any PC, enabling you to install a wide variety of PC networking packages. This is achieved using network drivers which operate over Ethernet networks.

This chapter begins with a brief description of the network interfaces supported within SoftWindows followed by instructions on how to install network clients within Windows 95.

Network Interfaces

In a PC networking environment, the operating system does not communicate directly with the network card itself, but through a software interface called a network driver. Modern network drivers and communication protocols are written to common interface standards, allowing multiple protocol stacks to be used with any network interface driver written to the same standard.

Currently the most popular standards are the Network Driver Interface Specification (NDIS, developed by Microsoft and 3COM) and Open DataLink Interface (ODI, developed by Novell and Apple).

Another driver standard is Winsock, which is one of the most popular PC network interfaces for TCP/IP applications.

SoftWindows is supplied with the following network drivers drivers for Ethernet networks:

  • NDIS, V3.1 miniport, Windows 95 only.

  • ODI, 16-bit real mode.

  • Winsock, V1.1, 16-bit and 32-bit.

All SoftWindows networking drivers are stored in the C:\INSIGNIA directory, and have the following filenames:

Table 10-1. Network Driver Filenames

Network Driver


Ethernet NDIS


Ethernet ODI


Winsock (16-bit)


Winsock (32-bit)


Since the SoftWindows ODI and NDIS drivers access the same physical network interface they cannot be used simultaneously.

Networking with Windows 95

The following section describes the configuration of networking within Windows 95.

Windows 95 can be configured to use either the SoftWindows NDIS or ODI network drivers. It is recommend that the NDIS drivers are used where possible as they are Windows 95 specific and offer the best performance. Note also that some third-party clients and protocol stacks must be installed via NDIS drivers. The configuration of the SoftWindows NDIS and ODI drivers are outlined in the following sections.

SoftWindows is supplied with both 16- and 32-bit Winsock (1.1) support pre-installed. This allows any Winsock compliant application to be used without re-configuring Windows 95. If access to Local Area Network services is required, Windows 95 must be re-configured to access the host's network device via either the SoftWindows NDIS or ODI drivers.

SoftWindows NDIS drivers

To use the SoftWindows NDIS driver with the standard Microsoft Windows 95 clients, follow the instructions below. To use the NDIS driver with other Windows 95 network clients, following the application installation instructions, installing the SoftWindows NDIS driver as described below when required:

Note: Ensure that you have a Windows 95 CD or access to the Windows 95 setup files available to SoftWindows before starting this procedure.

  1. Click the Start button, point to Settings, and then click Control Panel.

  2. Double-click the Network icon in the Control Panel folder.

    The Network dialog box is displayed.

  3. If any existing drivers are displayed, select them and click Remove.

  4. Click Add....

  5. Select Adapter and click Add....

    A number of network adapter cards will be presented.

  6. Select Insignia Solutions SoftWindows plc and Ethernet, and click OK.

    The Network dialog box should now include the following items:

    • Client for Microsoft Networks

    • Client for NetWare Networks

    • SoftWindows Ethernet Driver

    • IPX/SPS-compatible Protocol

    • NetBEUI

    Windows 95 adds the IPX/SPX and NetBEUI protocols and the Microsoft and NetWare clients by default.

    The SoftWindows network driver can be configured to be either NDIS (default) or ODI. To ensure that the NDIS driver has been chosen, select the SoftWindows Network Driver and click Properties.

    Ensure that Enhanced Mode (32-bit and 16-bit) NDIS driver is selected.

  7. Click OK to return to the Network dialog box.

  8. Add any additional protocols and clients you require.

  9. Remove those protocols and clients you do not need.

  10. Once you are happy with the clients and protocols you have configured, select the Identification tab.

It is important that each Windows 95 machine has a unique Computer Name.

  1. Select a unique Computer name.

  2. Select the Workgroup you wish to be a member of.

  3. Select a Computer Description for SoftWindows.

    Remember that other users identify your SoftWindows installation from these settings. An informative Computer name and Computer Description can help when attempting to share network resources.

  4. Once you are sure that the configuration is complete select OK.

  5. When a dialog appears asking you to confirm the resource allocation for the driver, accept the default (IRQ 10), and click OK.

    Windows 95 will now download the appropriate software and drivers from your Windows 95 CD or setup files. Ensure you have these available. You will be prompted to supply the location of the SoftWindows network drivers, these can be found in the C:\INSIGNIA directory.

  6. When asked whether you want to restart Windows 95 click Yes.

After restarting Windows 95, double-click the Network Neighborhood icon to list the servers and machines that are visible to your computer. To view all the network resources available to your machine, double-click the Entire Network icon.

SoftWindows ODI drivers

Windows 95 may also be configured to use the SoftWindows ODI drivers, although this is not the recommended solution. The ODI drivers are not supported; it is recommended that you use the NDIS drivers.

Note: TurboStart is not available if you are using ODI networking with Windows 95.

  1. Follow the steps described in the “SoftWindows NDIS drivers” section but select the Real Mode (16 bit) ODI driver from the list of supported the drivers in the SoftWindows Network Driver Properties dialog box.

  2. When asked whether you want to restart Windows 95 click No.

Even though Windows 95 has now been set up as required the SoftWindows ODI driver needs to be configured to support the protocols and clients selected.

The SoftWindows ODI drivers are configured through the C:\WINDOWS\NET.CFG file. By default this is set to support Ethernet, with the frame types set to ETHERNET_802.2 for Novell NetWare and Microsoft Networking, that is, the same default protocols as those chosen by Windows 95 during the network setup.

If your network has different characteristics you will need to edit the NET.CFG file to select the appropriate options. To change the options, comment out the current setting by inserting a semicolon in front of the line, and remove the semicolons from the lines you require. See the “Configuring ODI drivers” for more details.

Configuring SoftWindows 4.0 for networking to other PC network clients

Follow the steps below to configure and load the SoftWindows ODI driver:

  1. Edit the system's C:\AUTOEXEC.BAT file by adding the following at the end:


  2. Edit the ODI system file C:\WINDOWS\NET.CFG to support the required clients. It is pre-configured to support NetWare and Microsoft clients.

    TCP/IP support requires the following change.

    • Open the net.cfg file and look for this section

       ; SoftWindows' Ethernet configuration.
       ; The following section allows Windows 95 to support Microsoft Networking
       ; (via NetBEUI) and Novell NetWare (via IPX).
               FRAME Ethernet_802.2
               FRAME Ethernet_II
               FRAME Ethernet_SNAP
               FRAME Ethernet_802.3
               PROTOCOL IPX E0 Ethernet_802.2
               PROTOCOL SMB F0 Ethernet_802.2

    • After locating the file you must add the following threelines to the protocol list:


    • The final altered section looks like the following:

       ; SoftWindows' Ethernet configuration.
       ; The following section allows Windows 95 to support Microsoft Networking
       ; (via NetBEUI) and Novell NetWare (via IPX).
               FRAME Ethernet_802.2
               FRAME Ethernet_II
               FRAME Ethernet_SNAP
               FRAME Ethernet_802.3
               PROTOCOL IPX E0 Ethernet_802.2
               PROTOCOL SMB F0 Ethernet_802.2
               PROTOCOL IP 800 ETHERNET_II
               PROTOCOL ARP 806 ETHERNET_II
               MAX PACKET SIZE 1514

  3. Save this file.

  4. Restart SoftWindows.

    This step is vital to your success; if you do not restart SoftWindows at this time networking will not work.

  5. Once SoftWindows has started, click the Start button, select Settings, then click Control Panel.

  6. Double-click the Network icon in the Control Panel folder. The Network dialog box is displayed. Assuming no networking was previously configured, the network dialog box shows that no components are installed.

  7. Click Add... A dialog box appears, which allows you to configure clients, adapters, protocols, and services.

  8. Choose Adapter, and click Add... You will be presented with a range of alternative network adapters. Ignore these drivers; they will not work and are there to maintain 100% compatibility.

  9. Under Manufacturers, select (detected net drivers).

  10. Select Existing ODI Driver from the Network Adapters list, and click OK to add it.

    If this option is not present, ensure that SoftWindows was able to initialize the network adapter at start-up.

  11. The Network dialog box should now list the driver you selected, and associated clients and protocols (for example, IPX/SPX-compatible protocol and NetBEUI). Remove those clients and protocols you do not need.

  12. Add those clients or protocols you want loaded (for example, the Microsoft TCP/IP protocol).

  13. For each protocol and client, click Properties to ensure the configuration suits your environment.

  14. When you are happy with the configuration, click OK to confirm the changes you have made.

  15. Follow any system prompts and restart Windows 95.

  16. SoftWindows now loads the needed drivers from a compressed version of the CD located on your hard drive.

    • There is often a error stating that the file on Novell Netware Dos driver disk could not be found. To rectify this situation, enter c:\nwclient as the path.

Advanced Topics

The following section should be used for reference.

Configuring NDIS drivers

The Windows 95 registry holds various configuration settings for the SoftWindows NDIS drivers. Although these settings can be modified by editing the registry, the preferred approach is by the Network icon within the Windows 95 Control Panel. The network settings can be viewed by performing the following steps:

  1. Click the Start button, point to Settings, and then click Control Panel.

  2. Double-click the Network icon in the Control Panel folder.

  3. To access the SoftWindows Network driver's Advanced settings select the SoftWindows Network driver and click on Properties.

  4. Select the Advanced tab to view the NDIS driver's settings:

  5. The following Advanced settings are defined:

    NDIS Ethernet Driver Properties:

    • On-the-fly Packet Filtering

    • Protocol Override 1

    • Protocol Override 2

    • Protocol Override 3

    • Protocol Override 4

    • Protocol Override 5

On-The-Fly packet filtering

In normal operation the SoftWindows NDIS drivers filter received packets on-the-fly. That is, they only receive packets of protocol types which it has previously transmitted. In some circumstances this could cause a slight degradation in performance and the functionality of the NDIS drivers can be changed to disable this on-the-fly filtering technique. Disabling this functionality can stop network packets being received by Windows 95 if care is not taken.

If On-The-Fly packet filtering is disabled Valid Protocol Overrides MUST be supplied.

Protocol Override 1 - 5

Five Protocol Override settings are provided. These force the SoftWindows NDIS drivers to enable the selected protocol types. The following table shows how to enable specific frame/protocol types:

Table 10-2. NDIS Driver Protocol Override Settings

Frame Type

Value format














Where `x' represents a Hex digit.

Note that ALL protocols must be added. To enable TCP/IP you must enable both IP (0800) and ARP (0806). It is valid to have On-The-Fly packet filtering enabled whilst protocol overrides are defined. They are simply ignored.

Configuring ODI drivers

The ODI system is configured through a single file: NET.CFG.

The NET.CFG file is divided up into sections, each of which provides parameters to configure a different part of the ODI system. Each section of the file begins with a section heading at the start of the line, followed by a series of tab-indented configuration options under the section heading.

The following example shows a simple NET.CFG file:

        BUFFERS 8 1500
        MEMPOOL 8192

These sections are described in detail below.

Link Support

The LINK SUPPORT section of the NET.CFG file is used to configure the Open Data-link Interface Link Support Layer (LSL.COM). This section is only needed when protocols require a non default configuration.

Link Driver

The LINK DRIVER section is the most important part of the NET.CFG file for configuring SoftWindows. The options set in this section govern the interface between the driver and the rest of the system, the protocols registered with the network interface, and the format of packets transmitted and received. There are also numerous other configuration options associated with the network interface card, but most of these are not relevant to SoftWindows.

The following options are the most important for SoftWindows:


Syntax: FRAME frame-type

This configuration option enables a particular frame type.


Syntax: PROTOCOL name protocolID frame-type

This configuration option enables a particular protocol to be used with a particular frame type. The SoftWindows ODI driver will only receive network packets for those protocols enabled within the NET.CFG file.



Some platforms limit the size of packets which can be transmitted. This option is only offered to resolve any platform-specific limitations which may occur in the future.

The default sizes are shown in Table 10-3.

Table 10-3. Maximum Packet Sizes


Default Max Packet Size




A sample LINK DRIVER section is as follows:

        FRAME ETHERNET_802.2
        FRAME ETHERNET_802.3

The FRAME lines in this LINK DRIVER section allow all four Ethernet frame types to be used with the driver. It is recommended that you always include all frame types in the LINK DRIVER section to allow the driver to transmit and receive frames in any of the common hardware packet formats. Note that the order of the lines is not significant. A configuration such as this prevents any FRAME and PROTOCOL mismatches occurring, and also makes configuring both ODI and NDIS (over ODI via the ODINSUP shim) identical.

The MAX PACKET SIZE option limits the size of any packets being transmitted and is only provided to solve platform-specific implementations in which the host is not able to transmit full size raw packets.

Since the SoftWindows ODI drivers (ETHERSPC) and the other Novell ODI components all obtain their configuration data from the NET.CFG file, it is important that they all reference the same NET.CFG file. It is recommended that all the ODI components are loaded from the directory which contains the NET.CFG file, usually


For example:


ODI Frame types

The table below provides information on the FRAME types and PROTOCOL entries required in the NET.CFG file for common Network Clients and SoftWindows.

Windows 95 / Microsoft Lan Manager / Windows For Workgroups


Novell NetWare


Novell's Protocol Burst support

Although by default this feature is disabled, it is possible to increase the performance of the NetWare 4 client within SoftWindows by enabling Novell's Protocol Burst support for use with the SoftWindows ODI driver. This should only be enabled when accessing NetWare 4 servers via the NetWare 4 client as no increase in performance will be seen in other circumstances.

To enable Protocol Burst support the SoftWindows NET.CFG file must be edited. Remove the ; (semi-colon) at the beginning of the following line:

; MAX IPG = 1

Change the value of PB BUFFERS from 0 to 7.

Protocol Burst support will now be enabled whenever the NetWare 4 VLM client is loaded.

TCP/IP Connectivity


Banyan VINES


Where two or more protocols of the same frame type are provided for the network client, all must be present in the NET.CFG file for the client to work correctly. For example, for the Microsoft network client to work over TCP/IP, and for access to NetWare servers to be enabled, the following must be defined in the Ethernet section of the NET.CFG file:


Troubleshooting ODI

Link Support Layer

No problems should be encountered when loading the Link Support Layer. If an error does occur, the most likely cause is an incorrect entry in the LINK SUPPORT section of the NET.CFG file.

The ODI driver

Several problems could cause the SoftWindows ODI driver to report a failure at load time. The following are common faults and solutions:

ODI driver cannot find the host's network adapter

The message shown below indicates that the SoftWindows ODI driver has failed to initialize or find the host's network device:

Insignia Ethernet MLID  v2.00E (950908).
(C) Copyright 1991-1995 Insignia Solutions Inc. All Rights Reserved.
IRQ 10, Node Address 800690895E2 L
Max Frame 1514 bytes, Line Speed 10 Mbps, Bus ID 0
Board 1, Frame ETHERNET_802.2, LSB Mode
Board 2, Frame ETHERNET_II, LSB Mode
Board 3, Frame ETHERNET_SNAP, LSB Mode
Board 4, Frame ETHERNET_802.3, LSB Mode
Could not find a host Ethernet card.
ETHERSPC-DOS-6: The adapter did not initialize.  ETHERSPC did not load.

The SoftWindows ODI driver has failed to initialize or find the host's network device. Ensure that:

  • The specified topology (Ethernet) is supported on your platform.

  • The SoftWindows executable is owned by root, group sys, and has the `s' bit set.

ODI driver is loaded twice

The second attempt at loading the ODI driver will produce error output similar to the following:

Insignia Ethernet MLID  v2.00E (950908).
C) Copyright 1991-1995 Insignia Solutions Inc. All Rights Reserved.
ETHERSPC-DOS-7: You need another ETHERSPC driver section in the NET.CFG file in order to load the LAN driver again.

The SoftWindows ODI drivers can only be loaded once. If you need to reload the ODI driver simply unload the previous instance first with the command:


SoftWindows Winsock drivers

SoftWindows is supplied with Winsock 1.1 compliant drivers. SoftWindows will run Winsock-based applications without any modification. No configuration is required within the Windows environment. Unlike third-party Winsock drivers, which require a PC-based TCP/IP stack, the SoftWindows Winsock drivers use the host's TCP/IP stack for all network activity. This not only removes the need for a third-party PC-based TCP/IP stack, but also reduces the overall amount of memory used within SoftWindows to provide Winsock support.

The SoftWindows Winsock drivers are pre-installed within the Windows system and are ready to use. Copies are also provided in the C:\INSIGNIA directory. Note that since the SoftWindows Winsock drivers use the host TCP/IP protocol stack they both share the same IP address.

The installation of third-party TCP/IP protocol stacks replace the SoftWindows Winsock drivers and will require full configuration (Unique IP Address etc.). To restore the SoftWindows Winsock drivers simply copy them from the C:\INSIGNIA directory and overwrite those in C:\WINDOWS and C:\WINDOWS\SYSTEM.

SoftWindows Winsock drivers can be used by any Winsock-compliant applications.

Some networking applications require and expect a full TCP/IP protocol stack to be installed. The SoftWindows Winsock drivers cannot be used with these applications. The Microsoft TCP/IP protocol stack and Winsock DLLs must be installed for these applications to work.

Configuration Issues

TCP/IP Networking

When using TCP/IP-based clients within SoftWindows it is advisable to run SoftWindows on machines with just one network card installed. If more than one card is installed within the machine, the host's operating system may handle the TCP/IP packets destined for SoftWindows as packets to be routed. This will result in a vast degradation in performance and is not an encouraged configuration.

When running multiple SoftWindows sessions on the same machine, only one SoftWindows session will support networking via the SoftWindows ODI or NDIS drivers.

Networking Details for Microsoft TCP/IP

If you decide to install the SoftWindows NDIS or ODI driver and add the Microsoft TCP/IP protocol , then the Microsoft Winsock libraries will be taken from the Windows 95 setup files and placed in the C:\WINDOWS and C:\WINDOWS\SYSTEM directories. (The SoftWindows Winsock DLL files are still be present in the C:\INSIGNIA directory). You can use one set of DLL files or the other, but not both.

The application or functionality you require determines which winsock drivers should be installed.

If you need a FULL TCP/IP stack (for example, to map drives to NT servers, Microsoft Exchange, or applications which use Microsoft extensions), then you should be using the Microsoft Winsock DLLs.

If you don't want to use Microsoft Winsock extensions, or your application is a true winsock application—the application doesn't expect and use the Microsoft full TCP/IP stack— for example, MicrosoftIE, Netscape, or Telnet, then you should use the SoftWindows Winsocks, as they offer better performance with less configuration.

When using the Microsoft TCP/IP stack you MUST use a unique IP Address.

It doesn't make sense to use the SoftWindows Winsocks above the Microsoft TCP/IP stack.

Auto Freeze

Do not select Auto Freeze within SoftWindows if you are using networking. Using Auto Freeze in such an environment is like disconnecting the network cable from the machine. If you do use the Auto Freeze option, you will find that your connections to servers and other network facilities have been disconnected when you reenter SoftWindows.

Remote Display

If SoftWindows is configured to be a TCP/IP client, avoid using a remote display. Using a remote display leads to increased TCP/IP traffic generated by X Windows which SoftWindows will receive and must then filter.

IRQ level

Some network client software needs to know the interrupt number of the ODI driver during installation and configuration. SoftWindows ODI and NDIS drivers uses IRQ 10 (decimal).


If you can't see any other PCs in your Network Neighborhood, there are several reasons why it might not be working:

  • The Silicon Graphics system is not properly connected to the network. A quick test is to ping the Silicon Graphics system's IP address from a known working PC or Workstation.

  • You have not chosen a common Protocol. Right click the Network Neighborhood icon and choose Properties from the drop down menu, verify that the protocol used on your PC network is listed (most likely NetBEUI), if not add it and check the Properties.

  • You did not follow all the instructions in the section “Configuring SoftWindows 4.0 for networking to other PC network clients.”

If you can't get the ping or ftp commands to work in SoftWindows:

You must use a unique IP address when you have an full TCP/IP protocol stack within SoftWindows (be that DOS, Windows, or Windows95).

See Table 10-4 for a chart of the various configuration combinations that work for these commands when running SoftWindows.

Table 10-4. Valid ftp, telnet and ping Configurations


Microsoft ping

Microsoft telnet

Microsoft ftp


No networking installed (default)

Invalid configuration


Invalid configuration

SoftWindows Winsocks (default). No Microsoft Protocol stack.

Install Microsoft TCP/IP




Microsoft Winsocks and Protocol stack

to SoftWindows localhost (itself)


not a possible operation

not a possible operation

Microsoft Winsocks and Protocol stack

to my IRIX localhost

Invalid configuration

Invalid configuration

Invalid configuration

IRIX snoop doesn't support this

to another IRIX in subnet






By default, no networking user errors are displayed by SoftWindows. However, if you are encountering networking problems, you can enable error reporting in one of the following two ways:

Command-line option

To enable network error reporting from the command line include the command-line option -snerror when running SoftWindows.

Environment variable

Alternatively, networking error reporting can be enabled by setting the SNERROR environment variable to one of the following values:

  • SNERROR X - Network errors are displayed in an error dialog box.

  • SNERROR console - Network errors are output to the system console.

Supported Topologies

SoftWindows supports Ethernet networks. However due to device limitations several network devices cannot support all the features required by SoftWindows. The following tables list known configurations:

Table 10-5. Supported Frame Types

Frame Type










Table 10-6. Supported Client Configurations



Ethernet Support













Novell NetWare



Microsoft NT



Microsoft NT



Banyan VINES



UNIX Connectivity



System patches may have to be applied to the host OS in order to achieve these results. See the Operating System Patches section for such information.

Supported Network Devices

To use a network card other than the default selected by SoftWindows:

  1. Choose Network from the Options menu to display the Network Configuration dialog box.

    The dialog lists all available network cards on your UNIX machine, with the default card selected.

  2. Click the check box next to the network card you want SoftWindows to use.