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January 2001

OS/2 xDSL Experiences

By: Julian E. Brown ©January 2001

IBM DDPak Online Site: http://service.software.ibm.com/os2ddpak/html/index.htm
DSLreports.com Site: http://www.dslreports.com/
Safefire Firewall: http://www.lgs.kiev.ua/sfire.shtml
MPTS Updates: ftp://service.boulder.ibm.com/ps/products/mpts/fixes/english-us/
Injoy Firewall: http://www.fx.dk/fxpress01092000.html

When you contemplate any of the flavors of DSL for your OS/2 machine, you must remember that not supported does not mean will not work. Officially, no ISP supports OS/2 in their DSL program. This means two things:

  1. All of the utilities and hardware are configured for Windows or Mac.
  2. The techs on the support line only have documentation and training for Windows and Mac.

Remember, OS/2 is a networking OS and networks have not really changed in the last 10 years. My experience with networks is that they are built on lies with mirrors. How many people have actually seen a real VT100 or IBM 3780? xDSL is no exception. The lie here is that the xDSL network is a LAN and your workstation is on this LAN. LANs are not new.

I ordered my DSL connection from Mindspring at the end of 1999. It is now an Earthlink subscription. They provided me with a Flowpoint 2100 router and a 3COM 3C900B-TPO ethernet card. For some dumbing-down reason the xDSL world insists on calling the Flowpoint and like devices a "modem." It is not a modem. In all cases you are getting or need to have a router or a router configured as a bridge. In my case the router is configured as a bridge. With a bridge, the lie that I am on the Earthlink LAN is complete. With a router you look like a node on a WAN.

Mindspring/Earthlink implements PPPoE (point to point protocol over ethernet) with dynamic IP addressing. This means that your machine is assigned an IP address when you "login." DHCP is not used in this case. This is all handled through the PPPoE software which is not part of OS/2.

I live about half a mile from my central office. As you may know, this is a good thing. DSL is not supported much beyond 12,000 feet from your central office and performance varies within the supported distance.

Installation Considerations

If you know nothing about networks and how the phone company works and only have an OS/2 environment. Installation could be frustrating because you will have difficulty getting one of the three parties involved in making xDSL work (ISP, DSL carrier, telco) to test their stuff since you can't prove that it is not your stuff that is the problem.

I have a dual boot configuration so I ordered DSL (ADSL in Mindspring's case) as a straight Win98 install. The technician came, installed all of the hardware and software and had everything running in about an hour and a half. As soon as he left, I settled down to the business of getting OS/2 connected. If everything is working in Windows, the only variable is OS/2

Prior to installation I upgraded to fixpak MPTS WR08421, which updates the 16 bit TCP/IP stack. At installation in February 2000 my configuration was:

First Installation Experience

With beginner's luck, my first installation worked like a charm and came up on the first try. There are two parts:
  1. Configure MPTS
  2. Install and configure PPPoE software.

Configuring MPTS

The first step is to get OS/2 to recognize your new ethernet card. Start MPTS Network Adapters and Protocol Services. You can check for whether or not you ethernet card is supported by OS/2 at: http://service.software.ibm.com/os2ddpak/html/index.htm.

Even though the CD that came with the card probably has a prominent application for installing software under Windows, if the card is supported by OS/2, OS/2 drivers are somewhere on it too. Once you have gotten to the screen called "Adapters and Protocol Configuration," you need to ADD a Network Adapter. If you are lucky and your card is in the list, use it, otherwise click on OTHER ADAPTERS and navigate to the folder with the OS/2 adapters on the CD. If all works well, your the drivers should be copied to x:\ibmcom\macs and protocol.ini in x:\ibmcom. When you reboot you should see a message telling you that the ethernet card driver is loaded. If the driver does not load, you have the wrong driver specified. I will talk about how I dealt with this scenario in my second installation experience.

When you add the adapter, you also need to bind it to a protocol service. You will select one of the protocols on the right. The only correct one to select is TCP/IP. If you weren't already using any other services, then do not select anything other than TCP/IP. Adding unused and unconfigured services opens you to hacker attacks. (If you were in Windows you'd have to go back and remove the NETBIOS and NETBEUI services. At least in OS/2 we start with the barndoor closed.) When you are finished your configuration window should look something like the one below. Substitute your adapter driver for mine.

Configuring PPPoE

Now that the driver is installed you can work on making the PPPoE connection. At this point your router should be flashing the appropriate lights that indicate that the router is talking to the network and is waiting to have something to say from you. Initially I used Safefire Firewall (includes PPPoE). It can be found at: http://www.lgs.kiev.ua/sfire.shtml. I never tried to configure the firewall so I have no comment on how it works.

Safefire PPPoE is installed as a protocol through MPTS Network Adapters and Protocol Services. You need to click on the Other Protocols button and navigate to the folder with the Safefire Software. It installs like TCP/IP. The documentation is clear. If you got the ethernet driver installed, you can do this. There is also a script that you need to edit with your login parameters. That's all there is to it. In MPTS you will see the Safefire driver attached to your ethernet driver.

When you reboot your machine, your connection is made totally behind the scenes. Just start your browser and go.

I have one caveat. I believe all this is true. This is how I remember it, but I installed Safefire in February and switched to Injoy in the summer. I switched because Safefire appears to be a free product in perpetual beta. While I was open to trying xDSL with beta PPPoE software, I didn't want to go into the firewall arena with beta code. So I switched to Injoy Firewall and PPPoE. At the time they were packaged together, but now you purchase just PPPoE.

Second Installation Experience

My second install was not contemporaneous with my Injoy installation, but they can be combined because Injoy is what I continued to install the second time. Injoy can be found at: http://www.fx.dk/fxpress01092000.html.

I had a system catastrophe and had to reinstall Warp from the CD. It became immediately apparent that base OS/2 Warp does not work with WR08421 MPTS. So I reformatted and reinstalled. This time I did not install WR08421. It didn't seem to fix any problem that I had. I wanted to get my system up.

Configuring MPTS

This time the installation of the ethernet drivers did not go as well. I incorrectly selected one of the drivers "IBM OS/2 Family III." This is how I came to know what happens when you try to load the wrong driver. For some reason, when I loaded the drivers from the CD, they copied correctly but did not update protocol.ini. This is what you need in protocol.ini:




tcpip_nif = tcpip.nif

EL3IBMO2_nif = el3ibmo2.nif <=== Your card driver


DriverName = TCPIP$

Bindings = ,EL3IBMO2_nif <=== Your card driver


DriverName = EL90X$ <=== Your card driver

MaxTransmits = 20

The important references are EL3IBMOS2_nif and EL90X$. These are the two drivers. I saw that these two files were the ones on the CD and in x:\ibmcom\macs so I manually edited protocol.ini and the drivers loaded. You will also need to check config.sys and make sure that your correct drive is called for in my case the line is DEVICE=C:\IBMCOM\MACS\EL90X.OS2.

You need a *.nif file and a *$ file. Use the CD as a guide and edit accordingly if the update it not taking. It is possible that this is an unpublished APAR that is fixed in WR08421 which is why I did not see this problem the first time around and a reason to install the fixpak. I still have not installed the fixpak and have noticed no other problems. The MPTS fixpaks are at: ftp://service.boulder.ibm.com/ps/products/mpts/fixes/english-us/.

The low level hardware binding to your adapter is done by a little install command file. It should be noted that Injoy modifies your MPTS configuration in a way that MPTS utilities don't work. There is an uninstall command file that removes the Injoy driver and restores TCP/IP. When you run the install command you should get a screen that offers to intall Injoy on the adapter you just setup.

Option 1 is install to lan0 which is the card you just set up. Select it and the driver is installed. Next time you go to MPTS configuration, your screen should look like this:

Configuring PPPoE

Injoy PPPoE works nicely and their email support is responsive, but it is more difficult to configure. Actually, installation is easy. Getting your first connection is difficult. In the end I have to say that the documentation is very technically accurate and at the same time it is opaque. The installation of Injoy is your basic unzip to a directory. All of the sub-folders are setup. Injoy can run as an OS/2 command executable called gateway.exe or as a PM application called gwpm.exe. I suggest running the PM application for setup and the command application for everyday use.

Initially I ran the PM application because you have a configuration notebook that simplifies editing multiple configuration files with all of the setup details. The PM interface looks like the shot below.

The PM interface is totally modular. A button 2 click on any window exposes a menu where you can select control options. Select PPPoE settings and you can setup the login name and password. TCP Setup lets you define all of the relevant servers. Since all of this is dynamic just use The one thing that you cannot set in the PM interface is MTU (message transmission unit).

All of my problems centered around specifying MTU. The documentation describes various performance problems you may encounter if MTU is not correct. Well the first performance problem is that you cannot connect. In the dial-up world you have MTU set at 1500. Apparently, in order to make the lie of PPPoE work, 8 bytes of the message are used as a header so the maximum MTU is 1492. My problem was that I assumed that any number less than or equal to 1492 would work. If the ISP is sending 1492, you have to match it. Unless you have other information, assume the ISP is sending 1492. An example of opaqueness is the suggestion in the MTU section that 1412 might work. 1492 must be specified in the pppoe.cnf file and the setup.cmd in x:\mptn\bin\setup.cmd. If these do not agree, you get no connection. Since you must change the default MTU value from 1500, I don't understand why 1492 is not the default.

I also nulled out all address information in pppoe.cnf since it is dynamically configured. If you used the PM interface this part of pppoe.cnf is already configured.

I suggest manually editing setup.cmd. If you use tcpipcfg be sure to activate lan0. If you have been doing just dial-up, lan0 may not be configured. Remember, whenever you use tcpipcfg, you change setup.cmd. This is my setup.cmd:

route -fh

arp -f

ifconfig lo

ifconfig lan0 netmask mtu 1492 alias

REM ifconfig lan1

REM ifconfig lan2

REM ifconfig lan3

REM ifconfig lan4

REM ifconfig lan5

REM ifconfig lan6

REM ifconfig lan7

REM ifconfig sl0

ipgate on

"ifconfig lan0 ..." and "ipgate on" are the important command lines. is a dummy IP address used on the internal side the PPPoE connection. Basically with one LAN adapter you are simulating two adapters. Your "real" IP address will be assigned when you make your DSL connection. The "alias"operand is required for this to happen. I've already discussed "MTU 1492." "ipgate on" is also required for this to work.

Injoy has PM and command line methods for starting. If you want your connection available when you bootup, I suggest putting a shadow of the command file in your startup folder. Unless you like clutter on your desktop, I also suggest setting the properties to minimize window to viewer.

Injoy Firewall

I have not done anything sophisticated in terms of filtering with the firewall. The scripts seem straightforward, but I don't have the criteria to use them. I have a fairly simple life. I'm just a single computer claiming to be a Earthlink LAN workstation. I'm not a busybody manager worrying about what my employees are reading on my time. I am set for stealth mode which is set in gateway.cf with "firewall_transparent=no." The dslreports site scans me as pingable, but otherwise unknown.

Earthlink gave me Norton Firewall for my Windows DSL. It dynamically asks to create rules. I always say yes so I don't see the point. The first rule you have to create is for the browser to access the Internet. The Injoy Firewall seems to be effective at blocking and I don't care about filtering. Injoy claims the filtering is very robust. My impression is that is as robust as your inclination to write filtering scripts.


xDSL is not that difficult if you have a Windows environment to prove that the basic infrastructure is working.

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