Virtual OS/2 International Consumer Education

September 1998

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Configuring Warp for COM21 Cable Modem Internet Access

By: Mark Klebanoff, (

I live in the Maryland suburbs of Washington, D.C., and my cable TV company operates a copper wire system in which the amplifiers can send a signal only from the plant out to the users. Because of this, when they introduced cable internet access they settled on a system that used a conventional telephone modem in addition to a COM21 cable modem. So with one-way cable modems you receive a signal over the cable and send over the phone.

I have no computer training and only a little knowledge, but I have three things that are necessary to get things working under Warp - 1) a willingness to tinker; 2) lots of patience and determination; and, most importantly, 3) a reliable tape backup so I can format and restore my entire system if everything goes down the drain. With that in my pocket, I decided to get some information about cable internet. I called the Cable Company and needless to say, they only support Windoze 95/98. I can't even remember if they support NT at this point in time. Of course, they had no clue whether Warp would work on their system or not, but at least they didn't give me a blanket "NO."

In tinkering with OS/2, I've found the Usenet news groups to be invaluable. I posted a message asking whether Warp 4's TCP/IP stack would support multihoming/telco return, and was assured that it did, so I decided to give it a shot. I'm proud to say that except for Flight Simulator and a legacy copy of MS-DOS 6.2, my computer is a Micro$oft-free zone. However, I figure I needed to bite the bullet and install Win 95 just so that I could get internet access running and then try to transfer the settings to Warp 4. I knew somebody who had an unused copy of Win95, and I had an empty primary C: partition on my hard drive, so I "borrowed" the CD and temporarily installed Win95 on that partition (I'd do almost anything to keep Bill Gate$ from getting even richer than he is already), and I'll be darned if I'm going to buy a copy of 95 just to use it for a week and blow it away.

The do-it-yourself Cable Internet kit comes with a COM21 modem, an ethernet card, the necessary cables and a set of instructions. The Cable Company charged $80 for it- $5 for setting up your internet account, and $75 for the PCI ethernet card and cables. An ISA card is $45, but I didn't have a free ISA slot. I checked with tech support, and they told me that the driver disk that comes with the ethernet card includes drivers for OS/2. If you already have a 10-base-T ethernet card in your computer, you don't need theirs, and the cost would only be $5. I elected to buy the card from the cable company. The card was a standard 3Com 3C900TPO card, which can be bought at any computer store for around $55, so I overpaid for the convenience of getting everything I needed at one place. Once I did that, I used the cable splitter to extend my cable to the room where my computer sits- I had to drill through an outside wall, and this was easily the hardest part of the entire job.

I got the kit home and followed the directions they supplied to install the cable networking in Windows 95. The cable modem itself is a rather large plastic box (around 10"x6"x2.5") with lots of ventilation holes in it. It has a power connector, a cable connector, and an RJ-45 jack. After a couple of false starts (the instructions said to enter your user name and password in lower case, but it turns out you need to enter them in all upper case), I got it working in Windows 95. Then I set out to install it under Warp.

There were two noteworthy points about the Win95 setup: 1) in the TCP/IP settings for the ethernet card, they give you a static IP address to type in. Once I did that, Win95 supplied a subnet mask automatically. In my case it was I wrote that down, because I'd need it later. 2) When configuring the dial-in connection, all you do is type in your user name and password. You accept all the other defaults, which includes having the server assign the domain nameserver (DNS) address. That would be a minor problem later in Warp.

Once you get it set up in Win95, log on to the cable, open a DOS window and type 'winipcfg' (no quotes). You'll get a graphical display explaining all the characteristics of your connection. The most important part is to look at the part where they give you the DNS addresses (there are usually 2, and you have to push the radio button next to that area to toggle between them and see what they are). You'll need that in setting up Warp, so write it down. While you're there, write down the Host Name and Domain Name you see there. You now have all the information you need to set up warp.

Now it's time to start up Warp. Warp 4 supports this, and I'm pretty sure that Warp 3 Connect also does, but plain old Warp 3 does not include the necessary networking services. Once I fired up Warp 4, I went to the system setup folder, and clicked on Adapters and Protocol Services, then on the "Configure" button and then I clicked to configure Lan Adapters and Protocols. The list of supported Network Cards is in the upper left hand window. My card wasn't listed (it was produced after Warp 4 came out), so I clicked on the "other adapter" button. Warp prompted me to insert the disk containing the drivers and I inserted the driver disk that came with the network card. I selected my card from the list, clicked OK and then my card was listed in the supported cards window. I highlighted my card and clicked "Add." My card was now listed in the window at the bottom of the screen.

Next, I highlighted my card in that window, and clicked on "TCP/IP" in the "Supported Protocols" box at the top right of the screen, and clicked the "Add" button. That bound TCP/IP to my network card. I could tell because TCP/IP was listed underneath my card at the bottom of the screen. I highlighted TCP/IP at the bottom of the screen and clicked on configure. Warp prompted me for a number for my adapter. I'm not sure if it matters what number you put in there, but I entered "23," which I think is the code for a dial-up adapter. After I did that, I closed that window, and then clicked on OK to go back to the configure screen, then "Close" on the configure screen, and finally, "Exit" on the MPTS screen. MPTS made some changes to my CONFIG.SYS FILE, so I shut down and re-booted my computer. On the boot up, my network card was recognized at IRQ 9 which was the IRQ I told the BIOS to hold open for Plug-and-Play devices. All my other cards, such as modems and sound card, are configured manually, but the ethernet card must be configured by the BIOS.

Next, I went back to the System Setup Folder and opened the TCP/IP configuration program. The first tab to come up was entitled "Network." I highlighted "Lan Interface 0," then checked the "Enable Interface" box. I checked the "Manually" box, and entered the IP address that the Cable Company gave me, as well as the Subnet Mask that Windoze95 had generated. Next, I brought up the "Hostnames" tab, and entered the Host Name I got from Windows95 in the proper place. I also entered the domain name that the Cable company supplied in where prompted. Next I clicked on the Nameserver addresses area and clicked on the "Add" button. I entered the address of the first Name server that I copied from Windows 95 and clicked OK. I clicked on Add again and entered the IP address of the second Name server. That's all I needed to enter into the TCP/IP configuration settings. I closed the settings program. Warp asked me if I wanted to save the settings and I responded yes.

Finally, I brought up Dial Other Internet Providers and clicked on the New Connection Button. I made up a name and description for the connection and typed in my user ID and password in all upper case letters, just as in Windoze95. I entered the phone number the Cable company supplied, left the word "NONE" in the login sequence (which is what Warp put there by itself) and checked the box that said "PPP."

On Page 2 of the DOIP configuration settings, I left "your IP address," "destination IP address" and "Netmask" blank. Leaving them blank will allow the dial-in server to assign them automatically. I kept the default MRU size of 1500 and the already-checked VJ compression. Finally, I inserted one of the domain nameserver addresses and my domain name. I left the host name blank. I left the third page of the settings notebook blank (I can configure those servers separately in my e-mail and news programs, but I think they're necessary if you use Ultimail Lite and Newsreader/2). Finally, I configured my modem on page 4.

When I tried to connect, everything connected up, but I couldn't access anything. PMMail stalled on "Resolving Host Name," and Netscape stalled on "looking up address." The problem was in my MPTN/ETC directory, where I had an old version of the file entitled RESOLV. That simple text file includes the name and IP address of the Domain Name Servers that your internet connection will use, and I had some old, erroneous information in there. I simply erased that RESOLV file and tried again. Lo and behold, I was able to connect to the internet over my TV Cable system. Once I got DOIP configured and running, I transferred those same settings to In-Joy (which I like better than DOIP). I had to erase the 'RESOLV' file again, but once I did that, In-Joy worked fine, too. I blew away Windows 95, and my computer again became a (mostly) Micro$oft-free zone.

I'm making this sound easier than it was, since I've spared you all the mistakes I made along the way. Still, even with mistakes, configuring Win95 took about 1 or 2 hours, and configuring Warp didn't take longer than about half a day. The whole project is a good 2 weekend bit of work (or two consecutive days on a single weekend if you have the time)- one to string the TV cable, and a second to set up Win95 and Warp.

While a telephone return is not as good as a full-cable hook up, I can still get 40 kilobytes/second downloads. In fact, last night I downloaded the 7 megs of beta/2 Netscape Communicator in a little less than 3 minutes. It would have taken at least ten times that long on with my 56k modem connection, and that's assuming that the carrier didn't drop midway through. The telephone return line on the cable hookup runs at 28.8k, which I've found to be a lot more stable than the 56k connection I have for my old internet provider.

Now that I've got Cable TV Internet hooked up, am I going to keep it? I don't know. You quickly get spoiled on the speed, but my cable company charges $25 per month for 10 hours of logon time. Unlimited access is $65 per month, plus the cost of the second phone line. That's a lot of money, even for a rip-off artist like the Cable TV company. Bell Atlantic is planning to bring ADSL into my area this fall. Depending on how far you live from the switching station, you can get speeds at least as great, or even greater than you get from the cable. The phone company is planning to charge $60 per month for unlimited connect time, or $40 per month if you want to continue using your old ISP (don't ask me how that works, I don't know); because your computer is always logged in, unlimited time is the only plan they offer. If my house is close enough to the switching station, I may give that one a try as well to see which plan I like better. Even if I don't, try ADSL, I'm hoping that a little competition from Bell Atlantic will prompt the Cable Company to bring their rates down to a more reasonable level. For the time being, I'm staying with the economy cable access, and using it mainly to download large files such as Warp Fixpacks. But for newsgroup lurking and web surfing, I'm staying with my regular ISP. I get regular internet access from Pete Norloff, who runs the world-famous OS/2 BBS. After all, by staying with Pete I'm doing my bit to keep OS/2 alive and viable.

Mark Klebanoff is a home OS/2 user and medical researcher living in the Washington DC area.

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