Oberon/ETH Oberon/nic

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Network Interface Controller support

Oberon includes a complete support of the ubiquitous network. To connect your machine to a TCP/IP-based network, a Network Interface Card (NIC) is required. Many machines have a NIC already installed, usually on-board. However, Oberon supports only 3Com NICs and the many NICs supporting the generic Novell NE2000 standard (PCI and ISA versions).

Installed NIC inspection

To precisely identify a 3Com NIC, of which there exist many versions, use the 3Com utility 3link-id.exe in DOS mode. In Oberon, and for a PCI controller, use PCITools.Scan .

Network card installation

In case you have an older jumperless NIC, you will probably need the configuration utility program that came with the card to set the IRQ address.

Currently, only one NIC is supported. Multiple NE2000 cards could be installed, as the driver support is present but it was not tested. For an ISA NE2000 card, an NIC config string must be specified (see below).

Technical: NIC config string

For each ISA NE2000 card (multiple such NICs may be used), a config string used at startup, must specify the associated base port address and the IRQ.

NE2000Xi="port,irq" - 0 <= i <= 9 - e.g. NE2000X0="300H,10" (without space)

The config string is a low-level matter which must be communicated to the system before the File module is loaded. A card must function if the system should be booted from the network, but that is not supported yet.

Selection of an NIC driver

An NIC driver is dynamically loaded by executing the appropriate command:

Install a 3Com90xB NIC driver in various configurations. The install procedure scans the PCI bus to detect a NIC with a supported vendor / device pair among the ones listed in the Hardware Configuration List. Trace information is placed in the KernelLog, giving ample information on the controller's characteristics.
Install a 3Com EtherLink III for ISA/EISA - 10 Mbps driver. A brief trace information about the NIC is placed in the KernelLog.
Install a generic NE2000 driver.
How to install the NIC driver - Configure Oberon.Text

Edit the appropriate command in the NetSystem.Hosts.Device0 group in Oberon.Text. The driver will be installed automatically when the first communication activity is launched. The command string can be copied from the "options" comment which follows.

Installation help for 3Com90x

Two diagnosing commands are available:

Dump the contents of 20H registers in the Kernel log.
Dump diagnostic information in the Kernel log.
Installation help for NE2000

The following diagnosing commands are available:

Direct LAN connection - Configure Oberon.Text

The following information must be obtained from your network administrator (or from your ISP) and edited in the corresponding obvious sub-groups of NetSystem.Hosts:

   Domain =                Domain name 
   Primary DNS Server =    DNS0 IP number 
   Secondary DNS Server =  DNS1 - not always supplied 
   Tertiary DNS Server =   DNS2 - not always supplied 
   Gateway =               gateway IP number 
   Netmask =               netmask IP number 
   Host =                  your PC's name & IP number

It is good practice to leave the important text stretches in blue, in order to enhance their visibility.

Routing ethernet LAN to Internet via ISDN (Router) - Configure Oberon.Text

With the widespread availability of ISDN at low cost, you can let multiple machines at your home share a single Internet connection. A convenient arrangement is the addition of an ISDN router that directs all of the machines' TCP/IP requests to the Internet. Your local network does not need official IP addresses. The machines and the router are given private network addresses.

The Zyxel Prestige 100, for example, is a hardware router that has been successfully used with Oberon and other OSs installed on the same machine (Linux, QNX and Windows 2000/NT). The router is easily configured with its built-in GUI SMT (System Management Terminal Interface). A complete router setup can be complex, but the core information is supplied here. The menu system can be controlled from Oberon with (assume that the router's IP address is

  • the Oberon V24.Panel, via the serial port. The first time, the transmission speed must be set to 9'600 bps, but it can be adjusted later on (Menu item 24.2).
  • the Oberon Telnet client accessing the router with the command Desktops.OpenDoc telnet: .
  • the Oberon Telnet client accessing the router from the Telnet.Panel .

The bloated Zyxel Web configurator supplied on CD-ROM is not at all needed, however comfortable.

The following information must be obtained from your ISP to configure the router via the indicated menu items:

 ISDN Data=           Menu 2: the telephone no. of the router 
 Pri Phone #=         Menu 4: the ISP telephone no. to dial 
 My Login=            Menu 4 
 My Password=         Menu 4 
 Size of IP Pool= 6   Menu 3.2 
 Primary DNS Server=  Menu 3.2 
 Secondary DNS Serv=  Menu 3.2: optional 
 Gateway=             Menu 3.2: IP address     e.g. 
 Netmask=             Menu 3.2: IP Subnet Mask e.g. 
 Domain=              NetSystem.Hosts.Domain      group in Oberon.Text 
 Host=                NetSystem.Hosts.Route0.Host group in Oberon.Text

A few remarks concerning values not considered yet:

  • Menu 4. Internet Access Setup: Do not forget to specify a non-zero Idle Timeout, or the connection will never be broken.
  • Menu 11. Remote Mode Setup: After having configured your ISP in Menu 4, the ISP will also appear in position 1 of this menu to accept further specifications, if needed.
  • Menu 23. System Password: For security reasons, you should definitely change the trivial factory supplied password. Write your password on the router's case for example.

The DHCP Setup is the best choice from a practical point of view in conjunction with other OSs (Oberon supports DHCP). Oberon, however, requires that a valid IP address is assigned to each machine. With Windows, OS/2 and Macintosh your workstation should be configured as a DHCP client.

Ethernet hub

In addition to a router, you will need an ethernet hub, of which there exists a vast choice in all price classes. We do not recommend to acquire a router with a built-in hub, such as the Zyxel Prestige 100IH. With a separate hub, the local network can be used while the router is powered off, whereas a built-in hub might cause the ISDN connection to be established even if a service request should not be forwarded to the Internet. This can however be controlled with a suitable filter configuration.

ADSL connection


Private network

The RFC 1918 "Address Allocation for Private Internets" defines a number of reserved address ranges which do not collide with other addresses. These private address ranges must be used by local networks:

      Address range 	       Network class  Network mask to  Class A to  Class B to  Class C

The first address x.y.0.0 represents the entire network and the last address x.y.255.255 is reserved as broadcast address. Both addresses may not be assigned either to the router or to a particular computer. This rule applies to official and private IP addresses equally. It is good practice to assign the address to the router itself, and the subsequent addresses to the machines in the network.


4 Dec 2001 - Copyright © 2001 ETH Zürich. All rights reserved.
E-Mail: oberon at lists.inf.ethz.ch
Homepage: http://www.ethoberon.ethz.ch/