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Setting Up Direct Cable Connection

The first step in using Direct Cable Connection is to install the software for it. Like other Windows 98 components, Direct Cable Connection can be installed through the Add/Remove Programs object in the Control Panel. Use the following steps to add Direct Cable Connection to the host and guest PCs:

  1. On the host PC, open the Control Panel and double-click on the Add/Remove Programs icon.
  2. Click on the Windows Setup tab to display the Windows Setup page.
  3. Select the Communications item, then click on the Details button.
  4. Place checks beside Direct Cable Connection and Dial-Up Networking (Direct Cable Connection requires the use of the Dial-Up Networking adapter).
  5. Choose OK, then OK again to install the software on the host PC.
  6. Repeat steps 1 through 5 on the guest PC.

The next step is to configure the Dial-Up Adapter, network protocol, and network client.

Configuring a Protocol and Client

Like a real network adapter, the Dial-Up Adapter used by Direct Cable Connection relies on a network transport protocol and network client. Windows 98 adds the Dial-Up Adapter and associates with it the Client for Microsoft Networks, Client for NetWare Networks, NetBEUI protocol, and IPX/SPX protocol. If you're connecting to a NetWare-based system, these selections will work. If you're using a Windows 98- or Windows NT-based network, however, you can remove the NetWare components. The following steps explain how:

  1. Open the Control Panel and double-click the Network icon.
  2. On the Configuration page, click on the Client for NetWare Networks, then click on Remove.
  3. Click on the IPX/SPX-compatible Protocol, then click on Remove.
  4. Choose OK. Windows 98 will prompt you to restart the system.

Although you can use TCP/IP for Direct Cable Connection, the host won't transport TCP/IP packets for the guest, which prevents the guest from accessing resources beyond the host (such as on the LAN). Consider using NetBEUI instead.


Configuring Sharing

In addition to configuring the necessary protocol, you also need to configure the PCs to share files and printers. The guest can access resources shared by the host, and the host can access the guest's shared resources, but only after you configure the two computers appropriately. It's important to note that you don't need to enable file and print sharing on a PC to access shared resources located on another PC. Adding the appropriate network client gives you that ability. If you want to share resources on a PC with other users, however, you must enable sharing on that PC.

To enable sharing on either the host or guest, follow these steps:

  1. Open the Control Panel and double-click on the Network icon.
  2. On the Configuration property page, verify that a file and printer sharing service (such as File and Printer Sharing for Microsoft Networks) is not shown in the list of installed components. If a sharing service is listed, skip to step 7.
  3. Click on the Add button.
  4. Select Service from the Select Network Component Type dialog box, then click on Add.
  5. From the Manufacturers list, choose Microsoft.
  6. From the Network Services list, choose File and Print Sharing for Microsoft Networks if you're using the Microsoft client. Choose File and Print Sharing for NetWare Networks if you're using the NetWare client. Then, click on OK.
  7. On the Configuration page, click on the File and Printer Sharing button to display the File and Print Sharing dialog box.
  8. To enable the PC to share its files, place a check in the check box labeled I want to be able to give others access to my files.
  9. To enable the PC to share its printer(s), place a check in the check box labeled I want to be able to allow others to print to my printer(s).
  10. Choose OK to close the File and Print Sharing dialog box.
  11. Choose OK on the Network property sheet. Windows 98 will prompt you to restart the system. You must do so before the changes will take effect.

You can move files to or from the host from the guest if you only enable sharing on the host. However, you can only access files that are located in shared folders on the host, and you can only place files from the guest in those shared folders. If your host PC isn't connected to a LAN, consider sharing the root folder of each hard disk, which will enable you to access any host folder from the guest. If your host is connected to a LAN. However, you should take a different approach for security: share the root folders of each disk on the guest, then perform all your file operations from the host. The host will be able to copy files from the guest, and place file in any of the guest's folders. Because Direct Cable Connection doesn't support access by other machines on the LAN to the guest, sharing the guest's entire file system doesn't place the files at risk for unauthorized access. Just remember to disconnect the guest when you're finished so no one else can sit down at your host PC and access its files.

Connecting the Cable

The next step in setting up a Direct Cable Connection is to connect the cable between the two PCs. You can use a null-modem serial cable or parallel cable. The only restriction (other than using a cable that's supported by Direct Cable Connection) is that you must use the same port on each computer. If you connect the cable to COM1 on the guest, for example, you must connect the cable to COM1 on the host.

In almost 20 years of working with PCs, I've never experienced a problem connecting a serial or parallel cable to a running PC. There is the off chance that something could be damaged, however, so I recommend you shut down and turn off the PCs before connecting them.


The following cables are compatible with Direct Cable Connection:

Be aware that not all serial cables advertised as null-modem cables will work with Direct Cable Connection.

Q: I only have one serial port on my notebook, and I have an external pointing device (mouse or trackball) connected to it. How can I use the pointing device and Direct Cable Connection at the same time?

A: You can use the serial pointing device and a serial Direct Cable Connection at the same time, because you only have one port. You have two options. If your notebook includes a PS/2 mouse port (most do), you can connect the pointing device to the PS/2 port with an adapter that probably came with the pointing device. If you don't have such an adapter, check with your local computer store for one or contact the pointing device's manufacturer to see if one is available. The best option, however, is to use the parallel port instead of the serial port.