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Has Anyone Successfully Networked 95, 98, & Vista?

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While this touches on multiple versions of Windows, I'd think those who really care about this question would be at this, the "keep W9x alive" section of the forum. A tech at a store (who said networking Vista and Win9x was impossible) said MS is "looking forward" not "looking backward." Hmmph! How is a network-incompetent OS that forces you to regress to a free-standing PC with no connectivity (without even a disk drive for sneakernet) when you've heretofore had modern, up-to-date wired and wireless connectivity "looking forward?" That's backsliding big time.

Background: First I had a W95 and W98 machine networked peer-to-peer with a network crossover cable, sort of a "CAT null modem" using MS Netbeui protocol. Worked fine. Later I expanded to a wired and wireless network of three machines (1 95; 2 98) using router, switched to IPX/SPX routable protocol. They're all talking to each other, two by cable, one wirelessly through the router. Then I went to add a Vista machine (Home Premium) to this set up.

I did the things with which I was familiar, giving new machine a name, putting it in the same workgroup, enabling file and printer sharing, etc.

The Vista machine is cabled to the router and sees the router, but none of the other machines attached to it, wired or wirelessly. All the W9x machines are networking happily through this same router, although they see only each other; the router is transparent to them as far as displaying on each machine's "network neighborhood." They don't see the Vista PC, either.

MS has removed IPX/SPX protocol from Vista. I found several WEB sites which said you could reinstall IPX/SPX with XP install files, which I tried. The protocol seems to have been successfully installed but it didn't make any difference. Not yet, anyhow. Don't know if it isn't working, or of the problem lies elsewhere. All my hardware seems to be working OK.

I added TCP/IP as a routable network protocol to the W9x machines so they could communicate with Vista. Nothing yet. I much preferred using IPX/SPX before, to isolate the stations from any malware which travels by TCP/IP. I don't network to broadband, only locally between machines, for file and printer sharing, and backup.

Another WEB site said you have to disable the master (network) browser in either the W9x machines or the Vista machine, because they contend. I disabled the W9x broswers, but the Vista machine still doesn't see them.

A store tech said you have to download "Link Layer Topology Disponder Service" to make Vista network properly with XP. He did not think there was any equivalent for Win 9x. Haven't researched that yet.

Another site said Vista authenticates only with NTLM v. 2; Win 9x machines authenticate only with LM. That site said you could either change Vista's registry to recognize LM, or add NTLM v. 2 to the W9x machines. Since it did not say how to add it to the older systems, I changed the "LMCompatibilityLevel" from 3 to 1 in

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CURRENTCONTROLSET\CONTROL\LSA]. Still just as useless as before. I don't know if these changes are moving me stepwise toward a solution, or nowhere.

Another post says there's a conflict between W9x and Vista over Directly hosted SMBs vs NetBT. I don't know what that's talking about, but I'm willing to search and learn.

IMO, this is not a case where truly modern code is just incompatible with the old, but simple deliberate sabotage of what's working to force people to give up what they've got and want. Apparently IPX/SPX is very important to some multi-player games and also to many businesses who paid big bucks for custom software which runs over it. In fact, I haven't given up on finding some setting which MS has hidden from me which will restore what I want. I would prefer to keep IPX/SPX, but I'd switch to TCP/IP if that'll get all my PCs talking. On a tiny network like mine, theoretical efficiency is insignificant against what works. I'd have stayed with Netbeui if I couldn've run it through the router.

Meanwhile, all the WEB sites I've checked just record people's frustration and failure, or the smarmy advice not to try to do this.

Well, here are some of the possiblilties I've seen or am considering:

(1) Dual boot the PC so you can have a network-competent (ie, non-Vista) operating system part of the time. This is theoretically simpler but mechanically harder to do than #2 following.

(2) Install virtual machine capability and an older OS within it, for the same reasons as above. Theoretically complex, but might actually be simplest to implement. Has anybody tried it?

(3) Many promptly scrapped Vista and upgraded to XP. I'll do #5 before that; don't want to pay another penny to Microsoft.

(4) Find some kind of server that all the PCs would recognize (or software to turn one of my PCs into such a server).

(5) Network the W95 files to a W98 PC, then transfer them from there to the Vista box with an external USB connected hard drive, by burning CDs, or with USB flash drive sticks.

(6) Find someone's smart solution to strip the MS networking services right out of Vista and substitute something proper that actually works. Anybody capable working on such an animal? They'd probably be working out of cussed determination, as most people are just giving up and rewarding companies who are stabbing them unnecessarily in the back for profit. I have nothing against honest profit, but that kind of extortion ought to be criminal.

(7) File sharing with some sort of tricked up USB PC to PC cord. Most of these seem to work only between Vista and XP, though, and my need is to move data from W9x to Vista and back. I don't have an XP machine.

(8) My new Vista machine has a network port and six USB ports; it doesn't have a proper serial port or a proper parallel port. In the past, both of those could be used for file-sharing with various software like LapLink. Apparently there's no way to use the USB ports that way without having some special dongle in the middle which may not work with W9x.

If anyone has networked W9x and Vista already, or knows a site where somebody else has, please share. If I get one of my ideas to work, I'll follow up with another post here. I'm not a true technician, but I keep digging and follow instructions pretty well.

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Have you tired to ping the router from the w9x machines, and have you tried to ping the vista machine from the w9x and vice versa?

Vista's firewall may be blocking everything. Also make sure that vista is set to private network not public. 

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Can't use Windows Logon for Primary Logon in Win9x/ME, got to use Networking Logon (can't remember exact terms). Install/add this if not preset. Add the User ID's/Passwords of each 9x PC to Vista PC as appropriate Group (Users, Admins, etc). Ensure File and Printer Sharing on all is enabled. Create a Shared Directory on Vista PC and 9x PC's. Add Vista User ID's/Passwords to each 9x PC. Set accesses as necessary for each User-ID/Group (full, read-only, etc) to any given Shared Directory on Vista PC. Now they'll talk to each aother via the Shared Directories. Vista can't be much different than NT/2K/XP/2K3 (which I've succesfully done the 9x sharing with).

Appears that 9x/ME is a little lax in this respect, so it was never necessary to do this between them, but on NT-type systems it is.


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I have easily 'connected' two XP machines on a switched home network, that would not want to see each-other otherwise, through the use of HFS (HTTP File Server) by rejetto. Always using the beta (can be found in the support > forums section of his site).

However you'd have to find a way to send the link to the other machine(s); in my case both machines had separate internet access and used an instant messenger to send links.

A rather complicated solution would be to set up a local Jabber/XMPP server and use Jabber/XMPP-aware IM software on all machines (might also be useful for chat if the machines are located in different rooms).

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Thanks for the replies so far. I now have a solution which is (mostly) working, though it's hard to believe the problem requires such a technically complex answer. Perhaps it doesn't, but I'm not going to look for another as long as this one does the job reliably.

I network for only three things: to swap files, to backup, and to share printers. I don't share a broadband connection over the network or play multi-player games over it. The following seems to work to allow me to link four machines running W95 (1 pc), W98 (2 pcs), and Vista Home Premium (1 pc). The same solution may work with those other things, but I have not tried them.

I downloaded and installed on Vista Home Premium the free MS Virtual PC 2007 software. The MS site does not show Vista Home Premium as meeting that program's requirements, but I found a comment on a blog from someone else who tried it and found that it worked fine for them. The install puts up a little protest ("this is not a supported OS") but it let me proceed. At the end it put up a little disclaimer ("this might or might not work, and you get no support"). However, for the purpose of installing a Windows 98 virtual PC, it worked pretty much as advertised and without a hitch; and the help files are well-populated with useful content. I have 3 GB of RAM and plenty of Hard Disk Space on the Vista host pc. Note I haven't tried it with any other version of Vista nor any other guest OS, or a PC with less memory. The other person was using just the original VPC 2007, so that's what I downloaded, too. I did not get the SP1 for it (not to be confused with SP1 for Vista, which was already installed on my new PC).

Once you install Windows 98 in the virtual machine, you have a virtual PC with a virtual hard drive trapped in its own little non-communicating domain on the Vista machine. Pretty useless. However, a little research in the help files reveals that if you add "Virtual PC Machine Additions" to your installation, you can then share a "folder" between the guest OS (Win98) and the host OS (Vista) via Virtual networking. It also tells you how to install it and share the "folder." All the stuff you need is included in the original download; you don't have to go back to the well.

BTW, this basic idea may work with the free VMWare Server, too. I downloaded it but did not install, as the MS VPC was the much smaller file (over 100 MB smaller) and it has worked. The VMWare docs are huge, too; though I certainly would not gripe about that if I were busy trying to figure it out! I love good, useful doc.

There are settings to fiddle with, as always. Where does MS come up with its names? A "public" network allows limited networking but a "private" network can be made wide open? How backwards is that? De-activate passwords. (I might add that along the way I did try removing networking entirely from Vista, so that only my W98 virtual PC would use the network port -- but that crippled the Virtual PC's ability to network. So, I had to settle for letting Vista recognize my router, even though it does not recognize the three other machines attached to it.)

Anyway, I designated the Vista machine's entire hard drive as the "folder" to be shared, and it became the " Y " drive on my virtual machine. In essense, the Virtual Win98 PC is networking not only to my three physical PCs but also to its own host.

So far, I have been able to move files reliably and quickly from my W9x PCs to my Vista machine. I've also sent files from the Vista machine to the others, or rather, the Virtual W98 guest PC has done so. My Win9x machines and the virtual Win98 PC are all using the W9x version of the IPX/SPX protocol, which has been removed from Vista. It takes a bit of disk space, but there's no need to run the virtual PC when you don't want to network to the other PCs.

This solution is presenting some few odd characteristics, but I don't think they'll prevent my using the network. They may even be solvable as I tinker further. Or, suggestions and comments welcome.

(1) The virtual W98 machine on the Vista PC "sees" all the other Win9x machines, but they do not see it. That means I can copy a file from any of them to the Virtual machine from the Vista PC screen and keyboard, and I can copy a file from the Vista PC out to any of the W9x machines. However, I cannot make either of those things happen from the keyboard and screen of the physical W9x machines. I can live with that. I will always have the Vista machine running when I want to send files to or from it (isn't that kind of a "Duh" requirement?). I can navigate between any of the other three from any machine's screen, when they're up and connected.

(2) I can install my HP Laser 1000 (which connects through the USB port) onto both the Vista machine natively, and onto the virtual W98 PC, and share that printer among all four PCs. Vista won't see it as networked, and the other PCs will reach it as a Windows 98 printer. However, Vista cannot natively share the printers attached to any of the others. The virtual PC can share those printers, but I have not installed any software in the virtual PC besides WordPad, which exists on all the other PCs, anyway. In a desperate pinch, I could install a driver in Vista to print to file, then use the Win98 virtual PC to binary copy the print file to one of the printers on the W9x PCs for physical output. I don't anticipate any need to do that; but I used a similar method (sneakernet style) in the past (before any network) to print documents on a PostScript laser prepared on a PC down the hall which could not directly access that printer.

(3) The worst experience I'm having is with the one PC which communicates wirelessly. So far, I'm a bit mystified. Although the client PC driver software reports receiving a very strong, reliable signal from my router, access to this PC has been intermittent. Sometimes the connection is perfect, and I can transfer files between it and any of the other PCs. Other times none of the others can see it, and they report it unavailable. Once the connection disappeared in the middle of a batch file transfer test! The first files made it, then the connection vanished and could not be re-established. This difficulty may force me to just run a cable to this PC; I'm having no trouble with any of the wired connections. I've tried relocating the router and receiver antennas, but the problem seems to be in the settings rather than the hardware and wireless signal, unless something is causing the signal to break up because of interference. (Maybe I should try it without encryption, since they're travelling by a protocol that others with wireless PCs are increasingly unlikely to be using??)

(4) Somewhere in the tinkering phase I seem to have installed and de-installed a support file or driver named vserver.vxd or userver.vxd. (It's really hard to tell which is the correct name on the character screen.) During the virtual PC boot, Win98 complains it's referred to in either System.ini or the Registry. The installation seems to work fine without it. I've searched both system.ini, the registry, and a virtual system.ini file, and there is no reference whatever to this file in any of them. I searched the net and found a lot of people looking for it but no one who could explain specifically what it was or where to get one. Asl long as a minor hiccup during virtual boot is my only problem, I'm not about to de-install everything and begin again.

Some of these PCs had multiple protocols installed, including Netbeui left over from when I had two of them networked peer to peer and both TCP/IP and IPX/SPX for the network line. Thinking this might be "confusing" them and causing the intermittent connection to the wireless PC, I removed Netbeui and de-activated TCP/IP from the network line. It remains for dial up to individual modems and for a television card in one of the PCs.

Well, I hope this helps somebody. I'd have been thrilled to read it before I spent days learning what it says the old-fashioned way.

IMO, FWIW, networking is being sold backwardly. I understand the paranoia about security in big companies or over wireless equipment left with "default" settings where passers-by can jump on your line. But for home use, all network gear and software should be set up to run unencumbered right out of the box, with installation of protocols, passwords, sharing, permissions, encryption all to be added after you've got something actually working. That's when and where the fences should go up. It is particularly grievous to have available and necessary stuff removed from an operating system which is undoubtedly going to be connected to other, older equipment. That's not "looking forward," it's out and out sabotage. As it is, you have pieces missing and barriers set up to prevent getting anything done quickly, or at all. If it were done right, you could set up your first network in fifteen minutes. It'd be easier than installing an office suite. Right now, it's being artificially complicated. That ain't right.

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My HDD is 500 GB. The biggest drive space-requirement was not the software added, but the "virtual hard drive" necessary for the virtual PC. You specify the size of the hard drive when you configure your virtual machine. I'm not on that machine at the moment, but I think I gave it 16 GB, or whatever MS VPC recommended. When you have multiple machines, each virtual machine will have to have its own virtual hard drive, even though it can also be set to share the Vista hard drive as described earlier. (Although the Virtual PC can share the host's drive; you may want a larger virtual hard drive larger if you plan to use the Virtual PC a lot? Or not. Your choice.)

Win95 is not listed as a supported guest OS for MS VPC, but then neither was Vista Home Premium listed as a supported host OS, and that worked OK, at least for the purposes described. Also, the rival free Virtual Machine Server might do what the MS VPC product won't. It has enthusiastic fans, and lots of high-grade word-of-mouth usually means the stuff is great.

A coupla' errors earlier: search on "Link Layer Topology Discovery Responder" (not "disponder service") for comments about that. I didn't pursue native Vista networking too far because I made an "end run" around Vista's reluctance to network directly with older OSs by means of the virtual machine method. Let the software do the hard part.

I did get VSERVER.VXD back from my Windows 98 installation disk. (USERVER.VXD was my misreading of the screen text, although based on numerous Internet posts, I'm not the only one. VSERVER.VXD is a MS driver supporting file and printer sharing.) Rather than looking in all the cabinet files, I deleted file and printer sharing, restarted, added file and printer sharing back, and restarted. To make the installation disk work and find all needed files, the "root" directory of the installation CD is not D:\ but D:\WIN98\ (or substitute drive letter corresponding to your drive). Once I pointed the installer routine to D:\WIN98\, it was able to find all the pieces it wanted without my having to identify which cabinet it was stored in. The boot error is gone, and drive sharing again appears for drives and folders upon right click.

My intermittency problem with my one wirelessly connected PC seems much better after I tried the following two things to improve wireless connectivity. First I tweaked some router configurations to slow it down just a little. That may not have been necessary, as the client display showed no better strength signal after that. The router firmware would not permit me to disable encryption entirely, and I had already chosen the simpler, faster 64-bit variety over the slightly more secure 128-bit kind. The next trick made a huge difference, though. The PC uses a Trendnet TEW-424UB USB 2.0 54 MBps 802.11g wireless adapter, not much bigger than one of those common flash or thumb drives. The radio and antenna are all instide the tiny package, which gets warm to touch in use. Installed at the PC, there were metal cabinets in the line of transmission, and it was near the monitor, which may've interfered with reception or transmission, even though the software reported from 65% up to 93% signal strength, resulting in intermittent connections, sometimes working fine awhile, then broken connection. I took a male to female USB cable and placed the little radio + antenna unit up near the ceiling of the room, well away from the PC and monitor. Watching the "strength of signal display" in the driver for feedback, I tried various positions and antenna orientations. For the final re-installation, I got consistent signal strength reports ranging from 97% to 100%. The router and the remote PC are now connecting and staying connected much, much better.

This is a quite odd predicament: MS is both the source and solution to my problem. However, many will probably be defeated by this problem rather than searching, digging, and finding an answer. I'd have preferred to have no problem and not need a solution, but a solved problem beats an unsolvable one.

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Ok, let's try this as informational -

"Network and Sharing Center" in Vista (aka XP "Network Setup Wizard")

"Network Setup Wizard" for the 9x machines.

The XP Network Setup Wizard is downloadable from Microsoft and can be used standalone on the 9x machines.

Not sure why you should have to go the roundabout way. Networking is networking. As for malware, how do you figure that TCP/IP would be the culprit for malware? The 9x machines use TCP/IP for accessing the internet, don't they? The only way malware can spread between machines is if there is an intentional execution of the "malware" between neighboring machines.

Again, setting up a proper set of UserId's/Passwords along with proper Sharing accesses works for me (I do it between 9x/ME and a 2k3 Server all the time). I suppose you noticed that the Win9x machines don't allow you to specify which UserId's have full access? It's because it's "generic" (since it's not an NTFS-type system). This was done using TCP/IP and not IPX/SPX.

BTW, the IP/Subnet addresses are also important in networking, right? Just because you have them set up on a Workgroup doesn't mean they can "see" each other (I assume you have this set up in your router?) .

A quote from my own research when I ran into this; using CodeBox to minimize post view -

1. Name Each Computer Correctly
On a peer-to-peer Windows network, all computers must possess unique names.
Ensure all computer names are unique and each follows the Microsoft naming recommendations.
For example, consider avoiding spaces in computer names: Windows 98 and other older versions
of Windows will not support file sharing with computers having spaces in their name.
The length of computer names, the case (upper and lower) of names and the use of special
characters must also be considered.
2. Name Each Workgroup (or Domain) Correctly
Each Windows computer belongs either to a workgroup or a domain. Home networks and other small
LANs utilize workgroups, whereas larger business networks operate with domains.
Whenever feasible, ensure all computers on a workgroup LAN have the same workgroup name.
While sharing files between computers belonging to different workgroups is possible,
it is also more difficult and error-prone.
Similarly, in Windows domain networking, ensure each computer is set to join the correct named
3. Install TCP/IP on Each Computer
TCP/IP is the best network protocol to use when setting up a Windows LAN.
In some circumstances, it's possible to use the alternative NetBEUI or IPX/SPX protocols
for basic file sharing with Windows.
However, these other protocols normally don't offer any additional functionality beyond what
TCP/IP provides. Their presence also can create technical difficulties for the network.
It is strongly recommended to install TCP/IP on each computer and uninstall NetBEUI and IPX/SPX
whenever possible.
4. Set up Correct IP Addressing and Subnetting
On home networks and other LANs having a single router or gateway computer, all computers must
operate in the same subnet with unique IP addresses.
First, ensure the network mask (sometimes called "subnet mask") is set to the same value on all
computers. The network mask "" is normally correct for home networks.
Then, ensure each computer possesses a unique IP address.
Both the network mask and other IP address settings are found in the TCP/IP network
5. Verify File and Printer Sharing for Microsoft Networks is Installed
"File and Printer Sharing for Microsoft Networks" is a Windows network service. This service
must be installed on a network adapter to enable that computer to participate in file sharing.
Ensure this service is installed by viewing the adapter's properties and verifying that
a)this service appears in the list of installed items and
b)the checkbox next to this service is checked.
6. Temporarily or Permanently Disable Firewalls
The Internet Connection Firewall (ICF) feature of Windows XP computers will interfere with
peer-to-peer file sharing. For any Windows XP computer on the network that needs to participate
in file sharing, ensure the ICF service is not running. Misconfigured third-party firewall
products can also interfere with LAN file sharing. Consider temporarily disabling (or lowering
the security level of) Norton, ZoneAlarm and other firewalls as part of troubleshooting file
sharing problems.
!!just ensure Firewall has all IP addresses (or range, including the one w/firewall) trusted!!
7. Verify Shares are Correctly Defined
To share files on a Windows network, ultimately one or more network shares must be defined.
Share names that end with a dollar sign ($) will not appear in the list of shared folders when
browsing the network (although these can still be accessed). Ensure shares have been defined
on the network appropriately, following the Microsoft recommendations for share naming.

And, yes, I'm perfectly aware that "Network Setup Wizard" is primarily for ICS.

It may very well be that the problem you have when you're using TCP/IP (or any other protocol) may be Point#6 (my own comment was that wrapped in exclamations - Very Important). That Firewall will block 9x from getting to Vista. Virtual Machines on the Vista are within that firewall, therefore there is no blockage. As for Vista "seeing the 9x", I may be clueless... (I must recant previous post as "going too far" on user-id/passwords).

I do it all the time, since I "build" older machines and have the 9x drivers and software on my 2k3 server...

Your choice, though...

A side note - You can define a Virtual NIC and use ICS to allow your VM to access the Internet, as well as directly "share" between all machines... Done that too (uses 192.168.x.y series IP addresses)!

Here's my example setup (using it right now) -

NTFS (Server) IP/Subnet - (this would probably be your router)
- MachineID = X
- File and Printer Sharing
- TCP/IP installed
- (you MUST log on to NTFS-type systems using UserID/Password)
- UserID = X (plus password) logged on
- UserID = Y (plus password) defined
- several folders shared (including the printer) with UserID = Y Full Access set
- Firewall allows IP range thru (overkill, right? but it's my Intranet)
Windows 98 SE IP/Subnet - (also your router)
- MachineID = Y
- File and Printer Sharing
- TCP/IP installed
- "Control Panel->Network", "Client For Microsoft Networks" installed/set for "Primary Network Logon"
(this UserID = Y; if it's not there, create it)
- Two Partitions - D-Drive (as a Share Name) Full Access set
Common Workgroup - WORKGROUP
Repeat for each 9x machine using a unique UserID for each unique MachineID and add the UserID to the NTFS-type OS UserID list. For NTFS OS, easier to add all defined UserID's to a single group and set accesses to the folders on it for the whole group (define a unique group first).

The Win98SE is sitting next to me running right now. And I have full access both directions! I can't believe Vista would be any different, since this same method worked for networking to/between an old NT4.0 PC too...

And I honestly can't remember whether I installed "Network Setup Wizard" on th 98 box or not; it may not be necessary in your case (router... does it have Firewall in it too? I don't use a Router; my server is the router using a Workgroup "box"...).

As for the Wireless, hopefully it also assigns (via DHCP) an IP within the range (very important), otherwise I will assume it's a no-go (also don't have a Wireless, so...).

Pretty basic, not complex. :thumbup

Here's a Google search you can use to help (put it in the search field) -

vista windows-98 "network setup wizard"


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I genuinely appreciate the detailed content for further study and use! Good info is a gift, and it takes time to prepare and send it. However, when I have a solution that meets my needs, I often stop looking for other solutions, even if they're really better, and move on to different adventures. I persist when pestered by a problem, but I wimp out when I either solve it or find a work-around.

I was never able to get native Vista to network with my older boxes using either TCP/IP or with the IPX/SPX protocoal I appeared to have added using XP installation files. Either may be possible, with my failure to link due to my ignorance or carelessness about one or more settings. As many critical settings as there are, it's a wonder any networks set up by other than full-time experts function at all. However, I'd agree it's not too hard to use a network, once it is set up and running.

I'd still love to either (1) hear from someone who has actually gotten native Vista networked to Win9x machines or (2) get the URL to the WEB site or blog where they explain their stepwise methods. Many, many WEB sites and blogs I checked before posting here reveal only frustration over their failure to do so, suggesting MS either deliberately sabotaged backward-compatible connectivity (by both TCP/IP as well as IPX/SPX), or accidently messed it up and chose not to fix it. Even Novel withdrew its own beta IPX/SPX driver for Vista.

The reason I felt IPX/SPX is a bit more secure for my particular installation is that (1) my network is used strictly locally for file and printer shairing, that is, none of the machines go through the network to reach the Internet. All four have modems that can dial my ISP. Only the router and one PC are reachable wirelessly. So, if somebody defeated my passwords and encryption to gain wireless access to either the router or the one wirelessly-connected PC, I figured even from there they could not reach any of the other three PCs unless they were also running the now less-common IPX/SPX protocol. Yes, if they left malware on the one wireless PC, it might later spread over the network, but I'm thinking the outsider could not directly copy files from any of the three IPX/SPX networked PCs, or write any files to those PC's drives. Perhaps I am wrong about this, but that was my conclusion.

My "virtual PC' solution is not full networking, that is, the Vista PC cannot run programs located on the others' drives. Hwever, if there are runnable files on the others' drives, the virtual PC can copy them to the Vista PC hard drive, and the Vista PC could run them from there. So, for my purposes, the kludgy solution is adequate. If I find ready-to-follow instructions for "real" networking between these boxes, though, I will replace the kludge with the real thing.

Meanwhile, hearty thanks to all who have contributed, or may choose to reply further.

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Well, I did mention I am not a true technician. After many experiments, I have now gotten all four of my machines (i.e., one virtual 98 guest, hosted under Vista HP; two physical 98; and one physical 95) fully recognizing each other. How? I deleted one feature (which I previously thought was essential) from all the network configurations, and immediately they could all display the drives on the other machines! I've toyed with a bunch of settings, but this was the one which resulted in immediate improvement. It started when I noticed the virtual PC could "see" all the others, but the others could either see only themselves or themselves and one or two others. I compared all their net configurations and found the one which saw all the others did not have "NetBIOS support for IPX/SPX" added to the "plain" IPX/SPX protocol for the net adapter. So, I took that off the other three machines. One by one, as I deleted it from the others, they could immediately see, display, and connect to all the other machines from their own screens. I also removed the MS family logon from the single machine which had it, with no apparent ill effects. Now I can copy to or from any machine from the screen of any other machine. If the router is running when I power up any two PCs, they connect promptly. File copies go quickly, even to the wireless PC. Once the wireless signal was near 100% and I still could not always connect over there, I knew it had to be some other factor blocking the connectivity. I'm not sure what NETBIOS support is for, but apparently I not only don't need it for file and printer sharing over my little net, on my net it actually interferes with file and printer sharing. It's bound to be good for something, and when properly set wouldn't disable file and printer sharing. But my simple little net is not the place for it. This may be asnother nugget of useful content for somebody.

This has been a wild excursion, taking me many hours. Even when I got earlier, simpler networks up, I was shocked there does not seem to be a single set of complete, correct instructions; and all the settings are made in different places. Bizarre. Still, my set up now seems stable and relaible. The downside is that I may forget most of what I've learned and have to jump over some of the same hurdles in future!

I can retire my oldest system when it fails, now that I can move all the files around. However, I have to have at least one machine with expansion slots to run video capture for which the Vista box wants newer equipment than my W98 & XP-capable card, to scan with SCSI or parallel port scanner where Vista PC wants USB, to print to parallel port printers without having to get USB converter gadgets, etc. The network lets me get files produced on the older machines easily to the Vista machine for further processing, giving me the best of both old and new. It is so odd (or just greedy?) the makers won't let you use what you've got. Imagine if you had a camper trailer and were told you had to replace it when you bought a new car or truck because they weren't compatible!

Hope this helps somebody.

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  • 8 months later...

I was trying to get Vista to work with a Win95 PC, but even after getting the two to see each other and setting up passwords etc, Vista still refuses to allow any files to be copied to Win95, nor will it allow browsing below the root level of shared drives on the Win95 PC.

So I setup Virtual PC 2007 on vista and installed Windows 95, using the VPC additions from VPC 2004.

Tada! Now I can drag and drop files directly from Vista to the other PC by tossing them through the VPC hole in Vista's network obstacle course. Just map a network drive in VPC, open it in Windows Explorer and I can drag files from Vista to the other computer on the LAN.

Microsoft provides their own easy pathway through their attempts to stop people from networking Win9x and Me with 2000/XP/Vista. :)

I wonder if I can use VPC with Win95 on all my 2000 and later systems as a workaround for the over paranoid security that's not needed at all on a physically isolated LAN?

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