Networking FreeDOS - DOS networking today


  In this chapter we will learn more about the network drivers, protocols
  and networking software that can be used with a FreeDOS PC in the 21st
  century. For deeper information about networking try Eugene Blanchard's
  "Introduction to Data Communications" (see: (*01), GNU GPL,
  a more recent but non free version can be found here, see:


  Ethernet is today's dominant network hardware technology. For this type
  of network adapters generally three sorts of drivers can be used under
  DOS (and you should be able to find at least one of them for your
    * Packet drivers, invented by FTP Software Inc. Many of them were
      written and distributed by Crynwr.
    * Open Datalink Interface (ODI) drivers, developed by Novell and
      Apple and the
    * Network Driver Interface Specification (NDIS) drivers, developed by
      Microsoft and 3Com.
  All three are multiprotocol network drivers, which means that they are
  able to support multiple protocols over the same card. Earlier drivers
  did support only a single protocol. Multiprotocol drivers communicate
  directly with the network interface card and provide a published
  interface specification, to which applications can be written.
  For a good general introduction into this topic see "Implementing
  Multi-Protocol Network Drivers in a DOS Environment" by the University
  of Georgia, Athens, Georgia (U.S.),see: (*03).


  The following protocols are supported by these three drivers:
    * Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) used for
      instance by UNIX, GNU/Linux, Windows Vista, OS X and the Internet,
    * Internetwork Packet Exchange/Sequenced Packet Exchange (IPX/SPX)
      protocols, used for instance by Novell Netware,
    * Network Basic Input Output System (NetBIOS) Extended User Interface
      (NetBEUI a.k.a. CIFS) protocol used for instance by OS/2,
      Windows 9x, ME and 2000.
  TCP/IP is the standard for basic internet services such as http,
  smtp or ftp and it also became the default protocol for connecting
  Local Area Networks (LAN).
  NetBEUI was the default protocol for LANs in Microsoft systems until
  Windows 2000. It was replaced by NetBIOS over TCP/IP (NBT) and then by
  TCP/IP. The application level network protocol SMB for instance can run
  directly atop of TCP since Windows XP, see:;en-us;Q204279 (*04).
  Novell's IPX was used in Novell Netware, which has been the default net-
  working solution for personal computers running DOS or Windows 3.x.
  Since 1998 NetWare is able to run on TCP/IP, more recent versions use
  it per default.
  Conclusion: TCP/IP is the "lingua franca" of modern networks. It is
  still possible to use other protocols, but support may come to an end.

Networking software

  In general we can distinguish the following three ways of networking
  that still can be used with DOS. Learn more about them in the following
    * Novell Netware - ODI driver based Novell NetWare programs for
      accessing a NetWare network and using TCP/IP services.
    * MS client - NDIS driver based Microsoft "LAN manager Client" or "MS
      Client 3.0" to integrate DOS machines into a Windows/SMB workgroup.
    * TCP/IP applications - Packet driver based "UNIX-like" TCP/IP appli-
      cations to access or provide network services like http, smtp, ftp,
      SSH (see: SSH2DOS) or NFS.
    * Others

  (*01) Link is still OK, see also:
        (everything in ONE LINE, NO free space!)
  (*02) Link is no longer available, new link:
  (*03) Link is no longer available, new link:
        (everything in ONE LINE, NO free space!)
  (*04) Link is no longer available, new link:;en-us;Q204279
       (everything in ONE LINE, NO free space!)

  Copyright © 2007 Ulrich Hansen, Mainz (Germany), updated 2010
  and 2022 by W.Spiegl.
  For more information see here.

  Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document
  under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or
  any later version published by the Free Software Foundation.
  A copy of the license is included in the section entitled
  "GNU Free Documentation License 1.2".