Networking FreeDOS - Loading the TCP/IP Kernel (Stack)


  Modern operating systems have their own TCP/IP kernel already built-in:
  Microsoft systems come with "Winsock" since Windows 95. In GNU/Linux
  the TCP/IP stack is part of the Linux kernel. DOS however comes without
  kernel. So after we had installed our packet driver, we have to give
  the TCP/IP kernel a thought.

How it works

  The TCP/IP kernel is also called "stack" or "protocol stack", because
  it consists of two layers: IP and TCP. IP runs on top of the hardware
  driver and TCP on top of IP, providing an interface to network
  applications. For DOS different types of TCP/IP kernels are available.
    (Picture of TCP/IP kernel)
  As we see in the figure above, they can either work as external
  programs or they are already built into the applications.
    * An external TCP/IP kernel is typically started by AUTOEXEC.BAT or
      by a batch-file. It stays memory resident, so it can answer ping
      requests for instance.
    * Other network applications come with TCP/IP kernel functions
      already built-in and do not need an external TSR kernel. An
      application with built-in TCP kernel has the advantage that it
      doesn't need another driver which consumes precious DOS memory.
      On the other hand TCP/IP functions are limited to those of the
      network application and are only provided as long as it runs.

Configuration needed

  Every TCP/IP kernel must be configured with general information about
  the network, as IP address, netmask, nameservers and gateway, or it
  must be told to get this information via a BOOTP or DHCP server.


  Examples for external TCP/IP kernels for DOS are:
    *  the free Trumpet TCP kernel NTCPDRV.EXE,
    *  the TCP/IP kernel of Novell NetWare TCPIP.EXE,
    *  Microsoft MS client's TCPTSR.EXE and
    *  FTP Software Inc.'s ETHDRV.EXE.
  Examples for TCP/IP kernels built into DOS applications are:
    *  WatTCP, which is f.i. already built-in the graphical web browser
    *  the mTCP kernel, written in 2009,
    *  the KA9Q kernel which is part of that program,
    *  the NCSA Telnet kernel which is built into the applications
       included in this suite,
    *  the CUTCP kernel and
    *  the University of Minnesota stack, which is part of "MINUET".
  More than half of the DOS networking applications available use the
  WatTCP kernel says Jeffrey L. Hayes from the retrocomputing website (*01) see: (*02).
  So most of us will not have to install a TCP/IP kernel at all. Instead
  we only have to care about the WATTCP.CFG configuration file for those
  networking applications.
  The next chapter takes a closer look at WatTCP and its successor
  Watt-32. Then we will examine NTCPDRV which is the only free external
  TCP/IP kernel available. Afterwards we briefly look at other external
  TCP/IP kernels.
    *  WatTCP/Watt-32
    *  mTCP
    *  Others

  (*01) Link is still OK, see also:
  (*02) Link is no longer available, new link:

  Copyright © 2007 Ulrich Hansen, Mainz (Germany),  2010,
  2020 and 2022 by W.Spiegl.
  For more information see here.

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