Win98 Networking - tech help needed!

Me and SO both have laptops running Windows 98. We’ve also just ordered 2 brand spankin’ new copies of HalfLife. We want to play multiplayer games between the two of us. Used to be that software publishers would allow something like a null modem cable to be used for local multiplayer games. But NOOOOO, not anymore. I gotta set up a bloody LAN just to play this stupid game.

My knowledge of networking was up to date circa 1994, when LANtastic was the cool mini LAN to use. Nowadays, I’m an idiot. I gather than Win98 has the ability to set up a simple LAN. So how hard is this gonna be? Do I have to buy network cards for the laptops, or is there some simple way to use serial or something? Keep in mind all I wanna do is play a game, so cheaper/easier is better.

If I have to buy network cards, can anyone recommend good cheap PCMCIA cards?

So far as I know, you’re going to at least need two Ethernet cards, one for each laptop. If you’re only networking two computers, you don’t actually need a hub, but you need a special CAT5 cable (a crossover cable) to connect the computers. Without that, you’ll need a hub.

Anyone out there know of any way to do this without two Ethernet cards? I thought that null-serial was still available.


Nope. NIC’s are the only way most games will let you do it any more. LL is right, though. You can do it without a hub by switch 2 and 6, and 3 and 5 or something like that. I haven’t tried it in a few years. I could probably find it if I looked hard enough, but I’m too lazy.

The wires to switch are 1 with 3 and 2 with 6. It’s a pain though, and you need a special tool and a lot of patience, better to buy an already crossed-over cable, or get some computer store geek to do it for you. (Or get a hub, how much is a cheapo hub nowadays? On top of the cost of two PCMCIA network cards, it can’t be that much, with the added bonus of LAN parties).

I’ll stick my neck out here: If you could understand networking in 1994, then you shouldn’t have TOO many problems with windows 98.

As for Halflife deathmatches: they’re worth all the fiddling that you’ll end up doing.

I’m definitely of the “I’d rather spend money than rewire something myself” school, so if I gotta get a hub, I’ll get a hub. How much we talking? Once again, any suggestions for ethernet cards?

This damn game better be worth it…

My personal brand name recommendation for NICs is 3COM. I’ve had a lot of luck with them in the past and that’s all I use. As for a hub, hubs are “stupid”. It’s hard to go wrong with one of those things. A group of us got together about 4 years ago and bought several 4-port no-name hubs for like $10 a piece. They’re all still working.

I have a simple network device which is pretty much just a cable which you plug into both USB ports. While it is not the thing to use if you are trying to hook up several dozen computers, it is just the thing for this type of application where you just want to connect two computers. I carry mine with my laptop at all times as it allows me to connect to any desktop with USB.

There are several similar products Belkin F5U104, USBnet, Linksys, etc

Sailor, that is EXACTLY what I need! Thanks a lot. I’ll look into getting one o’ these.

So these USB network device things are normal “network adapters” than will support all the Win98 network protocols? (TCP/IP, IPX, etc.)

(This information wasn’t readily apparent from looking at sailor’s URL.)

yes, I have the USBnet thingy and it appears and works exactly like a LAN. My laptop appears on my desktop as part of the network, the network adaptor appears in the network properties using TCP/IP, Netbeui etc. For all purposes it is a LAN.

I think I paid under $60 for mine quite a while ago and I asuume they would be cheaper now.

My WAG is that the USB thingy is simply two USB Network Cards and any associated hub/router/whatever stuff built into one case. Comes with the cables and everything. I didn’t even realize you could buy USB Network cards, but a quick search brought up many of 'em.

'course, now I gotta buy a USB hub, so I can use my USB mouse and my USB network at the same time. This game is getting expensive…

Athena, with the USBnet you do not need anything else. That is ALL you need. Plug it in, load the software and in a couple of minutes you are up and running.

You are thinking of LANcards that plug into the USB port. Those are a different thing altogether

I forgot, the Xircom thing was originally Entrega USBnet but Entrega was bought by Xircom. You might still find it as Entrega USBnet and all the original reviews etc are under that name.


Oh, I realized it was all you need. I was waxing poetic on the idea of USB Network cards in general - NOT the thing you’re describing.

But I do need the hub, unless this thingy you desribe will make my one USB port into two (need USB for the network, and for the mouse.)

I think I misunderstood your post. I see what you mean that you need a hub because you have a USB mouse. I have a regular PS2 mouse for the laptop so I don’t have that problem but I still see no benefits to USB keyboards/mice. Traditonal types are much cheaper (heck I have many mice I don’t use) and work fine without using USB. If I get a USB keyboard or mouse I see no benefit and I can see where one day I may have a USB problem and wonder if the keyboard has anything to do with it. I’d rather keep things separate.

My desktop has two USBports and I believe they are in parallel so I would think all you need to connect two USB devices to the laptop is a Y adapter. (maybe that is what they call a hub)

Why cant you use the W98 serial/parl networking?

Network cards for laptops are pricey.

If you get a hub, I recommend you get one of those cool new mini-hubs that have an internet proxy/firewall built into them. I think Dlink makes one for around $140. if you get one of those, then every computer on your hub can share an internet connection, and the firewall part will keep the little weenie hackers out of your computer.

>> Why cant you use the W98 serial/parl networking?

Handy, what is that exactly? You’re not talking about the Direct Cable Connection which comes with Win95? That does not work as well or as fast as a network and it comes with WIN95. So what is it you are talking about?

sailor, she said W98 not w95. W98 has way better networking than W95.

The game site might have other options for her.

>> W98 has way better networking than W95

Ok, but what is it? I have win98 on my laptop and I’d like to know.

sailor, tons & tons of pages on it. Try START:H Search for ‘network’