Microsoft KB Archive/93169

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Using Custom IRQ and I/O Settings with Windows for Workgroups

Article ID: 93169

Article Last Modified on 9/24/1999


  • Microsoft Windows for Workgroups 3.2

This article was previously published under Q93169


The Microsoft Windows for Workgroups Setup detects certain networks and allows for specific IRQ and I/O address settings for individual network interface cards (NICs). Setup does not accept any settings other than those it provides. This behavior can be a problem if you are using a network card that allows an IRQ or I/O address setting other than those provided by Windows for Workgroups. This article includes procedures that may help you work around such problems.


To change the IRQ or I/O address for a single installation:

  1. During Windows for Workgroups Setup, install the appropriate network card and select any of the available settings.
  2. Open the PROTOCOL.INI file in an ASCII text editor, such as Microsoft Windows Notepad.
  3. Locate the network card section for your card. Section headings appear as follows:


    where "netcardname" is a unique identifier for your network card. (For example, the heading for an Intel EtherExpress 16 is [ms$ee16], and the heading for an NE 1000 compatible card is [ms$ne1clone].) If you are not sure what the identifier for your card is, check the [netcard] section of the NETWORK.INF file. This section contains a list of supported network cards and their corresponding identifiers.
  4. Once you locate the [netcard] section, find two lines similar to the following:


    Note: The exact wording of these lines varies from card to card.
  5. Change these lines to reflect the settings that your network card is actually using. The IRQ value must be a valid number between 0 and 15. The IOADDRESS value must be a valid hexadecimal I/O address or must take the form 0xNNN, where "NNN" is the address, (for example, IOADDRESS=0x300).
  6. Save these changes, then reboot your computer.

    Note: If you regenerate the PROTOCOL.INI file by reinstalling Windows or by removing and then reinstalling the network card in the Network dialog box of Control Panel, these changes are lost.

To change the IRQ or I/O address for multiple installations:

Note: The changes below affect all subsequent installations of Windows for Workgroups that have the specified network card. Be sure to make a backup of the NETWORK.INF file before you make any changes to it.

  1. Open the NETWORK.INF file in a ASCII text editor, such as Microsoft Windows Notepad.
  2. Locate the [netcard_protocol] section for your network card. These sections generally have the following form:

    [netcardname_nif] or [netcardname_xif]

    where "netcardname" is a unique identifier for your network card.
  3. Once you locate the [netcard_protocol] section for your card, find the following two lines:


    where "type" is the parameter type, "range" is the range of values for the parameter, and "default" is the default value or the parameter.

    Note: Some fields may be missing in the actual statements. The following is an example:


    The following table describes the common type, range, and default values:

          Type    Range                Default   Definition
          Static  Default              N/A       The value cannot be changed
          Text    "Value, value,..."   Yes       List of text values
          Int     "First, last, step"  Yes       Integer range
          Hex     "First, last, step"  Yes       Integer range in hexadecimal
  4. The values for the I/O address or the IRQ can then be modified by changing the values inside a text list or the first, last, or step values of an integer or hexadecimal range. For example

    irq=IRQ,,text,"3,4,5,9",3 can be changed to include irq 7.

    io=IOADDRESS,,hex,"0x280,0x3f0,0x10","0x300" can be changed to include I/O address 200h by lowering the first value as follows:


    Note: The default value following the range MUST be a value in the range.
  5. Save the changes to the NETWORK.INF file. The Setup program then displays the setting that you added as a selection in the appropriate box.

For more information, refer to Chapters 5 and 6 of the "Windows for Workgroups Resource Kit" manual.

Additional query words: 3.10 3.11

Keywords: KB93169