With the 3Com 3C501 EtherLink emulation in hand, I thought I’d see if it works with the SCO TCP/IP stack for SCO XENIX/UNIX. That particular stack, which actually consists of separate STREAMS and a TCP/IP packages, comes with whopping two device drivers: One for Western Digital WD8003, and the other for 3Com 3C501 EtherLink.
I located the requisite floppy images on my NAS and physical floppies in the basement, and installed 386 XENIX 2.3.1a (September 1988), STREAMS Runtime 1.0.0c (August 1988), and TCP/IP Runtime 1.0.0c (December 1988) in a VM. Thankfully, the EtherLink driver worked the first time and created a 3comA device:
The TCP/IP stack was developed for SCO by Lachman Associates, in cooperation with Convergent Technologies. Configuring it was not easy, because the extant documentation only covers newer versions for SCO UNIX. Fortunately someone has already been there, and the SCO-supplied 3C501 driver had no problem with the route command. Thanks, Jason!
After starting the TCP/IP stack and configuring it for VirtualBox NAT networking, I was able to ping my router and random servers on the Internet (like 188.8.131.52). So, basic connectivity was there. Can this TCP/IP stack do anything else?
The answer is yes, but not a lot. The SCO/Lachman TCP/IP stack comes with a number of usual clients and servers like telnet, FTP, TFTP, sendmail, rlogin. In other words, tools that are obsolete and not supported by modern systems.
In 1988 the situation was obviously different and telnet, FTP, rsh/rcp/rlogin were standard tools allowing good interoperability. Nowadays not so much, but still it’s nice to see a 1988 OS being at least somewhat able to work in the world of 30 years later.
There is unfortunately no file sharing with XENIX SCO TCP/IP. There was an NFS kit from SCO, but that required SCO UNIX, not XENIX.
One of the things that does work is telnet into the XENIX VM. With the VirtualBox NAT and port forwarding, it’s reasonably easy and works well with PuTTY on a Windows host.
All in all, an interesting but not hugely practical exercise.