This howto was written for FREESCO 0.2.7, the 'PCMCIA Card Services utilities' mentioned
below was compiled when FREESCO 0.3.x wasn't released yet. FREESCO 0.3.x has a similar
PCMCIA package though, so some of the info here is also of use for FREESCO 0.3.x.

dingetje 2004/11/27 16:57

A laptop makes an ideal router. It is small, portable, battery-backed and low-powered, running for weeks off an ordinary UPS if you connect it's mains charger to it. Unfortunately, Ethernet cards really need to be PCMCIA if they are to be used in a laptop but PCMCIA is not present in Freesco. At least… until now.

PCMCIA devices can be used with Freesco, using the compiled versions of the PCMCIA Card Services utilities, available from the 3rd Party Non-Package Page. Although in an primitive stage of integration, they have been successfully used to enable Freesco to use a 10Mbps Ethernet PCMCIA card and a standard PCMCIA modem card or an external serial modem and work as normal without problems. With some work and trimming, these drivers can even be used on a floppy installation of Freesco.

There's no foreseeable reason why they shouldn't work with all compatible PCMCIA cards, at least the compatible modems and Ethernet cards, although this is as yet untested. This tutorial will deal only with one specific Ethernet card and one specific modem card. Both are the most bog-standard PCMCIA cards we could find.

Cards tested:

    Identifies as such and installs straight as a new serial port in Windows. 
    No drivers necessary in Windows at all (the only drivers supplied are modem .INF files to tell
    Windows the appropriate AT commands). The serial port can be directly controlled from a terminal
    connection in Windows without need of drivers, returning answers to AT commands and dialling out.
  • “Mentor” PCMCIA Ethernet Card
    Identifies as PCMCIA Ethernet. Picked up by Windows as an NE2000 compatible card.
    No specific drivers really required inside Windows.

Cards not likely to work:

  • Any card which identifies itself as a Lucent Winmodem or other type of Winmodem. Check http://start.at/modem/ for details of some PCMCIA Winmodems.
    (Yes, you can get PCMCIA Winmodems too, as we found out from bitter experience).
  • Cardbus cards.

You should download and install the PCMCIA utilities from our 3rd Party Unclassified Page. The commands to extract them would be:

mkdir /rc/pcmcia
cd /rc/pcmcia
cp /wherever_you_put_them/pcmcia_compiled.tar.gz /rc/pcmcia
tar -xvzf pcmcia_compiled.tar.gz

Now, a little configuration is needed. Firstly, you should edit /rc/rc_init and add the line:

/rc/pcmcia/rc_pcmcia start

just above the line:

rm /bin/insmod

and comment out that line by changing it to read:

#rm /bin/insmod


We noticed a problem with the serial file in the compiled binaries. Until we can change the files, here is a quick fix. Applying this fix does no harm and makes nothing work that didn't before but stops some errors on bootup that would otherwise would appear (because Freesco does not have the usual Linux device creation tools)

Comment out the following lines in /rc/pcmcia/etc/pcmcia/serial:

cd /dev 

so that they appear as:

#cd /dev


Now edit /rc/pcmcia/etc/pcmcia/network.opts to suit your desired settings for the network card, specifically the lines:

  • DHCP
  • NETWORK (the IP address, AND'ed with the network mask (e.g. if the IPADDR is and the NETMASK is then NETWORK is
  • BROADCAST (the address to be added to the IPADDR to get the broadcast address, e.g. if the IPADDR is and the broadcast address is, then broadcast is

The rest of the network details in this file (e.g. DNS servers etc.) should ideally be left blank and set in Freesco setup instead.

Save, reboot and hopefully you should hear a beep on booting and messages should be put into the system log which indicate the success of configuring your cards.

Use the utility cardctl to check everything has gone well:

cardctl status

cardctl config

cardctl ident


The card should work straight away, assigning itself an IRQ and base address, and setting itself up as the first free ethN interface. Use Freesco setup to configure this appropriately. Note that Freesco's setting of IRQ and base address has no effect on the PCMCIA card.

Any modem card should just “appear” as a free serial port after successful installation of the PCMCIA utils and picked up by Freesco setup's Modem Autodetect sequence as such. Or you could use an external serial port modem in the usual way (which is still very low-powered but not as portable or as convenient, when you have to have another mains plug).

Now everything should just work.

freesco/howtos/pcmcia_howto.txt (183424 views) · Last modified: 2021/12/26 18:06 (external edit)
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