Plug and Play devices are those cards which sit in your ISA slots on you PC. ISA technology
is being replaced by PCI shortly, as PCI does not need to go through this configuration process,
and the speed of the PCI bus is faster than the ISA. ISA cards (PnP Cards) used to come
with jumpers, pins sticking up from the board that allow you to select the IRQ and I/O that card
is to use. Newer ISA Cards are now coming with Plug and Play technology, that allows their settings
to be accessed and changed using software. It's a nice idea, but the jumper technology is better
suited to the Linux environment.
To set up all your ISA PnP Cards, you just need to decide on what IRQ (Interrupt Request) and I/O
(Input/Output) values each card should have. If you are running Windows 95/98, and all your PnP
cards are functioning, this is a piece of cake. Just boot into Windows, click on the Start menu,
go to Settings, and from there, open the Control Panel. Double-click the System icon, and this will
bring up a window with 4 tabs across the top. Click on the tab that says "Device Manager". This will
be the only good use you get from Windows *grin*. Locate the PnP cards you have installed, they're
listed by name, and if necessary, expand the individual groups like Graphics, or Modems, to find the
exact device. Highlight the card, then click on Properties, which is at the base of the window.
This will bring up another window, that contains everything to do with that card. Again, a set of
tabs is running along the top of this window, the one you want to click is "Resources". This new
screen has all information on your card, such as IRQ, I/O, and perhaps DMA aswell. You should
note all these values, and return to the Control Panel. If you are installing a Modem, you
should open the Modem icon from the Control Panel, and find out which COM it is on. If you are
installing an Awe 16/32/64 from Creative Labs, you need to note resources for the Wave Device,
Wavetable Device, and Game Controller.
If you are setting up a card from scratch, you should have a good working knowledge of PC Hardware,
ane the conflicts that can occur if something goes wrong. There is no need for me to go into detail here,
if you feel you can set a card up like this, then you know what your doing :)
With all this information, you can return to Linux, and start Xwindows. Open an RXVT or an Xterm, and
from any directory, type pnpdump > /etc/isapnp.conf, this probes all cards for the different combinations
of settings they can have, and creates a text file, called isapnp.conf in your /etc/ directory. This wont
do anything yet though. You know have to edit this file, and insert the values you have noted, or chosen.
At the start of each line, you will see that a hash, #, has been added. What this does, is tells the OS to
ignore that line, and all its contents when Linux reads in on bootup. Obviously, you are going to have to
remove the # (This is called uncommenting the line), and where necessary insert the values. After the initial
blurb text, you will find a line with your first PnP cards's name, and a # before it. This is the entire
section for controlling this card only, and it ends with the name of the next card installed on your
machine if there is one. On scrolling down through this file, you will notice that it seems to repeat itself
over and over and over again! This is just showing you all the values you can have. In the Modem how to, and
in the Awe16/32/64 how to, i've included snippets from my own setup to give you an example. You should be neat,
and after you have inserted the values that are needed, delete all the other lines from around those values.
It makes good coding sense, both for neatness, and because if you ever need to look at this file again, it will
be clear and concise.
At the end of each section, there is a line commented out that says # (ACT Y), if you are satisfied with
your setup, uncomment the line. This will tell Linux to activate that device, and that device only when it
parses (Reads) that file on bootup. You should do this for each card, so that it gets activated in turn.
There's also a line at the very end of the isapnp.conf file that says #(WAITFORKEY), you should also uncomment this,
as that will return the cards to their normal state after being setup by Linux.
Save the file, and reboot Linux. All the PnP Cards are now setup, but you are probably going to have to install
drivers for the cards (Or at least run programs). I have included a how to on the Awe 16/32/64, and Modems,
these are really only for non PnP devices, but now that you have setup you cards, they can be treated as non PnP
devices from here on inwards.
About the author, Owen Kelly.