Classic Computer Magazine Archive COMPUTE! ISSUE 168 / SEPTEMBER 1994 / PAGE 6

Interlnk. (DOS 6 feature links computers) (Windows Workshop) (Column)
by Clifton Karnes

One of DOS 6's neatest features - especially for Windows users - is one you may have missed. It's Interlnk, and with it, you can transfer files from one PC to another and even create a miniature network.

In this column, I want to talk about how to use Interlnk, but before you can use it effectively, you need to understand two terms: client and server. These two words define a relationship between machines, which is usually expressed as client/server. In this relationship, one machine - the server - provides information to the other - the client. In most cases, the server simply appears to be one or more disk drives on the client computer. Interlnk establishes a client/server relationship between two PCs, and when the two PCs are connected, the server's drives appear as additional drives on the client.

Before using the Interlnk program, you're going to need two PCs and some way to connect them. With Interlnk you can use either a null modern serial cable or a parallel-port cable that's designed for two-way communication. The parallel-port cable is much faster, so try to find one of these. In fact, don't use a serial cable unless you have to.

After connecting the two machines with the serial or parallel cable, decide which machine is going to be the client and which is going to be the server. Let the machine you want to work on be the client. If you're connecting a desktop and a notebook, you'll usually want to make the desktop the client, since desktops generally have better keyboards and monitors. Let's assume this configuration and make the desktop the client and the notebook the server. But you could easily reverse this configuration and accomplish the same thing; you'd just be working from the notebook.

Now for the software. First, on the notebook, go to DOS and run INTERSVR.EXE. This DOS executable turns the notebook into a server. Next, on the client, you'll need to add one of the following lines to your CONFIG.SYS file: DEVICE=INTERLNK.EXE or DEVICEHIGH=INTERLNK.EXE.

After adding the line, reboot the client (desktop) PC. It best to run the server program, INTERSVR.EXE, before running the client device driver.

After booting the client PC, you'll have a new client drive for each of the server's hard and floppy drives (CD-ROM drives are not supported). These new drives are available in DOS and Windows, but since we're mostly interested in Windows, I'll concentrate on it.

In Windows, run File Manager on the desktop computer (the client), and you'll see the new drives listed in the Drives drop-down list box. Now, take a look at the server's screen. You'll see a list detailing which server drives are mapped to which client drives. When you access the server, an asterisk flashes beside the drive that's being used. Note that the server can't do anything else but act as a serve - multitasking of any kind is out. Its entire being is now focused on giving you everything you ask for.

To test your new client/server relationship, copy some files from the notebook to the desktop. Next, try copying in the other direction. If you're using a parallel cable, the transfer should be pretty fast.

Next, find a Windows EXE on the server's hard disk - like CALC.EXE (in the WINDOWS directory) - and double-click on it. You'll run the program. If you want to make sure that you're really running Calc from the server, temporarily change the name of the client's CALC.EXE to CALC.BAK.

You're probably starting to get the idea that this client/server thing is a relationship worth cultivating. Instead of dumping your notebook in the closet when it's not being used, you can, for example, leave it permanently linked to your desktop as a server. Use it to store some extra files you don't have room for on your hard disk (assuming there's room on the notebook's drive).

Or you can simply link the machines when you need to update one or the other. The important thing about this relationship is that with Interlnk, either machine can be the client. You simply decide which computer you want to work on and make that one the client.

Is there any situation where you'd want to make a notebook the client? Yes, there's an important one. You see, Interlnk not only makes a server PC's drives available to another PC but also makes the server's parallel ports available. You can, for example, connect the notebook to your desktop and print using the desktop's printer. Naturally, the desktop will need to be connected to a printer, which may be tough if you're using your only parallel port for your Interlnk connection. Oh, well. You can't have everything.

For more information on Interlnk, look up Interlnk, INTERLNK.EXE, and Intersvr in DOS 6's Help.