Connecting to the Internet With BeOS

Connecting to the Internet With BeOS

The BeOS is an Internet-native operating system, based on the same networking standards and protocols that control the Internet. These include TCP/IP, the basic Internet networking standard, and standards for file sharing, remote access, the worldwide web, and electronic mail. Utilizing these standards, your BeOS system can communicate with any other system on the Internet, including other BeOS systems, Windows, Mac OS, Unix, and other Internet-capable systems.

The BeOS is not limited to only Internet-standard networking, however. Its networking framework is flexible and expandable, so that software developers can add networking capabilities for virtually any other system.

This networking chapter covers the following topics:

Section Page
Connecting to the Internet
Backing Up and Restoring Network Configurations
Initiating a PPP Connection
Setting Up a Stand Alone Network
Setting Up BeOS for Both Stand Alone Network and Modem-Based Internet Use
Multiple Network Interfaces
Disabling Domain Name Service
Editing the hosts File
Mac OS TCP IP Configuration Information

Connecting to the Internet

Connecting to the Internet is a five-step process:

1. Connect network hardware--Connect the appropriate network hardware to your system. This includes network adapter cards, modems, and cables.

2. Gather IP Address information--Obtain Internet IP address information from your network administrator or Internet service provider (ISP) prior to configuring your BeOS system.

3. Add network interfaces--Use the Network preferences window to add network interfaces, which tell the BeOS about physical connections to the Internet.

4. Configure Domain Name services--Use the Network preferences window to configure domain name services, servers the BeOS uses to help you navigate the Internet.

5. Save and restart networking--Save the network configuration and reinitialize networking with the new settings.

Connecting Network Hardware

The basic BeOS system supports a wide range of networking hardware. It supports network adapter cards for both PCI and ISA slot architectures that conform to the following types of networking hardware:

You can also access the Internet using a modem, connected to your system through one of your computer's serial ports. The BeOS supports a wide selection of modems.

The Power Mac version of the BeOS supports PCI-based internal modems.

For information on installing networking interface cards, transceivers, modems, and cables to your Intel-based, Power Macintosh, or BeBox system, see your hardware user's guide, and the guides that came with your networking interface cards, modems, and cables. Once you've connected the proper hardware, return here to learn how to configure the BeOS software for your specific setup.

Gather IP Address Information

If you're using the BeOS on a Power Macintosh, and your system is connected to the Internet using the Mac OS, you can get IP address information from the TCP/IP control panel. See the "Mac OS TCP IP Configuration Information" section in this chapter for details.

Information you need to connect to the Internet includes the following:

Network Configuration Info Description
Your IP Address The IP address your computer uses to uniquely identify itself on the Internet. A specific IP address is known as manual addressing (e.g., If an Internet server automatically assigns your computer an IP address each time you connect, it's called server addressing (or dynamic addressing). This method is most frequently used when connecting to the Internet via modem, and sometimes when connecting via Ethernet. If you use server addressing, you will not have a specific IP address.
Network Mask (NetMask) A type of IP address that your computer uses to determine how to route information to and from your computer. In most cases, the net mask is, but your organization or ISP may use a different one (e.g.,
Domain Name The basic Internet name for your company or ISP; your "neighborhood" address on the Internet (e.g.,
Primary Domain Name Server, Secondary Domain Name Server A domain name server translates between domain names and IP addresses. These two IP addresses provide the locations of two translators (usually also in your company or ISP) your computer can use when accessing Internet services. You can still access the Internet if you don't have domain name servers, but you'll have to use IP addresses rather than domain names ( e.g.,
Host Name Your computer's host name. Note that configuring your BeOS for this name doesn't mean that other people will be able to use it to reach your computer unless your network administrator has configured the Internet routers to understand the name (e.g.,
Router IP Number A router is a gateway through which your computer transmits data from your local network out to a larger network or the Internet (e.g.,

This is all the information you need to configure your computer for connection via an Ethernet network. If you're connecting by modem, you need additional information:

Additional Configuration Information Description
Dialup Phone Number The phone number your computer calls to access the Internet. The number is at your company or ISP, and has a modem at the other end to which your modem connects (e.g., (408) 555-1212).
Dialup Server Type The type of connection server you connect to. In most cases, this is either Standard PPP or Unix Login (also known as a Shell Account). This information tells your computer what protocol to use once the modems have connected (e.g., Unix Login).
User Name & Password The user name and password you use to identify yourself to the server when you connect via modem (e.g., myname, mycode).

Once you have the information listed above, you're ready to set up your BeOS system for connecting to the Internet.

Adding Network Interfaces

Configuring BeOS networking is done through the Network preferences panel. When you double-click the Network preferences icon, this window appears:

To add a network interface, which represents the networking hardware you're using, click on the Add Interfaces... button. The following window appears:

Network Interfaces for Ethernet Connections

If you're using an Ethernet connection, you'll likely use one of three types of network interfaces, depending on the specific network hardware in your computer system:

You can use only the network adapters listed above; at this time there are no third-party network drivers for the BeOS. If your adapter is on the list, you can proceed and choose the proper network interface type from the list for your networking hardware, and press the Add button. The following window appears:

In this window, type the IP address and the net mask your network administrator provided, and press the Set button.

PCI cards are self-configuring, but with an ISA-based Ethernet interface there is one additional step before pressing the Set button. Press the Device Configuration... button, and the following window appears:

You can set the Port and IRQ (interrupt) numbers from the pop-up menus. The defaults are port 300 and IRQ 5, which work in most cases. For more information, see the guides that came with your computer system and your network interface card. Once finished, press the Set button. You return to the IP Address and Net Mask panel, where you can press Set to finish the interface configuration.

Once you complete the IP address and net mask information, your network interface appears in the Network preferences window. You can now continue with configuring domain name services.

Network Interfaces for Modem Connections

If you are connecting to the Internet by modem, your computer uses the Point-to-Point Protocol (PPP) to complete your Internet connection via the phone line. You should therefore add a PPP Network Interface. Select PPP from the Add Interfaces panel and press the Add button. You'll see this window:

To configure your system for a modem-based connection, place the information provided by your network administrator or ISP in the appropriate fields of this window:

Setting Description
IP Address If you're using server addressing, check the Obtain from server checkbox. If you have an assigned IP address (manual addressing), leave the checkbox unchecked, and type the IP address into IP Address field.
Connection Settings If you're connecting by phone line, click the Dialup button. Type the access phone number into the Phone number field, then select the type of modem you are using from the Modem pop-up menu. This selection tells the BeOS what type of controls to use for your modem. If your modem isn't in this list, check your user's guide for compatible modem types and choose one from the list. Use the Direct button option only if you are connecting to another system via a null-modem cable. Generally this is only for specialized network configurations.
Serial Settings Use the Port pop-up menu to select the serial port your modem is connected to. Then select the serial speed of your modem. This is the speed at which the modem and computer communicate, not the modem's speed. In general, select a setting that is higher than your modem's highest speed (i.e., select 57600 if you are using a 28800 or 33600 modem). If you're not sure, use the 57600 setting as a default.
Server Settings From the Server Type pop-up menu, select the type of communications server you're connecting to (get this information from your network administrator). The most common interface is Standard PPP; use this if you're unsure of the setting. The next most common is Unix Login. After selecting a server, type your user name and password in the appropriate fields.
Debug Settings You or your network administrator can use these options to monitor the connection process in order to work through connection difficulties. Display chat when connecting display refers to the messages sent and received by your modem during the connection process. Log all bytes sent/received writes the messages to a file. In general, you should leave these options unchecked (off).

Once you've completed the PPP configuration window and pressed Set, your PPP network interface appears in the Network preferences window. You can now continue with configuring domain name services.

Configuring Domain Name Services

After you add the proper network interface, you return to the Network preferences window. Your newly added network interfaces appear in the window (with your computer's assigned IP address, or if you are using server addressing).

You should now enter your Domain Name, Primary Domain Name Server IP address, and Secondary Domain Name Server IP address in the Domain Name Service portion of the window. Then type in your computer's host name and Internet Router IP address in the Miscellaneous section of the window. If you're not sure of the router IP address, use as the default.

The checkboxes and fields in the Network Services portion of the window are described in the chapter "Using Internet Services." You can ignore these fields for now. Disabling DNS and enabling IP forwarding are described in this chapter in the sections "Disabling Domain Name Service" and "IP Forwarding."

Saving and Restarting Networking

Once you add your domain name service configuration information to the Network preferences window, press the Save button. The following window appears:

Any time you change Network preferences, you should restart networking. This lets the BeOS disconnect from current network services, and reconnect using the new settings.

Restarting networking interrupts currently running network operations, such as retrieving mail or downloading a web page. Be sure you have no open applications that actively use Internet services before you restart networking. Also, if an application or your Ethernet network causes BeOS networking to temporarily stop functioning, you can use the Network preferences window's Restart Networking button to reset networking.

Once you save the settings and restart networking, you may close the Network preferences window. Your BeOS system is now configured for accessing the Internet.

Backing Up and Restoring Network Configurations

Once you set up your BeOS system for Internet networking, you can name the networking configuration and save it. You can save multiple configurations using the Network preferences window, for example one for connecting to an ISP from home, and one for connecting to an office network. You can then restore a saved configuration in a few mouse clicks to quickly switch between Internet connections.

To save a configuration, configure networking options in the Network preferences window. Then press the Backup... button in the Configurations portion of the window. The following window appears:

Give the configuration a name, and press the Backup button. Your configuration will be saved to disk.

To restore a configuration, press the Restore... button in the Configurations portion of the Network preferences window. You'll see this window:

Select the configuration you want to restore, and press the Restore button. The Network preference settings are replaced with the restored configuration. Then press Save to save the network settings and restart networking for the new configuration to take effect.

To permanently delete a saved network configuration, press the Delete... button in the Configurations portion of the Network preferences window. You'll see this window:

Select the configuration you want to delete, and press the Delete button. The selected configuration is removed from the list of saved configurations.

Initiating a PPP Connection

If you connect to the Internet by modem, the BeOS automatically initiates a PPP connection whenever you access an Internet service, such as a web page or a file server. When this happens, a window appears on your screen that looks like this:

The PPP connection begins automatically in ten seconds. You can type an alternate phone number for the connection if needed. You can also press the OK button to begin the connection immediately.

Pressing Cancel or clicking the close box cancels the PPP session initiation. Many applications, however, try multiple times to initiate the connection, so you may have to cancel a few times before the application gives up.

Once the BeOS is connected to the Internet, the window changes to look like this:

This window shows how long the PPP connection has been active, the IP address being used, and the actual speed of the modem connection. You can press the Cancel button, or click the close box, to terminate the PPP connection and disconnect the modem. The PPP connection automatically starts again if your BeOS system or an application needs to communicate with the Internet.

Setting Up a Stand Alone Network

In some situations you may want to connect your BeOS system to an Ethernet network that is not connected to the Internet. For example, if you have a home or office network which connects multiple BeOS systems, or a BeOS system with Windows, MacOS, or Unix-based systems, and want to transfer information between these systems. This type of network is called a stand alone network.

Since the BeOS is a native Internet networking system, it uses the Internet's TCP/IP protocol to communicate over Ethernet, even if it is not connected to the Internet. But if you create a stand alone network, you don't have a network administrator to provide IP addresses and other information needed to configure networking. Instead you use a class of IP addresses set aside specifically for stand alone networks. These addresses all have the following configuration:

IP Address:
Network Mask:

The xxx in the IP address can be replaced with any number from 1 to 254. This means that you can have up to 254 devices connected to a stand alone network

You can't use 0 or 255 as the last number in the IP address, because Internet protocols reserve these numbers for specific network functions; using them may confuse some computer systems. You can use other IP addresses, but if you later connect your stand alone network to the Internet (as in "Setting Up BeOS for Both Stand Alone Network and Modem-Based Internet Use" below) you may have problems with conflicting IP addresses. It's best to use the reserved address format for local networks.

To set up your BeOS system for a stand alone network, use the following configuration information:

IP Address
Net Mask
Domain Name None (leave field empty)
Primary Domain Name Server
Secondary Domain Name Server
Host Name None (leave field empty)

You can give other systems on your stand alone network other addresses in the range (remember, each device must have a unique number). To configure Windows, Mac OS, or Unix systems for stand alone networks, refer to the user's guides that came with those systems.

Your stand alone network will not have a domain name server (unless you specifically configure one of the systems to provide such services). Therefore, you need to use the Internet IP address, rather than a domain name, to communicate between computers on the stand alone network.

Setting Up BeOS for Both Stand Alone Network and Modem-Based Internet Use

You may find that you want to connect your BeOS system to a stand alone network, and at the same time be connected to the Internet via a modem. This is common in small businesses or home office situations where multiple systems are interconnected, and only the BeOS system has a modem connected. You'll want to communicate with the local systems and with services on the Internet without disruption.

To set this up, do the following:

1. Set up an Ethernet-based network interface for the stand alone network. Add a network interface for the appropriate Ethernet connector as if you were setting up a stand alone network (see "Setting Up a Stand Alone Network"). Use an IP address of the form, and a net mask of Other computers and devices on the stand alone network should be configured as described in "Setting Up a Stand Alone Network."

2. Set up a PPP network interface for the modem-based Internet connection. Use the IP address and net mask provided by your network administrator.

3. Configure domain name services using the PPP information. Set up the domain name service section using the domain name, primary and secondary domain name server IP addresses, and router IP address provided by your network administrator for the PPP connection.

4. Save and restart networking.

Once you complete this configuration, your BeOS system will be active on both network interfaces. You can communicate with devices on your local network through the Ethernet interface. Whenever you attempt to access a service that's not on your stand alone network (, for example), the BeOS initiates a PPP connection. While connected to the Internet by modem, you can still communicate with any device on your local network.

Multiple Network Interfaces

As described in the proceeding section, the BeOS can handle multiple network interfaces--multiple network interface cards, multiple modems, or any combination. To enable this, use the Network preferences window to add one network interface for each type of physical connection.

There is only one rule to keep in mind: each network interface must have a different IP address. You cannot assign the same IP address to multiple interfaces because the interface that information should be sent by and received from will be unclear. For the same reason, you are restricted to one PPP interface that uses server addressing (although you can have multiple PPP interfaces that use manual addressing).

IP Forwarding

Let's say you have a stand alone network with multiple computers connected, and you have a BeOS system with a network interface connected to the Internet (via PPP/modem or a separate Ethernet network). Can the BeOS system forward information from the other systems to the Internet, and send information from the Internet back to them?

The answer is yes. To enable this function, check the Enable IP Forwarding check box in the Network preferences window. The other computer systems on your local network should have the IP address of your BeOS system as the router IP address in their TCP/IP configuration.

The BeOS then forwards Internet-bound information for the stand alone network. In a way, your BeOS system acts as a lightweight Internet router for your local network.

The IP Forwarding checkbox will only be enabled once the BeOS is configured with more than one network interface.

IP forwarding requires a lot of processing time if there is heavy traffic to and from the local network. Keep this in mind before using IP forwarding.

Disabling Domain Name Service

When trying to resolve a domain name (convert a domain name into an IP address), the BeOS uses a specific set of steps in a specific order:

1. It checks the hosts file on the BeOS system for domain name information.

2. If there is no hosts file entry, it checks the primary domain name server.

3. If there is no response, or the domain name is unknown, it checks the secondary domain name server.

4. If the domain name is still unknown, it posts a resolution failure error.

Note that the middle two steps require the BeOS to contact domain name servers. There are times when this is not desirable, because it causes an unwanted PPP connection or for some other reason. Checking the Disable DNS button in the Network preferences window turns domain name services off.

With DNS disabled, the BeOS only checks the local hosts file to resolve any domain names. This means that the only domain names that can be used are those specifically placed in the hosts file.

Disabling DNS is not recommended if you are connected to the Internet. Most Internet services, notably worldwide web pages, require DNS services to operate correctly. Any reference of the type will be unresolved and unreachable. Disabling DNS should only be used in stand alone networks, or in unusual network configurations.

Editing the hosts File

The hosts file, located in your Home folder (/boot/home/config/etc/hosts) is a text file that contains information needed to resolve domain names. By adding addresses to the hosts file, you can use domain names, rather than IP addresses, to connect to devices on a stand alone network, or devices that might be unknown to domain name servers on the Internet.

A standard BeOS system does not have a hosts file. However, there is a hosts sample file (/boot/home/config/etc/hosts-sample) which can be duplicated and modified. Duplicate the hosts sample file and rename it hosts. You can then edit the hosts file to add the appropriate domain names and IP addresses.

The hosts sample file initially looks like this:

   # Sample hosts file for assigning names to IP addresses.  
   # You do not need this file if you are using the Domain Name Service (DNS).
   # Copy this file to /system/hosts and edit as necessary.  
   # The format is nearly identical to the Unix hosts file format.
   # NB: do not put any leading tabs or spaces at the beginning of the line
   # Format is: 
   # IP-address        hostname                   aliases (optional)
   #      Unixbox        bebox

You can add new IP addresses and domain names to the bottom of this file (and you can remove the Unixbox and bebox lines). You can also find information on this standard file in many Unix networking publications.

Mac OS TCP IP Configuration Information

If you are using a Power Macintosh or compatible, and have already connected your system to the Internet from the Mac OS, you can obtain the information you need to connect your BeOS system to the Internet without having to find your network administrator in the TCP/IP control panel from within the Mac OS:

The IP address, net mask (subnet mask), router, primary and secondary domain name servers (name server address), and domain name (starting domain name) are all in this window. Write down the information, and use it to configure your BeOS system.

If you're using a PPP connection for Mac OS networking, the window looks a bit different, but will still provide the information you need to configure your BeOS system. If you're using non-Apple provided PPP software, you may need to open another window to obtain phone number information. Consult your Mac OS networking guides for more information.

The Be User's Guide, in lovely HTML, for BeOS Release 3.

Copyright © 1998 Be, Inc. All rights reserved.

Last modified February 19, 1998.