Pinging gateway failure Win98 in small mixed OS LAN

Here's the situation:

The LAN is three-machine setup on a router: WinXP Home (ack!), Win98 (not SE), Ubuntu Linux. The Win XP lists the Win98 machine in Network Neighborhood but can't browse it. The Win98 can ping 127.0.0.1 but not the default gateway at 192.168.254.254. Also cannot ping other machines on the LAN  and cannot ping anything on the Internet. The Win98 can access the internet, however, as can the other two machines. It cannot access the network otherwise. Also, the Win98 is setup for TCP/IP; NetBEUi is not installed. VPN is not installed.

All three machines have the same settings for Workgroup, protocol, DHCP,username, password  no WINS and such. The WINXP has the "Guest" account activated. (Breathe deeply and keep fingers crossed).

Running Ethereal on the both the WINXP and Win98 machines reveals much network traffic, with all three machines sending out packets of data, including many requests for BROWSE ELECTION. The WINXP has that browse master disabled; the Win98 browse setting is automatic. The LINUXBOX is the Browse Master per browstat. NEWT Professional 2 finds the WINXP and LINUX but not the WIN98.

I've removed and reinstalled TCP/IP in the Win98. All three machines also have HOSTS files with the IP addresses of all three machines listed as allowed. (Recommended for the Linux box running SAMBA.

I'm at my wits end, hanging out over the edge to boot.

Any suggestions and thanks?
lmnguyAsked:
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roadhog_NZConnect With a Mentor Commented:
well since you dont have that network guru to consult why dont you disconnect the linux box, reset the windows boxes to basic share permissions and make sure they are talking normally, that should be a pretty quick process and we can find the fault by rapid elimination
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roadhog_NZCommented:
if you have dhcp enabled..... on the router? are the ip addresses assigned by mac addy? otherwise if you have configured the hosts file then mabey the ips are not the same as the dynamically assigned ip.
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lmnguyAuthor Commented:
The router is assigning the IPs, though they have been consistent throughout all this - I check as a matter of course. The HOSTS are pointing at the proper IP thus far. Still, it's worth a check. I have also considered configuring the router for specific IPs, but that hasn't yet seemed necessary.

Of course, I have researched a ton, but getting past the "Newbie" tutorials has been tedious and non-productive.

Additional info: sadly, this net was up and running a bit back - it's all due to fooling around with the Linux box. I had installed RedHat 6.0 (what was available) to play around with, and the networking went together well. Then I changed to Ubuntu as the RedHat version was no longer supported and lost the setup sometime while reconfiguring the Ubuntu. However, I know that it can be done...

What seems to be to be a clue is the packet traffic - obviously all the machines are accessing the LAN and interacting to some degree, but why no ping?



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lmnguyAuthor Commented:
More data about this: A laptop also running Win98 logs into the LAN just fine. The errant machine (I now recall) problem developed after a MS Win98 Update. Funniest thing. The suggestions on various forums seem to be converging on "dump it and reinstall," which is not the best possible answer. Also, it's the Win98 box will take over as Master Browse manager if the Linux box is down, so there's communication as I said earlier.
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roadhog_NZCommented:
Why do you have browse master disabled on the xp machine?
Ive never had to set a hosts unless i wanted redirection, what files have you edited?
I have to check that you have shared folders on all of the machines, and if they all have the same username you wouldnt be using the guest account would you? and if not why have you enabled it?
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lmnguyAuthor Commented:
Well, the browse master issue was one of the many things discussed here and there, forum-wise. There was a comment to the effect that XP would always "win" the election but that it didn't always play nice with other OS.  The upshot is that by forcing the Win98 box or the Linux box to be the master browser, all theree machines are listed in "Network Neighborhood" on the XP, indicating that the master browser list got shared properly.

RE: HOSTS. That was a function of an earlier effort to get WinXP & Win98 to see the Linux box when it was running RedHat. That actually made it work. The files are just HOSTS, no extension, and are pretty straightforward, allowing specified IPs. They're required with the Linux, as far as I could determine, though my Linux chops are not up to speed as yet.
 
All shared folders have different names. The Guest account activation was another suggestion out their in forum-land.

When there is no clear-cut answer to be found in the many expert forums, I usually wind up trying anything that doesn't involve reinstallation or other irreversible actions. Which might be a problem, too, but I have no other options; I don't have that network guru to consult.
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roadhog_NZCommented:
cheers, im assuming you got it sorted in the end, was it something obvious we had missed?
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