Solved

device driver for old serial boards

Posted on 2006-11-19
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Last Modified: 2010-04-26
My serial ports stopped working when I upgraded the OS from Win98 2nd ed to XP Pro. The computer is a PII Gateway and the serial boards are original.

After removing the ports in device manager and rebooting, XP can't find a driver either on the computer or on the net.

I need the correct driver.
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Question by:tool_man
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by:rid
ID: 17977401
You don't need extra drivers for serial ports, unless there are more than 4 or they are "fake" ports, like software modems. If the ports you discuss are the original 2 ports that are more or less standard on a PC, the XP generic drivers should do. Plain old DOS could handle 4 serial ports...

Check if both ports are enabled in computer BIOS.
Verify that they are set to either auto assigned resources (I/O address and IRQ) or set to standard values, as shown in BIOS. Setting them to fixed values might be best.

Check if the BIOS has a "Plug'nPlay" O/S setting and change this to whatever is "the other" setting. Make sure you save values before exiting BIOS setup.

/RID
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by:tool_man
ID: 17978669
I did turn on "Plug'nPlay" but I didn't find anything that sounded like a port setting. What will it likely say in the BIOS? Will it say "port" or "serial" or "comm"? It seems like I've gone through this before sometime in the past but this time I must be overlooking it.
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by:rid
ID: 17978868
The serial ports are often called "COM" ports (1-4) or just "serial".  They are designated an I/O address (a hex value like 2F7 or whatever) and an IRQ line: COM1 and 3 share IRQ4 while 2 and 4 share IRQ3. Normally, PC's come with 2 onboard ports. The settings can be found under some BIOS setup menu label, like "peripherals" or "chipset" or something; depends on BIOS type/maker.
/RID
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by:tool_man
ID: 17984640
I find serial ports under "peripherals". I have 3-choices: disabled, enabled, and auto. Enabled requires me to have Plug'n'Play turned-off. Serial port A says it's 3F8, IRQ4. Serial port B says it's NORMAL, 2F8, IRQ3. I fiddled with it some but couldn't get the ports turned-on.

What's the magic combination?
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by:rid
ID: 17985374
The settings you found are indeed normal, old standard values for I/O and IRQ. Any O/S should find these! The BIOS should find them, too; if you have the POST summary screen enabled you may be able to see them listed in the system summary. ( you need to disable anything about "quickboot", "silent boot" to get all the proper POST info during boot)

If plug'n'Play is required set them to "Auto", in which case windows should be able to assigne resources and handle the ports. To test the hardware, you may have to boot to plain old floppy-DOS and talk to a modem or some simple device like that, or use a loopback connector.

I suppose you could use Knoppix, too (www.knoppix.org) and test the ports with a modem or a serial mouse.

Test all possible settings; PnP off/on, ports enabled or auto etc.
/RID
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by:tool_man
ID: 17992580
The computer will not boot with the ports enabled whether PNP is set or not. Ports will not install when set to "auto" whether PNP is set or not.

Are you sure the generic XP com port driver will work in place of all old Win98 drivers?
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by:rid
ID: 17993948
"... will not boot.."?? At what stage and how does it stall/fail?

"COM" (serial) ports have been around since forever and even though I don't like XP I'm inclinde to believe that even that O/S can handle a standard serial port without additional drivers. win98 certainly could.

I notice you mention "serial boards" in the original posting. Are you referring to an add-on board with serial ports or do you mean the ports that are included on the mobo? If you have add-on ports, you may have a resources conflict that messes things up here. Can you clarify?

/RID
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Author Comment

by:tool_man
ID: 18003351
After saving the the BIOS changes, the computer displays the various hardware status along with the Gateway logo. As soon as that's done it displays a lengthy error message stating "error" and something to the effect that both COM ports were disabled. At the bottom of the message it gives the option to hit F1 and go back to the BIOS to see what's wrong. (I haven't chosen to "continue" to see what happens.) When I go back to the BIOS I don't see that the ports are disabled. Their state is unchanged from what I had it set to.

The COM ports are the one ones that came with the computer originally. I ordered nothing special in that regard. So, we know the COM ports are the ones on the mother board. Sorry for the confusion.
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by:rid
ID: 18003405
Sounds like there is a basic resources conflict here, some add-on equipment (card) is causing a clash with the COM ports. Are there any extra thingies added, like modem card, extra sound card, printer port card, USB adapter card??

One other possibility is that the COM port controller has gone bad or some such calamity that causes an initialisation failure of the port(s). That's a bit hard to determine without hands-on activity and a testing software of some description (and a loopback adapter...).

/RID
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by:tool_man
ID: 18218722
I appreciate the effort expended but the ports still aren't functioning. They show in device manager with the exclamation point. Windows XP can't find a driver. Nothing's changed.

The only thing I can think to do is to switch the boot order of the HDs so that Win98 will start and I can see what driver it uses, then move a copy of that to the drive with XP. Maybe I can get that to install...
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by:rid
ID: 18218851
Hm... 98 and XP are very different in the way they handle hardware, I doubt a 98 driver will work.

Since your description only mentions on-board serial ports, XP should in all normal cases be competent enough to handle the ports with generic drivers. However, if there is a resources conflict, things may get tricky. Can you delve a bit deeper into the device manager and see if a conflict is reported? What other extra hardware is added to the system; soundcard, SCSI controller, extra parallel card, a modem card, a PCI USB controller ???

How do you propose to use the ports, some kind of specialised software or ordinary modem or what?
/RID
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Author Comment

by:tool_man
ID: 18222009
The error for both ports is:

"This device is disabled because the firmware of the device did not give it the required resources. (Code 29)"

Nothing has been added since changing OS from Win98 to XP and everything worked fine up to that point. The modem quit working once XP became the OS. I confirmed with the modem tech support that a different driver was needed but I used it so little that I've not bothered to pursue it. I'll uninstall the modem to see if that makes a difference.
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by:tool_man
ID: 18223862
Today I notice that in Safe Mode, the error is not there. I did get the modem installed, so that would seem to eleminate it as a source of the error.
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Expert Comment

by:rid
ID: 18224166
The modem may be hogging resources that the serial port(s) need. Removing the modem (physically) and see if something changes might be worth a try.

If this doesn't work out, you may have to resort to booting the machine with DOS or win9X and see if you can talk to anything (an external modem or a serial printer) on any COM port, to eliminate hardware failure as a cause. Running some kind of diagnostic software is another idea, but not through XP, obviously.
/RID
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by:tool_man
ID: 18225011
Everything worked fine before changing the OS. I think we need to first answer the question of how anything else changed as a result of changing OS from Win98 to XP.
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by:rid
ID: 18420535
98 and XP are very different in the way they handle hardware.
/RID
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by:rid
ID: 18422727
The O/Ss involved are not really comparable as they deal with hardware quite differently. The HAL (Hardware Abstraction Layer) is a concept unknown to win9X and earlier. I'm quite convinced a 98 driver will never work with XP (or anything after NT4).

The COM ports are a basic part of a standard PC and any O/S should have generic drivers for them (up to 2 serial ports are standard; 4 are allowd for in a standard BIOS). If you experience trouble with this, you need to review your hardware setup, as there may be a conflict between the original standard COM ports and somtehing else that has been installed in the system (modem, USB card or whatever). Plug and Pray can't be relied upon in all cases, as there may still develop conflicts. Sometimes XP works better if the BIOS is set to "Non-PnP OS", oddly enough..

/RID
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Author Comment

by:tool_man
ID: 18423812
I was able to get the modem to work in a limited way when XP picked a punk generic driver. Features relating to incoming calls would not work, caller ID for one. I experimented a little with different drivers but couldn't get it to work any better.
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by:rid
ID: 18426646
The modem? Is this about a modem or about the serial ports? Is this modem an internal modem?
/RID
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by:tool_man
ID: 18431191
An internal modem. Gateway. New ~1999.
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rid earned 250 total points
ID: 18431296
Can you try out the situation with this modem removed? Any resources clash may be related to this modem...
/RID
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Author Comment

by:tool_man
ID: 18693820
Why did the modem stop working when the OS was upgraded from W98 to XP? The question was never answered. Whomever knows the answer to that also knows what needs to be done to make the thing work.

I appreciate RID's input.
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