pcAnywhere32 & 3 ThinkPads

For trialling out pcAnywhere32 with the parallel port cable, with me are two ThinkPads for the exercise. The one on the left is a Pentium II 380Z running Windows NT 4.0, and beside it is a Pentium 380D running Windows 98 SE.

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ThinkPad 380Z on the left, ThinkPad 380D to the right.

For this I’ll be using the 380Z as the host, while the 380D will be the remote. Well so I thought…

After installing pcAnywhere32 on both laptops, I began to start on the 380Z. Initially upon start-up, the Smart Setup Wizard appears requesting to select a modem if any, the network protocol, and the port to use for direct cable connection. I was only given the choice of COM (serial) ports and infrared, no LPT (parallel) option in sight. Repeating the wizard on the 380D however, and LPT was selectable.

I discovered via the help file that when pcAnywhere32 is installed on Windows NT 3.51, LPT direct cable connections are not supported, only via a COM port. Viewing a couple of Symantec support documents also reveals that later versions such as Windows NT 4.0, 2000, and XP didn’t support this either. There was no explanation I could find to expand the reasoning of this but seems to stem from the earliest of NT days.

Pushing the 380Z to the side I grabbed another ThinkPad, a 760EL running Windows 95. This was an earlier Pentium laptop that only had a floppy disk drive, so a parallel cable in this circumstance is particularly handy.

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Installing pcAnywhere32 onto the ThinkPad 760EL.

With pcAnywhere32 installed on the 760EL, I decided that the 380D is to be the host instead. This time it worked with minimal effort. First I tried using the remote control feature. While useable screen refresh rates are somewhat slow, though good enough for navigating around Windows. There is the option to disable the host’s wallpaper, screen savers, and full window dragging to improve performance. In the days of dialup internet, this would have been welcomed.

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Using the remote control function from the 760EL.

Next was to test file transfer speeds between the two laptops. The 380D had the Windows 98 CAB files for installation, so I had selected ten of these files for this purpose. All the files were the same size and totalled approximately 18 MB. Transfer speeds were consistent and averaged 64 KB per second, with all the files copied just a fraction under five minutes. That was the advantage of a parallel cable. Having a serial cable instead you may only be able to do so at around 10 KB per second, though the advantage with serial cable is that it can work over longer cable lengths compared to parallel. Definitely beats shuffling floppy disks between two computers.

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Transferring files from the 380D to 760EL.

Similar to the functionality of Windows 95/98’s My Briefcase, pcAnywhere32 allows to synchronise directories on both computers. A feature named SpeedSend would increase the speed of this by only transferring parts of the files that had changed.

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File transfer tool after the files were copied.

Terminal emulation is also available with the appropriate keyboard mappings. Types included the IBM 3101, Hazeltine 1500, Wyse 50, and X3270 among some others.

Overall a useful piece of software for its day.

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