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Getting EtherLink III Cards (3C589C, 3C589D) To Work in a Mac Laptop

3Com deserves a serious slapping around for their pathetic Macintosh support. This is slowly improving, but there is no legacy support added for many of their old products. Too bad, since the 3C589 series of PCMCIA Ethernet cards are cheap and plentiful, and there are no native Mac drivers for them. This is my attempt to rectify this egregious disparity.

Thanks to Jon Glass, who mailed me a Farallon driver and instructions on how he modified it (thanks to his contact!), which works with the 3C589 series. I have further modified the driver to properly identify the card and have some useful information on it in the Extensions Manager.

Here are some known gotchas:

Orinoco and Farallon side by side??

Tom Porcelijn reports the following. Please note: I have not tried this!

I spend a few day's trying to get 3Com's 589D EN card working on my PB5300 under OS 8.6[...]

What worked well out was the following workaround:

1. LOCK the System-file in the system folder (and make a back-up to be sure !)
2. Drop the 3ComEN-extension in the Extension folder of the System folder.
3. Restart the PB5300 - all should work, except that the 3ComEN extension won't work yet.
4. UNLOCK the System-file.
5. Restart the PB5300 - half way the start-up, the computer will stop and restart on its own.
6. Now the start-up will run normally, and: after dubbel clicking the 3ComEN-icon, ther is a new choice under the "Connect Via:" menu in the AppleTalk menu: "Alternate Ethercard"

Works nicely together & alongside a Orinoco wifi-card (simultaneously) and the OS 8.6 hacked iTunes!

I have not verified this, but there's hope of getting this driver to coexist with some wireless drivers. Please, back up your System folder if you wish to try this trick first!

Known Working

The 1400s and 5300s seem to really work well with this driver, and it seems the 190 is also compatible too! I would appreciate datapoints for the Blackbirds if anyone has tried this driver on those systems ... ?

Also thanks to Bill Grady who made multiple tests of OS/driver pairings on his 1400, and to Dan Fackler for the same on the 5300 (and the Skyline tip).


Some general workarounds for crashes

If you got a system error, did you remember to click the Restart button on the system error (see known issue above)?

If your system is not finding its system folder, please try these workarounds and let me know if any work for you.

A fix for 5300 owners running 8.6, 9.0.4, 9.1 (and other PowerBooks?)

Dan Fackler discovered that the Farallon Skyline driver can fix crash bugs on the 5300, and this may also work for the few 1400s that are problematic as well. He says,

When booted into System 7.5.2(OEM System on this PB) your driver works flawlessly, but the EtherTalk Phase 2 extension must be present.

Under OS 8.6 and 9.1(I'm assuming that this holds for OS 8.5 and 9.0.4 as well... [a later note from Dan said that 9.0.4 also suffers from this]), the Skyline driver AND EtherTalk Phase 2 must be installed. I suspect the critical Farallon component is the "Wireless PC Card" extension. The machine will crash hard on the first startup attempt(no graphic, text or Restart button), but the 3-fingerd salute(Command-Control-Powerkey) starts the machine and all loads properly thereafter. Built-in Ethernet must be removed.

Remove the Built-in Ethernet extension, put the 3Com driver in your Extensions folder, make sure the EtherTalk Phase 2 driver is present, then run the Skyline installer, and restart.

The Farallon Skyline driver Dan used can be downloaded locally: FarallonSkyline.sit (423K)

Not Working (Yet?)

I have exonerated RAM Doubler as a factor, since RD9 is humming along like a champ on my personal 1400. Stated non-working systems:


Drop this in your System Folder's Extension folder and reboot. This is an unofficial hack of a Farallon software product. Do not ask them for support of this file! This is provided AS IS and strictly at your own risk. Consider making a backup copy of your System Folder first, just in case (highlight the System Folder and Duplicate it in the Finder).

3ComENetDrv.sit (11K)

If you get a system error immediately after installation on the first reboot, remember, click the Restart button -- don't hard reset your system, and don't restart with extensions off. If you get an outright system crash, please try one of the workarounds, or try installing the Farallon Skyline driver (explanation above).

Please submit successful or unsuccessful tests on your system to ckaiser@floodgap.com, including the Mac model, OS, type of card (the exact brand name and model number, such as "EtherLink III 3C589D" or "Dell 3C589 something or other"), and any other useful details. In particular, I would like to hear from XJACK users. Even if you have a known working configuration listed above, please send it anyway so that we have more datapoints! :-) If you are reporting a driver failure, please include how much RAM you're using, and any interesting extensions.

Cameron Kaiser