5. Possible Problems

If you have problems, you may find that this is due to conflicts between your BocaBoard and systems with dual IDE controllers. According to Kevin Traas:

Is the kernel recognising the board? (i.e. Right at the start of the boot process, all sixteen ports should be listed on screen with ttySxx, I/O Port, and IRQ identified.) Also, setserial -bg ttyS* should list *every* port in your system.

By default, the BB2016 is configured to use IO Ports between 0100 and 017f. This creates problems on systems with two IDE controllers. The second controller, ide1, uses 0170-0177 which falls into this range. Big problems!!!

So, the solution, in my cases, is to go with an IO base of 0200 through 027f. I haven't had any conflicts in this region; however, you may want to check you system to be sure. (run cat /proc/ioports - better run cat /proc/interrupts to make sure IRQ 12 isn't used either.)

Once you've found an IO range and IRQ that isn't used, you'll have to change the jumpers on the BB2016 and edit /usr/src/linux/drivers/char/serial.c to reflect the new settings. Then, compile the kernel and install as per normal.

5.1. Additional Information and Service Comments

If you want to use your new Boca card with any standard DB-25 RS232 connector, you will have to get a special breakout box, which costs about $80. The card itself comes with a breakout box that plugs into the card through a truly formidable cable. It then supplies phone-like cables for the ports. The special $80 box has phone-like cables that plug into the breakout box included with the Boca card; you can then plug your modems or terminals into standard RS-232 connectors on the box. Unless you actually have a system that accepts the phone-like connectors, you should add the price of the box to the cost of the card when comparing it to other alternatives.

I got my Boca 2016 card through a special wholesale deal that I don't think many people will be able to reproduce. It was available quickly. However, the breakout box for RS-232 took about two weeks to ship. You should be aware of your need for this box before you acquire the card. The 2016 board was $235 and the additional box was $79.95.

I've heard that this breakout box is no longer available, and that now people just have special cables made. I'm not sure how you would go about doing this, though.

Only one port of my first Boca 2016 worked. I called Boca, expecting to hear a long string of questions and advice. When they said, "Linux? What's that?" I feared the worst. However, upon hearing my actual problem, they cheerfully told me that the card was defective and I should send it back; full 5-year factory warranty, 30-days exchange. I was struck by how cheery the lady was. It was as though they were expecting the worst, and very kindly making the most of it!

I had my hardware guy exchange the card. Unfortunately, the cards were back-ordered and they took about two more weeks to give me my new card. I have to say that I was quite annoyed at this, since I was anxiously chomping at the bit to get this thing up and running.

Some people have problems with ports past the first eight. I have tested my card up to port 11 and all the ports appear to be working. Boca Research quality control may be lacking; I would recommend that people with troubles with the card call Boca and deal with them directly. I suspect that if I'd exchanged the card directly through the factory I would have had better service than through my dealer. The factory people were all quite nice and eager to please.

Right now, I have only four phone lines. I bought the 16-port card for two reasons: because it has modem control (unlike the smaller ones), and in anticipation of future expansion.

Some additional information on this subject from Kevin Traas of Baan Business Systems™:

BTW, I've used the BB2016 several times and found them to work really well under Linux. I'm extremely happy with them. They perform very well, are very inexpensive, and are reliable. They claim 115200 bps per port. I've got a unique situation whereby I've got two systems with a PPP serial link between them. I'm running this link at 115200 and I experience almost 0% error rate (with hundreds of thousands of packets transmitted). My next step is to implement EQL and additional PPP links between the boxes to increase the bandwidth. We'll see how it goes.

One final note. Contrary to the suggestion in the HOWTO, I build my own cables for the BB2016 (they've got RJ ports on them). At first, I "dabbled" with RJ45-8 conductor plugs, but the BB2016 has RJ48-10 conductor jacks, so to get full modem support, I ended up going that route.

I now run all 10 wires between the BB2016 and my modems. It works great! No problems, no regrets! The only initial problem I had was finding a source for RJ48 plugs, 10 conductor wire, and RJ48 to DB25 adapters. None of these are very cheap due to the low demand. Oh, yeah, and you need an RJ48 crimper as well.

If you want, I can build these cables for you and send them to you. If you're interested, e-mail me and I'll let you know pricing, etc. I found building my own was cheaper than the adapter that is mentioned in the HOWTO - which I couldn't find a source for anyway.

I believe the adapter mentioned in this document is no longer being manufacturered, leaving cables such as your own the only remaining way of connecting the device.