Was the NE2000 Really That Bad?

According to common wisdom the NE2000 network adapter, a fimiliar means of last resort in emulating older system, is a piece of …, well, not so good. Especially it was deemed so in the Linux world. Wikipedia will tell you so, as well. However, as often, if you dig into the history, popular myths often disperse into the mists they are founded on. As is the case with this salty article at the OS/2 Museum. Maybe a bit technical, but fun to read.

"Was the NE2000 Really That Bad?" (OS/2 Museum)

Bonus content: some assorted Ethernet adapter-related comments from early Linux source code:

Do not purchase this card, even as a joke. It’s performance is horrible, and it breaks in many ways.

The driver is less efficient than it could be. It switches through receive mode even if more transmits are queued. If this worries you buy a real ethernet card.

The driver still allows only the default address for cards when loaded as a module, but that’s really less braindead than anyone using a 3c501 board. :slight_smile:

“Detected 3Com 3c501 (THROW IT AWAY!!!)”

“%s: 3c501 EtherLink at %#x, using %sIRQ %d, melting ethernet.\n”

(All quotes found at https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=26755293.)

Via HN: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=26755293


I can only speak about how I used any NE2000 and compatible cards back in the mid-90’s. More precise 1994 to 1996. Back then it was what everyone used. I did not experience any issues of major significanse. That said. I never had the chance of using these cards on anything else than MS Dos 6.22, Windows95 and Windows98. The cable types that I used with the cards were coaxial.

To say it short. Personally, I never had any problems with NE2000. Rock solid and good is my memories of those cards.


Same here from what I recall. I had one with a co-ax connector and it more or less “just worked” on my first ever Linux box. Perhaps other OSs didn’t have as good a driver?


According to the article, the critiziim was particularly due to early Linux drivers. (I guess, these may have been sorted out by the mid-1990s. The article gives an example for a crucial bug-fix that had been applied.)