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Null Modem Cable

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You need to configure SLIP or PPP on the serial connection, which gives you an IP connection. You probably have to set two IP addresses manually, not sure how much XP automates.

Once you have an IP connection and can ping the other side you will be able to host and join the games normally.

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A simpler solution, if the hardware is present, is to use a "crossover" ethernet cable. Of course this requires that both the desktop and laptop have an ethernet connection available. If there isn't an ethernet connection built-into the latptop itself, you can purchase an inexpensive PC Cardbus/PCMCIA ethernet card (such as a Netgear FA511 PCMCIA for about $32 w/shipping from Newegg).

A serial connection will max out at 115.2 kbps, while an ethernet connection can go up to 10 or 100Mbps (though you'll never reach that kind of saturation between two computers) - a theoretical difference of 100 - 1000 times greater for the ethernet connection. Assuming you have the network hardware, you can also get crossover cables in much more convenient lengths than serial cables (which tend to be bit bulkier).

If you decide to go the "null modem cable" route here is how you do it in Windows XP (this is a sequence of 8 separate pages - not all of which are necessary for playing just CM) Microsoft Knowledgebase articles on "How to Configure a Direct Cable Connection with Windows XP Home Edition" (this should also work for Windows XP Pro).

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Well,slip and ppp are two protocols doing the same thing - sending IP packets over a serial connection. If you don't know what it is you will probably have a hard time setting it up if Windoze doesn't do it automatically and/or you aren't lucky to find a good walkthrough on the 'net.

Another cheap/good way to connection two PCs without Ethernet cards is PLIP "parallel line IP", also called "Laplink". It is much easier to set up because all the serial parameters don't need to be configured, and it is much faster than serial.

You need a "Laplink" cable which is basically the null modem cable equivalent for the parallel port and both machines need parallel ports. I don't know about the software side on Windoze, under Linux and FreeBSD you just set two IP addresses manually and packets flow.

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