New Telnet client for old DOS machines

Discussions on programming older machines

Re: New Telnet client for old DOS machines

Postby Brutman » Sat Dec 12, 2009 8:38 am

I think I found the problem with color at THEKEEP.NET. When it is 'auto sensing' it sends an ANSI code: CSI 6 n . That code is "Device Status Report", and it is supposed to "Reports the cursor position to the application as (as though typed at the keyboard)". (The data is from Wikipedia, which isn't perfect but it is a start.) According to another page it is 'Get cursor position', which makes more sense.

I don't honor that code because none of the Linux or Unix boxes have used it yet. It's easy to code, so I'll throw it in an see if color shows up.


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Re: New Telnet client for old DOS machines

Postby Brutman » Sat Dec 12, 2009 4:28 pm

I added that extra ANSI sequence to Telnet and that fixed the color problem at THEKEEP.NET. I'll post a new version in a day or so.

I signed up with them and gave them a lot of personal info for the privilege. Overall it worked pretty well. I didn't try composing an email, but on some of the screens it wants to use cursor control and those worked.

Is that Sysop really serious about charging for access? Did I miss something really good that I'd want to pay for?


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Re: New Telnet client for old DOS machines

Postby Vorticon » Sun Dec 13, 2009 8:43 am

This BBS has a dialout line which can be used to connect to other BBS's which are still operating on analog phone lines and modems. As it happens, the only surviving TI 99/4A BBS is one of those, and using the keep as a gateway is the only way for those who do not have modems or even regular phone lines to access it. Besides this is really handy when one is connecting outside of home.
In addition, The Keep has one of the best complement of ASCII based multiplayer online games such as MUD's, Galactic Empire and such, which can be surprisingly addictive :) and there are still a few die-hard players out there, not to mention that it is quite a sophisticated BBS.
All in all, I feel that $20 a quarter is not too bad for the services I get, although honestly I do it mostly to support the BBS and its Sysop, who also happens to be a TI 99/4A user...

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Re: New Telnet client for old DOS machines

Postby Brutman » Sun Dec 13, 2009 8:55 am

Maybe I was looking in the wrong place, but I checked their message forums and it looked dead - there were a total of like 5 messages posted. I kind of expected it to be more active. Maybe everybody is playing the games ...

I still have my landline for no good reason, but I don't have long distance service on it. The days of the dial-up BBS came and went a long time ago. A lot of old BBS systems are being 'Telnetized' by devices that convert the serial stream to TCP/IP and simulate the modem commands. It's inefficient, but it works and requires no changes on the BBS side.

Anyway, I'll post another version of telnet shortly so you can try from the PCjr.


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Re: New Telnet client for old DOS machines

Postby Vorticon » Sun Dec 13, 2009 2:03 pm

Thanks for taking the time to update telnet.
The Keep BBS has practically no traffic on the message boards because most users go straight to the games section. In addition, since it is not system specific, there are far better forums to use online for general discussions. The only BBS'es that have active forums are the specialized ones, and even then traffic is only a shadow of what it used to be.
I did mention to the TI BBS sysop about using modem emulators to put the BBS on the net via telnet, and he said that he will look into it. I'll keep bugging him :)

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Re: New Telnet client for old DOS machines

Postby Brutman » Sun Dec 13, 2009 5:05 pm

The new version is posted - the date on it is 2009-12-12. TheKeep is very colorful with it ...

I'd like to migrate this web forum to a PCjr running a Telnet BBS, but that's going to take a bit of effort. I have a barebones Telnet BBS using my TCP/IP code that was good enough to test this summer, but it needs a lot of work:

  • The public forum areas are OK but the private message function is a bit messy because I tried to reuse as much code as I could from the public forum areas.
  • I have absolutely no ANSI support yet. Doing so would double the number of prompts that I have, which would bloat the code a bit. And I really don't want to write a full screen editor using ANSI, although that would be nice.
  • I need to revisit all of the utility functions and make sure that I can manage the BBS while it is online, instead of forcing it down for maintenance.
  • I need a dedicated machine to run it on, something that is smart enough to spin the hard drive down when I'm not using it. I don't mind putting a SCSI drive on it, but none of the SCSI drives that I have are new enough to take a spin down command. And even if they are, I don't have DOS software to send the command. If I don't let the drive spin down during the hours of idle time it's just going to die prematurely ... (This almost begs for a network drive ...)

The forum software has some nice features, but I think an old school BBS is far more appropriate. :-)


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Re: New Telnet client for old DOS machines

Postby Vorticon » Tue Dec 15, 2009 5:09 am

Ah glorious ANSI colors! Thanks for the update Mike - It works perfectly now.
It would be really cool if the forum was running on a real PCjr. By the way, have you considered creating a small ftp server where you can place all the software on your site? I can't seem to figure out how to get my XP machine to see the PCjr on the network and it is laborious to download stuff to a 3.5"diskette, run to the basement and use my old 386 to transfer to a 5 1/4" diskette, then back up to use it on the PCjr...

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Re: New Telnet client for old DOS machines

Postby Brutman » Tue Dec 15, 2009 7:09 am

Have you considered running an FTP server on the XP machine? I use Cygwin which gives me a whole bunch of Linux/Unix commands. One of them is an FTP server.

The other alternative is to use SAMBA. I think that NEPTB posted instructions on how to do that somewhere around here.

I'm probably not going to do an FTP server for the Jr. The client was a major piece of work, and the server is even more complex. These multi-month programming projects are getting tedious - I need more hands.


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Re: New Telnet client for old DOS machines

Postby Vorticon » Tue Dec 15, 2009 9:45 pm

I installed the FileZilla ftp server on my Win XP machine. Now what? The server is listening on port 21 but I have no idea what IP address to use to connect to it from the PCjr which is directly connected to the router. My XP machine does not have a fixed IP address since it uses DHCP. I have to admit that my networking knowledge is extremely limited, so any pointers here would be greatly appreciated :)
I did also downloaded Cygwin and tested the FileZilla server using IP 127.0.0.1 and everything works as it should...

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Re: New Telnet client for old DOS machines

Postby Brutman » Wed Dec 16, 2009 6:42 am

From a Windows XP command line try the "ipconfig" command. That should tell you what you need.

The good news is that DHCP tries to reassign addresses to machines that have had them already, so unless you leave your Windows XP machine powered off for a very long time, it will probably keep getting the same address from the DHCP server.
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