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NCSA Telnet: connecting PCs and Macs to the Internet.

If your PC or Macintosh is on a network connected to the Internet, you might need standard Telnet software - a communications program that runs TCP/IP protocol - to interactively access host computers.

Among a number currently available, NCSA Telnet, developed at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, is an excellent choice.

NCSA Telnet has been in the public domain since 1987. It is estimated that there are over 100,000 PC and Mac users today. A Windows version will be released soon.

NCSA Telnet 2.3 for the PC

If you have a high-end 386 or 486 with VGA display, a mouse, and DOS 5.0, the software will utilize the power of your system. On the other hand, if you work with a PC or XT, 384K of RAM, DOS 2.0, and a monochrome display, you will also be okay, at least in terms of basic functionality. NCSA Telnet supports a wide

variety of popular network adapter cards including the one that has probably been installed in your networked PC.

Simultaneous Connections

There are times when you may want to check several databases and systems at the same time. NCSA Telnet allows you to open up to twenty (as long as you don't run out of memory) sessions concurrently. If you open a session with your local mainframe's text editor, another with a full-text database on an information system, and a third to a library OPAC, you can move between these sessions with just a couple of keystrokes, conducting searches, checking material availability, and using cut-and-paste to copy what you want into the text editor.

The host system's name is displayed at the bottom of the screen and you don't have to painstakingly log in and out of host systems when switching between them. Connections can be with several different hosts or to a single host. When NCSA Telnet is running, the PC appears to the host as a VT100 terminal.

Save and Print

NCSA Telnet allows you to capture everything that appears on the screen to a specified file on your hard disk or floppy diskette. You can toggle the capture feature on and off at any time during the session. The program creates a new file if such a capture file did not exist previously, or it appends new contents to what was saved previously. Contents of the screen also can be redirected to a locally connected printer.

Furthermore, the program provides a screen snapshot feature which filters out annoying formatting symbols and saves straight text on the screen to a disk file. This file can be manipulated later by any word processor.

File Transfer

NCSA Telnet comes with two built-in file transfer protocols for transferring files between a PC and a remote network host - FTP(File Transfer Protocol) and RCP (Remote Copy Protocol). NCSA FTP supports features such as stream transfer in text format (ASCII) or binary format (Image), sending or receiving multiple files with one command, wild cards, changing, creating, or deleting directories, and listing files, among others. RCP is a Berkeley Unix feature that is typically used for binary file transfer between a Unix system and a PC.

Other Features

* support for color

* mouse support with scrollback and cut & paste between sessions

* shell to DOS

* emulation of the Tektronix 4014 graphic terminal (when the host program produces graphic images, NCSA Telnet automatically switches into graphics mode)

* domain name look-up (this feature uses a mechanism that finds the corresponding IP number of the domain name you entered and quickly opens a connection with the host)

NCSA Telnet 2.4 for the Mac

The NCSA Telnet Mac version has almost all the features of its IBM counterpart version, plus it employs the Macintosh's unique characteristics - a uniform user interface (see figures), support for font style, size, and color, customized window arrangements, user-defined macro keys, etc. The software requires a Macintosh with System Software version 5.0 or later, and it must be configured with an EtherTalk device or AppleTalk to Ethernet gateways.

In general, the NCSA Telnet Mac version delivers more power and flexibility than the MS-DOS version. For instance, the software makes it easier to begin a telnet session efficiently; you can log in and get right to work without resetting the special characteristics and configuration of a connection each time you start up because the software allows you to save and load sets.

A set can consist of a host system's Internet domain name or IP address, macro settings, window location and size, and window name as well as settings for scrollback, 80/132 column, color, font, and backspace/delete. If you have a few host systems that you routinely access, you can make a set for each of the hosts.

When you open a connection, you just double click on one of the sets. Then all the customized operations are automatically performed. If your Mac runs under MultiFinder, that environment makes it a breeze when you switch between multiple telnet sessions and other Mac applications such as a word processor or e-mail.

Installation and Configuration

While NCSA Telnet is straightforward to use (see Figure 1), the installation requires some network expertise. Typically this is done by a network system administrator who needs to go to each PC or Mac to copy the software to the hard disk or floppy diskette, assign an IP number, create a configuration file containing information regarding local operating parameters, add a list of commonly accessed hosts, and tune optional network parameters for these hosts. The installer must have a good knowledge of the serving gateway and network hardware to ensure full compatibility.

How to Obtain NCSA Telnet Software

You can obtain NCSA Telnet software and documentation directly from NCSA for a modest distribution fee of $50, or get both plus source code (if it is available) electronically via FTP free of charge.

For hard copy, contact:

Software Development - NCSA Telnet 152 Computing Applications Bldg. 605 E. Spring Field Ave. Champaign, IL 61820

If you know someone who is connected to the Internet, you can download the software and documentation from an FTP server at NCSA. Do the following:

1. Run FTP by entering the Internet address of the NCSA server which is FTP.NCSA.UIUC.EDU or

On UNIX, the command line would look like this: %FTP FTP.NCSA.UIUC.EDU (or) %FTP

On VAX/VMS, it would be: $FTP FTP.NCSA.UIUC.EDU (or) $FTP

2. After connecting, enter ANONYMOUS for the username and your name for the password. On some systems, you will have to enter USERNAME to get the Username prompt and enter PASSWORD to get the Password prompt.

3. Enter GET README.FIRST to transfer the instruction file to your local host.

4. Enter QUIT to exit FTP and return to your local host.

5. Check the README.FIRST file for complete instructions on how to proceed to download the program and documentation you want.

If you work from an IBM PC that already has Telnet capability, the procedure is similar to what is described above, except that you issue the FTP command at the DOS prompt and the file you download to your PC disk will only have a three-character extension. For instance, the file README.FIRST will appear on your hard disk as README.FIR.

Other Options

MS-DOS Kermit version 3.11 from Columbia University also includes built-in support for TCP/IP. You can FTP Kermit files from Columbia over the Internet (call 212-854-3703 for the latest information) or request a program diskette and instruction book for $34.95. Send your order to:

Kermit Distribution, Dept. OP Columbia University Center for Computing Activities 612 West 115th Street New York, NY 10025

One low-cost, high-quality alternative to the NCSA Telnet Macintosh version is SU-Mac/IP version 4.0, developed by Stanford University. To obtain a copy of SU-Mac/IP, you need a site license that costs $150.

Phil Huang is systems coordinator, Salazar Library, Sonoma State University, Rohnert Park, California.
COPYRIGHT 1992 Information Today, Inc.
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Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Huang, Phil
Publication:Computers in Libraries
Date:Jun 1, 1992
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