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TCP-group 1994

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Better Amateur Radio facilities under Linux

> I've noticed something weird: more and more people in our area are
> using Linux for amateur radio, but people are running NOS under
> Linux! But Linux already *has* an excellent implentation of TCP/IP
> and KERNEL level support for KISS tnc's and PI cards. For amateur
> radio TCP/IP, it works great (for run of the mill AX.25 and BBS
> support, it needs some polishing.)

John Paul and tcp-group,

It's mostly a packaging and ease-of-use problem. Currently, you have to
get a Linux distribution, you have to get Alan's stuff, you have to
re-build the kernel and figure out how to configure it, and then you
have to get the clients and servers that you need (which is non-trivial
if you want a BBS).

To address this problem, I have been creating a turn-key Linux
distribution for Radio Amateurs and others who can legally use packet
radio. My goal is for a ham to put a CD in his computer, answer a few
questions about his operation, and then have the CD automaticaly
install a complete Linux system with packet radio interfaces already
configured, applications ready to use, and with all documentation

I'm not done. I'll tell you about my progress.

1. I joined the Debian GNU/Linux project about 10 months ago, and have
	been working with it ever since.

	The Debian project is building a freely redistributable Linux
	system, sharing the work among (currently) 50 people around the
	world.  I went with Debian rather than Slackware or some other
	distribution for two reasons: First, I like their distribution
	terms: everything must be freely redistributable, all source
	must be included. Everything may be put on a CD-ROM and sold by
	a third party without having to pay anything back to the Debian
	group or GNU. Commercial use is explicitly allowed. Second,
	with the Debian project, I could play a direct role as a
	developer and make sure that the system facilities were
	amicable to packet radio. For example, I made sure that
	programs such as "ifconfig" and "route" have ax.25 configured
	into them, and you won't have to install special ham radio
	versions of those programs.

	After too much delay, we're about to start a public beta test
	of Debian 0.93 , which is a full-featured and robust system.
	Features include the X Window System, a World Wide Web _server_
	and client, a DOS emulator (windows coming soon, no kidding!),
	and about 1000 other programs.

2. I've been re-writing Alan's AX.25 user-mode utilities to add missing
	functionality. I added facilities to "axattach" so that it
	could run an arbitrary configuration script with parameter
	substitution once it attached the interface. I added the
	capability to "axl" to run any arbitrary program (such as
	login) using a pseudo-tty when someone makes an ax.25 connect.
	I flushed all of the KA9Q code from "listen" (it's fine code
	but had bad re-distribution terms), and re-wrote it in C++ (for
	reasons I can discuss in another message) with improvements.
	I'm about to send this stuff back to Alan for distribution.

3. Once I'm finished with "listen", I'll work on the configure-time script
	to set up the packet system in response to user questions. The
	rest of Debian is already self-configuring - they have a very
	clean package installation system. After that, I'll work on
	adding whatever other Amateur programs I can find that can be
	freely used and distributed.  The IPIP gateway (already
	compiled but not yet tested), BBS programs, satellite trackers,
	code practice, etc.

The end result will be an inexpensive standard Linux system for packet
radio that will be a good base for development for 5 to 10 years after
that. Also, those who prefer other Linux distributions or BSD will be
able to easily port the software to them.

I need help with this project. If you'd like to package and
pre-configure existing programs (ham radio or not) for the Debian
system, please send mail to Bruce@Pixar.com about joining the Debian
developers list. If you want to discuss the Amateur Radio facilities,
send mail to debian-hams-request@Pixar.com with the word "subscribe" in
the message body. If you want to get general announcements about the
Debian system (like when the release is happening), send mail to
debian-announce-request@Pixar.com with the word "subscribe" in the
message body.


	Bruce Perens AB6YM

<a href="http://www.rahul.net/perens>Bruce Perens AB6YM</a>
Voice phone: 510-215-3502  Internet: Bruce@Pixar.com
Amateur Radio TCP/IP: Bruce@ab6ym.ampr.org
Amateur Radio BBS network: ab6ym@n0ary.#nocal.ca.usa.noam

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