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10. How to access the "xfbbd" server from a DOS client?

Notice: In some of the previous chapters, I announced my plans to use an old i286/12 MHz box, having only 1 MB of RAM, running DOS 5.0, as a 'telnet client' computer. That box has a network card so I would like to 'connect' to the BBS from that one 'telnet client' box. If that succeeds, it would be a good preparation for installing another LinFBB (in the local school club), where several old 286 computers will be also available. It would be nice to offer more than one student-amateur the opportunity to 'connect' the BBS simultaneously, using a bunch of vintage 'telnet client' DOS computers.

10.1 NCSA Telbin DOS client


First of all, I have been looking for networking software that does not require much of hardware resources. Several hams keep advising me to try this or that way, but Jose, CO2JA, sent me his distribution copy of NCSA Telnet utility. According to its own howto document, that is actually a "NCSA Telbin DOS client", being "used at The University of Port Elizabeth (Sep '94)". So far about software's earlier "official" usage.

Well, it seems that NCSA TCP/IP kernel only runs on packet drivers now. That's why I looked for appropriate packet drivers for my old ISA network card, equipped with the UMC's UM9003AF chip. CZ20000.COM packet driver seemed to be the most suitable one.

Before implementing the driver I also needed the proper diagnostic utility to check and/or modify NIC's IRQ and I/O address in order to avoid possible hardware conflicts (you know, under DOS it is less easier to resolve interrupt hardware conflicts case a user has several ISA cards that are not of P'n'P type /as PCI cards are/). It seemed that DIAG.EXE ("The Ethernet Adapter Diagnostic Program, Ver. 2.13" - that comes with E1000 and E2000 series Ethernet cards) was fully capable to handle my card's parameters, so I choose the values of IRQ 5 and I/O 320 that weren't occupied by other resources.

Then I could execute the following DOS command:

     cz2000 0x60 5 0x320

in order to activate the NIC.

Now the configuration file CONFIG.TEL should be modified in order to satisfy my particular needs, including local (DOS client) and remote (Linux server) IP addresses etc. In a couple of minutes that was finished so the main executable TELBIN.EXE successfully started running on my old 286 DOS box.

If you want, you may put cz2000 0x60 5 0x320 and telbin commands into a dedicated TELNET.BAT file in order to make your telnet utility easier to activate. Should you plan to use your old DOS box for only accessing the Linux FBB server, both lines may be added to the AUTOEXEC.BAT start up file.

10.2 Xrouter 176b


A "YL" (the amateur "young lady") from the UK, Paula Dowie G8PZT, has suggested me to try her own product, XROUTER MULTI-PROTOCOL ROUTER, that is "an AX25 and IP packet router for the amateur packet radio network, using a standard PC and DOS". Actually, it seems that Xrouter has much more functions that I need now, but anyway it was intriguing to test its features, in order to connect LinFBB via LAN. Paula said that "Xrouter will run on a 286 DOS machine, and will act as a telnet client". She added that, Xrouter's "outgoing text is composed in a one line buffer, so the receive window is only 22 lines".

According to Paula's email signature, seems she's very active in helping to the amateur digital radio activities:

> Packet:   G8PZT @ GB7PZT.#24.GBR.EU  ( [Kidderminster]
> Email:                                   _/\_
> GB7PZT:   01562-745527 24h 300-33,600 8,n,1                        ()
> Software: XServ BBS, Xrouter, PEARL off-line-reader.                />
> Web Site:   (also          ===>--->>\----
> Telnet:   (BBS):  and
> Telnet:   (KIDDER): and
> HTTP: and

So, I went to visit the site to see what it was about and to download the package. There were two compressed files, and so I decided to get both of them (the latter is the newer one, 28/7/02 but the other one is also not so old, 15/11/01).

According to sysop's manual XROUTER.TXT the ethernet driver allows connection with Windows, Linux, NOS and BPQ. At the moment I am primarily interested in connections to LinFBB (and maybe to WinFBB too). Xrouter's hardware requirements include at least one COM port or Ethernet card and I used only the Ethernet card for the first time because I am not going to use Xrouter for anything else but for accessing LinFBB over my home network.

As described in the previous section, related to "NCSA Telbin DOS client", I have managed to activate my NIC using the command:

     cz2000 0x60 5 0x320

After doing that, there was a requirement to use the software component ETHDRV.EXE (supplied with Xrouter), like this:

     ethdrv 125

where "125" stands for a software interrupt in the range 60 - 127 (125 is used as an example that, btw, works here without any problem). On the other side, the same software interrupt must be defined as the INTNUM parameter, that is a part of the INTERFACE block within XROUTER.CFG configuration file.

And, finally, there was a command:


to activate the main executable. As mentioned before, all three lines above may be incorporated into an XROUTER.BAT (or whatever similar) batch file to make user's life easier.

Well, although in my case the first two lines responded in positive manner, the last one rather suggested that I had some errors in the configuration. The nice thing is that errors are reported with a detail such the exact line of XROUTER.CFG where an error is made. In fact, Xrouter is able to support lots of various "ports" and has a plenty of other features, so it was not easy to solve the config issues I faced to. With some help from other hams I managed to adapt the following configuring blocks:



    ID=Ethernet LAN

So far, so good. Now I got Xrouter's main screen from where I could enter telnet and other commands. But I was still not able to connect to the LinFBB. Finally, I got the suggestion to reconfigure another Xrouter's system file, IPROUTE.SYS. It seemed that the missing part was to change the default route, as follows:

route default 6 * d

Then I became capable to access my LinFBB server.

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