Linux and Internet Services

BCS Linux/Unix Group meeting - Tuesday, September 6, 1994
Minutes by Richard Weld

At the September meeting of the BCS Linux Group, Rich Braun of Pioneer Global Telecommunications spoke about Linux and the Internet.

Rich does not think that Linux is quite ready for the typical office, mainly because of its scattered files and sparse documentation, but this is rapidly improving. He does think that Linux is an ideal operating system for connecting businesses to the Internet. Linux is exceptionally reliable and as of version 1.1.49, almost all problems had been fixed. In the past, the cost of a Unix system made it impractical for small businesses, but Linux has changed that. And current '486 machines are comparable to DEC's PDP 10, the machine most used for developing Unix.

Rich considers Linux systems as "WWW (World Wide Web) servers in a box". Most WWW users are mainly browsers whose first interest is email and then conferencing. Rich also thinks Linux is ideal for UUCP. He pointed out that the speed of communications is regulated by the speed of the disk drive(s) so several small sites have an advantage over a single large site. He recommended UUCP because it is very easy to configure and it is not just a protocol, it also includes compression. And he recommended Dynafeed 1.05 to tell the server what groups you want.

Rich summarized by listing some of the things that Linux can do and some of the things you can do with Linux. A typical '486 with Linux makes a good UUCP mail switching hub, a WWW server, a terminal server, an Xterminal, or a modest router. You can also use a Linux system as a network news server but it needs about 32 meg. of RAM to handle 200 meg. of daily traffic. For your personal use you can use a Linux system for educational purposes, for scientific applications, for developing TCP/IP and Unix applications, and as a terminal. He pointed out that both Linux and the Internet are both in their early stages, and have a huge growth potential. There are many opportunities for imaginative and innovative applications using both systems. Both open doors to new ventures.


If you want Internet features like Mosaic, X11, etc., you need a TCP/IP connection. This is a direct connection to the Internet where your computer actually becomes a peer computer or node. For serial line connections there are three common protocols: SLIP or Serial Line Internet Protocol is the oldest and most popular, but there are variations. CSLIP is identical to SLIP except it compresses the TCP/IP headers for better throughput. And PPP or Point to Point Protocol is a standardized protocol that has error detection for each frame, but it is also a hassle to configure. Rich prefers CSLIP when it is available, and thinks PPP is still a little buggy. He also recommends using an error detecting modem with SLIP or CSLIP.

Special thanks to Rich Braun for an excellent presentation.

See the October, 1994 Linux Journal for a good overview of SLIP and its use with Linux.