WAPR News - February 2000

by Andy Nemec, KB9ALN

Hello everyone, hope you have recovered from the Y2K "non-event" and are back to the routine. While we may be tempted into considering it an unwise expenditure of time, this was a golden opportunity for us.

Not only did we get the chance to work with our fellow hams in "alert mode", we also got to take our equipment out for a "shakedown run". This includes our packet radio network. A lot of stations used the packet network to connect to the WEM BBS in Madison, and this heavy load was certainly enough to give it a good test. If you have any real-life reports on how the network behaved during this outing, feel free to mail me and relate your experiences.

In Brown county, we had an extensive response that included some 30 operators stationed at various critical spots throughout the county. Packet radio was part of the operation, with two packet stations on the air. One was located at our temporary E.O.C., the other at the National Weather Service office in Green Bay. In the event of a large-scale power outage that may have rendered conventional media outlets unusable, plans were made to disseminate information to the public via NOAA Weather Radio stations in Green Bay, Fon-Du-Lac, Sister Bay, Wausau and Crandon. The packet station at the Green Bay NWS office was set to print out any messages automatically, saving time for the two operators at the office, if any problems developed.

The E.O.C. in Green Bay was also capable of packet contact with neighboring counties, and we did have a network connection to the WEM BBS in Madison. We had registered at the BBS in advance. The one report message that we left took no time at all.

One reason that we were able to access the WEM BBS was the generosity of Larry Shields, WD9ESU. Larry operates a large BBS near North Freedom and generously offered to put a special portt on 145.61 MHz (the statewide ARES node frequency) for the WEM hamshack station to use. Thanks Larry, for stepping in and helping to fill a void.

Which brings us to the painful part of our exercise-evaluation. While Larry did provide a necessary link to the rest of the packet network, the Y2K packet activity also pointed out the deficiencies in our network. While we are truly lucky to have people willing to put time, effort, energy and money into the packet network, we really need more of a network. Some areas still do not have connectivity with the WEM hamshack, and this is a situation that needs our attention if we are truly going to be of use in an emergency situation.

Those of you who have regularly worked disaster drills (and even the real thing) know that the Internet has proven to be vital in such disasters. However, it is certainly vulnerable. Which brings our reason for being in the forefront: What would happen to your county's emergency operations if there was no internet, or no way to access it? I suspect that emergency operations would be seriously impaired. Here is where packet radio - and a good network to support it - comes into the picture.

In an age where some may say that packet radio is dead, this is obviously one very important reason for keeping it alive. Perhaps our packet operating style will be different in the future, but emergency operations are certainly one area where packet can shine, and brilliantly. This is one very important reason to keep packet radio alive and well, and keep building a high-speed, multi-protocol capable network.

WAPR is committed to this, and hopes you will help in this expansion effort. How can you help? Of course there is joining WAPR, and there are other ways. Helping to obtain sites and equipment, volunteering to assist in system operation, and acceptance of new technologies are some very important things that need to be done, and if you can help with these, your efforts will help to build and maintain the packet radio network.

How do you go about doing this? Simple, ask your local sysop. He or she can generally use the help. And if you have no local packet facilities, contact us - WAPR and we can help you get your area packet active.

That's all I have time and space for this month. Until next time, 73 from Andy.

Linux and Packet Radio - Part 5  by Andy Nemec, KB9ALN

In part 4 of our mini-series, we started to look at JNOS and talked about some of the services it can provide, and what you would need to successfully run it. This month, we continue with a look at some of the configuration files that influence how JNOS runs, basic operation, and some information sources.

Configuration and the autoexec.nos File 
The master configuration file for JNOS is the autoexec.nos file. This is where you start the various servers, tell the program what your call-sign and IP address are, and control each of the various subsystems.

The contents of this file need to appear in a certain order. Your best bet is to edit one of the example files in the JNOS document package to suit your needs. The basic order of commands is:

Set the hostname, mycall and IP address.
Set the AX.25 parameters like paclen, beacon text, etc.
Set the TCP/IP parameters.
Configure the interfaces that talk to your TNC, usually the serial port.
Configure the TNC KISS parameters.
Start the servers you wish to use.
Set the smtp and ftp systems paramters.
Set up the mailbox/BBS system.
Set up the Net/Rom (TheNet) node.
Set up other special functions such as the convers server.
Add TCP/IP routes to other stations.

Other Configuration Files - A short List

alias is a file that allows you (or anyone else using your system) to use nicknames instead of full addresses when using smtp mail.

dojnos is a file that is kind of like an MS-DOS batch file. There is some information that you will need to change from the example files, so be sure to modify this one as well.

forward, bbs contains instructions on how to forward mailbox and BBS mail. Comment out most of the contents of the example file until you thoroughly understand how this is supposed to work.

ftpusers is a file that dictates who will have access to your station, and how much they can do when they access it. Be sure to edit the example file to suit yourself and users who may connect to your station.

rewrite is a file that allows you to change how smtp and mailbox/BBS mail is delivered. I highly suggest you not edit this file until you thoroughly understand it. BBS operators will have to modify this file, but most example files furnished will be fine for the average user. 

Starting JNOS

Before you get ready to try it out, you need to have a TNC ready to go at the appropriate serial speed and in the appropriate mode. If you are using a TNC (rather than, say, a Baycom modem), the TNC will be operating in the KISS mode. Consult your TNC instruction manual for instructions, different TNCs have subtle differences in commands for this.

Once you have the TNC ready to go, you start the program by typing ./dojnos at your shell prompt. A command screen will appear, and any errors in configuration will be reported by JNOS as it starts up. There are also hints as to the proper command syntax if this happens. Hopefully, you will see few, if any of these.

Commands and additional configuration are done at the command screen, which you can switch to by using the F10 key if you aren't already there. F9 gives you a monitor screen called a trace screen. Each connection you make is called up with keys F1-F8, if you have that many connections going. Each connection is called a "session", you open and close sessions when you initiate or end a session. Hitting the F10 key brings you back to the command screen.

There is plenty to explore with JNOS, and you will also have plenty of reading to do. But it can be a fun adventure, and if you have never run a program like this before, you will quickly appreciate it's advanced capabilities.


To obtain JNOS sources and it's document packages: ftp://pc.usl.edu/pub/ham/jnos

To obtain the RPM version of JNOS:


To obtain the Red Hat Package Manager: http://www.rpm.org

That's it for this mini-series. If you have additional questions, I will be happy to try and answer them. Contact me via one of the methods listed at the top of the page.

Until next time, 73 from Andy.

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