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Kermit 95 3.0 Preview
Frank da Cruz, Manager, the Kermit Project, Columbia University
This page last updated:
Sat Dec 23 11:14:49 2006
Kermit 95 2.1.3 was released 21 January 2003. After that, there were
personnel changes and reorganizations here that affected our ability to
produce subsequent releases, explained HERE.
Briefly, our Windows and security programmer, Jeff Altman, now has his own
company, Secure Endpoints,
which must be contracted in some manner to work on the Windows and security
parts of Kermit 95, and arranging this through the Columbia University
bureaucracy is, well, a challenge. I have been working on this more or less
continuously since 2003. In the middle of this process, my organization,
Columbia University Academic Information Systems, was taken out of its
previous reporting structure, renamed to Columbia University Information
Technology, and made to report to a completely new management, so I had to
start all over again.
The new management wants to see clear evidence, or at least compelling
indications, that any investment in a new K95 release will not only
pay for itself, but also increase revenue from its current level for some
period of years. An essential part of this convincing will be testimony and
data from current or potential customers. How do you use Kermit now? How
long do you expect to be using it? Would a new release with bug fixes
affect your answer? How about new features? If you hold an individual
license, would you pay (say) $25 for an upgrade to the new version?
(Bulk license holders will not have to pay for
upgrades because they already pay an annual maintenance fee for this.)
If we obtain approval to create a new K95 release at all, it will include
What Will Definitely Be in the Next Release
- About 150 bug fixes. See the
Bugs section of the
Kermit FAQ, the
K95 2.0/2.1 Bug List, and
Fixes. Some of the standouts include our broken keystroke macros (the
ability to assign a series of Kermit commands to a key); improper
implementation of ASCII (text) mode downloads in K95's FTP client;
Long read delays (like 10 minutes) under certain circumstances
when using USB serial ports or modems; see the references for others.
- Certain key defaults will be changed to improve the chances that
K95 will work "out of the box" for most people in 2007 and beyond:
- The default terminal type will be VT220 instead of VT320 because the
latter is no longer a known terminal type on certain popular host platforms.
- The default terminal character set will change from the standard
ISO 8859-1 to Microsoft Code Page 1252, due to intense pollution of the
Internet by these nonstandard characters ("smart quotes" and the like),
which throw standards-compliant terminal emulators (not to mention the
terminals themselves) into horrible states; CLICK HERE for details.
- SSH COMPRESSION will be OFF by default. The default compression
method used by Unix sshd (the SSH server) changed after K95 2.1.3 was
released, and since K95's SSH COMPRESSION was ON by default, SSH connections
failed (setting SSH COMPRESSION to OFF fixed it, but how would the average
user know to do that?). The newer compression method will be supported too,
but for safety and longevity, I think it's best that SSH compression be
- The default User ID for remote logins will no longer be the user's
Windows user ID. This has caused no end of confusion in the past with
protocols such as Telnet and SSH, in which the user ID is sent as part of
the connection negotiation.
- K95's default directory is currently
\Program Files\Kermit 95 2.1\. There is probably a
better choice, e.g. each user's \My Documents\ directory.
Are there other defaults that bother you? FILL OUT THE SURVEY, let us know. For example,
what K95 does when you stretch the screen. You can choose whether it
adjusts the font size or changes the screen dimensions. By default, it
adjusts the font size, which surprises some people.
- The next K95 release will include everything that was done to the
platform-independent portions of C-Kermit since
Some highlights (besides Large File Support and 64-bit arithmetic, which
have not yet been implemented for Windows) include a super-handy new RENAME command; FTP timeouts, tons of scripting
improvements, and numerous bug fixes in the platform-independent code.
C-Kermit 8.0.212 will probably be elevated to
version 9.0 before release.
- Named Pipe connections for interprocess communication.
OpenSSL, OpenSSH, and Kerberos upgrades, with K95 adapted to the latest
- SSH heartbeat support, whereby idle session limits can be defeated
for SSH connections at the application protocol level, as is currently
the case for Telnet connections. Also automatic rekeying of long-duration
SSH v2 connections, and a new SSH debugging capability.
- Support added to the FTP client for SSLv2, to allow secure access to
servers that have not been updated to SSLv3 or TLSv1.
- Hyperlink Extension for Terminals based on
ANSI X3.64-1979/ISO-6429/ECMA-048, in which the host can make any string
it sends to the terminal into a hyperlink. This is different from K95's
current URL recognition in that the user need not see the URL, and the link
is always definitely intended to be a link.
- Modern MSI Installer, allowing automated installation and upgrades via
Group Policy and organization-specific customizations, e.g. packaging of
custom Dialer entries, initialization files, and scripts for Bulk Right-to-Copy license installations.
- Consolidation of reference material.
- Any necessary adaptations to Windows Vista.
Support for Windows 95, 98, ME, and NT, and for IBM OS/2, will be dropped.
These depend on the amount of money we are allowed to spend with Secure
Endpoints. This in turn will depend in part on the amount of support we
receive from our customers or potential customers for each feature.
What MIGHT Be in the Next Release
The next-generation Internet protocol. This will be a LOT of work.
- Large File Support.
The ability to access, manage, and transfer files larger than 2GB, as well
as to handle 64-bit numbers in commands and scripts, and to do 64-bit
integer arithmetic. For details CLICK HERE.
- File Upload Dialog.
A glaring deficiency in K95's user interface is the lack of a regular GUI
file dialog for uploading files. This is the one place where nontechnical
users still have to cope with the command screen and "escaping back" and
- Notebook Tab Format for the Dialer.
When K95 first came out, the
Dialer used the familiar notebook tab format, but with subsequent K95
releases, the number of notebook pages required outgrew limitations Windows
9x, and we had to adopt a much more cumbersome and less intuitive
presentation. By dropping support for Windows 9x, we can put back the
- Contract Support from Secure Endpoints.
This is to eliminate the awkward current
arrangement by which users get K95 bug fixes, so tech support and bug
fixes will once again become "one-stop shopping".
What else would you like to see in a new release? How important to you are
some of the changes listed above? Please FILL OUT
THE SURVEY and let us know. This project will not get off the ground
unless we can demonstrate potential support for it in the marketplace.
Please fill out the survey and send any other comments, suggestions,
encouragement, or testimonials you can manage.
Let Us Hear From You
It is especially important to hear from companies or institutions where
Kermit 95 plays a key (and perhaps "mission critical") role in their
products or services or internal operation. If your organization is
considering the purchase of a large license, but
you need certain bugs fixed, or certain new features, or simply an
assurrance that the product is still alive and actively supported and
developed, please let us hear from
you. The new administration has no awareness of our history, our
place in the world, or the degree to which many organizations depend on
Kermit 95 /
Columbia University /
14 December 2006