Kermit - Technical Support

The Riverside Drive Viaduct

CLICK HERE to see what users are saying about Kermit tech support.


The Kermit project offers technical support in the following ways.


An organization (university, company, government agency) that provides Kermit software to its computer users should also provide technical support to them. The organization may appoint a technical liaison with the Kermit Project, and we will be glad to supply support to that person.

The organization should not send all of its users to us for technical support. This can not possibly work, since (a) we do not understand the hardware, software, communications, and networking setup of your organization; (b) we do not know what customizations have been made to Kermit at your organization, and (c) we do not have the resources to help large masses of people one-on-one.

If you are member of an organization that provided you with Kermit software, please obtain support from within your own organization. If they can't help you, then have your organization's technical liaison contact us. This allows the necessary information to reach your entire organization at once, rather than one person at a time. If your organization does not have a liaison with us, then they should appoint one.


Support contracts are available for Kermit 95 and C-Kermit.

A Kermit 95 Bulk Right-to-Copy or Academic Site License includes a one-year support contract, renewable each year thereafter.

C-Kermit support contracts are available to companies that require a formal support agreement; CLICK HERE for details.


Many people are not aware that there are hundreds of different Kermit programs on thousands of different hardware and software platforms, operating over all kinds of different connections. Not everybody is using the same Kermit software you are, on the same kind of computer, or over the same kind of connection. Before we can begin to help you, we need the following preliminary information:

  1. Is your question about Kermit software?

    1. If it is a question about email or some other application, then it probably is not a question about Kermit software. The Kermit help desk does not provide help with email programs or other non-Kermit applications. In this case, you will need to ask the owners, makers, or vendors of the non-Kermit application, or your organization's or ISP's local help desk, for help or instruction.

    2. If your software is not a Kermit software program from the Kermit Project at Columbia University, it is not our software and we can't help you with it. Kermit programs all have "Kermit" in their names, like MS-DOS Kermit, Kermit 95, C-Kermit, G-Kermit, Kermit-370, etc. If you are asking about the Kermit implementation in somebody else's software, you'll need to go to the maker or vendor of that software for help or instruction.

    3. If you have a problem transferring files with Kermit protocol between a Kermit Project program and a third-party product, we'll support our end of it. If the problem lies with the non-Columbia implementation, we'll do our best to provide a diagnosis or workaround, but we can not be expected to support or sanction improper or buggy Kermit protocol implementations in third-party products.

    If there is a problem with the interface between some other vendor's software and one of our Kermit programs, have the vendor of that software get in touch with us.

  2. Which Kermit program are you using? (What is its name? How does it identify itself when you start it?) The most commonly used Kermit programs Kermit 95, C-Kermit, are MS-DOS Kermit, and IBM Mainframe Kermit. (If your question concerns Kermit-32 on VMS, please note that Kermit-32 has not been supported since 1987; the supported Kermit software for VMS is C-Kermit).

  3. What is the version number of the Kermit program? (Most Kermit programs have a "version" command; if not, the version number is announced when Kermit starts). If you are using an old version, we will generally recommend that you install the current version and see if the problem still occurs. A list of current Kermit software versions can be found HERE.

  4. If it is Kermit 95 2.0 or later, are you using the GUI or Console version? This information is especially important if your report concerns screen appearance, character sets, etc.

  5. Do you have the manual for this version of Kermit? Have you consulted it?

  6. If it is C-Kermit or G-Kermit, did you build it from source code, or are you using one of the prebuilt binaries? If you are using a prebuilt binary, which one? Are you sure it is the appropriate one for your computer? (To overcome such problems as library version mismatches, you might not to download and build from source.)

  7. On what kind of computer is your Kermit program running?

  8. What operating system and version is used on this computer?

  9. What kind of connection are you using (or are you trying to make)? Direct serial, dialup, Telnet, SSH, Rlogin, X.25, ...? If it is a modem connection:

    1. What kind of modem are you using? Is it internal or external? If you have a PC with an internal modem, is it a real modem or a "Winmodem"? If you think it might be a Winmodem, CLICK HERE.

    2. What kind of modem does Kermit think you are using? In other words, has Kermit been informed appropriately as to your modem type?

      If you are using Kermit 95, you should be aware that it has two methods for accessing serial ports and modems; the traditional, built-in "DOS" method ("set port com1, set modem type usrobotics, ...") and the Windows-specific Control Panel interface ("set port tapi"). If one doesn't work, try the other.

    3. What are the serial port communications parameters: speed, parity, flow control? In most Kermit programs, these are listed by the SHOW COMMUNICATIONS command.

    4. What kind of modem is on the other end? What is the remote modem connected to? -- A serial port on the computer, a terminal server?

    5. What other communications equipment is involved? -- An X.25 PAD? A 3270 protocol converter? A terminal server? An intermediate computer? etc etc...

      A serial connection (direct or dialup) must have an effective form of flow control at every junction between computer (or terminal server, etc) and modem. This means that each pair of devices that are connected must be using the same kind of flow control, usually either RTS/CTS (hardware) or Xon/Xoff (software). If this is not true, there can be any amount of data loss or corruption on the connection.

    6. If your complaint is that you see garbage when the connection is made... please describe the garbage: is it 100% garbage? Or is some of the text recognizable?

      • If approximately 50% of the characters are wrong, you probably need to tell Kermit to "set parity even" (or other parity choice)

      • If all of the characters are wrong, there is almost certainly a speed mismatch between (a) Kermit and your modem, or (b) the answering modem's serial port and the serial port of the computer or device it is connected to.

    7. How did you make the connection? -- Did you use Kermit's built-in DIAL command? If not, please try it ("help dial" for more information). The DIAL command automatically does what it can to synchronize serial-port speed, flow control, and other critical parameters between your computer and the dialing modem.

    If it is a direct serial connection:

    1. Are you sure you have the appropriate kind of cable (e.g. null-modem instead of modem)?

    2. Have you correctly identified the communication port to Kermit (e.g. COM1 or COM2 or a TAPI device name in K95; /dev/ttyS0 or somesuch in Linux/Unix, etc)? (SET PORT or SET LINE).

    3. Is the speed ("baud") the same on both ends? For example, if the speed is 9600 bps ("baud") on the far end, then Kermit's speed must also be set to 9600 (SET SPEED). A typical symptom of a speed mismatch is that you see characters on your screen but they are total nonsense.

    4. If the computer on the far end uses "parity", you have to set Kermit's parity to match: SET PARITY EVEN, ODD, or MARK. A typical symptom of a parity mismatch is that some characters are intelligible, some are not.

    5. If the terminal screen is completely frozen, you might have a flow-control deadlock, often caused by an incorrectly wired cable or by transmission noise. Tell Kermit to SET FLOW NONE, and if that unsticks the screen, then you can come back later and fix the real problem.

  10. What kind of computer or device or service is on the other end of the connection?

    Is the device, host, or service text based? Is it a PPP server? Do you have to log in to it? Do you get a login prompt? Do you get a menu? Are you immediately connected to a Kermit server?

  11. What operating system and version does that computer use?

  12. If you are reporting a file-transfer problem: what Kermit program and version is on the other computer?

  13. If you are reporting a terminal emulation problem: What kind terminal is your local Kermit program emulating, and what kind of terminal does the host computer think you have? If you are using C-Kermit, see the C-Kermit FAQ. If you are having problems with F keys, Arrow keys, the Numeric keypad, or the Backspace key, consult the appropriate items in the Kermit FAQ:

  14. What is the exact nature of the problem? Is it a failure to make a connection? A failure to transfer files? A problem with terminal emulation? Exactly what happens, compared to what you think should happen?

  15. What commands did you give? Is the problem reproducible?

If you are using email to follow up on a previous or ongoing matter, please include relevant portions of previous correspondence. We receive hundreds of tech support requests each day, and can't always remember the full context of each one.

Data communication is rarely as simple as we'd like it to be. From the very basic set of questions above, you can see that there are at least three, and perhaps as many as eight (or more) completely separate hardware and software components to your connection, all of which must be configured to interoperate with each other and to pass the desired data through.

This is why communications software can be harder to use than self-contained applications that stay inside your computer, where (hopefully) all quantities are known. Also note that when you are using Kermit to make a serial connection, you are performing the job of a network specialist -- making a connection that did not exist before, probably using a variety of equipment and software from different makers. Network specialists need years of training before they can do this -- don't expect it to be effortless, although sometimes it might be. Every case is different. (Network connections are usually easier, because network specialists have already set up the network for you.)

Kermit manuals are generally 400-700 pages long. A great many of these pages are devoted to the many and varied communication methods, and what that can go wrong on each one, and methods for diagnosis and repair of problems. Please use the manuals. If you have suggestions for making them better, send them to us.

Thank you for helping us to serve you better!

Frank da Cruz
The Kermit Project - Columbia University

Kermit Tech Support / Columbia University / / 8 Feb 2002