tcp-ip for PC's


Greg Minshall (minshall%ucbopal@BERKELEY.EDU)
Fri, 21 Mar 86 12:08:28 pst


The University of California at Berkeley issued an RFQ towards the
end of last year. The RFQ asked for a combination of hardware and
software which would allow:

        1. PC-net programs to run on ethernet, using TCP-IP protocols.
        2. FTP and TELNET.
        3. Programmatic interface to the TCP-IP-linklevel (and UDP),
                for writing custom applications.
        4. Assurances that the product bid would, in some unspecified
                time, become a commercial product.

The RFQ was sent to a number of companies. The responses were evaluated,
and the contract was given to Ungermann-Bass.

The Ungermann-Bass product (which is NOT a commercial product at this
time) puts TCP-IP on board, is NETBIOS compatible (so, the IBM PC networking
software runs on top of it), comes with user FTP, and
allows us to port our own 4.2 applications over (it is interesting,
though not surprising given our location, that we have worked hard to
try to get an interface that allows for the 4.2 networking calls to work
as in the 4.2 manual. I'm not a bigot about how great they are; I just
think they are a [somewhat malleable] standard).

Of course, this is a new TCP implementation. That means that certain
algorithms which impact the efficiency of the protocol are unlikely
to be optimal this early in its life. On the other hand, the University's
RFQ requested a 20KBytes/second FTP file transfer rate, and the product
we are currently using outperforms that (to put the requested number
in perspective, unloaded Vax 750's seem capable of doing about 60 KBytes/
second, while an IBM 3081 using a DACU does barely 20 KBytes/second [though
there is more to the 3081/DACU performance than just this miserable number]).

The product we currently run does hostname to hostnumber translation
via static tables. There has been considerable discussion within
Ungermann-Bass and within the University about the "right" way to do the
name lookups. Basically, the question here is whether to use an
IEN116 name server or the new Domain Name Server. The final product
delivered to the University will support one of these protocols. This
final product should be delivered within the next few months.

My hope, certainly, is that this will become a commercial product very soon.
I believe this to be Ungermann-Bass's intention, too, but you'd have
to talk with Ungermann-Bass marketing people about this. The University's
interest in this becoming a commercial product has to do with our desire
to have a good vendor support for the product. One-of-a-kinds don't
have that kind of support; real live products may.

My one comment on other TCP-IP packages I've noticed so far is that
NETBIOS compatibility is a large, missing feature. I worry a bit that
many of us say "foo" to IBM PC networking, but that many of our end
users (say small, non-computer oriented departments) are going to see
many of the PC networking features as being very useful. It is also
true that allowing NETBIOS compatibility allows us to NOT develop
the function that PC networking already provides (remote disk access,
etc.). Of course, one problem in NETBIOS support is that it is hard
to imagine two vendors mappings of PC Networking -> TCP/UDP/IP to
be compatible. We would hope, vainly I'm sure, that there would
be some meeting of the minds between the various developers on this.

Greg Minshall
minshall@berkeley.edu
minshall@ucbcmsa.bitnet
(415)642-0530



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