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How to InJoy a Longer Lasting Connection- by Jon Winters

Nine months ago I was at work and getting very tired of long FTP sessions when I decided I wanted to take my work home in the evenings. I asked my System Administrator to allow me to set up an FTP daemon on my work computer so that I could FTP to it from home. For security reasons my request was turned down. Since I could not FTP to the computer on my desk at work I figured it would be easy to set up an FTP daemon at home. And hey, a web server would be cool too!

So I searched the 'net for inexpensive FTP and Web servers. Surprisingly, at that time, there were none for Windows (there are now). There were many for Linux and several for OS/2 though. That combined with a day with an astounding thirteen General Protection Faults convinced me that Windows would not be stable enough to do what I wanted. Since I did not want to administer a Linux box, my mind was made up. Off to the store to pick up a copy of OS/2!

Installing and learning OS/2 was easy and I soon chose Goserve for my web server. (It was written in REXX by the fellow who wrote REXX itself, Michael F. Cowlishaw.) Since REXX is OS2's native language, performance was great. It was also free software through IBM's employee written software program. Next, I found a very nice Shareware FTP daemon called Penguin FTPd. Then the real fun began... I had to automate and stabilize my computer at home to take care of itself.

We have HP-UX 9000 UNIX workstations at work and those computers are rock solid; they just do not crash. Actually, one of them crashed once and it drew a crowd in the programmers pit because nobody there had ever seen this happen. Of course the problem was between the keyboard and the seat but I'm drifting off topic. It became my goal to get my computer at home to be as stable as the UNIX machines at work. I was on a mission!

My Computer, now dubbed Obscura, would need to totally take care of itself and maintain a connection 24 hours a day. Automation was needed for everything.

On boot Obscura must...

My first attempts at automation were identical to Trevor Smith's solution in last month's article on automatically retrieving Usenet news late at night. I noticed that the command line dialer used a lot less resources than DOIP and was faster when connecting.

However, I quickly learned that the demands of a 24 hour connection presented a few other problems that called for more functionality. On occasion my connection would get dropped and I found myself taking an early lunch to blast home and reconnect. This solution was clearly not going to work. I started searching for a dialer that would reconnect a dropped connection automatically. At that time, there were two dialers in beta testing that would reconnect automatically. Not wanting to waste resources I chose InJoy because it was a text mode application.

InJoy is still under development and the author, Bjarne Jensen, is a great guy. I wrote him to see how InJoy was working for his other beta testers and to make a few suggestions on features that would make my life easier. Bjarne was very helpful and he added my ideas to his wish list for possible development. Shortly after, most of what I asked for was incorporated into the next InJoy release!

Here is how Obscura is now set up to automatically take care of itself:

If for some reason the power goes off or in the rare event of a trap error Obscura is set to log the trap error to a file and run CHKDSK on all of the HPFS partitions. CHKDSK also fixes any errors. (I used a great little utility called CNFGINFO to learn how to do this in my config.sys; CNFGINFO actually teaches you the meaning of almost every line in your config.sys! It is freeware and can be found on Hobbes.)

After checking the drives Obscura sets up the SIO comm drivers and finishes booting. The startup folder launches Goserve, which waits for a connection to be established. The startup folder launches InJoy too.

InJoy is set to dial automatically when launched. In the unlikely event of a busy signal InJoy will re-dial. It has never happened but if InJoy hit 99 busy signals it will revert to the backup number and dial my pager. InJoy will also re-dial if there is no answer.

InJoy is lightning fast on the negotiation phase once my service provider's computer answers. PPP is up in less than two seconds. InJoy then launches the Penguin FTP daemon and life is good. Sometimes a nearby lightning strike will cause my connection to drop and InJoy will kill the FTP daemon, reconnect and restart Penguin in less than a minute. No kidding, the reconnect speed is amazing!

Obscura is now the home of the InJoy world wide announcement server. I donated the space because InJoy had been such a great help in automating everything for me. Now, every InJoy user who has activated the ticker feature sees announcements (from Obscura!) upon connecting.

A nice fringe benefit of this is that the extra activity keeps me from getting dropped when the web serer is not very busy!

I use Obscura for everything -- the Web server, FTP server, HTML development, digital imaging, web surfing, games -- it does it all! OS/2 is living up to the challenge and I have 99+% up time. In fact the longest I have ever been down is 5 hours when I needed to reinstall OS/2 due to a corrupted desktop.

Oh, one other tool I added to fine tune things is ScheduPerformance's Priority Master II. I am running Goserve under Priority Master II now in a time critical priority 1 OS/2 window. Prioritizing Goserve bumps up its importance above all other programs. Requests for web pages used to stabilize around 2.21 seconds after a day or so of operation, now Goserve takes only an amazing .02 seconds to serve a web page. The only bottleneck is my modem.

IBM has a strong commitment to the Internet, and with little investment OS/2 users can achieve performance and reliability equivalent to very expensive UNIX workstations. Fantastic programs like InJoy, Goserve, Priority Master II and Penguin FTPd automate things so you have time to InJoy (grin) what ever it is that makes you happy!


Obscura is:

Am5x86-P75 Microprocessor
32mb of RAM
Two 540mb IDE drives formatted with 8 hpfs partitions
USRobotics Modems (both ends)
Extra telephone line from Southwestern Bell
Diamond speedstar pro svga card w/1meg vram
Sceptre color monitor
Gravis Ultrasound MAX sound card w/1meg dram
Mirantz 250Watt "quad" stereo amplifier
Sanyo loudspeakers
Sony Tuner
Acoustic Research headphones and microphone
Mini Tower Case with real cool stickers!


Jon Winters is the owner and operator of Obscura! With the help of a few good friends he is up to all kinds of mischief on the web.

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