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Space The Internet Science

Kermit Alive and Well on the Space Station 356

An Ominous Cow Erred writes "Spacedaily.com reports on the use of the fantastic Kermit "program" being used to communicate with devices on the international space station. While the article's author doesn't seem to have a quite perfect grasp on what Kermit is (and effuses about how Kermit is being used to help war-torn Bosnia and advance AIDS research) it brought a smile to my face to imagine the old protocol from my BBS days (which was scorned in favor of Zmodem) being used on the greatest technological achievement of humankind."
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Kermit Alive and Well on the Space Station

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  • by zjbs14 ( 549864 ) on Wednesday December 10, 2003 @06:23PM (#7684364) Homepage
    And sometimes a resource hog. I was told by the admins of the public Sun boxes at UT (circa late 80's)not to use it any more since it kept using all of the CPU. Fun stuff.
  • by junkymailbox ( 731309 ) * on Wednesday December 10, 2003 @06:23PM (#7684367)

    Kermit [columbia.edu] is an extensible file transfer protocol first developed at Columbia University in New York City in 1981 for transferring text and binary files without errors between diverse types of computers over potentially hostile communication links, and it is a suite of communications software programs from the Kermit Project at Columbia University. The Kermit protocol and software are named after Kermit the Frog, star of the television series, The Muppet Show; the name Kermit is used by permission of Henson Associates, Inc.

    Over the years, the Kermit Project has grown into a worldwide cooperative nonprofit software development effort, headquartered at and coordinated from Columbia University [slashdot.org]. The Kermit Project is dedicated to production of cross-platform, long-lasting, standards-conformant, interoperable communications software, and is actively engaged in the standards process [slashdot.org].

    Since its inception in 1981, the Kermit protocol has developed into a sophisticated and powerful transport-independent tool for file transfer and management, incorporating, among other things:


    The feature that distinguishes Kermit protocol from most others is its wide range of settings to allow adaptation to any kind of connection between any two kinds of computers. Most other protocols are designed to work only on certain kinds or qualities of connections, and/or between certain kinds of computers, and therefore work poorly (or not at all) elsewhere and offer few if any methods to adapt to unplanned-for situations. Kermit, on the other hand, allows you to achieve successful file transfer and the highest possible performance on any given connection.

    Unlike FTP or X-, Y-, and ZMODEM (the other protocols with which Kermit is most often compared) Kermit protocol does not assume or require:

    • a connection that is transparent to control characters;
    • an 8-bit connection;
    • a clean connection;
    • big buffers all along the communication path;
    • physical-link-layer flow control.

    (although Kermit does not require any of these conditions, it can take advantage of them when they are available). A feature article on Kermit protocol by Tim Kientzle in the February 1996 issue of Dr. Dobb's Journal [ddj.com] noted that "Kermit's windowing approach is faster than protocols such as XModem and YModem . . . What many people don't realize is that under less-than-ideal conditions, Kermit's windowing approach is significantly faster than ZModem, a protocol with a well-deserved reputation for fast transfers over good-quality lines."

    Thus Kermit transfers work "out of the box" almost every time.

  • Kermit is a program! (Score:5, Informative)

    by Furry Ice ( 136126 ) on Wednesday December 10, 2003 @06:27PM (#7684403)
    The author of the article has a very nice grasp of what Kermit is. It's not just a protocol, but a program complete with scripting capabilities, modem dialing, transfers using several protocols (including Kermit of course). It can even do TCP transfers now. It's a great program, but it's a little hard to use and mostly surpassed by simpler tools now. Still, I needed to use it a few years ago to automate modem uploads to a mainframe.
  • Erm (Score:0, Informative)

    by kuzb ( 724081 ) on Wednesday December 10, 2003 @06:30PM (#7684445)
    No, kermit was indeed not spurned to use ZModem.

    Many other protocols existed between Kermit and Zmodem that made Kermit obsolete long before.

    How about XModem? Or YModem? There protocols are both post Kermit and pre ZModem. Kermit was a 7 bit protocol (only capable of uppercase characters) which is why something as simple as XModem could replace it. Not to mention, XModem had extra error checking.
  • PIGS (Score:4, Informative)

    by ENOENT ( 25325 ) on Wednesday December 10, 2003 @06:33PM (#7684478) Homepage Journal
    That is all.

  • by HazMat ( 29849 ) on Wednesday December 10, 2003 @06:41PM (#7684562)
    Kermit is much more than a file transfer protocol.

    Besides Serial communication, it can handle many network protocols: FTP, Telnet, HTTP, SSH to name a few. It can use the telnet comm control, to handle network attached modems. It has a macro/programming language. For those jobs where one needs to recognize success or failure of a transfer, this is a boon.

    And in the Windows version it has a large number of terminal emulations.

    Just a satisfied customer.
  • by LuckyStarr ( 12445 ) on Wednesday December 10, 2003 @09:21PM (#7685848)
    Kermit is NOT comparable to Zmodem.

    It CAN be used as a silly filetransfer-protocol but it is more. It is in fact a fully fledged file-transfer suite, including things like recursive directory transfer, preservation of filepermissions, filedate, scripted transfers, etc. and back on the BBS Days only a small part of Kermit was used.

    For DOS BBSs Zmodem or even better, Hydra (you could chat while transfering many files in both directions!) were much better.

"To take a significant step forward, you must make a series of finite improvements." -- Donald J. Atwood, General Motors