18
Oct

Kermit lives!

As a veteran of the IT industry I’ve seen software and OSes come and go, but there are some pieces of software that I seem to have used on a lot of platforms for a lot of years. One of the oldest of these is the file transfer software Kermit, from Columbia University – http://www.columbia.edu/kermit/

I’ve used kermit in the early 80′s, on various CP/M systems, the very first IBM PCs and on the BBC Micro, and have been using it since on various early Unices, and other OSes that are now only memories in old fogy minds like mine. I even used hacked versions of kermit for building an email system between various computers joined by rs232 links, and then gatewayed out to the big wide world in the late 1980′s.

I used it extensively in the 90′s for automating and controlling transfers and connections over dial-up modems. It is still my console of choice when I need to hook up microcontrollers and single board computers with rs232. It’s configurability, features and programmability make it second to none.

However it has always erked me that it’s licensing prevented it being available in the standard repositories of the major Linux distributions. I have got used to downloading the source tar ball and compiling my own executables whenever I’ve needed kermit, and cursed silently that yum or apt-get would not simply do the job for me.

So imagine my joy when I belatedly discovered that Columbia University have cancelled the Kermit project and allowed it to be re-licensed and development continue at http://www.kermitproject.org/. The new license is a Revised 3-Clause BSD License which will at last allow Kermit to join the Free Software Family as a full member – and about time too!

If you are not familiar with Kermit, and need to go beyond where minicom etc can take you, then do check it out. It might appear a bit old school but it is very, very powerfull.

Jim

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There's 1 Comment So Far

  • Deborah Armstrong
    June 28th, 2013 at 2:25 pm

    Very useful for those of us who play with and restore old computers, (think PDP-10!) but want to use something modern and free like Debian to do most of the work on. Also of interest is that old special purpose computers, like the Braille PDA from the 1980s called the “Braille ‘N Speak”, had Kermit built-in. At last, it will be easier to get Kermit running on something modern to salvage from, or move data to these golden oldie beasties!

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