Why JNOS ??

Anyone who knows me, or has read much of my blog – recognizes I have a lingering interest in an old-school method of providing basic text-messaging.
In today’s world of instant Internet and SMS at our fingertips, it is still easy for me to remember when that was a fantasy. We felt rather state-of-the-art when we could boast of inter-continental email via satellite gateways in the late 1980s, way before most folks had even heard of the Internet. And all this was via RF, and amateur radio operators who had a vision and a passion for providing such a service well before the “When All Else Fails” phrase was coined…

To me, this simple infrastructure is still valid – and has a place in the toolkit of any modern Emergency Communications support structure. Distribute simple text messages or bulletins to a local or regional audience with no dependence upon commercial infrastructure (think ‘NO internet‘, and ‘NO cell-phones‘..)
This is so simple, most folks today overlook the capability and value – but they have never had the experience of not having today’s modern infrastructure, or have forgotten how it was ‘back in the day’… I could go on, but please stop me.

Recently this topic arose on a discussion board specific to the JNOS program, which was (in my opinion) king of the radio-based digital messaging systems. This program was evolved from the original KA9Q NOS program which implemented a complete TCP/IP operating system built as an application on the MS-DOS operating system that became available in the mid 1980s. The simple question “Why JNOS ?” – how/why does this continue to have relevance in this world of instant Internet and modern convenience ??? There was one response to the question by AF6EP that made a great summation, and I’m sure Bill will not mind if I re-publish his thoughts here, context included :

> Is the main reason that people are still running//supporting/using
> NOS/JNOS etc. for 44net and packet radio application mostly one of
> legacy?  When one has An OS that can and does provide all the network
> level connectivity and routing functions as well as various protocols
> for chat, mail, news, messaging and general communication one could
> host and run anything.                     Why NOS/JNOS?
> > AF6EP

Bill V – WA7NWP replied with :

Why NOS?
Lots of nostalgia. It’s a visit back to the good old days of packet radio and TCP on AX25.
NOS is manageable and open. It’s not hard to browse the source to find where something is done and then change it if so desired.
NOS is Educational – it’s easy to see what’s happening as the connections progress.
It’s a VM – before VM’s were cool. *NOS allows setting up a nearly independent virtual machine and can be cleanly removed or moved to a different system with minimal effort.
It’s the Linux swiss army knife of packet programs. It exchanges data/messages with almost all other amateur Packet Radio program. It can gateway between the various Email and Packet formats. We can do this now with BPQ32 on windows but I don’t know of anything so feature rich in the NIX world.
It runs on a HPLX95… How’s that for a low power portable TCP over AX25 system?
It gives essentially all the WL2K functionality – in 640K DOS. :-)

I wouldn’t use NOS for a basic IP/AX25 packet routing solution… A simple nix box or upgraded router with the ax25 stack would do that.
I wouldn’t use NOS for a home packet AX25 packet stack/router – BPQ32 has surpassed what JNOS or even Linux can do here.
I wouldn’t use NOS for a packet client – Outpost PM does that.
I wouldn’t recommend NOS for a new user. It’s a true geek experience.
I’m sure I’ll think of more but that’s enough for now…
73 Bill – WA7NWP
PS. I got a good start on getting NOS going, once again, last night.
It just felt good to relive some of those hundreds of hours doing the JNOS configuration dance.

So – Anyway.
Guess I am not alone as a believer in the ‘Use what works‘ philosophy.
You can read more of these discussions in the TAPR forum :
as this program is still under current development.

You can find more documentation, binaries and source code on Maiko’s website:
It has never been this easy to get it and try it.
If nothing else become familiar with how to use it as a message board.

We currently have a JNOS installation running on 145.01 at NASA‘s Marshall Space Flight Center‘s club station WA4NZD (http://wa4nzd.wordpress.com). We have no internet connectivity (yet), and very few users – but the community is slowly but surely recognizing the value of such a simple method. Our recently re-born club station has intention of providing this service to the community in support of the Huntsville-Madison County Emergency Management Agency as a function of the local ARRL/ARES support group.

Please join us, or help your local EmComm group rediscover this valuable resource. When All Else Fails – someone may well need your support.
Thanks  /;^)


One response to “Why JNOS ??

  1. We have been running the N2NOV.APMR.ORG JNOS system since 1996 here in NYC, first as a DOS window on Windows 95 and since 2004 on a Linux machine. We have forwarding links with nearly a dozen stations across the country and Canada, Netrom links and a WorldWide Converse server that is linked to the rest of the world. We truly think of JNOS as the “swiss army knife” of packet routing that can take anything thrown at it. With Maiko’s help, we’ll be able to handle any other mode that needs to interface to it. In EmComm work, we need to be able to use the right tool for the job at hand. We think JNOS fills the bill quite nicely.

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