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1                                                                MAIL014
                  Proposal to Establish Email Links within the
                            Region of Southern Africa
                                  26 June 1989
        1. Introduction
        2. Methods of Connection - Concepts
        2.1. The IBM RSCS Network running VM
        2.2. An IBM RSCS Network using RFC 822 format
        2.3. A Vax running VMS and JNET
        2.4. A Cyber running NJEF
        2.5. A Generalised RSCS Package
        2.6. A PC running Fidonet
        2.7. A Generalised Email System
        3. Methods of Connection - Technicalities, Costs
        3.1. The IBM RSCS Network running VM
        3.2. An IBM RSCS Network using RFC 822 Format
        3.3. A Vax running VMS and JNET
        3.4. A Cyber running NJEF
        3.5. A Generalised RSCS Package
        3.6. A PC running Fidonet
        3.7. A Generalised Email System
        Appendix A: Addresses
        Other Documents
1       1. Introduction
        There must be few academics indeed who would challenge the
        usefulness of a network for email.  Perhaps usefulness is a
        severe understatement - no important research can be done
        without easy communication between workers in that discipline,
        and there is absolutely no doubt that a major carrier of this
        communication is email.  That it is cost-effective is beyond
        So why then are there so few email links within the Southern
        African Region?  The only one that we are aware of is between
        Botswana and Rhodes.  The technical problems are not severe,
        someone has solved them already.  The brains, talent and drive
        in the region are more than sufficient to get networking
        established.  Perhaps the only reason is that no one is taking
        the intiative.
        We at Rhodes University intend to do something to improve this
        situation, because there is little evidence of anyone else doing
        anything.  The importance of this cannot be overstated - it is a
        key to all sorts of things, but in particular it is a key to
        getting the research workers in the region onto the
        international scene.  We hope that co-operative research
        ventures will take place within the region, and that recognised
        experts in research would be willing to take up post in the
        region, or spend some time visiting, knowing that they can stay
        at the cutting edge of their fields because of the ease of
        contacts with the rest of the research world.
        2. Methods of Connection - Concepts
        The MAIL system on the Cybers at Rhodes has been designed for
        ease of connection of remote sites.  There are seven different
        types of email connections possible at the moment, viz:-
                to an IBM RSCS network running VM
                to an IBM RSCS Network using RFC 822 format
                to a Cyber running NJEF
                to other RSCS packages
                to a Vax running JNET
                to a Fidonet PC
                to a generalised email system
1       2.1. The IBM RSCS Network running VM
        This uses message standards that IBM have defined.  It is built
        around the VM NOTE system.  This is in use on the link from the
        Cyber at Rhodes to the universities in the northern region of
        the RSA, who all run the VM operating system.  The link from
        Rhodes is on a dedicated circuit to the University of the
        Witwatersrand, although we operated very successfully via a
        dial-up link for about 16 months.
        The email arrives on the Rhodes Cyber, is munged into suitable
        format, and is deposited into the MAIL files.  It is then
        relayed via our international gateway, but it would be
        preferable (not essential) for the IBM VM systems to send mail
        to the standard known as RFC 822 in order to get this relay to
        Mail that is sent from the Rhodes Cyber to a VM computer arrives
        at the 'reader' queue of the VM computer.  What happens to it
        next is site dependent.
        The Cyber mail creates email to RFC 822 standards, but forwards
        it to RSCS standards.  Thus by looking at the contents of the
        message (not at the control information), it is possible to
        identify it as coming from the Cyber, but that is to be expected
        and is indeed essential.  The receiving IBM system has no
        difficulty in delivering this email in its RSCS form, because
        the control information is added correctly by the Rhodes Cyber.
        2.2. An IBM RSCS Network using RFC 822 format
        We believe that the Rhodes MAIL system will handle this sort of
        traffic.  If this is not the case, it will be a trivial exercise
        to correct the situation.  As yet, no IBM sites in the RSA
        create such email, so it has not been tested.  The Vax JNET
        package (see below) is the closest thing to this, and the MAIL
        system interchanges email perfectly with the Vax.
        We are absolutely confident that we can get such a link working
        in very little time, at very short notice.
        2.3. A Vax running VMS and JNET
        This link was the first non-IBM host to be connected to the
        Rhodes Cyber, and is in daily use on a dedicated link.
        Connection was put into production mode on 18 January 1988, and
        has never given any trouble.
        International email is routed via the Rhodes Cyber.  This
        extension required absolutely no modifications to anything on
        the Vax, it dovetails in automatically.
        It is a straightforward exercise to connect any other Vax to
        this system.  The remote Vax needs only to have the JNET package
        over and above the VMS operating system.  This package is
        available across the range of Vax systems.
1       2.4. A Cyber running NJEF
        This is fact how the Rhodes Cyber operates, so there is no
        reason for it not to work on any other Cyber.
        2.5. A Generalised RSCS Package
        The IBM RSCS protocol is implemented on a wide variety of
        computers.  A list is obtainable, for example, from the Bitnet
        Network Information Centre, Bitnic.  In essence, any package
        that works on Bitnet (or its European equivalent, Earn), should
        work to the Rhodes Cyber.
        Note that this package might not be sufficient for your site.
        The RSCS system merely transfers files, it does not provide
        mailboxes or any other mail facility, and you will probably need
        these other facilities.
        2.6. A PC running Fidonet
        Of all the methods, this is the simplest.  A PC running the
        Fidonet package started to carry live international traffic to
        and from the Rhodes Cyber on 2 February 1989.  The software that
        does this is available at no charge (it is freeware).  Any
        individual can run this privately from a PC.  A hard disk is
        essential, but the space demands are not severe.
        2.7. A Generalised Email System
        There is a system on the Rhodes Cyber that allows all mail to be
        forwarded in a generalised way.  When no specific protocol is
        available, then mail may be sent across a simple serial link.
        It is sensible to use the Kermit or Xmodem protocols, to prevent
        errors from occuring.  The remote computer needs to produce mail
        to this standard (this is not difficult to do), and it must be
        able to inject mail into its local mail system.  This is
        normally not too difficult either.
        This system is currently being used to connect an ADDS Mentor
        and a Unix Tower.
1       3. Methods of Connection - Technicalities, Costs
        This section describes some of the technicalities of the
        different methods of establishing a connection to the Rhodes
        Cyber, and gives and indication of the cost components.
        There are certain things common to all methods.  The most
        important is a commitment at the particular site to undertake
        the work associated with this connection, but there are other
        more mundane things.  These include:-
                a local emailing system accessible to researchers
                some technical skills
                a realisation that some effort must be made by the
                person responsible
        3.1. The IBM RSCS Network running VM
        All that is required is:-
                a 2400 baud sync dial-modem connected to the VM computer
                a sync port on the computer network
                a telephone that can dial to Grahamstown (0461) 27272
        There is a point at which dial-up costs exceed the costs of a
        dedicated link, and so it would be replaced.  The local PTT
        should be approached for obtaining these costs.
        The ideal way to have these connections is on a 9600 baud
        dedicated link - this sets the upper bound of the costs.
        However, traffic volumes are the criteria.  Allow for the
        possibility that another site might connect to you, and this
        will increase the volume of traffic.  That other site in turn
        could have a chain of sites routing their mail through it, which
        then goes through your site.  Such traffic MUST be forwarded, it
        cannot be discarded.
        Experience at Rhodes has indicated that at a university of 3500
        students, about 40 units of telephone calls are made a day
        (tarrifs are from SAPT, where one unit corresponds to a local
        There is no software cost, as the VM system has a built-in email
        system (NOTE), and the RSCS facility is available.  The IBM MVS
        or VSE operating systems do not necessarily have RSCS, although
        it is available from IBM.  These systems will probably require a
        mailer program in order to send email - such a program would be
        obtained from another IBM site.  (eg Columbia University).
1       3.2. An IBM RSCS Network using RFC 822 Format
        The connection costs are identical to that for handling VM
        There will be some cost associated with obtaining an RFC 822
        package.  It should be readily available, and no doubt there are
        several different packages.  With the right contacts, it should
        be possible to pick one up for the cost of the mailing of a
        Places to look would be at network control centres, or at sites
        that are on Bitnet or Earn.
        3.3. A Vax running VMS and JNET
        The connection costs are identical to that for handling VM
        The VMS system should have an email system operational - this is
        the usual state of affairs.  JNET integrates into this email
        system, and it is simple to install.
        The costs of the JNET software are available from the vendor.
        (See appendices).
        3.4. A Cyber running NJEF
        The connection costs are identical to that for handling VM
        The Cyber does not have an email package, so one will have to be
        obtained.  Rhodes University wrote its own, and is prepared to
        distribute this at a nominal cost.  On-site help and
        installation is possible, indeed may be necessary, as the
        package has been extended to do more than simple mail - it has
        gateways and the like.
        The Control Data RSCS package is called NJEF, and is pricey.
        However, there may be a special educational deal available.
        This package will operate via an NPU (needs a sync CLA) or
        through CDCNET (needs one port of a 4-port LIM).
1       3.5. A Generalised RSCS Package
        The connection costs are identical to that for handling VM
        Check with your computer vendor as to the cost and availability
        of such a package, and the cost and availability of the hardware
        necessary to run it.  Some computer vendors charge exhorbitant
        prices for this - the best thing to do here is to make sure that
        you buy more sensibly next time.  (ie throw out that vendor,
        move to one that is keen to have their customers participate in
        3.6. A PC running Fidonet
        This is by far the cheapest and simplest method of all, for a
        small site.
        The PC must have a hard disk.  Further, an async (ie serial)
        port on the PC, and a modem and unbarred telephone line are
        required.  The modem must match that in use at Rhodes.  The
        current price of a Saron modem is R684, and this is perfectly
        Mail can be sent via the Settler City Fidonet, (0461) 27241,
        which is currently operating a V.22 bis modem.  This modem is
        about to be upgraded to a V.32 modem that will be able to
        communicate with a V.22/V.22 bis modem as well.
        Rhodes has configured a start-up kit of three (360 Kb) floppy
        disks that will allow communication to the Rhodes Fidonet PC.
        Using these, a more sophisticated link can be established.
        Contact the Rhodes Computing Centre (+27 461 22023 x 279) (or
        fax +27 461 25049) for details.
        International email is relayed via the Settler City Fidonet.
        Charges might be raised for this.  The cost of international
        email is about one-tenth of the cost of an international fax.
        All major email networks are reachable from Fidonet.
        Fidonet allows for one PC to act as a hub, and then local PCs
        route their email via this hub.  This is extremely efficient, as
        the email gets batched and packed and ARC'd.  Also, only one PC
        need make the long-distance calls.  Thus it is possible for an
        organisation to allow many of its PC users to participate in
        email via Fidonet - each PC needs to have a modem and telephone
        to dial to the hub PC.
        Fidonet comes with an email editor and all the necessary
        software as a freeware package.  Typically at any one site,
        someone gets involved with Fidonet at the hacker level, and thus
        contributes to extending the facilities, although they are quite
1       3.7. A Generalised Email System
        The Rhodes MAIL system has been set up with a generalised
        interface.  Thus an 'unusual' computer could interchange email
        fairly simply, given that it can do the following:-
        .  connect to the Rhodes Cyber (sync, async, X.28, many options
        are possible)
        .  run a script file (ie issue some simple commands and react to
        the responses)
        .  agree on a reliable protocol with the Rhodes Computing Centre
        (eg Kermit, Xmodem, CDC's CONNECT) to allow the interchange of
        mail files in a straightforward format
        .  interact with the local email system - ie identify email to
        be routed via the Rhodes Cyber, and accept email from it for
        delivery to the local users
        The costs components are not possible to quantise, but they are
        similar to all of the other options.  There will be:-
                data communication traffic costs
                modems, PADs or similar
                email system for your computer
                developing the interface to the Rhodes MAIL system
        It is our belief that the cost of developing such an interface
        to the Rhodes Cyber is very low, given that mail can be
        extracted from and injected into your own computer.
1       Appendix A: Addresses
        A.1 Rhodes University.
        The Director, Computing Services
        Rhodes University
        P O Box 94
        GRAHAMSTOWN 6140
        Republic of South Africa
        email: ccml@rures
        A.2 JNET Software
        Joiner Associates Inc
        3800 Regent Street
        P O Box 5445
        A.3 Columbia Mailer
        Anonymnous FTP to
        A.4 Kermit
        Anonymous FTP to
        A.5 SRI-NIC, for RFCs
        SRI International
        Network Information Systems Center
        333 Ravenswood Avenue, EJ276
        Menlo Park, CA 94025
        Other Documents
        MAIL015 - Connecting a COMPUTER to the RURES Mailer, available
        from the Rhodes University Computing Centre.
1       MAIL014 Ends (swf 9 73; sj y)