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Kermit Project books online

Frank da Cruz
February 8, 2016
Also see:  [Printed books] [Kermit Bibliography]

When the Kermit Project was at Columbia University (1980-2011), writing books was the main way we generated the revenue to support ourselves and keep most of the software free. Some of the books we wrote were published, some never saw the light of day. Those that were published, were published by Digital Press, the publishing house of Digital Equipment Corporation, both long gone. Since nobody seems to own them any more, and since they are all long out of print, and since the manager of Digital press told me I could do this just before his ship sank, and since the main tool I need to create these books (Scribe) will disappear in a matter of days, I'm putting everything online today:

Book - click to view PDF Year Authors Description
The Kermit File Transfer Protocol 1986 Frank da Cruz The original Kermit book and protocol specification. In print 1986-2001.
Understanding Data Communications Protocols and Software 1988 Frank da Cruz and Christine M. Gianone Notes for a course given at Columbia University, was to become a book.
Using MS-DOS Kermit, 2nd Ed. 1990 Christine M. Gianone MS-DOS Kermit 3.11 manual.
Using Macintosh Kermit 1991 Christine M. Gianone Unfinished draft manual for Mac Kermit 1.0, never published.
Using C-Kermit, 3nd Ed. 2001 Frank da Cruz and Christine M. Gianone C-Kermit 7.1 manual (never published).
Kermit 95+ Version 2.1 (HTML, not PDF) 2003 Christine M. Gianone, Frank da Cruz, Jeffrey Altman Kermit 95 manual.
Read more about each of these books below.

Most of these documents were produced using Brian Reid's Scribe markup language and document preparation system (Brian's 1980 PhD project in Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University); there's a short Wikipedia page about it here that does not do it justice. If you look at the MS-DOS Kermit and C-Kermit books you can see what it was capable of: not just formatting but footnotes, tables of contents (omitted from these PDFs but present in the printed versions), internal cross references, mathematical expressions, accented and non-Roman characters, bibliographies, tables, various kinds of lists, etc etc, but above all what we would now call style sheets, where you could very easily generate the same document in any desired style, including styles you invent yourself. So in the classic example, if you wrote an article for a certain journal, which had very stringent guidelines for formatting, footnotes, and so on, you could produce your article in that style. Then if it was rejected, you could submit it to a competing journal in the totally different style it required simply by selecting a different stylesheet.

Today, I ran each of these (except the Macintosh one, which was scanned from a paper copy a few years ago, and the K95 one, which is HTML) through Scribe on one of Columbia's last remaining Sun Solaris Unix servers, which still had Scribe installed to produce a PostScript version (PostScript was also one of Brian's creations) and then used the ps2pdf utility to convert to PDF. Someday PDF will be as obsolete and forgotten as PostScript is now, but that's life. Meanwhile Solaris will be retired in a couple weeks, so goodbye Scribe.

The Kermit File Transfer Protocol

Kermit book That was the original title of the book that was published as Kermit, A File Transfer Protocol. I wrote it in 1985; it was published in early 1986 but had a 1987 copyright to make it seem newer. The title was changed by the cover designer for "aesthetic reasons" (the cover, by the way, shows a DEC Rainbow PC connected to a DEC VAX). The drafts that I sent to the publisher were printed on a Xerox 9700, one of the first commericial laser printers, which was capable of font sizes and styles but the result was not terribly good looking, so they set the book by hand. It contains a fair amount of source code, so it was ironic (especially as the publisher was Digital Press) that in the monospace font they chose for computer code, lowercase letter L and the numeral 1 were identical.

Anyway there was only one edition of the book, but it went through maybe 15 printings, each one with minor corrections. It was in print sixteen years, which must be some kind of record for any computer book not written by Don Knuth (who contributed the Foreword for this book). There was also to be a Russian edition published in the USSR by Akademia Nauk; I went to Moscow and signed the contract but then poof, the USSR disappeared. You can see a sample chapter here

The PDF version is missing the artwork and most of the tables are not lined up properly, because the Scribe markup language was written for a different version of Scribe than the one I used to make this PDF. The printed version of the book is still available from Amazon.com.

Understanding Data Communications Protocols and Software

Datacomm book This was to be the textbook for a course we taught at Columbia, but it was just too much work to finish. Today networking = TCP/IP, but then TCP/IP was an outlier and there tons of other networking methods. This course aimed to make sense of them with an emphasis on software, and I think it gives a fair overview of computer networking of the 1980s, although some of the prognistications were pretty far off! We had a contract with Digital Press but we never had to time to finish the book.

Using MS-DOS Kermit

Kermit book This is the second (and final) edition of this best-selling book, prepared for Version 3.11 of MS-DOS Kermit. In fact all three of the books that actually went into print were best sellers, but I was never able to get the final figures from Digital Press. Anyway, this book was also translated into German and published in Germany, and translated into French and published in France. The PDF version came out very well; all the tables look right, etc, but of course the artwork is missing. It's still available in print from Amazon, complete with diskette! Aside from being a highly readable and lighthearted software manual, it also has tons of technical information, including a (nearly?) complete table of VT320 terminal escape sequences.

Using Macintosh Kermit

Mac Kermit book Macintosh Kermit appeared in 1984. It was our one-and-only Kermit program with a graphical user interface. Unfortunately the people who wrote the Macintosh-specific part moved on, and although we had some volunteers at other sites working on it for a time, it never quite reached 1.0 level, but by that time Mac OS X came out and there was no need. Anyway, this manual is much more in the "for dummies" style than our other ones, since the Mac itself was pretty much for dummies. Lots of screen shots with "click on this", "click on that". It was produced using some kind of extremely labor-intensive GUI authoring software on the Macintosh, I forget its name... Oh right, Pagemaker.

Using C-Kermit

Kermit book Using C-Kermit was another best-seller, going through two editions and being published also in German. Starting with C-Kermit version 5, there was supposed to be a new edition for each new major release: 6, 7, 8, 9... Version 6 had the 2nd Edition, but then version 7 came out and there was no new edition of the book, just a big fat udpate file. We were already working on version 8 when I started to work on a new edition, but I couldn't finish it, there was just too much else going on. So what we have here is sort of halfway between the Second and Third editions, and halfway between C-Kermit 6.0 and C-Kermit 8.0. A big obstacle was that Digital Equipment Corporation had already collapsed, and Digital Press was spun off to a series of other publishing companies until it pretty much vanished into the corporate vortex.

This PDF is the complete book (678 pages!) but only about the first half is newer than the second edition; the rest is the same. Of course the artwork is missing; also, some of the character-set tables in back have the wrong glyphs. The print version, Second Edition, is still available from Amazon, and a new new Kindle E-book edition is also available. Don't complain to me about Amazon's prices, I haven't seen a penny of royalties in years, I don't even know where Amazon gets the rights to make the e-book.

The Kermit 95 Manual

K95 Manual This one is not a PDF, but instead a whole website. It was originally published by Manning Software in printed form and packaged with Kermit 95, which was our second revenue-generating venture: Kermit software for Windows 95 and its successors (and also IBM OS/2, in case anybody remembers it). When the Kermit Project was canceled, Manning turned over the rights so here it is. Today, Kermit 95 is still running even on Windows 7, 8, and 10, and I hope there will be a free version available some day soon. Meanwhile, unlike the other manuals, this one is totally up to date with the latest version of the software, K95 2.1.3 from New Year's Day 2003 (just before the layoffs began...)

  Online Kermit books / kermitproject.org / 8 February 2016