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Miami vs TermiteTCP
Ron Mascaro firstname.lastname@example.org
Connecting an Amiga to the Internet has, until recently, been a somewhat
difficult task, due to the difficulties of installing and configuring a
TCP/IP stack, the software that allows the Amiga to communicate with other
computers via the common language (protocol) of the Internet. The only
available TCP/IP stacks for the Amiga, were AmiTCP and AS225, or Inet225,
as it is known in its commercial incarnation. AmiTCP is somewhat difficult
to set up, even for a net Guru. For the beginner, it is a nightmare.
There is no GUI. To change any of the configuration settings, you had to
run the install script over again. Additionally AmiTCP did not directly
support dial-up connections. You either had to dial the provider from a
terminal program, set the modem to stay on-line, release the serial port
and then run AmiTCP, or you had to install one of the shareware GUI
front-ends to do this for you. In all fairness, the latest commercial
version of AmiTCP is supposed to have a rudimentary dialer, but I haven't
had the opportunity to use it. I've never had the opportunity to try out
AS225 or Inet225, so I don't know how difficult they are to use.
Added to the installation difficulties is the fact that AmiTCP and AS225
use different Application Programming Interfaces (API), the language that
the Client programs, such as FTP, use to communicate with the TCP/IP stack.
Clients written for AmiTCP would not work with AS255 and vice-versa. In
the past year or so, libraries have been available to allow Clients to work
with either stack transparently. Still, the Amiga desperately needed a
TCP/IP stack that was simple to use.
All that has changed with the recent introduction of two new TCP/IP stacks
for the Amiga, Miami, and TermiteTCP. Miami is a shareware program that
currently is only available from the authors WWW and FTP sites. TermiteTCP
is a commercial program published by Oregon Research. Both of these
programs were designed specifically for dial-up connections, with ease of
use a primary consideration. The focus of this review is to compare these
First off, let me say that Miami and TermiteTCP are not suitable for direct
LAN connections. Neither has any support for Amiga ethernet cards. Both
programs are limited to dial-up connections only, although Holger Kruze,
the author of Miami has hinted that he may produce a Miami Professional
version if there is enough interest. However both programs have settings
for use with a null-modem cable to connect two Amigas directly via the
The Interface: Miami uses the MUI GUI system. Termite uses the standard
Amiga GUI. MUI is highly user configurable, but window redraws are a
somewhat slower, especially on high color AGA screens. If you are using a
4 or 8 color screen, or a Graphics card, you will get much better
performance. Both programs use the GUI exclusively for all configuration
and connections operations. There are no text files to edit.
Installation: Both Miami and TermiteTCP were easy to install. Termite uses
a standard Commodore Install script to install the program. During the
install process, you are asked to type in the serial number which then
serialises both the install disk and the hard drive installation. Miami
has no install script. You simply download the archive, and expand it to
any location. There are no paths or assigns to set, so you can freely move
the program around wherever is convenient, so long as all the files remain
in the same directory. As Miami is a shareware program some features are
disabled. By registering, you will receive a key file to enable the
additional features. However the disabled features do not in anyway
diminish the basic functionality of the program.
Configuration: Miami really shines here. Total time to dearchive, install,
configure, and connect to my ISP was an astonishingly low 10 minutes, I
didn't even crack open the manual. The Readmefirst file was enough to get
going, because Miami completely walks you through the procedure. It comes
with a companion program called MiamiInit, that Asks for some basic
information such as serial device and phone number, and modem settings.
Miami includes a list of preconfigured modem settings for a number of
popular modems, so you generally won't have to fumble with you modem's
manual to answer these questions. It then asks whether you are configuring
for SLIP, PPP, TIA or Slirp, you IP address, (if you are issued a static
address), your login and password, and then it dials your provider. A
window will pop up in which records your login actions. there are buttons
to send your login and password, and then you can manually navigate through
any additional login menus until your SLIP/PPP connection is established.
Then, if you are configuring for PPP, Miami will negotiate an optimum
connection. It will also attempt a DNS lookup to find the available DNS
servers on your network. This may or may not be successful, depending on
whether your provider supports DNS lookup, but if it fails you will just
have to type in the DNS IPs that your provider has given to you. It will
then verify the validity of those servers, and hang up, storing a complete
configuration. After that you simply run the main Miami program and import
the configuration. Then away you go. It's that easy. The script recorder
works flawlessly, provided you don't make any typos/backspaces in the
process. The main program allows you to edit the script if necessary.
I've used script recorders on various terminal programs before, and
generally you have to tweak them to get them to work properly, even if you
typed correctly. This is because the script tries to send commands before
they are prompted, or waits to long. Modifying the wait commands usually
fixes the problem. I had no such problems with Miami, however. My script
worked flawlessly first time, every time.
TermiteTCP was also fairly easy to configure. Configuration is
accomplished in the main program., however, you need to know all the
information in advance, and set the configuration before attempting a
connection. The only exception is the login script. It also has a script
recorder, and it worked flawlessly once I figured out how it worked I had
to look in the manual to figure out how to start and stop recording and
save to disk. Not terribly difficult, but not immediately obvious either
(Miami starts and stops the recorder automatically). Total elapsed time
was about 25 minutes.
Miami has many more configuration options than TermiteTCP, especially for
PPP. You can tweak the configuration for better performance or use the
defaults (There is no PPP configuration settings in TermiteTCP, so you are
stuck with the internal settings). TermiteTCP is limited to the standard
Modem settings, and provider information. There is only provision for one
phone number. DNS servers are limited to 2 entries, and there is no
setting for MTU. Miami gives you many different options for TCP/IP/PPP
settings. TermiteTCP does not support SLIP/CSLIP protocalls. You must
have a PPP connection to use it. Miami supports SLIP/CSLIP/PPP
connections. I haven't tested TermiteTCP with TIA yet. TermiteTCP does
not claim to work with TIA or Slirp. It may not work since it doesn't have
a "Fake IP" option.
Other Options: Miami has an internal database similar to AmiTCP for
services, users, etc, which allows you to configure server daemons and
allow for remote users on you system. The database is configured within
the GUI, unlike AmiTCP where you have to load a text file into an editor to
add or change entries. There is no database of any kind in TermiteTCP, so
I doubt it is possible to add any services or allow other users to login to
your computer. I don't know how you could set TermiteTCP up for Amiphone,
for instance. There is no mention of this capability in the documentation.
Miami also has a unique automatic activity generator which will send out a
ping packet periodically at a user configurable interval. This is useful
if you have a provider that disconnects after a period of inactivity. This
will keep you from being disconnected should you exceed the limit, while
reading a document on-line, for example.
Clients: Miami comes with no client software. TermiteTCP comes with FTP
and Telnet clients but they are very rudimentary. The shareware AmFTP is
MUCH better, and is worth the registration Fee. The Termite Telnet client
is OK, but it would not log in to my shell account using a preset login and
password configuration. It would only work if I logged in manually. Other
than that it seemed to work OK. There are several freeware/shareware
Telnet clients available on Aminet. I wouldn't choose TermiteTCP over
Miami based on the inclusion of these clients.
API: Miami is compatible with the AmiTCP API. Termite uses it's own API,
but also includes compatablity with the AmiTCP API. Both programs will
work with AmiTCP clients. TermiteTCP includes a Software Development Kit
for programmers who wish to write clients specifically for the Termite API.
One drawback to TermiteTCP's custom API is that the included clients are
written for this API, so they will not run with any other TCP/IP stack. It
is unknown to me, whether Miami or TermiteTCP will work with AS225 clients.
The API is not supported directly, but they may work with the addition of
the socket.library found on Aminet. There are, however, few clients
written specifically for AS225 that do not also support the AmiTCP API.
Speed: TermiteTCP is marginally faster at dialing and connecting, due to
the fact that Miami has to deal with the overhead of MUI windowing
operations. But once on line, speed is not a factor.
Both Miami, and TermiteTCP claim to have a quick auto-reconnect feature,
that allows you to skip dial-in and negotiation after a system crash, if
you have set the modem to stay on-line. Only Miami's seems to work,
however. The TermiteTCP manual mentions it, but doesn't give any specifics
on how to get it to work. The default config hangs up the modem on a loss
of DTR signal, but after changing it so the modem would stay on-line,
TermiteTCP apparently still insisted on trying to redial and/or renegotiate
PPP. It's possible my provider does not allow renegotiation of PPP.
Either way, Miami's reconnect feature that allows bypassing both dialing
and renegotiation works with my provider.
Documentation: TermiteTCP comes with a thick printed manual, but 2/3 of
this is devoted to a Guide to the internet for new users. Only 18 pages
are devoted to the program's operation, with another 22 devoted to the FTP
and Telnet clients. Miami's Amigaguide manual is far more descriptive.
On-line Help: Miami provides on-line help in the form of MUI "Balloon
Help". If you place the mouse cursor on any gadget, and leave it there for
a few seconds, a bubble will pop up telling you what the gadget does.
Additionally, pressing the "Help" key loads the Amigaguide manual to a
context-sensitive section of the document. TermiteTCP has no on-line help.
Price Comparison: Miami - $35, TermiteTCP - $69.95 (Oregon Research
currently has a direct mail-order promotional price of $59.95)
Unregistered Disabled Features: TermiteTCP, N/A. Miami's disabled features
minimally affect the programs functionality. Connection Time is limited to
1 hour sessions. At 1 hour Miami will spontaneously disconnect. A 30
minute warning is provided. Auto-online after passive offline is disabled.
Arexx scripts are disabled. There is a limit of three phone numbers.
Phone Logging is disabled. Some MUI GUI customization options are
Registration: Since TermiteTCP is a commercial program, registration is
simply a matter of returning a completed registration card. Miami uses an
on-line 3-step registration process. The first step is to order a license
code. You do this from the main program which asks for your Name, address,
etc, and your e-mail address. You can send in the request on-line or via
slow mail. To send it in on-line you must have a "First Virtual" payment
account established. This account allows you to puchase merchandise online
without revealing your Credit Card Number in your E-mail. For slow-mail
you can use check, money order or cash. Once the author or other
registration site receives your License request and payment, he will e-mail
you a license code. This code is necessary to run the second step which is
the actual registration, this step automatically sends an encrypted
registration request, and in a few minutes another encrypted registration
code will be returned. With this file you will run the third step that
creates a pair of keys from the encrypted e-mail. These keys enable the
additional features. The registration process sounds more complicated than
it actually is. If for some reason the automatic registration fails, you
can send the request directly to the author's e-mail address and he will
process it manually. It took 3 days from the time I sent my check via
slow-mail, until the author sent me the license code. The second two steps
took just a few minutes. This is by far the fastest response I have ever
had registering a shareware product.
Conclusion: Let me just say that Miami beats TermiteTCP hands down. It's
easier to use, has many more options, and is considerably cheaper. It is
by far the best TCP stack around for dial-up connections. I think that $35
for Miami and $25 for AmFTP is a much better deal than $59.95 for
TermiteTCP. It's amazing what a nickel will buy you these days. Yes, it
does require MUI, which will cost an additional $35 to register, but you
will need MUI anyway as most of the Internet Client software require it.
Miami is truly the most amazing piece of Amiga software I have seen in a
very long time.
Where To Get Them: TermiteTCP is now available directly from Oregon
Research and will most likely be available through most Amiga Retailers.
16200 S.W. Pacific Hwy
Tigard, OR 97224
Miami can be downloaded from the Miami WWW or FTP sites.
FTP: wade1.ab.umd.edu/Miami/Miami103.lha (Version may change)
Also available on Aminet: comm/tcp/Miami11.lha