SUMMARY: Dial-in facility setup

From: Dr. Jigang Liu (
Date: Mon Feb 05 1996 - 10:21:32 CST

Hello, Sun-Managers,

I thank the people who kindly spent their time on my questions,
especially to Nico Garcia, who sent me additional suggestions for
our system. This really is the best list I have ever belonged to.

All the responses are included and they are excellent.

Thanks a million to the following people who responded to my questions:

Nico Garcia raoul@MIT.EDU
Anatoly M. Lisovsky
Margaret Shinkle
Salvatore Saieva
Agnes Marton
Michael Bennett
David Fetrow
Dennis Chu
Celeste Stokely
David Fan david@magma.COM
Mike Barnett
Michael Baumann
Daniel Blander

Here was the original posting:
Hello, fellow managers,

We are planning to setup a dial-in server with probably 30
phone lines. The system we have is a Sun Sparc 5 with the Solaris 2.4.

I would like to know what kinds of hardwares and softwares I need for
setting up the system, such as concentrators, multiplexers, modems and
related softwares.
I also want to know if I use a single phone number
for all 30 phone lines, do I
have to purchase different hardwares, or softwares would take care of it?

I appreciate it if someone would point out the place I should look into or
provide me some information about setting up the system.

Thanks in advance,
--------------------- End of the original question -----------------------


[1] From Sat Feb 3 17:51:33 1996

Hi Gary,
multiport card for Sun is'nt optimal solution,
best solution is to buy Annex access server from Xylogics.
For more info e-mail to John Stewart,
It's very good box, with software on flash PROM, and with
some host-based utilites for Sun to gain security, etc...
We use 16 port Micro Annex XL about 2 years without any
problem. It's up and running solution. You can get from
8 to 72 ports in single access server, connetced to Sun
via Ethernet. Sun sells single model "Annex III" under
the name "Sun Terminal Server".

YS, | _/ _/ _/_/ _/ _/ _/_/ _/_/_/
Anatoly M. Lisovsky| _/ _/ _/_/_/ _/ _/ _/ _/_/_/ _/
 +7(8439)53-07-34 | _/ _/ _/ _/ _/ _/ _/ _/ _/_/_/

[2] From Sat Feb 3 17:51:47 1996

You will need to talk to your telephone company to set up 30 lines
to one number. The term is " to set up a hunt-group". That means
that if you dial the main number, it will go to whatever of the
30 lines is available.

We are currently using an s-bus expansion module to handle our
modem pool. We didn't know better and bought the one from Sun -
and it's *awful*. This same subject recently came up on this
list, and others confirmed that the sun terminal server s-bus board stinks.
They recommended 3rd party boards from companies like Aurora Technologies
( or zyplex (don't know the address).

We are using 28,800 modems from Practical Peripherals. They
are fine. Though I guess some super-expensive model from USRobotics
got very good reviews also.

Good Luck

Margaret Shinkle
Systems Administrator
Mitsubishi Electric ITA

[3] From Sat Feb 3 17:51:59 1996

I would suggest looking into the Remote Annex terminal servers from
Xylogics. They have devices that can support upwards of 72 logins, PPP,
slip, routing capabilities, and other nice login automation features.
Call Xylogics at (800) 225-3317.


   Salvatore Saieva
   PRINCIPIA Partners LLC                     E-Mail:
   Harborside Financial Center                 Phone: (201) 946-0300
   902 Plaza II, 9th Floor                       Fax: (201) 946-0320
   Jersey City, NJ 07311

Exhortation: ``Aesthetics are more important than efficiency.'' -DEK

[4] From Sat Feb 3 17:52:12 1996

Dear Gary

Nice to hear from you! The answer to your question is:

The US headquarters of Xylogics is:

53 Third Avenue Burlington MA 01803 USA

tel: +617-238 8140 fax: +617-273 5392

email: www:

John Stewart is responsible for Eastern Europe and the Middle East and is based in the UK.


Agnes Marton (John's assistant, answering his messages in his absence). ------------------------------------------------------------------ Agnes Marton DIRECT tel: +44 1703 556943 Central/East European Co-ordinator fax: +44 1703 586604 Central/East European Operations Office Xylogics International Limited "The Network Access Company" Featherstone Road Wolverton Mill EMAIL MILTON KEYNES MK12 5RD UK ------------------------------------------------------------

[5] From Sat Feb 3 17:52:19 1996

Hi Gary,

Ascend Communications have a product called an:

Ascend max

It is very good, I have installed this hardware at over 20 sites. The software is built in.

It can be used as an PRI interface to ISDN, it can contain up to 48 modems. In regard to one single phone number for all 30 phone lines, you can set up a hunt-group at your local exchange, and set the max up to accept calls from this number for all modems.

The location in America for this software, I believe is in Atlanta.

The location in UK for this software, is through Ascend communications West Byfleet: 01932 350115 contact John Moore.

The above named person gives you all the information that you will need to contact the overseas person.

MY Return address is


=============================================================================== Michael Bennett London International Financial Futures Unix Consultant Exchange Systems Support Cannon Street Email: London Voice: +44 171 379 2745 EC4R 3XX Fax: +44 171 329 0448

"If I can't be a star, I won't get out of bed." Elastica ===============================================================================

[6] From Sat Feb 3 17:52:29 1996

I'm very fond of the SCSI-bus terminal servers such as Pacific Peripherals. It's especially nice if you plan on supporting tia or slirp rather than full ppp/slip. All the modem lines are just plain old serial ports as far as the Sun is concerned. I've had ours for years and it's never even hiccuped. You can get their address from: but I think it's

With 30 users, a lot of memory is in order.

Note: I only support about 4 modem lines. As the lines get faster SCSI may eventually become inpractical but 30 shouldn't be a problem.

[7] From raoul@MIT.EDU Sat Feb 3 17:52:39 1996

I think you need to re-examine your needs. If you need to support 30 modems, running PPP connections or Usenet feeds or modem X-clients, you will need something like 4 Sparc 5's, with some rather large shared disks for the probably 100 users you will support. And your network access had better be able to handle the bandwidth, too, if they are going net-browsing from your dial-in.

You need to examine several points before we can offer advice:

How many users at a time do you want to handle? What services do you wish to provide (X, web-browsers, Net access, email and news, local computing power, disk space, fax-use, pager access, etc.)? Do you want to be capable of handling any need, and thus need the most robust and general possible dial-in handler? Or do you want to support only certain, specific uses *only*? What are your resources? Computing power, phone-lines, budget, local network, skilled administrators, etc.? What will your clients provide? Their own expertise and configuration, or will you be expected to package up and arrange everything for them? What level of security do you want? Kerberos, one-time passwords, encrypted passkeys, dialback, or no special security?

When you've analyzed these questions, we can be more help. My experience is in very cheap local configuration of multi-purpose modems on a local network, but I have access to skilled people and an already existent platform.

For a test-bed, I'd suggest a good terminal server from Emulex with PPP and serial handling, with good quality 28.8 modems. I like Practical Peripherals, but others have used USR brands with good success. I also like the hylafax fax-modem freeware for UNIX at, cslip-2.7, ppp-2.2, and Reflection X software for PC's (I haven't tried FTP's products, but they also have a good name). I handle about 4 modems with a this setup, on a Sun 8-serial port Sbus expander card (Aurora makes 16-port ones that might do for you, although you'll eventually saturate the Sbus with too many links).

Nico Garcia My opinions are my own, not MIT's or my employer's or my cat's (Well, maybe my cat's....)

[8] From Sat Feb 3 17:52:49 1996

Dr. Liu:

It depends on what kind of dial-up service (terminal, PPP, SLIP...) you want to provide. I assume you want to provide PPP/SLIP. Since that is what most people is doing now a day. You can buy Serial Interface S-BUS boards which provide you extra serial ports on your Sparc and then run some PPP/SLIP software on Solaris.

Or you can buy communication/terminal servers. Communication servers for dialup connections are pretty reasonable priced these days. Xylogic, Shiva and 3COM and other telecom equipment vendors all offer this kind of product. Some of them even come with built-in modems.

Your local phone company should be able to set this up for you. No special hardware nor software required.

Dennis Chu

[9] From Sat Feb 3 17:53:06 1996 - If you want 30 concurrent users, you'll need 30 phone lines. The phone company can arrange them in a hunt group, so the users dial 1 number, the phone co. finds the next available line in your group.

Instead of having the mux attached to the Sun, I suggest buying a network mux, and programming it to auto-connect to the Sun. A Sparc 5 will not be able to handle the load of 30 simultaneous users on an on-Sun mux.

Check out my WWW page for links to several terminal-server manufacturers that I've had good luck with.

..Celeste Stokely, Unix System Administration Consultant, Stokely Consulting EMAIL: Voice Line: 415-967-6898 / FAX: 415-967-0160 USMAIL Address: Stokely Consulting/211 Thompson Square/Mountain View CA 94043 URL: ------------------------------------------------------------------------ Celeste's Tutorials on Solaris 2.x/SunOS 4.1.3+ Modems & Terminals are available via the Web at or via ftp at Check out the Web page for lots of Unix Serial Port Resources! ------------------------------------------------------------------------

[10] From david@magma.COM Sat Feb 3 17:53:14 1996

Hello Gary,

That is not difficult at all. First, if you decided to to use one phone number, you need to talk to your phone company to arrange the internal phone lines switching. Second, buy a serial port multiplexer like the MAGMA Sbus high speed serial ports board. The MAGMA board support baudrate up to 115200bps (non-DMA) and 230000bps (DMA). The software installation for our board is automatic. Installation should be done in 15 minutes. Third, of course, you need modems. I recommend the US Robotics. After all the hardware are set up correctly, you need to start the dialin service on your system. You can use the Admintools (came with Solaris) to configure the ports. Now, user should able to dialin and get a login prompt from your ss5.

Let me know if you have any questions.


David Fan Technical support staff MAGMA <*><*><*><*><*><*><*><*><*><*><*><*><*><*><*><*><*><*><*> David Fan Email: Mesa Ridge Technologies MAGMA Tel: (619) 457-0750 6725 Mesa Ridge Road #100, Fax: (619) 457-0798 San Diego, CA 92121 <*><*><*><*><*><*><*><*><*><*><*><*><*><*><*><*><*><*><*>

[11] From Sat Feb 3 17:53:20 1996

I would be interested in your summary.

We have a 10 port Livingston Portmaster and the dial in line is actually set up to hunt for the next available number in a group of 10 lines (11 numbers, total). The Portmaster handles PPP and SLIP and regular dial-in, dial-back dumb terminals.

The Portmaster connects directly to the ethernet. It has a decent GUI for the console (which is accessable accross the ethernet, of course).

I have some data on the Portmaster sent about 6 months ago. Let me know if you want it.

The modems are a bank of 28.8 U.S.Robotics. They are the standard for modems and preferred by many organizations. In fact, a poll of manufacturers modems were posted on this newgroup recently. The drawback is that the U.S.Robotics don't always play nice with Macintosh, Global Village, Telebit or other vendors modems. The U.S.Robotics modems tend to kick the speeds down when talking to different brand name modems. The latest price for personal 28.8 U.S.Robotics was $219.00 at Frys Electronics in Fremont, California. You might be able to get it for more or less the same price in your area.

Modem technology is still a voodoo science. Prepare to spend a lot of time dealing with complaints about users not being able to connect, not being able to log in, not being able to connect to specific machines, not being satisfied with the performance/speed and ton's of support questions. We have one Systems Administrator here that deals with almost nothing but these support calls. That's why we're looking at ISDN, Frame Relay and ATM technologies. Talk about another voodoo science... Sheesh... It's hoped that the maintenance overhead using these other technologies will be reduced, justifying the cost of installing ISDN, Frame Relay or ATM.

Good luck in your quest.

Mike Barnett Zycad Corporation 47100 Bayside Parkway 510/623-4453 FAX 510/623-4550 Fremont, Ca. 94538 Systems Administration Department

[12] From Sat Feb 3 17:53:33 1996

For the best solution at 30 lines.. look at a Livingston Portmaster. THey give you authentication on the dial up lines, PPP and SLIP in the terminal server.. As for the phone stuff.. Talk to your telco about a "hunt group" where the calls just roll over to the next available line

-- Michael Baumann Electus Technology Inc. / Loma Linda University Medical Center San Bernardino, California. (909)799-8308 |Internet:

[13] From raoul@MIT.EDU Sat Feb 3 17:53:44 1996

Ah. You need only to assess two major factors: how many users is your system supporting? And will you provide Usenet feeds, PPP, or graphic tools?

The Usenet feed will cause people to log in for *hours*, reading stuff, using huge amounts of disk space and modem time. PPP means a much higher bandwidth connection, *and* a potential major security risk since various PPP clients mean that an unsecured machine can act like a node on your network. Graphic tools means X, which means you need a very high bandwidth modem pool.

For about 30 dumb terminal users, running kermit from PC's for example, I would suggest an expandable setup with one Sparc box, two 16-line Aurora or Sun serial Sbus expanders, and 32 decent 28.8 modems: a separate pool of 14.4 modems can sit on an independent telephone line pool, if you want to save money. Both sets can have a single dial-in number, and automatically cascade to the next line if one is busy.

In fact, you only need 14.4's for that, but *somebody* will demand 28.8 for an X or PPP link, and you'll want to provide that too.

I suggest using "skey", to prevent hackers from monitoring your modem usage or packet-sniffing telnets run over the modems and getting free use of your dial-ins. Caller-ID will also help if you install it, but not all phone systems support it.

As it bogs down eventually (and it *will* bog down), you'll need to expand to another Sparc. A terminal server might be preferable, but what I've described is merely an expansion of my much smaller setup, and hsould work for you.

Nico Garcia My opinions are my own, not MIT's or my employer's or my cat's (Well, maybe my cat's....)

[14] From Sat Feb 3 17:53:55 1996

For 30 lines you have a couple of choices - all of which rely on some piece of networking hardware to achieve the goal. In all cases you will need some type of modem bank/rack. In the first case - use 30 modems (individual) and add a terminal server/port master. Suggested vendors: Xyplex, Livingston, Xylogics

In the second case you do the all-in-one deal which gives you a rack and some rock-solid dial-in service. The Cisco/USRobotics RoboCop comes to mind. 17 slots that can be filled with quad modem cards, T1 analog line cards (to bring in analog trunks so you don't have to bring in individual lines) and a Cisco 2501 card that routes the calls inbound and outbound as IP/PPP sessions. Its rock-solid and pricey ($50,000 totally loaded).

The first is good if you like managing spaghetti and can deal with debugging individual pieces and you are budget constrained. The second is good if you need rock-solid stability and you can afford it.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Daniel Blander =8^) Sr. Systems Engineer Applied Computer Solutions ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Phone: (714) 842.7800 Fax: (714) 842.8299 Email: ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ The Official Applied Computer Solutions Home Page and Tech Tip of the Week: ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

===================================================== Gary J. Liu Email: Systems Administrator Tel : (912) 931-2818 Georgia Southwestern Fax : (912) 931-2270 =====================================================

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