IRC necromancy

I’m xorhash, a guest poster, here to talk about my tale going down a trip on the memory lane with QuakeNet’s service bot Q. If you’re not interested in IRC, you can probably skip this one.

On the Trails of Q

As far as I know, QuakeNet’s service bot Q went through these three major codebases:

a. the old Perl Q,
b. the first version written in C, and
c. Q as part of newserv.

There’s a reason I didn’t have anything to link for (a). That’s because to the best of my knowledge and research, no version has survived these past decades.

As for (b), it seems only the linked version 3.99 from the year 2003 was saved.
The CVS repository and thus commit history has been lost.

If anyone has either actual code for the old Perl Q or the CVS repo for the old
Q written in C, please reach out to me via `xorhash ++at++ protonmail.com’.
I’m most interested in looking through it.

However, not all hope was lost with the old Perl Q. As it turns out, most likely, the old Perl Q was actually based on an off-the-shelf product called “CServe”. What makes me think so?

Let’s take a look at [the QuakeNet Q command listing from 1998.

I picked the command “WHOIS” and googled its use “Will calculate a nick!user@host mask for you from the whois information of this nick.” This lead me to a help file for StarLink IRC. At the top, it reads:

CStar3.x User Command Help File **** 09/10/99
Information extracted from CServe Channel Service
Version 2.0 and up Copyright (c)1997 by Michael Dabrowski
Help Text (c)1997 (c)1997 StarLink-IRC (with permission)

Wait a second, “CServe Channel Service”? I know that from somewhere.

Q!TheQBot@CServe.quakenet.org

So the commands between that help file and the QuakeNet Q command listing match up and so does Q’s host today. Most likely, I’m on the right track with this. What’s left is to track down a copy of CServe.

Note: I’ve been on the old Perl Q for a while and this strategy didn’t use to work. It seems Google newly indexed these pages. For once I can sincerely say: Thank you, Google.

I found that CServe was hosted on these websites:

a. Version 3.0 on http://www.cs.cuc.edu/~mdabrows/cserve/,
b. Version 3.1 on http://www.wam.umd.edu/~devy/cserve/,
c. Version 4.0 on http://www.othernet.org/devon/cserve/, and
d. Version 5.0 and above on http://www.ircore.com/.

The only surviving versions are 3.0 and 5.1. CServe got renamed to “CS” starting with 5.0 and was rewritten in C by someone other than the original CServe author, going by the comments in the file header of CS5.1 `src/show_access.c’. CS was actually sold as a commercial product. I wonder how many people bought it.

QuakeNet most likely took a version between 2.0 and 4.0, inclusive, as the basis for the old Perl Q. Which one in particular it was, we may never know. If you have any details, please reach out to me at the e-mail address above.

I can’t make any clever guesses anyway since the only versions that the web archive has are 3.0 and 5.1. The latter is written in C, so it quite obviously can’t be the old Perl Q.

Making It Run

So now that I have CServe 3.0, I wanted to actually see it running.

There are three ways to reasonably accomplish this:

a. port CServe to a modern IRCd’s server-to-server protocol,
b. port an old IRCd to a modern platform,
c. emulate an old platform and run both IRCd and CServe there.

I chose option (b).
Once upon a time, I did option (a) for the old UnderNet X bot. It was a very painful exercise to port a bot that predates the concept of UIDs (or numeric nicks/numnicks as ircu’s P10 server-to-server protocol calls them). There’s nothing too exciting about doing (c) by just emulating a 486 or so and FreeBSD, just sounds like a boring roundtrip of emulation and network bridging.

Fortunately, the author was a nice person and wrote on the CServe website that version 3.0 requires “ircu2.9.32 and above”.

It seems the ircu2.10 series followed right after ircu2.9.32. While I’m sure there’s some linking backwards compatibility, determining which ircu in the ircu2.10 series still spoke enough P09 to link with CServe sounded like an exercise in boring excruciating pain. Modern-day ircu most certainly no longer speaks P09. Besides, what’s the fun in just doing the manual equivalent of `git bisect’?

So after grabbing ircu2.9.32, I tried to just straightforward compile and run it.

There’s a `Config’ script that’s supposed to be kind of like autoconf `configure’, but I’ve found it extremely non-deterministic. It generates `include/setup.h’. I’ve made a diff for your convenience. It targets Debian stable, and should work with any reasonably modern Linux. There are special `#ifdef’ branches for  FreeBSD/NetBSD in the code. This patchset may break for BSDs in general.

Do not touch `Config’, meddle with `include/setup.h’ manually. Remember this is an ancient IRCd, there are actual tunables in `include/config.h’.

The included example configuration file is correct for the most part, but the documentation on U:lines is wrong. U:lines do what modern-day U:lines do, i.e., designate services servers with uber privileges.

U:cserve.mynetwork.example:*:*

Excuse Me, But What The Fuck?

Of course, I’m dealing with old code. It wouldn’t be old code if I didn’t have some things that just make me go “Excuse me, but what the fuck?”

Looping at the speed of light

aClient *find_match_server(mask)
char *mask;
{
  aClient *acptr;
  if (BadPtr(mask))
    return NULL;
  for (acptr = client, (void)collapse(mask); acptr; acptr = acptr->next) 
  {
  if (!IsServer(acptr) && !IsMe(acptr))
    continue;
    if (!match(mask, acptr->name))
      break;                                                                                                    continue;
  }
  return acptr;
}

See that `continue’ way on the left? What is it doing there? Telling the compiler to loop faster?

Carol of the Old Varargs

So apparently some of this code predates C89. Which means it uses old-style declarations, but that’s okay. It also uses old-style varargs, which is adorable.

The hacks around not even that being there are adorable, too:

#ifndefUSE_VARARGS
/*VARARGS*/
voidsendto_realops(pattern, p1, p2, p3, p4, p5, p6, p7)
char*pattern, *p1, *p2, *p3, *p4, *p5, *p6, *p7;
{
#else
voidsendto_realops(pattern, va_alist)
char*pattern;
va_dcl
{
  va_list vl;
#endif
  Reg1 aClient *cptr;
  Reg2 int i;
  char fmt[1024];
  Reg3 char *fmt_target;

#ifdef USE_VARARGS
  va_start(vl);
#endif

  (void)sprintf(fmt, ":%s NOTICE ", me.name);
  fmt_target = &fmt[strlen(fmt)];

  for (i = 0; i <= highest_fd; i++)
if ((cptr = local[i]) && IsOper(cptr))
  {
  strcpy(fmt_target, cptr->name);
  strcat(fmt_target, " :*** Notice -- ");
  strcat(fmt_target, pattern);
  #ifdef USE_VARARGS
  vsendto_one(cptr, fmt, vl);
  #else
  sendto_one(cptr, fmt, p1, p2, p3, p4, p5, p6, p7);
  #endif
  }
#ifdef USE_VARARGS
va_end(vl);
#endif
return;
}

These functions were declared like this (the example chosen above actually has
no declaration because why not):
/*VARARGS1*/
extern    void    sendto_ops();

Whatcmp

There are `mycmp’ and `myncmp’ for doing RFC1459 casemapping string comparisons. `strcasecmp’ got `#define’d to `mycmp’, but in one case `mycmp’ got `#define’d back to `strcasecmp’. It seemed easier to just remove `mycmp’, replacing it with `strcasecmp’ and forgo RFC1459 casemapping. This is doubly useful because CServe doesn’t actually honor RFC1459 casemapping.

Waiting for the Cookie

ircu uses PING cookies. I was rather confused when I didn’t get one immediately after sending `NICK’ and `USER’. In fact, it took so long that I thought the IRCd got stuck in a deadloop somewhere. That would’ve been a disaster since the last thing I wanted to do is get up close and personal with the networking stack.

As it turns out, it can’t send the cookie:

/*
 * Nasty.  Cant allow any other reads from client fd while we're
 * waiting on the authfd to return a full valid string.  Use the
 * client's input buffer to buffer the authd reply.
 * Oh. this is needed because an authd reply may come back in more
 * than 1 read! -avalon
 */


Nasty indeed.

I lowered `CONNECTTIMEOUT’ to 10 in the diff linked above. This makes the wait noticeably shorter when you aren’t running an identd.

CServe Isn’t Much Better

Not that CServe is much better. I have to hand it to Perl, I only needed to undo the triple-`undef’ on line 450 of `cserve.pl’ and it worked with no modifications. God bless the backwards compatibility of Perl 5.

That said, it has its own interesting ideas of code. This is the main command execution:

foreach $i (keys %commands)
{
    if($com eq $i)
    { $found = 1; break; }
}
if($found == 1)
{
    open(COMMAND, "<./include/$com");
    @evalstring = <COMMAND>; close(COMMAND);
    foreach $i (@evalstring) { $evals .= $i; }
    eval($evals);
}
else
{
    &notice("2No such command 1[4$com1]. /msg $unick SHOWCOMMANDS\n");
}

Yep, it opens, reads into an array, closes and then evals. For every command it recognizes. Of course, this means code hot swapping, but it also means terrible performance with any non-trivial amount of users.

Oh, and all passwords are hashed. But they’re hashed with `crypt()’. And a never-changing salt of ZZ.

End Result

up & running

Was it worth it?
No, not really.
Would I do it again?
Absolutely.

You probably do not want to expose this to the outside world.
The IRCd code is scary in all the wrong ways.

Further Links

Some other things if you’re into ancient IRC stuff:

Installing and using Citrix Multiuser v1.0 on BOCHS

Back in the late 80’s when OS/2 was starting to get some traction Ed Iacobucci took a team and split off from the mainline Microsoft / IBM alliance, and with Microsoft’s blessing (and source code) took OS/2 and took up the challenge that both IBM & Microsoft dropped that was the ultimate challenge to UNIX, the ability to host multiple users on the same machine.  Citrix had it’s start some time in 1989 (Don’t forget that NT OS/2 had it’s start in 1988), and back then LANs were still seen as super expensive, just as TCP/IP was a university / military protocol that even enterprise to small businesses were hooked on either NetBEUI or IPX/SPX, if they had any LAN at all.

Sneakernet was king in this era, just as the BBS was our connected world.

As this ancient promotional video shows, the product they were chasing was low end Unix market, oddly enough their larger competition being SCO Xenix, which itself was separated out from Microsoft.

While I’m waiting for a 5 1/4″ disk, I thought I’d take a crack at installing Citrix Multiuser version 1.0 that had surfaced a while back.

I’m using this as a template for a config.  Naturally to boot floppy image it’ll need a change.

megs: 16
romimage: file=bios/BIOS-bochs-latest
vgaromimage: file=bios/VGABIOS-elpin-2.40
floppya: type=1_2
floppyb: type=1_44
ata0: enabled=1, ioaddr1=0x1f0, ioaddr2=0x3f0, irq=14
ata0-master: type=disk, path=”citrix500.img”, cylinders=1023, heads=16, spt=63
ata1: enabled=0
ata2: enabled=0
ata3: enabled=0
boot: c
log: bochsout.txt
mouse: enabled=0
debug: action=ignore
mouse: enabled=0
private_colormap: enabled=0
floppy_bootsig_check: disabled=0
com1: enabled=1, mode=socket-server, dev=localhost:8880
com2: enabled=0, mode=socket-server, dev=localhost:8881
com3: enabled=0, mode=socket-server, dev=localhost:8882
com4: enabled=0, mode=socket-server, dev=localhost:8883
parport1: enabled=1 , file=”print.txt”
parport2: enabled=0
ne2k: ioaddr=0x320,irq=10, mac=fe:fd:00:00:00:01, ethmod=null
sb16: enabled=0
usb_uhci: enabled=0
port_e9_hack: enabled=0
clock: sync=none,time0=691148400

But that’ll do it.

Citrix has many 386 hooks in place.  After applying the CSD MU01091 I saw this in the readme:

MULTIUSER is designed to take advantage of the 386/486 instruction set where possible. Because of this Citrix MULTIUSER runs only on 386 compatible processors. You can take advantage of this fact to boost performance of your application while running on MULTIUSER.

The compilers available for MS OS/2 generally supply library functions which will execute on both 286 and 386 processors because MS OS/2 will run on these. Unfortunately, this prevents natural optimization for the 386 32-bit environment. However, we have found that it is a simple matter to boost performance by replacing some of your compiler runtime library routines. For example, if your application makes heavy use of long arithmetic, you can modify the multiply and divide runtime functions to use the explicit 32-bit multiply and divide instructions available on the 386 and 486 processors, thereby avoiding the 32-bit arithmetic emulation.

Many compilers such as Microsoft C 6.0 make available the source to the runtime library. Microsoft C 6.0, as an example, also provides instructions and make-files for rebuilding the libraries.

The Citrix Support Bulletin Board has further information on these techniques, along with specific code examples that you can tailor to your specific needs.

I’ll have to ask people smarter than me about finding any of this information.

Anyways Citrix requires that you install it onto a HPFS partition.  Citrix uses the Microsoft OS/2 1.21 kernel + base level for the OS.  After installing and running syslevel on both they report the same level.

MS OS/2 Base Operating System
Standard Edition 1.21 Component ID
Current CSD level: XR04072
Prior CSD level: XR00000

However the kernel naturally is different as this does support multiple users.  By default Citrix is setup for async terminals, and as far as I can find there was no actual LAN connection product available.  This is just simply the most common setup of the era, where UNIX was typically deployed with async terminals, and with remote users on dialup.  The Citrix media I have is dated from January 25th, 1991.  Although according to the ‘official timeline (pdf)‘  version 1.0 was released in 1990.  This was just after the protected mode version of Windows was demo’d to Bill Gates & Steve Balmer, which incentivized  Microsoft to dump OS/2 for Windows.  This put Citrix in a bad position as they had setup their product strategy around the next generation OS from Microsoft which had for all intents and purposes had been made obsolete overnight.  And as the Windows 3.0 juggernaut picked up steam selling over 4 million copies, while all previous versions of Windows combined were only in the neighborhood of 2 million copies.  As far as I’m aware, none of the OS/2 1.x sales numbers were ever released.

Citrix 1.0 is limited to OS/2 1.2 character mode executables.  And there simply isn’t that many.  And with the industry moving to the aforementioned graphical Windows 3.0 applications Citrix hit the market with a thud.  Citrix provides support for the following applications:

  • Borland Paradox 2.0
  • California Software Products BABY/4XX
  • DataEase SQL
  • Data Access DataFlex
  • IBM DisplayWrite 4/2
  • IBM Platinum Series 2.0
  • Irwin EzTape OS/2 Tape Backup Software
  • Lotus 1-2-3 Release 3.0
  • Maynard MaynStream OS/2 Tape Backup Software
  • Micro Focus Cobol/2 Workbench
  • Microrim R:Base 3.1
  • Microsoft BASIC Version 7.0
  • Microsoft C Version 6.0
  • Microsoft LAN Manager 2.0
  • Microsoft Word 5.0
  • Microsoft SQL Server
  • Novell NetWare Requester for OS/2 V1.3
  • Oracle 6.0
  • Word Perfect 5.0

As you can see, this isn’t a very large list.

Citrix multiuser 1.0 config program

There is a text panel/menu driven config program.  This greatly simplifies tasks.  I setup a simple system with a single com port, although Bochs doesn’t do anything sophisticated like modem emulation but rather you can connect ONCE to the VM, and that is is.  But it’s enough to launch HyperTerminal to get a serial connection.

Serial Terminal

The serial support on Citrix is pretty good as long as you have updated to CSD MU01091 which adds support for VT100/VT220 terminals.  With a tiny cheat sheet it’s not too hard to get used to the multitasking capabilities of Citrix/MS-OS/2

Hotkeys:
Login switch . . . . . . . . [{ctrl}{u} ]
Session switch . . . . . . . [{ctrl}{n} ]
Session direct . . . . . . . [{ctrl}{f} ]
Session create . . . . . . . [{ctrl}{o} ]
Reset terminal . . . . . . . [{ctrl}{y} ]
Print screen . . . . . . . . [{ctrl}{]} ]
Print screen toggle . . . . [{ctrl}{\} ]
Ctrl+Break . . . . . . . . . [{ctrl}{c} ]
Ctrl+C . . . . . . . . . . . [{ctrl}{c} ]

I can really see the value at the time of Citrix, although again it really arrived just too late to the market.  I’ll have to track down more of these ‘approved’ programs, and give them a shot.

It’s funny how the market can pivot where something that was seen as a defining feature of midrange OS’s in this case being multiuser became irrelevant as CPU prices dropped to the point where not only can individual users cheaply obtain their own processor, let alone own multiple which is typical today.  While Citrix was chasing the ‘killer feature’ of UNIX being able to host multiple users on a single ‘larger’ machine, the industry rather prefered to host server applications on cheaper ‘large’ PC’s, ala MS SQL Server, SNA Server, and Exchange Server.  With absolutely no data to back anything up, I suspect that SQL Server 4.21a may have moved more copies than Citrix 1.0.  If not I can gaurentee that SQL Server 6.0 sure did.

That said once, Citrix re-tooled their ICA offering onto Windows NT 3.51 they could reach their niche market of hosted applications in a data center.  And obviously taking over Xen, and jumping onto the virtualization market was a good move to keep relevant, especially how Microsoft had twisted their arm during the Windows NT 4.0 transition.

Everyone is going nuts over the CompuServe forum shutdown.

Honestly it looks like most of it was long since destroyed.

What’s left on the Compuserve forums

As you can see, not a heck of a lot there.  I didn’t even know they were kept around, but rather I had a feeling that they were part of those big ‘wise’ investments where companies pay an insane amount of money for old tech companies, and promptly shut them down.

Compuserve is owned by AOL, who in turn along with Yahoo! was bought by Oath: a division of Verizon.  And what is interesting there?

Yep, they are indeed moving everything they have bought to OpenStack, and killing everything else that can’t easily make the jump.  From someone who works in the field I know that the people who sign checques always are more interested in new and exciting than anything old, associated with older companies, and older executives that have either moved on or out of the way creating that power vacuum that jr’s crave.  And in that bussle it’s time to kill the old.

Too bad it’s never preserved, nor do they honestly ever care about the brands they spend so much money on removing from the market to remove any chance of resurgence in competition.

Personally I’d just see it as a waste of time and effort, all this buying and shutting down. All it tells me is that Verizon knows that it fundamentally can’t create a messenger that could rival AOL instant messenger, nor could they run a communications forum longer than Compuserve so their only way to clear the space and remove any doubt is to spend billions to shut down zombie corporations who have been doing their best to destroy themselves for the past 20 years.

Look no further than AOL’s own acquisition of broadcast.com, and how within the space of 3 years AOL took it from a company to simply paying 5.7 Billion USD for a $9.95 domain name.

VMWare Player is too small on Windows 10! Also what is 1036521??

So I have to setup a new machine for someone, and going the VMWare route for some essential bits (Running ESXi) it turns out that every VM I try to run gives me this fun error 1036521.

Great

VMware Workstation unrecoverable error: (vcpu-0). vcpu-0:VERIFY vmcore/vmm/main/cpuid.c:382 bugNr=1036521

What the heck is this?  It sure could have been made a little more legible but it means that your BIOS needs to have the hardware assist turned on for virtualization.  This kind of thing just reminds me so much of OS/2 and it’s SYSXXXX errors from back in the day.

Speaking of, once VMWare was running the display was incredibly tiny.  This image really doesn’t do it justice, but it’s frankly impossible to read.

What is this? An emulator for ants?

There isn’t much in the way of help for VMWare Player (aka freeloader) version users, however some playing around and I found an acceptable solution.

All too easy, of course once you know where to look

Simply find the shortcut’s location and jump to the compatibility tab, and set the “Override high DPI scaling to “System (Enhanced)”, hit OK and you are now good to go!

VMWare for humans

Now you can actually read what is going on.  Also for anyone who cares, MS OS/2 1.21 really should be on a 100MB disk or so.. large disks & VMWare’s IDE don’t play along so well.

Unboxing Citrix Multiuser 2.0

I think this is the proverbial OS/2 holy grail, a shipped copy of Microsoft OS/2 2.0

From a press release:

Coral Springs, Florida based Citrix Systems Inc has a new release of its multiuser implementation of MS-DOS. Multiuser 2.0 is designed to run any combination of MS-DOS, Microsoft Windows and OS/2 applications concurrently, and to provide all key features of commercial-grade operating systems multiuser, multitasking operation with terminal support, security, resource management, remote access and administration utilities. It is claimed to be a 32-bit operating system for Intel Corp iAPX86 machines from the 80386SX up. It is claimed to be compatible with Novell Inc NetWare, Microsoft LAN Manager, IBM LAN Server, and Banyan Vines networks, enabling it to function as a low-cost network extender. The ability to run graphical applications at the console will be available next month, with support of graphics at the terminal level will be added in April as a no charge upgrade. Citrix Multiuser 2.0 is $1,000 for a five-user package; doubling the number of users is $500, regardless of how many there were originally. An unlimited user licence is $2,000 once you’ve bought the five user licence. Out next month.

Looking at the copy I have, it’s strictly for OS/2 and MS-DOS programs.  There isn’t any hint of it supporting 32-bit OS/2 programs, so I have the suspicion that this is like the OS/2 FOOTBALL beta, which was the 1.0 kernel with 386 based paging (virtual memory) and v86 mode support for multitasking MS-DOS.   The manuals also state that there is no support for Presentation Manager either at the console or remotely.  So it appears that like Citrix Multiuser version 1.0 it is strictly text mode based.

I’d tell you more, except…. yeah. wrong media.

Hey buddy, spare a 5 1/4″ High density drive?

4.2BSD TCP/IP networking

I got this note from  Allen Garvin, that details his adventure in taking a stock 4.2BSD VAX image, getting it running on SIMH, and turning on the network stack.

Although 4.2 may have had security issues, (R Morris), and had some clear issues with scaling. Along with a whole host of other issues.  Naturally if you want something more ‘robust’ on modern networks, you’ll want 4.3BSD which corrected quite a number of issues.

You can read about it over on his blog.  It’s very good with step by step instructions, goes over retrieving the NIC driver, re-building the kernel, and getting it operational on our LAN.