KCbbs was born on 1 April 1990. Development work on KCbbs had started in late 1989 and over a period of 4 months software was developed to provide basic Bulletin Board features on a multi-user Unix system.KC really evolved from three separate computer systems, the Auckland Observatory Computer Information System (AOCIS), the Unix users group of the New Zealand Microcomputer Club's host machine and a development system owned by Core Software Ltd which eventually became the property of David Dix. All of these were SCO Xenix based systems. The AOCIS system was located at Auckland Observatory and the NZMC system was located at the club chairman's house in Mt Wellington, Auckland.
AOCIS was a bulletin board system with 2 phone lines with 1200 baud modems. It was based on a Sperry Micro IT 286-8Mhz system and started in October 1986. It evolved over the next three years with hardware improvemnets through an IBM PCAT computer then a clone AT 12Mhz 286 system. This system continued in daily operation until the KCbbs computer took over all its functionality in April 1990.The NZMC system was a development system with a files archive and two phone lines with 1200/2400 baud modems. This used a Samsung 10Mhz 286 AT style computer with an 80meg mfm disk drive. This system was obtained in early 1988 for the NZMC Unix users group. The Samsung computer proved somewhat unreliable in its early days due to what was eventually traced to a faulty mainboard. In the meantime the Unix users group had obtained a mainboard upgrade to an early 16Mhz 80386 system.
As these two systems grew in popularity the administration load increased to the point where it was not possible to travel to each computer when difficulties were encountered. As there was nobody else who was prepared to administer either of these systems the decision was made to offer the hardware, phone lines and other resources to an existing BBS in Auckland on condition that existing users would continue with there current access. Although several BBS operators expressed interest they had all turned down the offer by November 1989.It was then that David Dix decided to create Kappa Crucis Unix Bulletin Board System by combining the resources of AOCIS and the NZMC system into the ex-Core Software 80386-25Mhz based PC computer. The new system was located in West Auckland where it could more easily be administered.
Initially KCbbs was a 386DX25 based system with an 108Meg rll drive, 8 megs
or Sipp ram and 4 telephone lines with one 9600 baud modem (Compuspec)
and three 2400 baud modems (Lightspeed). The SCO Xenix operating system
provided multiuser access to kcbbs.
A bulletin board manager program was written in C and was fairly closely based on an existing bbs system in Auckland in late 1989. This was the Delphi bbs operated by Peter Belt which closed in 1991.
KCbbs was free access, no subscription fees were charged nor were donations required. Users could only access a menu driven bbs package, no Unix shell access was provided.
Usenet news and email became available on KC in June 1990. There were a
total of 386 newsgroups available and a full newsfeed amounted to between
9 and 12 megabytes of messages.
KCbbs connected to mercury.gen.nz, an Auckland usenet site set up to provide usenet news and email services via dial up uucp to systems in Auckland. Mercury was operated by Paul Kendall and Robert den Hartog with help from Martin Kealey and Tim Hammett.
Paul and Robert installed the news management and uucp software on KCbbs and the bbs program was improved with the addition of news and email readers. A $10 deposit was required towards email bills from anyone who wanted access to email.
In February 1991 the stallion card was replaced with an 8 port Specialix SI
card. Also in February a Teletext modem was obtained and with the
development of a manager program to extract Teletext pages from the modem
and an additional display module in the bbs program, online teletext was
made available to bbs users.
In March 1991 the main cpu was upgraded to a 486DX33 with 256k cache and 16megs of simm memory.
In April 1991 SCO Unix was replaced with ESIX release 3 operating system. Usenet news had expanded to 689 newsgroups with an average 30 to 40 megs of news per day.
In October/November 1991 NFS for Esix was obtained and this replaced RFS. The reliability was very much improved. Apart from ongoing serial port problems KCbbs settled into a period of more reliable service. It was now possible to leave KCbbs for at least 24 hours without it crashing :-)
Janaury 1992 saw Auckland University take over the feeding of Usenet News from the dsir in Auckland (DSIR AMD at Mt Albert).
By now usenet news had expanded to just over 1200 newsgroups with a daily volume of about 40 megabytes. KCbbs now connected to Auckland University instead of mercury.gen.nz
In April 1992 one of the first copies of 386BSD version 0.0 was obtained and successfully compiled for use on KCbbs. This offered many improvements over ESIX and with additions and developments over the next few months it became very stable on KCbbs. ALthough not intended for a production environment like KCbbs, 386BSD offered better serial port management, superior network reliability and performance and an X windows interface on the console.
Aklobs stayed with ESIX until August when 386BSD was installed.
386bsd continued to improve and with the official release of 386bsd 0.1
in late 1992 both kcbbs and aklobs became much more reliable.
Although there were continued patches being developed and many of these were installed on KCbbs and Aklobs the overall system became very stable. Both systems would now run for over a week without major problems occuring.
The first few months of 1993 were spent improving and stabalising the various system software components of KCbbs. The KRANT news management software developed by Robert den Hartog went through several revisions to improve its reliability and suitability for a networked news server.
KC stayed with 386bsd although by mid 1993 the 386bsd development had split into two (maybe 3) camps and Netbsd and FreeBSD products started to be developed.. This left 386bsd at it last patch level 386bsd 0.1.2.4 and no further patches or development appeared to take place.
KC did not change to NetBSD because NetBSD did not include the serial port drivers that KC required.
FreeBSD suffered from an incomplete installation problem.
Due to delays in IP number allocation and International routing being
enabled at Waikato it was not until the last week of August that complete
IP services were avialable to KCbbs users.
KC was assigned the Class C network 220.127.116.11
User IP access was initially set at $20 per month payable 6 months in advance There were 37 users paid for the first 6 months IP access from September 1993 to February 1994.
Shortly after installing the IP link it was decided to move to Sun Unix equipment as soon as possible. A purchase of a Sun S1 motherboard was arranged from a USA Internet site but this deal fell through.
A few weeks after this an Auckland contact was made with a local company that was selling Sun equipment.
From 1 October 1993 KC's subscription was increased to $50/year
167 users subscribed to KC.
Later in October a SUN SLC computer was purchased for use on KCbbs.
During October SunOS 4.1.1 was installed on a new 330meg scsi2 disk drive,
by early November this was changed for a 1gig scsi2 drive and the SLC
was used as aklobs.org.nz, the news server to the KCbbs network.
In early December 1993 a Sun IPC system was purchased and this replaced the SLC as aklobs. The SLC became KCbbs in December and the 486 based systems running 386BSD were closed. A 1.4 gig drive was installed in the IPC and the 1 gig drive was used in KCbbs on the SLC.
SunOS 4.1.3c was installed on both systems.
The 486 based systems were sold.
At this time several more Sun SLC computers became available and as Alan Marston was building up the PlaNet coopertive there was great interest from many potential new ISPs throughout NZ.
Two SLCs were sold to Jon Clarke for use with ICONZ and status BBS.
An SLC was sold to new ISPs forming the PlaNet network, these included Palmerston North PlaNet, Christchurch PlaNet, REAP (Taupo), and Dunedin PlaNet.
Assisting in configuring and setup of these systems took most of November and December 1993. Also in early October 1993 the Auckland PlaNet bbs system was installed to directly connect to the KCbbs ethernet network. This was a Linux based 486DX33 system with 2 phone lines and 600megs of disk space. This gave PlaNet full IP access and initially PlaNet used one of the KC IP numbers until it obtained its own IP netowrk (18.104.22.168) in March 1994.
Eventually Auckland PlaNet also obtained a Sun SLC system.
386BSD did survive on the KCbbs network as a an 8 line terminal server although it was installed on a 386DX40 system with a 1.44 floppy drive and no hard disk. This 8 port terminal sever proved very successful and run continuously for nearly a year before it was replaced with a Linux based terminal server.December was somewhat hectic as more Sun equipment became available. An IPC with 20inch screen was purchased from a design company in Wellington and this was configured to become KC's news server. However with SunOS 4.1.3 becoming available and the memory in the IPC upgraded to 40 megs this system was only used as a news server for a few weeks (into 1994) The KC network now consisted of 4 computer systems:
22.214.171.124 KCbbs, a Sun SLC, SunOS 4.1.3c
202,14.102.2 Aklobs, a Sun IPC, SunOS 4.1.3c (news server)
126.96.36.199 KCserver, a 386dx40 running 386BSD
188.8.131.52 KCrouter, a 286-16 running DOS/PCroute
January 1994 saw the reconfiguring of the Sun Systems used on KC, the IPC became the main KCbbs computer while an SLC was used as aklobs, the news server. Most of January and February was used obtaining a wide range of system software, development tools and ISP programs for SunOS. New disk drives were obtained for KC and aklobs.In March 1994 a Sun SS2 system was purchased and replaced the IPC as kcbbs. The 1 gig drive was replaced with a 1.4gig fast scsi2 drive. Throughout early 1994 various Sun peripherals were obtained including CDrom drives, tape drives and various sbus cards. Another IPC system was purchased and the first IPC was sold. Two CG6 accelerated graphics cards were obtained as was an sbus ethernet controller and a mono 17inch screen and sbus card.
In April 1994 PlaNet changed to use a Sun SLC system and a 486SX25 was used
as a 4 line terminal server. A floppy disk version of Linux was used for this.
An SBUS ethernet controller was added to KCbbs to provide an ethernet gateway to the PlaNet IP network. This was assigned IP number 184.108.40.206 and at the PlaNet end was 220.127.116.11.
KCbbs continued to act an an ethernet bridge to the PlaNet network for several months until the PlaNet terminal server was upgraded with a second ethernet card so that it could take over the gateway function from KCbbs.
This overcame the problem that disconnecting KCbbs for servicing would also disconnect the PlaNet network from the Internet.
In August 1994 a Sun SS1+ system was purchased and the IPC replaced
on aklobs. The IPC was sold.
Also in August dial up SLIP was enabled on KCbbs and within a few weeks there were over 50 users using dial up SLIP to connect to the internet via KCbbs.
In October 1994 a DEC Brouter was purchased and this replaced the PC router at KCbbs. At Auckland University the PC router was removed and a port on a Cisco 4000 was used for KC's MDDS connection. PPP was used instead of SLIP over the 48k link and throughput as well as overall reliability was increased.Usenet news now accounted for about 25% of the 48k link's bandwidth News averaged 220 megs per day over 3200 newsgroups. The 1 gig news partition on Aklobs could store an average of 4 days news for a full newsfeed.
In December 1994 two more DEC brouters were purchased along with a DEC Hub 90 backplane. A Wide band DDS connection to Waikato University was installed on the 12th December and commissioned on the 23rd December. A DEC brouter was sent to Waikato for use at that end of the WDDS connection. Although the WDDS is a 2 megabit service only 128Kbit bandwidth was purchased.
In January 1995 two more IP connected sites went through installation of MDDS links to the KC network. These were Acorn Computers (48k) and Madison Systems (9k6). In early February Hybrid connected via a 9k6 MDDS and in late February NZNET connected via a 28k8 analogue dial up link. In March 1995 a 9k6 MDDS was installed to NRM publishing and an experimental ethernet radio link was installed.At the start of March PPP was installed on KCbbs and made available as an alternate to SLIP for dial up Internet connections.
A Second 4 port card for the 4500 was purchased 26 July and installed. Over
the next few days NZnet, INZO, and IDG communications mdds connections were
moved to ports on the 4500.
Also in the last week of July three new mdds links were installed. A 64k link to Orion Systems Ltd, a 48K mdds to Auckland City Council IT Dept, and a 64K mdds to ADBS Ltd. ADBS and Orion were connected to the last two wan ports on kc4500. A Spider ATTO router was provided for the Auckland City Council connection.
One of the dial up modem lines was moved from kcserver to the AUX async port on the 4500.
On the last day of July a Cisco 4000M chassis and a Cisco 2511 were ordered for delivery in late August
After experimenting for 3 weeks it was obvious that the Spider Primary rate
ISDN was not compatible with the New Zealand NEC neax61e pri isdn switch
used by Telecom NZ. Although Spider technical staff in UK suggested various
changes in configuration the hardware would not establish a connection.
Kaon Technologies agreed to take back the card and in its place another
MEZZA router was ordered with a 3port X21 interface card and single port
ISDN BRI port. A second 3port X21 controller was immediately obtained for
the first MEZZA and this router was configured to handle six serial X21
The Auckland City Council 48K MDDS was moved to a MEZZA port and data compression enabled
At the start of October 1995 a Cisco 4500M and a Cisco 4000M were ordered configured with cE1 controllers after a series of discussions with Telecom NZ and their agreeing to install a stacked wideband DDS at both KCCS and Waikato. The plan was to provide a Cisco 4500 at each location and have installed 64K and 128K MDDS connections made directly into the 2meg wideband DDS circuit at each end (which was currently used for KC's main IP link from Auckland to Hamilton)On 20 October the first Cisco 4000M arrives with cE1 controller The borrowed cE1 controller from Cisco NZ is returned and this 4000M now takes over managing the Primary rate ISDN system. The first 4000M chassis is sold to NZ Net configured with an 8port BRI controller and a dual port serial controller. It is deliver in November 1995 when the 8port BRI card arrives.
Kaon Technologies connect to KC via a 48K MDDS in early October. This is
into a serial port on the MEZZA. Kaon also use a MEZZA so full link compression
In mid October the 48K MDDS link into Auckland University is disconnected and Intouch take over the KC end of this MDDS
On the 20 December the stacked wideband dds is installed at KCCS and
four of the customer 64K dds links are converted to use it. These are from
Orion, NZNet, Inzo and Netbyte. KC's 256k link to Waikato is also configured
to use four timeslots of the SWDDS.
Within the next three days Terabyte Interactive upgrade from 48K mdds to 64K DDS and this also uses a SWDDS timeslot. The urgency of the Terabyte link upgrade was to allow Terabyte to provide an online webserver over the Christmas/New Year holiday period where the day to day results of the Sydney to Hobart yacht race were reported.
As the new year started everything was looking good for KC. New customer
enquiries were arriving almost daily, the plans for the stacked wideband
DDS services at Auckland, Hamilton and Wellington looked very promising
and already customers were committing to connections into the SWDDS
services in all three centres.
The Net, an ISP in Hamilton, connected to KC's router at Waikato via a Telecom 48K MDDS. The 20th January was the agreed date with Telecom for the installation of a stacked wideband dds at Hamilton. When this did not happen Telecom indicated there were several problems that would be resolved with a week or so.
In March, NZ Product Link upgraded their link to 48K mdds and connect
into the MEZZA with a Spider ATTO router. With compression between the
MEZZA and ATTO routers (proprietry Spider compression) the throughtput
averages over 80Kbits/second.
PlaNet Hamilton connected to KC's router in Waikato Univeristy via a 48K MDDS. This was a new ISP started by Richard Lummus who had just recently moved to Hamilton from Auckland.
In May the major changes to the KC network was the moving of quite a few
existing DDS customers and the connection of another dozen or so new
customers to KC's Primary Rate ISDN. The introduction of Centrex ISDN
provided a very low cost option for an internet connection. The process
was completed for KC to obtain an ISDN Centrex Basic Business Group (BBG)
number and then since the PRI was connected in the Central Business District
of Auckland, other businesses in the CBD could be part of KC's BBG.
The overall cost of this was $130/month for a 128K ISDN link. Among the companies that took advantage of this Centrex ISDN were:
IDG Communications, who replaced a 64K MDDS with a BRI,
Netbyte ISP, who replaced a 128K MDDS with a BRI,
Madison Systems, who replaced a 9k6 MDDS with a BRI,
Datasure, who replaced a 9k6 MDDS with a BRI.
These four had alll moved to BRI before the end of July. New enquiries for Centrex connections numberd eight before the end of the month.
DF Mainland Ltd agreed to install a 48K MDDS link to KC, this was ordered from Telecom in late May.
In June there were several new MDDS and ISDN connections to KC.
A new ISP, Powerlink, and DF Mainland Ltd, both with 48K MDDS.
The Cisco 4000M at Waikato was upgraded to a Cisco 4500M and link compression enabled over the 512K WDDS link to KC in Auckland. At the same time the 64K DDS link to Tauranga was also compressed. A new Cisco 2800 ethernet switch was obtained. This replaced two eight port rj45 hubs used in the KC network. This new switch immediately solved several ethernet performance bottlenecks that had become evident over the last few months.
August connections included OBM with an ISDN BRI via Centrex as part of KC's BBG and Creative CGI also via Centrex ISDN BRI to KC.>br> Negociations with Telstra were opened this month for an international link. A new Sun Ultra 1-140 was purchased. This was to become KC's news server replacing the existing Sun SS20 system.
September 1996 two more ISPs connected to KC, these were Ram Management in
Napier and the Packing Shed in Franklin. Ram had a 128K DDS link to
Waikato University and changed to a 64K DDS to use KC's 4500 router at
Waikato. As part of the cooperative of ISPs using KC's Waikato connection
Ram found it more cost effective. Also by compressing the 64K DDS it was
found the 64K DDS was more than sufficient for their existing traffic.
Franklin's Packing Shed were connected to Cybernet in Auckland via a dial
up 28k8 link. After initially enquiring about moving in June 1996 it took
Telecom NZ several months to get the 64K DDS circuit commissioned. When
this was completed in September the connection to KC was completed within
a day. This DDS link used a single channel in KC's stacked Wideband DDS.
At the PS end a New Technologies X21 Sync controller card was used. This
is an internal PC card with drivers for the FreeBSD operating system used by
Armstrong-Jones connected to KC via a BRI into KC's BBG. Telecom were asked to move the 64K DDS link from Hamilton to Tauranga so that it connected between Auckland and Tauranga. This was completed with a week.
The memory in the Sun Ultra 1-140 was expanded to 128megs. Progress was slow in obtaining and recompiling all the required systems software for the Solaris 2.5 operating system in use with this computer.
November started with a meeting in Napier to look at setting up a connection
from Auckland to Napier and then having as many 'A' step DDS connections
as possible to it. This idea came about because the Telecom charging schedule
shows more of the lower cost A steps to Napier than any other north Island
location. With DDS connections from Gisborne to Wellington it was just
possible to provide a minimum cost connection for up to six ISPs that almost
all already connected to KC's router at Waikato.
Kapiti PlaNet moved from a 48K connection to Wellington PlaNet to be the first ISP with a 64K DDS connecting to the new Napier hub.
1997In early January 1997 the Axil Ultra was installed as KCBBS. This replaced a Sun Microsparc 4 (110Mhz) system which was ultimately sold to another ISP.
In October a new Cisco 5002 switch was ordered for the KC network. This was
purchased with a WS-X5009 Superviser 1 engine and a WS-X5213A auto sensing
12 port 10/100baseTX controller. When this switch was commissioned the
2800 switch was sold to North Shore Planet.
A second Axil Ultra 1 system was order from BCL in early November for delivery in December 1997. This used a 250Mhz ultrasparc cpu and was configured using Sun Disk Suite to provide disk raid (1) and large disk capacity support over four wide scsi 4.3gig disk drives. The setup used 13 gigs of disk as a new partition.
This new news server was installed on 31 December 1997 and replaced a Sun Ultra 1-140 system.
In July a new Cisco 7507 router was ordered for KC. This was to replace the
two Cisco 3640 routers and 4500M routers used to connect the dial up Centrex
ISDNs and Stacked Wideband DDS circuits at KC. The Megalink circuits to
Telstra and Newmarket would also be connect to this new router.
Initially the router was configured with one AC power supply, an RSP2 processor, one VIP2-40 and two VIP2-15 controllers, a fast ethernet, six channelised E1, four E1 G703 and four X21 serial ports.
During August and September upgrade kits were purchased for the two VIP2-15 controllers to upgrade then to VIP2-40 (extra sram and main memory).
A VIP2-50 (8meg sram and 128meg main memory) was purchased in August 1998 and shortly after that a second AC power supply was purchased for the 7507. This redundant PS is connected to the main battery backup system at KC and only powers up when AC poser fails.
In early November a Sun SS20-61 server system was purchased along with quite a few extra accessories including over 512M of memory simms. These memories were used to upgrade the Axil 1-250 used as the main kcbbs.gen.nz machine.
The SS20 was configured with 384megs of memory and with a new internal 2gig scsi drive, an external 9gig scsi drive, and fast ethernet controller was set up as a Squid cache server on the KC network
In early November the Cisco as5200 modem server at KC (with five Microcom 12 port V90 modem cards) was replaced by one of the Cisco 3640 routers with sixty Mica digital V90 modems. The as5200 was sold to Auckland Planet where it was installed as their flat rate server. Two of the Microcom modem cards were redeplyed to other as5200 servers in the Planet network (Tauranga and Blenheim).
In June 1999 after six months using a Cisco 3640 as KC's main dial in server
a new Cisco as5200 modem server with sixty MICA digital modems was installed
to replace the 3640.
A new stacked wideband DDS was installed at KC in July. This was necessary as the existing three SWDDS were just about fully utilised with only a few remaining timeslots available from the total of ninety. Withing days of the new SWDDS being commissioned some fourteen timeslots were already reserved for three new DDS connecting to KC and three circuit upgrades to existing DDS.
In August an RSP4 main cpu and an eight port channelised E1 controller were purchased for the 7507. These were both installed that month and the RSP4 took over from the RSP2 as the main cpu in the 7507. The RSP2 was removed later that month.
Early September the Axil 1-200 used as KC's news server was retired. In its place a PC with Pentium II-400, 30 gigs of disk space and 256megs of memory was configured with Linux and a new version of INN as the news server.
September saw the arrival of a Cisco 5000 series switch to replace the 5002 switch. The 5000 has a supervisor 2 engine with two 100baseFX ports, one of these connecting to the 7507. There are two WS-X5213A twelve port 10/100 baseTX ports.
During October/November several more upgrades were undertaken to the Cisco 7507 router.
The first was the purchase of two 48V DC power supplies. These are eventually intended to replace the AC power supplies when most of KC's systems will be powered from a 48V DC power subsystem (Mid year 2000 planned installation).
Three additional fast ethernet interfaces and a new VIP2-40 controller were purchased, This takles the 7507 to full capacity with all interface slots utilised by VIP controllers and all VIP bays used to connect various network interfaces.
The additional ethernet ports now connect a network of telehoused servers to KC and also provide a direct connection to the Planet network.