PEINet in 1995

One more email message from the archives, this one a 1995 note to someone inside Computer Services in the PEI Government outlining the capabilities of PEINet, at the time the Island’s only Internet provide (had we started calling it the “Internet” in 1995?). The “Internet Information Centre” was the name we were using for the website of the Province of PEI at the time. This was in the time before the website was hosted internally; we were running on PEINet’s shared server.

As per our meeting last week, the following is a summary of the facilities presently availble to use through PEINet for the Internet Information Centre.
PEINet is running version 1.4.2 of the public domain NCSA WWW server, patched (at your request) to allow for “multi-homing” (which allows the server to seamlessly service more than one domain name). The server software is adequate for all needs but those which involve secure transactions, for which it has little facility beyond username/password access control (i.e. no encryption, etc.). If we are to expand to Internet Information Centre to allow, for example, Provincial Deposit Receipts to be purchased, or tress from the Bunbury Tree Nursery to be purchased, then we would require some sort of secure payment mechanism, most likely the Netscape Commerce server or a similar product.
In addition to the server software, we have access to the UNIX shell and to the perl language (presently version 4.036, soon to be upgraded by PEINet to version 5.000) for creating scripts for system maintenance and for creating search engines and other interactive components of the WWW system. Perl is an interpreted language, and PEInet provides interactive access to the interpreter and full access to the script files, so programming and debugging can be done on their system.
When additional functionality or speed is required, PEINet provides indirect access to thier ‘C’ development system, meaning that ‘C’ applications need to be submitted to the PEINet system administrator for compiling. To date there has been only one instance where this has been required, and this indirect access had not proved a problem.
Host Machine
The PEINet host is a DEC Alpha running at ~200 megahertz using the OSF/1 [aka DEC UNIX] operating system. Nothing we have done to date has exceeded the capacity of this host. Because many of the perl scripts rely on “brute force” to search through large text files (e.g. each library catalog search requires grep’ing a 32 meg file), we would have to consider the speed impacts of a slower machine.
Otherwise, the httpd daemon which runs the WWW server is not processor intensive and, for normal use, anything from an Intel Pentium 75 running WinNT on up would be more than adeqaute for our present traffic.
Internet Connection
I’ve been unable to divine whether PEINet has a full T1 connection to the CA*net backbone, or merely a fraction thereof. In any case, their present connectivity appears to be adequate for our need. I regularly use the PEINet host through an indirect link which takes me Charlottetown-Toronto-Virginia-New York-Toronto- Newfoundland-Charlottetown, with no noticeable system lag.
We have contracted for 500 megabytes of storage space, of which we are presently using 69 megabytes. Our current quota on PEINet’s host is 150 megabytes and we have been told to give advance notice to increase that towards our maximum. I don’t anticipate coming up against the 500 meg limit within the next year unless large databases or image/video/sound collections are to be mounted.
One SLIP/PPP/Dial-up account for WWW maintenance. This account has full access to all Government WWW files and directories, and can add, delete, modify any file at any time. This includes access to the “cgi-bin” directory, which is the repository for scripts (search engines, etc.) called by WWW pages. Access is 24 hours per day, 7 days a week.
Techical and Emergency Support
PEINet provides advanced technical support during regular business hours on weekdays. There is no backup technical support when the system administrator is out of the office or on vacation. Emergency technical support is available, on a somewhat spotty basis, evenings and weekends. Response to critical situations (server down, filesystem full, etc.) has varied between excellent (i.e. 5 minute response to a page) to non-existant (no response until the next business day). Technical support has generally improved since the increase in hours and staff brought on by the opening of Cycor.