NUTS Frequently Asked Questions

v1.1 (26 July 1997)

The following FAQ is transcribed for posterity from the NUTS homepage. It has been formatted in the style of this site; you can view the plain text format or download the original source.

Written by Neil Robertson (

What is NUTS?

NUTS stands for Neils Unix Talk Server and is a term for a collection of different versions of server which have been produced over the years since 1993 (all written by me). The current (and final) version is 3.3.3 which was released in November 1996. NUTS was born out of a university final year networking project which escaped the clutches of my lecturers storage/waste bin and made it out onto the internet with the “rm” command snapping at its heals to become one of the most popular types of talk server alongside Foothills and its derivatives.

Where can I get it from?

The current version is available at the official NUTS site which is:

The only problem with this site is that it can be rather slow but apparently there are other sites with NUTS on though I’ve lost my list and don’t know where they are. If anyone cares to remind me…

There is also a web page at:

How does it work?

All NUTS servers are written in C for unix systems and they use TCP sockets to set up ports which users connect to to log in on using a client program such as Telnet or TUsh. NUTS versions 1 and 2 only supported line mode client sessions and so ruling out most Windows clients (awwww) but NUTS 3 also supports character mode so Windows telnet users can also connect (though this area is still a bit flakey in certain respects such as in echoing). Anyone with a suitable Unix ANSI C compiler should be able to compile NUTS so long as they have the required libraries on their system. FreeBSD users note that there is a problem with the crypt libraries on your system.

What will it run on?

NUTS is exclusively a Unix program, it will not compile or run on any other system type without a serious amount of recoding. I’d like to see it running on NT and VMS but I have no access to a development system on either of these so thats unlikely to happen. As for any other platform, well are there any that are worth the effort? W95 is too unstable, 3.1 and MacOS have no pre-emptive multitasking so they’re out, no one uses OS/2 and porting to MS-DOS would be impossible as the required libraries and functionality simply aren’t available.

What are the features?

Apart from the usual stuff such as multiple rooms, internal mail, message boards, user profiles, etc., the latest version of NUTS also supports among other things: ansi colour, cloning, auto shutdown/reboot and the ability to link talkers together via the “netlink” facility.

The netlink facility is really what seperates NUTS 3 from ealier major releases. Each talker can have as many links as it has rooms as 1 remote talker is allowed to connect to each room and once a link is established either via your talker initiating the link or a remote talker doing it, then users can traverse the link (which appears as a room link) and find themselves on the remote system. Once they are there then they can behave as a local user would on that system the only restrictions being that they cannot use the editor and they cannot traverse yet another link to another talker unless it is a link back to their own home talker.

The cloning facility is only available to wizes and gods (though that can be altered to suit) and allows them to create clones of themselves in particular rooms so they can listen in to the conversation without actually being there. In effect the wiz can be in a number of rooms at once. An example of use would be if a wiz and someone else were in a room having a conversation but the wiz also wanted to be in the login room so when someone arrives he can welcome them. Clones can speak so the wiz can have a cursory chat with the new person via his clone. Another use is when the clone is set so it only hears swear words (normally it relays all speech in its room back to its owner). A wiz could create a clone in a room where some known trouble makers are hanging out but he would only ever see the parts of the conversation where any abuse is occuring (though anyone with half a brain can just spell his swear words slightly different so the wiz sees nothing). Basically clones are a bit frivolous but I simply wrote them as a programming challenge.

ANSI colour codes are supported and can be placed in speech, mail, profiles, messages by users as well as being available to be used in the C code itself by using special NUTS colour codes. Not everyone likes colour and some terminals don’t support it so it can be individually switched off by a user but in general I think it makes a talker look nicer. After all, if colour is no big deal why don’t we all still watch black and white TV?

Are there any bugs?

Unfortunately yes. NUTS 3.3.3 is close on 8000 lines of code and the chances of 1 person (me) being able to find and remove 100% of the bugs is pretty small. All the bugs emailed to me by other people have been fixed, however the ones which went unnoticed until it was too late (and some fixes for them) are listed on the following web page:

IForms looks like NUTS, what is it?

IForms is a bastardised version of NUTS 1 written by “Deep” (real name Vince Rohr). Its a semi-rewrite of NUTS 1 and personally I’m not a great fan of either its code or its online functionality but some people like it. It’s looking rather dated these days.

Are there any other hacked NUTS versions?

Yes, loads, though as far as I know they’re mostly all one offs created by the administrators of the talkers using the code. I believe there are or were a couple of other modified NUTS versions knocking around the net available to the public but I don’t know their names. Please be aware that I will not help you fix or modify any already modified version of NUTS so if you have one of these don’t bother mailing me with any problems.

The future of NUTS

NUTS 3 will not be developed any further unless theres an unprecedented demand for a bug fixed version. I was planning on doing a NUTS 4 but I couldn’t really see any way to develop NUTS any further without it suffering from feature bloat. What I am doing instead is writing a virtual OS which is called Avios (A VIrtual OS, pronounced avee-os) and has pre-emptive multitasking of processes written in the Avios programming language. The system will allow easy building of network servers (eg: a time server requires 3 lines of code) without the user having to resort to coding C or worrying about socket creation and calls.