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July 26, 2013

Baking Up the Layers to MPE on iPads

LayercakeSome of the best baked delicacies use layers for their goodness. Croissants have multiple layers of dough and butter, each to refine the flake-factor of that fine pasty. Impressive cakes come in a handful of layers, to include extra encounters with their filling and frosting. It's the same way today with getting MPE onto iOS devices. An MPE/iX author shared how he did it, with a photo to prove it, with a twist: his recipe includes the HP 3000 emulator from Stromays.

Jon Diercks has baked up a entree of many layers between PC hardware and iPad tablet, all with MPE/iX in mind. He started with a Windows 7 PC and ended up with a colon prompt on the iPad. Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) was the key to making iOS take its place alongside MPE/iX.

RDP is what Microsoft uses for Terminal Services. There are many RDP clients for iOS -- my current favorite is Remoter from RemoterLabs. I used Remoter to access the desktop off my Win7 PC, which was running the Charon emulator within VMWare Player. Linux is still involved (the virtual machine running under VMWare is running Fedora Linux, and the Charon emulator is running on that.

IPadCharonThe photo shows xhpterm running inside the Fedora VM. I have since also successfully used Minisoft WS92 running natively on the Win7 PC, talking to the emulator over the virtual IP network created by VMWare. I'm sure Reflection would work as well if I had it.

Diercks said that the total protocol/software stack, in sequence, is as follows:

Remoter app on iPad
RDP (optionally tunneled through SSH) over wi-fi
xhpterm (or Minisoft/Reflection)
NS/VT
MPE
Charon emulator
Fedora Linux
VMWareWindows 7

He is glad to admit that its "Lots of layers! Because it's a protocol, NS/VT "shows up" in both the terminal emulator and MPE."

xhpterm is Linux-specific, the closest thing to Reflection that can be found there, though it's much more limited. It's a graphical front-end to freevt3k, a related project that implements the client side of the NS/VT protocol. Both come pre-installed with the Charon emulator's virtual machine.

Remoter pops up the on-screen keyboard of the iPad if it's needed (transparently overlaid, so that the full screen is still visible underneath), but I prefer to use an external bluetooth keyboard. Block mode screens generally perform as expected, but xhpterm is not as robust as Reflection or Minisoft's MS92.

Okay, lots of layers. But Brian Edminster of Applied Technologies -- who was so impressed he'd printed the picture out and pinned it to his cubicle wall, "just to show you can teach an old dog new tricks" -- took note of what you can savor in all those layers.

Yes, lots of layers — but it gets you 'console' on the virtual-3000 and a 'HP' block-mode compatible terminal.

I was thinking it might have been simpler than that (i.e., a full-screen telnet client on the iPad, connecting via WiFi) but this is even better -- in that you can run VPlus applications on it.  As far as I know, there isn't a native NS/VT client for iOS, nor is there a telnet client that supports HP terminal emulation mode (like QCTerm does). Until then, this may be the only way to 'run' VPlus applications using your iPad.

06:24 PM in Homesteading | Permalink

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