A Tale of Three Telnets

I open this week’s newsletter with a question: Am I the only Windows NT/Windows 2000 (Win2K) user left who uses telnet? I ask because I’ve been having some trouble since Release Candidate 1 (RC1)—and a lot of trouble since RC2. My uses for telnet are specialized (I’m a private pilot, and I use telnet to get aviation weather data and file flight plans), and that has lead to a problem. When I get weather data or file a flight plan, I like to keep a printed copy, which means that I need to capture the text during the telnet session.

In NT 4.0 and Windows 98, capturing text is easy. I run Microsoft’s Windows-based telnet client (telnet.exe) and select Start Logging from the Terminal menu. Then I do whatever tasks I need to do online, select Stop Logging, and save the resulting text file. I can then print the text file and take it with me. Recently, I’ve skipped the printout and just copied the text to a Windows CE-based Palm-sized PC (P/PC) device.

When Win2K RC1 came out, I got a shock the first time I tried to telnet. Instead of the familiar Windows-based telnet, up popped a command prompt with a console-mode (text-based) program saying, "Welcome to Microsoft Telnet Client." I said a few unkind words about people who make changes without telling me and then tried to figure out how to capture text with the new telnet—but if there’s a way, it escapes me. I can pipe the output to a file (i.e., telnet >log.txt), but at that point, the window goes blank because all the text is going to the file rather than to the console. ARRGGGHHHH!

A little fiddling showed me a workaround. Microsoft didn’t get rid of the old Windows-based telnet—just renamed it telnetc. I just typed telnetc and was off to the races—until RC2 came out. RC2 updated the console-mode telnet with a new version (all that I can find different is the build number) and dropped the Windows-based version completely.

Microsoft told me the console-mode telnet is a placeholder for a more advanced version that we’ll see in the Services for UNIX add-on pack. I’ve looked at the telnet in the add-on and guess what: It’s just a later (and larger) build of the console-mode telnet that started all the trouble. Microsoft also suggested a workaround: Copy the Windows-based telnet (just look for a file named telnet.exe) from either NT 4.0 or Win98. I did that and renamed the file telnetc.exe to recreate the situation in RC1.

Am I the only user who still cares about telnet? If any other telnet users are out there, would you let me know what you’re using? I’d really like to know!

TAGS: Windows 8
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