SlipKnot information for Freenet and BBS sysops

SlipKnot can be used in a restricted (menu-based) environment!

If you are a Freenet sysop or administrator, and are interested in details not covered below, please contact us


Current Version Numbers as of Mar. 4, 1996:


Quick Summary

Conclusion: If you run a UNIX-based Freenet system, SlipKnot will allow your subscribers to surf the Web graphically (like Netscape or Mosaic). You DO NOT need to offer SLIP services, or change your menus (except adding one more menu item) or give up any security.

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What is SlipKnot?

SlipKnot is graphical WWW browser for PC Windows (WfW, Win95, NT, OS/2) users with subscriptions to dial-up UNIX-based accounts. SlipKnot does not require SLIP, PPP or TCP/IP services in any form (no SLIP-emulators required, like TIA or SLiRP or twinsock).

MicroMind has just released version 1.50 of SlipKnot which allows the program to run with UNIX-based Freenets and certain BBS configurations. Prior to version 1.13, users of SlipKnot needed to have unrestricted UNIX shell accounts.

MicroMind now makes available the simple tools to allow UNIX-based Freenet and BBS subscribers to use SlipKnot, even on menu-based systems. The only requirement is that there must be a UNIX-based machine with Internet connectivity (BBS operators, please skip to: SlipKnot for BBS

SlipKnot is the winner of the Ziff-Davis/PC Magazine Award: Best Shareware Communications Program of 1995.

For (much) more SlipKnot general information see our SlipKnot Home Page

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SlipKnot for Freenets

If you DO give your subscribers shell accounts:

If you have a UNIX-based Freenet, and allow your subscribers to access their own shell accounts, then SlipKnot will work immediately! In other words, if your subscribers can:

then they can already use SlipKnot. You, or they, can download the software from the following How does SlipKnot work?). So...

Solution: We provide you with a "restricted shell" program that you can install on your UNIX system to be executed by a new menu item in one of your menu screens. When that menu item is selected, it will run this shell program (called: snshell) and provide a command-line for the user. If the subscriber is using SlipKnot at this point, then she can just switch from SlipKnot's Terminal screen into the SlipKnot Web browser screen, and be off browsing.

What you need to do to install SnShell (as a freenet sysop):

  1. Retrieve and compile the SlipKnot restricted shell program (Jump to SnShell information).
  2. Test the shell program to ensure that it is secure for your installation (change configurations, check source code, etc.).
  3. Create a menu item called, say, "World Wide Web using SlipKnot"
  4. Make sure that the menu item leads to a further menu providing documentation on getting and installing SlipKnot. For instance, this menu item can lead to a submenu that looks like:
  5. Execute the snshell program when the user presses the "Go to SlipKnot Shell now" menu item.

Additional help for your users in getting and installing SlipKnot:

What a user needs to do to run SlipKnot

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What the snshell program does:

snshell security

snshell features

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SlipKnot for BBS sysops

SlipKnot users, while they are surfing the Web, need to interface with a UNIX shell, or shell-like, account. Therefore, if a BBS system can open a "door" to a UNIX machine, and provide a shell-like interface through that door, then SlipKnot can be used for surfing thereafter.

For small to mid-sized BBS's, you can make an arrangement with a local UNIX-based Internet Service Provider, purchasing a single login account that can then be used through that "door" by multiple BBS subscribers. The ISP can charge somewhat more because it knows that multiple people may be using the same login ID.

With this mechanism, the BBS need not provide any direct World Wide Web service at all, because all of it would be handled by the UNIX-based ISP (which would do the document retrievals) and SlipKnot (which would display the pages and allow the navigation). The number of users that can comfortably use such a link is determined by the capacity of the BBS/UNIX communications line (and experience).

To discuss other possibilties based on your own configuration please contact us. Return to Top

FTP sites for SlipKnot and SnShell

SlipKnot Version 1.50 can be downloaded from:


The SlipKnot "restricted" shell program (snshell):



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How does SlipKnot work?

First of all, SlipKnot is actually two, independent cooperating programs: SlipKnot Terminal and SlipKnot WEB.

The Terminal is what you see when you first execute SlipKnot. It provides you with an ordinary terminal session into your service provider's UNIX system.

The WEB renderer (SlipKnot WEB) is a different program that is launched by the Terminal when you want to browse the World Wide Web. It paints and prints the documents, manages folders, keeps the retrieval job queues, etc.

Here's what happens when you request a document to be retrieved, either by pressing on an underlined link or typing in the name explicitly:

  1. The WEB renderer sends your request to the Terminal (which is still active but invisible).
  2. The Terminal sends the request to your service provider's UNIX system. In effect, it executes a standard UNIX command to retrieve the document or file from the remote internet computer.
  3. The Terminal checks the status of this UNIX request periodically, and if it fails for any reason, it tries again.
  4. When the file has been retrieved from the remote machine, it is placed by your UNIX system inside your personal directory on your UNIX system.
  5. The Terminal then starts downloading that file to your PC.
  6. When Terminal is finished, it sends a message to the WEB renderer indicating that the requested file is now available on your PC.
  7. The WEB renderer scans the file, looking for references to any pictures that must be included in the document when it is displayed (the pictures are inside separate files on the remote computer).
  8. If the WEB finds that there are pictures to be retrieved, it sends these requests to the Terminal, which retrieves them one by one.
  9. When all of the necessary files have come in, the WEB renderer converts the images, and then "plots" the document (does the layout according to the typefaces you've specified in your Configure options). Then the document appears.

The separation of these two functions (communications by the Terminal, display by the WEB renderer) allows retrieval to be done in the background, while you are scrolling and reading documents in the foreground.

Design note: SlipKnot was specifically designed for modem users. Unlike other World Wide Web browsers, SlipKnot understands that its users will have to wait a while for each document to be retrieved from the internet. Therefore, we included many features to allow multiple documents to be seen, stored, and printed to prevent you from having to retrieve documents unnecessarily.

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Contacting us

For any questions, please contact: 

Other SlipKnot installations

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Return to SlipKnot Home Page