Kermit 95 and QmodemPro for Windows® 95

QmodemPro 2.0 for Windows 95 is a communications software package from Mustang Software Inc. It is "full GUI" and well integrated with Windows 95. QmodemPro appears to be primarily targeted at the BBS / ZMODEM user community. It has excellent ANSI terminal emulation, supports RIP scripts, "doorway mode", "host mode", "ANSI music", and so forth, and has what appears to be a good ZMODEM implementation.

Here is a side-by-side comparison of the major aspects of QmodemPro and Kermit 95:

QmodemPro Kermit 95
List price $129(*) $79 Single-copy retail (street) price About $99(*) $54 Academic site license available No(*) Yes Inexpensive right-to-copy licenses No(*) Yes Runs on Windows 95 Yes Yes Runs on Windows NT (Intel) No Yes Runs on Windows NT (Alpha) No Yes Runs on Windows NT (PowerPC) No Yes Disk space required 6+ MB 3.4 MB Preloaded dialing directory entries 6 Over 200 ANSI, VT52, VT100/102/220/320 emulation Yes Yes VTTEST score 46 105 3270 emulation No(**) No Other emulations Yes Yes TELNET client Yes Yes Rlogin client No Yes LAT client No Yes Incoming TELNET No Yes Host mode for dialin clients Yes Yes Host mode for incoming Telnet clients No Yes Scripting Yes Yes Key mapping Yes Yes Color control Yes Yes Printer control Yes Yes Character translation in terminal emulation User-defined Built in Character translation in file transfer User-defined Built in Kermit, X/Y/ZMODEM protocols Yes Yes Binary-mode file transfer Yes Yes Text-mode file transfer No Yes RIP scripts, doorway mode, etc... Yes No

(*)QmodemPro pricing based on published announcements and retail survey, likely to vary.

(**)QmodemPro claims to support 3270 terminal emulation, but this is only TVI-925 emulation with a special keymap. 3270 sessions direct to an IBM mainframe can not be established.


Faithful VT100/102/220/320 emulation is a must in many organizations. QmodemPro fares poorly on the vttest VT100/102 test suite, failing a majority of the tests with a score of 46. Kermit 95's score is 105.

Here are several key differences between the VT terminal emulators:

QmodemPro Kermit 95
Host-directed 80/132 mode switching: No Yes Host-directed cursor keypad mode switching: No Yes Host-directed numeric keypad mode switching: No Yes Host-directed newline mode switching: No Yes Host-directed printing: No Yes Insert/delete character within line: No Yes Comes with full VT220 key map: No Yes Comes with EMACS key map: No Yes VT220/320 report requests supported: 7 33

A vital aspect of VT terminal emulation is the "mode" of the cursor and numeric keypads, and of the Return (Enter) key. These keys can send different codes or sequences depending on what mode they are in. Different host applications expect them to be in certain modes, and properly designed applications actually send special escape sequences to put these keys and key groups into the expected mode. QmodemPro has no mechanism to support this.

Kermit 95, however, includes a built-in "verb" for every VT100 and VT220/320 terminal key (and many others besides). Unlike a literal character string, a keyboard verb carries within it all the behaviors of the corresponding VT terminal key. For example, the VT terminal Up-Arrow key sends ESC O A, ESC [ A, 155 A, or ESC A, depending on what mode the cursor keypad is in. The Kermit Keyboard verb "KupArr" (assigned to the Up-Arrow key by default) tracks these modes automatically and sends the appropriate sequence.

Furthermore, Kermit 95 allows remapping of every key or key combination that produces a readable and unique scan code (more than 600 of them on the US keyboard), whereas QmodemPro only allows 32 keys to be mapped. Also, since Kermit's key identification method is independent of the keyboard type or nationality, it is possible to map national keys or other special keys not found on US keyboards.


QmodemPro's TELNET seems to have been added as an afterthought -- it is not easy to find!

There are some well-known bugs in QmodemPro's TELNET implementation, such as the difficulties when attempting to log in to most UNIX hosts. Every program has bugs, and no doubt patches will be issued on the Mustang BBS or Web page.

More serious is QmodemPro's apparent inability to make a connection to a non-TELNET port.

And perhaps of greater consequence is QmodemPro's lack of user-level controls over the TELNET connection. The TELNET protocol is surprisingly complicated, and implementations are subject to the interpretation of the many relevant specification documents. In the real world we find many TELNET servers that behave differently from one another, and often fail to negotiate various protocol items consistently (or correctly, or at all), and some that simply make incorrect assumptions about what "mode" the client program is in. Kermit 95 allows itself to be adjusted to most types of TELNET servers, as well as to other non-TELNET services that can be TELNET'd to.


Both programs support X-, Y-, and ZMODEM protocols as well as Columbia University's Kermit protocol. Kermit 95, however, provides numerous file-transfer protocol controls and adjustments, and QmodemPro provides few. For example, in QmodemPro there seems to be no way to initiate a text-mode file transfer. Therefore, whenever you send a text file from your PC to (say) UNIX, an IBM mainframe, a Macintosh, or a VMS system, it will be in the wrong format.

Aside from the lack of adjustability, the XYZMODEM implementations are roughly equivalent.

But not the quality of the Kermit implementations. Many sites and services require Kermit protocol because it works in a wide variety of host and/or communications environments where the XYZMODEM family of protocols does not work, and also because ZYZMODEM protocols are simply not available for as many platforms -- IBM mainframes, for example.

The Kermit protocol in QmodemPro simply does not work in conjunction with any modern Kermit implementation (such as MS-DOS Kermit, C-Kermit, or IBM Mainframe Kermit). It misnegotiates critical features, causing either file-transfer failure or corrupted files, exactly like the Mustang BBS Kermit implementation.


Most modern communications software includes a script programming feature that allows routine tasks to be automated. QmodemPro and Kermit 95 are no exceptions, and their script languages are roughly comparable in features.

The difference is that Kermit's script language is portable across the hundreds of platforms where Kermit software (C-Kermit and MS-DOS Kermit) is available, whereas QmodemPro's script language is confined to the platforms where QmodemPro runs.

Thus large organizations that support a variety of platforms -- DOS, Windows, OS/2, UNIX, VMS, AOS/VS, VOS, etc -- can use Kermit software to leverage their script development costs by writing scripts that can run on all of those platforms, rather than a separate script for each one.


Character set translation is needed when the computer or service you are communicating with uses a different character set than your PC uses. This is true almost any time you are not communicating with a BBS. Character set translation is a vital function when dealing in text written in almost any language other than English (Dutch and Latin might be exceptions).

Kermit software has the most advanced character-set translation features of any communications software available anywhere, usable during both terminal emulation and file transfer. About six hundred combinations (translations) are built in. QmodemPro has no translations built in.

Furthermore, to support terminal emulation in the "Latin-1" (West European) and "Latin-2" (East European) languages, Kermit 95 includes a Compose key (like the VT220/320) for entering accented letters and other non-ASCII characters in a natural way; for example, Compose-a-' for a-acute ("á"). And it also includes special built-in keyboard modes for Hebrew and Russian.


QmodemPro is undoubtedly an excellent BBS client, and worth the extra price to serious BBS users. (Kermit 95 is a good BBS client too, as you can see from the screen shots, but presently lacks support for RIP scripts, "doorway mode", etc).

Others, however, particularly when making purchasing decisions for companies, universities, government agencies, or other organizations, should also weigh the following considerations:

If there are any errors in this review, please notify us by email. Also please feel free to post your own review of Kermit 95 or comparisons of it with other products to comp.protocols.kermit.misc.

Microsoft and Windows are registered trademarks of Microsoft Corporation.
Windows NT is a trademark of Microsoft Corporation.
QmodemPro is a trademark of Mustang Software, Inc.

Kermit for Windows 95 / Columbia University / / July 1996