What is a Toasternet?

toasternet - noun - networking
1. A low cost, low tech, publicly accessible local community network. This is probably an extension of the term "toaster" used to mean a small, cheap, slow computer.
2. The title of some informal notes on Internet addressing, ("Toasternet Part I and II"), circulated on the IETF mailing list during November 1991 and March 1992. Subsequent work was published in June 1993 in RFC 1475 and RFC 1476 and the "CATNIP" Internet-Draft by Robert L. Ullmann
The following article and photo was borrowed without permission from The Millenium Whole Earth Catalog, page 240:
Bill Woodcock builds fancy corporate computer networks by day and "chewing gum and baling wire" toasternets by night. He builds these consummate street-tech creatures out of "borrowed, salvaged, reclaimed, recycled, dumpster-dived, and cobbled-together hardware."

picture of Bill Woocock at a toasternet,
with each item labeled "Toasternets are private, independent Internet-connected networks that spring up in basements, closets, wherever there's space. They are built by individuals, often, using bizarre mixtures of mismatched hardware and software. Prototype highspeed routers and network hardware nestle comfortably among antiquated UNIX hosts built from ten-year-old discarded parts; alpha-test software runs on machines salvaged from junkyards and dumpsters. Macintoshes run ported PC software; PCs run one-of a-kind operating systems. Many toasternets seem at first like hellish tangles of junk, unlikely to work at all. Fact is, the intensity of competition, the rate of propagation, and the great variety of methods and combinations have created a form of electronic Darwinism. Software, protocols, and routing algorithms are born, fan out over the net, and disappear, prey to faster, more reliable, more portable new generations. Toasternets are a hothouse for technological standards, and we all profit from the resulting hybrid vigor." - Bill Woodcock

1) FTP server drive. 2) POP mail spooler. 3) Prototype PPP router being tested. 4) Livingston Portmaster router. 5) Norris Earphone atop a stack of modems. 6) punchdown blocks. 7) HTTP server, AURP router, AFP server, PAP spooler. 8) CD drive. 9) mail, FTP, primary nameserver, shell accounts. 10) news spooling drive. 11) Powerbook serves as a mobile administration console, as well as phone book, etc. 12) news and NFS server, secondary nameserver.

Email: msimons@slackware.com
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