Well I just discovered this group still exists (sweet!) so I thought I woul
d share a little bit. I have been writing a blog series about modern uses
of UUCP (and more on NNCP), particularly focused around ZFS backups.
Before I dig into that, I searched and it looks like NNCP hasn't been menti
oned here yet. I should do that now. NNCP is essentially an effort to mod
ernize UUCP. It maintains equivolents of the basic uux, uucp, uucico, uuxq
t, etc. functionality - in fact, with a few exceptions I'll note here, it h
as broadly achieved feature parity with UUCP.
There are some things that set it apart:
First of all is modern security. Every message packet is encrypted and aut
henticated. Routing via other hosts is done with Tor-style onion routing (
so intermediate hosts can see neither the content nor the ultimate destinat
ion of the packet unless it is their neighbor). Communication is done secu
rely or not at all. (And NNCP supports a pervasive "nice" concept, similar
to the UUCP grade, that can be used in both ordering of packets in a call
and in deciding which packets to transmit during a call.)
NNCP has uucico-style daemon and caller, but also some other modes: nncp-xf
er (designed to facilitate easy airgapped transfer on a mountable device su
ch as USB stick) and nncp-bundle (emits a tar-style stream that can be, eg,
broadcasted on radio, burned to CD, even sent via uucp).
Some things it doesn't do that UUCP does:
NNCP requires a clean link and doesn't have any special logic for serial po
rt handling. However, it can run over a pipe so a program like socat, gett
y, etc. could invoke it over a clean link. Authentication is done using pu
blic keypairs so no specific usernames are needed.
By the nature of its encryption, you cannot (for instance) send email to a
node that you don't know the key for. You also need to know the public key
of every intermediate hop along the way. But, the NNCP -via option is the
exact same concept as UUCP bang paths.
And finally, some of the more esoteric uux invocations, for instance uux 'd
iff -c sys1!~user1/file1 sys2!~user2/file2 >!file.diff' as in the Taylor UU
CP manpage, aren't supported. However, by the time I started using UUCP in
the 90s, I had never seen uux used for anything but rmail and rnews. My c
opy of Managing and Using UUCP by O'Reilly claims that indeed those more es
oteric uux invocations were almost never used by the time it was published.
The project's website is http://www.nncpgo.org/
My own blog series is at https://changelog.complete.org/archives/tag/asynch
It begins with an exploration of why airgapped backups could be valuable, t
hen talks about why we tend to reach for synchronous tools like ssh even wh
en asynchronous like UUCP or NNCP would be better, demonstrates sending mai
l across NNCP using bsmtp rather than rmail mode (the same could be done ov
er UUCP, of course), then develops the ZFS backups over NNCP. I have sever
al more installments planned as well - tuning the ZFS installation and then
progressing into non-ZFS backups, which are rather more tricky to get righ
t (both sync and async, but especially async).
On a personal note... I just checked my archives, and it looks like I firs
t got a UUCP feed at the age of 16, for which I paid $12/mo to an ISP, plus
long distance charges. I later worked as a sysadmin at that ISP, and by t
hat point part of my job was maintaining what by that time were the "legacy
" services like UUCP on BSD/OS.