Rumpus 2.0, by Maxum
Posted: 5-Aug-2002

4 1/2 out of 5 Mice

Vendor: Maxum Type: COMMERCIAL

Reviewer: Bill Catambay Class: INTERNET

Vendor Product Description
Based on Maxum's proven, high-performance Macintosh TCP/IP server engine, Rumpus offers the performance and reliability of high-end workstations with the ease of use, security, and flexibility of the Macintosh.

Rumpus also offers a wide range of advanced features including:

  • Peak load management
  • Scalable performance
  • Mac OS Classic and OS X native operation
  • Web-based remote user account management
  • Multiple log functions (with automatic log rolling)
  • Automatic file encoding and decoding
  • Advanced user controls like "drop folders", hard disk space limits, and transfer rate limits, and more

To meet the needs of smaller sites as well as large installations and ISPs, Rumpus is offered in both standard and Pro versions. The standard version supports up to 32 simultaneous users and 32 user accounts defined in Rumpus' built-in security. For larger sites and ISPs, Rumpus Pro supports up to 256 simultaneous connections and user accounts defined in built-in security are limited only by RAM. Besides these differences, the Standard and Pro versions are identical.

Price: Single CPU - $249.
Discounts provided for multiple CPU licenses

Using Rumpus
After using FTP servers such as Webstar, Webten, and CrushFTP, I was immediately pleased with Rumpus after installation. Installation was a breeze, and the server came up quickly. For packages such as Webstar and Webten, where FTP serving is one of several modules, there is tremendous software bloat and the software takes a long time to start up. Also, unlike cross-platform Java solutions such as CrushFTP, Rumpus is very Mac savvy, supporting all the expected Mac interface features.

Setting up the FTP server was just as easy as the installation process. After starting the program, the server was running immediately. There were only a few basic settings that needed to be changed to make Rumpus serve the desired files. Choosing "Configuration..." under the Setup menu brought up a tabular configuration window with the following tabs: Basic, Logging, Encoding, Messages, Anonymous, and Admin.

Under the Basic tab, use the FTP Folder button to tell Rumpus where the root folder for the server is located.


The Configuration window - Basic settings


Other basic settings included changing the port number (if desired), setting the maximum connections and inactivity timeout, as well as various other timeout settings. There were additional options for hiding message files, include aliased folder sizes, reset Rebound timer and prompt before quitting.

The Logging tab allows you to toggle different log types (Anonymous Access, Secure Access, etc.) on or off, as well as setting the location of those logs.

The Encoding tab allows you to set default file creator and type for Text and Binary files. I promptly set the Text Type to "TEXT" and the Text Creator to "R*ch" to make BBEdit the default viewer for my text files. The Encoding tab also includes options for automatic binhex encoding, MacBinary default (useful if all of your users are Mac users), and different "show" options for filenames.

The Messages tab allows you to set the primary welcome and goodbye message, as well as specifying different messages for different folders (i.e., by clicking this option on and specifying a file name of ".message", any folder that has a .message file in it will display the text from that file when the folder is retrieved). The messages are a bit of an obsolete feature these days, as most FTP clients ignore them, but it was still nice to see the option (I use a VMS FTP client which is a command line client that displays all of these messages).

The Anonymous tab allows you to set how many simultaneous anonymous connections are allowed during non-peak and peak periods. You can then define the peak periods using a grid (by day of week, by time of day).

The final tab under Configuration is the Admin tab. This tab allows you to set different administration settings, such as when to roll the logs files (I chose Monthly), and where the Log file is located. It also allows you to setup remote administration, either by CGI or by HTTP. I turned on the HTTP setting, and set the port to 8021 (since I was already using port 80 for standard web serving). By establishing an admin user name and password, I was able to manage the server from another computer using my web browser. I tested this functionality out, and it worked great. The Admin tab also provided options to disable upload aliases, enable password changes, send empty directory listings, allow file aliases, and disable repeat failures. In my opinion, the option to allow file aliases was most crucial.


The Configuration window - Admin settings

There are two versions of the Rumpus server application: one is a Carbon version for 8.1 and up, and the other is a Classic version for older versions of the Mac OS (works on 7.5 thru 9.1). I ran the Carbon version on OS 9.0.4. The Classic version (which I did not test) is documented as having an additional tab in the Configuration window called "Security". This basically let you choose between supporting Anonymous Login only, Users & Groups Security (Apple File Sharing), and Built-in Security. Under Carbon, Rumpus uses the Built-in Security by default. This is actually preferable because the built-in security runs faster, is easier to configure and manage, and allows you to turn off File Sharing, improving your server's overall performance. The built-in model also allows you to configure users remotely using a Web browser, a very nifty feature.

Choosing "Define Users..." under the Settings menu allows you to manage the accounts with built-in security. You have one user called "ANONYMOUS", and you can give this user some privileges (such as logging in and downloading files), or no privileges at all (essentially disabling anonymous access). You can then create several other user accounts, specifying usernames and passwords, and setting the privileges and root directory for each user. You can manage accounts using Rumpus directly, or remotely on the web, and both methods are a breeze.

There are two monitor windows that you can activate in Rumpus for displaying different activity. There is a basic connection monitor that shows a list of users currently connected and their activity, and also provides a sliding performance control that allows you to scale the performance of the server to your specific needs. You can slide it all the way to the left to support faster FTP transfers (which would be desirable if nothing else was running on the server), or you can slide it towards the right for a better behaved server (allowing more processing time for other applications running on the server).


Rumpus Connection Monitor

Rumpus also provides an Activity Monitor which can be used to monitor various levels of activity on the server. I found the debug level interesting as it basically displayed just about every little thing the server did when any activity occurs on the server (e.g., Opening Connection, OTSnd, OTSndOrder, etc.). I wanted a level to provide just a list of connections and download requests, but I did not find any such level to provide just that. For that information, I had to open the server access log. I also found a problem with the popup menus for Display Level and Report Level. When the menu went past the bottom of the Activity Monitor window, it was cutoff (rather than extend past the bottom of the window like you would expect with a standard Mac popup menu).

Finally, there is an Advanced Options window that allows you to edit settings that may cause problems if not set correctly (although it does provide a reset to factory default option to fix any inappropriate changes). These options include Passive Mode Connect Address, Reported FTP Server Name, and Security Database Encryption Key. The Passive Mode Connect Address should be set if you do not have a dedicated IP address or if you are behind a router using non-routable IP addresses. Since I am behind a router, I set this value to the IP address of my router. The other options I did not have any need to change.

Performance
While the options for configuring the server are nice, the big question is how well does the server perform? In several tests, and comparing Rumpus server to CrustFTP, WebTen, Webstar, and Netpresenz, Rumpus wins hands down in terms of performance. Netpresenz served files the slowest (due to File Sharing dependence), WebTen and Webstar were satisfactory, and CrustFTP was good, but Rumpus was excellent. I adjusted the Performance setting to "Better Behaved", which allowed other applications on the server to run unaffected, and FTP serving was still better than any of the competition.

I also found that Rumpus handled firewall situations better than the other servers. External connections were made with much more success, especially for those behind their own firewalls. Internal connections (connections made from other computers on my local network) were also friendlier. For instance, when CrustFTP was my server, I was unable to connect to the server from a local computer via the DNS name; I was only able to connect by putting in the server's local IP address. This, I believe, is where the "Passive Mode Connect Address" setting came in handy. Prior to entering a value there, Rumpus behaved just as CrustFTP did. However, after entering in the router IP address, I was able to use the server DNS name to connect from a local computer (just as I would from a computer external to my LAN).

Documentation
Rumpus comes with it's own Users Guide. This came in quite handy for setting up the server as well as learning some FTP basics. There is also a version of the
Rumpus User Guide available on the web, as well as a very useful Rumpus FAQ. I found the documentation, especially the printed manual, extremely useful.

Summary
In summary, the Rumpus FTP server is a feature complete, high performance FTP server package. In comparison to other offerings, it is the best FTP server I could find for the Macintosh. Rumpus comes with a high price tag, so unfortunately those providing free server access to the public will probably be shopping for a lower priced solution. For any professional Macintosh server, however, Rumpus is the best solution for FTP.

Pros

  • Feature rich
  • Excellent performance
  • Passive Mode Connect Address for LANs
  • Good documentation

Cons

  • Steep price (discounts are available for multiple licenses)
  • Activity Monitor a bit buggy, and not greatly useful

Overall Rating:

4 1/2 out of 5 Mice