chat

Automated conversational script with a modem (QNX Neutrino)

Syntax:

chat [options] script

Runs on:

Neutrino

Options:

-e
Turn on echoing. Echoing may be turned on or off at specific points in the chat script by using the ECHO keyword. When echoing is enabled, all output from the modem is echoed to stderr.
-f chatfile
Read the chat script from chatfile. If you use this option, don't also specify a script argument. You must have read access to chatfile. Multiple lines are permitted in the file. Use spaces or horizontal tab characters to separate the strings.
-r report file
Set the file for output of the report strings. If you use the keyword REPORT, the resulting strings are written to this file. If this option isn't used and you still use REPORT keywords, the stderr stream is used for the report strings.
-s
Send all log messages from the -v options and all error messages to stderr.
-S
Don't use the system log for log messages from the -v options or error messages.
-T phone_number
Pass an arbitrary string, usually a phone number, that's substituted for the \T substitution meta character in a send string.
-t timeout
Set the timeout for the expected string to be received. If the string isn't received within the time limit, the reply string isn't sent. An alternate reply may be sent; the script fails if there's no alternate reply string. A failed script causes chat to terminate with a nonzero error code.
-U phone_number_2
Pass a second string, usually a phone number, that's substituted for the \U substitution meta character in a send string. This is useful when dialing an ISDN terminal adapter that requires two numbers.
-V
Verbose mode, but send all output to stderr; chat logs all text received from the modem and the output strings that it sends. This device is usually the local console at the station running chat or pppd.
-v
Verbose mode; chat logs all text received from the modem and the output strings that it sends. In order to capture the log messages, you need to have syslogd running.
script
If the script isn't specified in a file with the -f option, the script is included as parameters to the chat program.

Description:

The chat program defines a conversational exchange between the computer and the modem. Its primary purpose is to establish the connection between the Point-to-Point Protocol Daemon (pppd) and the remote's pppd process.

You should consider the modem functions (modem_open(), modem_read(), modem_script(), and modem_write(), described in the Library Reference) or the Photon Dialer as an alternative to chat.

Chat script

The chat script defines the communications.

A script consists of one or more "expect-send" pairs of strings, separated by spaces, with an optional "subexpect-subsend" string pair, separated by a dash as in the following example:

ogin:-BREAK-ogin: ppp ssword: hello2u2

This line indicates that the chat program should expect the string ogin:. If it fails to receive a login prompt within the time interval allotted, it's to send a break sequence to the remote and then expect the string ogin:. If the first ogin: is received, the break sequence isn't generated.

Once it receives the login prompt, chat sends the string ppp and then expects the prompt ssword:. When it receives the prompt for the password, it sends the password hello2u2.


Caution: This could be a security issue as only plain-text passwords may be passed.

A carriage return is normally sent following the reply string. It isn't expected in the "expect" string unless it's specifically requested by using the \r character sequence.

The expect sequence should contain only what is needed to identify the string. Since it's normally stored on a disk file, it shouldn't contain variable information. It's generally not acceptable to look for time strings, network identification strings, or other variable pieces of data as an expect string.

To help correct for characters that may be corrupted during the initial sequence, look for the string ogin: rather than login:. The leading l character might be received in error and you may never find the string even though it was sent by the system. For this reason, scripts look for ogin: rather than login: and ssword: rather than password:.

A very simple script might look like this:

ogin: ppp ssword: hello2u2

In other words, expect ...ogin:, send ppp, expect ...ssword:, send hello2u2.

In actual practice, simple scripts are rare. At the very least, you should include sub-expect sequences in case the original string isn't received. For example, consider the following script:

ogin:--ogin: ppp ssword: hello2u2

This is a better script than the simple one used earlier. It looks for the same login: prompt, however, if one isn't received, a single return sequence is sent and then it looks for login: again. Should line noise obscure the first login prompt, sending the empty line usually generates a login prompt again.

Abort strings

Many modems report the status of the call as a string. These strings may be CONNECTED, NO CARRIER or BUSY. It's often desirable to terminate the script should the modem fail to connect to the remote. The difficulty is that a script doesn't know exactly which modem string it may receive. On one attempt, it may receive BUSY, while the next time it may receive NO CARRIER.

These "abort" strings may be specified in the script using the ABORT sequence. It's written in the script as in the following example:

ABORT BUSY ABORT 'NO CARRIER' '' ATZ OK ATDT5551212
CONNECT

This sequence expects nothing and then sends the string ATZ. The expected response to this is the string OK. When it receives OK, chat sends the string ATDT5551212 to dial the telephone. The expected string is CONNECT. If the string CONNECT is received, the remainder of the script is executed. However, should the modem find a busy telephone, it sends the string BUSY. This causes the string to match the abort character sequence. The script then fails because it found a match to the abort string. If it received the string NO CARRIER, it aborts for the same reason. Either string may be received. Either string terminates the chat script.

Report strings

A "report" string is similar to the ABORT string. The difference is that the strings, and all characters to the next control character such as a carriage return, are written to the report file.

The report strings may be used to isolate the transmission rate of the modem's connect string and return the value to the chat user. The analysis of the report string logic occurs in conjunction with the other string processing such as looking for the expect string. The use of the same string for a report and abort sequence is probably not very useful, however, it is possible.

The report strings don't change the completion code of the program.

These report strings may be specified in the script using the REPORT sequence. It's written in the script as in the following example:

REPORT CONNECT ABORT BUSY '' ATDT5551212 CONNECT ''
ogin: account

This sequence expects nothing and then sends the string ATDT5551212 to dial the telephone. The expected string is CONNECT. If the string CONNECT is received, the remainder of the script is executed. In addition the program writes to the expect-file the string CONNECT plus any characters that follow it, such as the connection rate.

Timeout

The initial timeout value is 45 seconds; you can change it by using the -t option.

To change the timeout value for the next expect string, specify the TIMEOUT string. For exmple:

ATZ  OK ATDT5551212 CONNECT TIMEOUT 10 ogin:--ogin:
TIMEOUT 5 ssword: hello2u2

This changes the timeout to 10 seconds when it expects the login: prompt. The timeout is then changed to 5 seconds when it looks for the password: prompt.

The timeout, once changed, remains in effect until it's changed again.

Sending EOT

The special reply string of EOT indicates that the chat program should send an EOT character to the remote. This is normally the end-of-file character sequence. A return character isn't sent following the EOT. The EOT sequence may be embedded into the send string using the sequence ^D.

Generating break

The special reply string of BREAK causes a break condition to be sent. The break is a special signal on the transmitter. The normal processing on the receiver is to change the transmission rate. It may be used to cycle through the available transmission rates on the remote until you're able to receive a valid login: prompt. The break sequence may be embedded into the send string using the \K sequence.

Escape sequences

The expect and reply strings may contain escape sequences. All of the sequences are legal in the reply string. Many are legal in the expect. The Expect? column in the table below indicates whether or not the sequence is valid in an expect string.

Sequence Expect? Description
'' Yes Expects or sends a null string. If you send a null string, it still sends the return character. This sequence may either be a pair of apostrophe or quote characters.
\b Yes Represents a backspace character.
\c No Suppresses the newline at the end of the reply string. This is the only method to send a string without a trailing return character. It must be at the end of the send string. For example, the sequence hello\c sends the characters h, e, l, l, o.
\d No Delay for one second. The program uses sleep(1), which delays for a maximum of one second.
\K No Insert a BREAK.
\n Yes Send a newline or linefeed character.
\N No Send a null character. The same sequence may be represented by \0.
\p No Pause for a fraction of a second. The delay is 1/10th of a second.
\q No Suppress writing the string to the SYSLOG file. The string ?????? is written to the log in its place.
\r Yes Send or expect a carriage return.
\s Yes Represents a space character in the string. This may be used when it isn't desirable to quote the strings that contains spaces. The sequence 'HI TIM' and HI\sTIM are the same.
\t Yes Send or expect a tab character.
\\ Yes Send or expect a backslash character.
\ddd Yes Collapse the octal digits ddd into a single ASCII character and send that character. (Some characters aren't valid in expect sequences.)
^C Yes Substitute the sequence with the control character represented by C. For example, the character DC1 (17) is shown as ^Q. (Some characters aren't valid in expect sequences.)

Exit status:

0
The normal termination of the program. This indicates that the script was executed without error to the normal conclusion.
1
One or more of the parameters are invalid or an expect string was too large for the internal buffers. This indicates that the program wasn't properly executed.
2
An error occurred during the execution of the program. A read or write operation might have failed for some reason or chat might have received a signal such as SIGINT.
3
A timeout event occurred when there was an expect string without having a "-subsend" string. This may mean that you didn't program the script correctly for the condition or that some unexpected event has occurred and the expected string couldn't be found.
4
The first string marked as an ABORT condition occurred.
5
The second string marked as an ABORT condition occurred.
6
The third string marked as an ABORT condition occurred.
7
The fourth string marked as an ABORT condition occurred.
...
The other termination codes are also strings marked as an ABORT condition.

Using the termination code, it's possible to determine which event terminated the script. It's possible to decide if the string BUSY was received from the modem as opposed to NO DIALTONE. While the first event may be retried, the second probably has little chance of succeeding during a retry.

See also:

syslogd

modem_open(), modem_read(), modem_script(), modem_write() in the Library Reference