= CCSO Nameserver =
A CCSO name-server or Ph protocol was an early form of database search
on the Internet. In its most common form it was used to look up
information such as telephone numbers and email addresses. Today this
service has been largely replaced by LDAP. It was used mainly in the
early-to-middle 1990s. The name-server was developed by Steve Dorner
at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, at the university's
Computing and Communications Services Office (CCSO).
There also exists an Outlook plugin and standalone application known
The name-server directories were frequently organized in Gopher
hierarchies. The tools "Ph" and "Qi" were the two components of the
system: Ph was a client that queried the Qi server.
The Ph protocol was formally defined by in September 1998. However
the memo issued at this time references its prior use for an
unspecified period of time before this date (work on the protocol
started around 1988, and it was in use from around 1991CCSO/CSO:
*). It defines sixteen keywords that can be used on the server side to
define record properties. It also defines how clients should access
records on the server and what responses the server should give. Ph
server communication takes place on TCP port 105.
All commands and response are initially assumed to be in US-ASCII
encoding for historical reasons, unless the client explicitly asks for
8-bit (ISO-8859-1) encoding. As a result, only characters between 0x20
and 0x7E are initially sent by the server in raw form. Other
characters, if present in entries, will be escaped using the defined
"Quoted-Printable" encoding. The initial request from the client is a
text base keyword optionally followed by one or more parameters as
defined in the . The server then responds to the request. The
following example response to a status request is provided by the RFC
S: 100:Qi server $Revision: 1.6 $
S: 100:Ph passwords may be obtained at CCSO Accounting,
S: 100:1420 Digital Computer Lab, between 8:30 and 5 Monday-Friday.
S: 100:Be sure to bring your U of I ID card.
S: 200:Database ready
Each command defined by the memo consists of a keyword followed as
needed by one or more parameters or key words. They can be separated
by spaces tabs or the end of the line. Each line must be terminated in
The following are a few of the commands:
This command takes no parameters and simply asks the server to report
its status as above.
Returns information such as server version mail domain and whom to
contact about password issues and authentication methods.
fields [field ...]
List all available entry fields on the server or only those of the
specified name or names.
Causes the server to log the specified information as the current user
id without login.
set [option[=value] ...]
Sets the specified option on the server to value. If used without
parameters it lists the current server settings.
This is the actual login/logout commands for the server here the alias
must be the users Ph alias. Logging in allows a user to change their
own entry and view certain fields in it flag for restricted access.
The client normally uses one of these to send the password information
after the login command is sent.
One or more of these will be recognized by the server as an end of
session command closing the connection.
As distributed, the nameserver was backed by a flat file database. In
the early 1990s, Indiana University software developer Larry Hughes
implemented a version of Qi (called "Phd") that was written in Perl
and backed by a relational database. That code was distributed under
an open-source license for several years prior to the university's
transition to LDAP.
**Newer version of Windows CCSO Ph client:
*Working servers (in 2020):
**From archived list of CCSO Qi servers - Massachusetts Institute of
Technology, Purdue University, University of Vermont and University of
Wisconsin at Madison:
** Contains also a list of servers (accessible by gopher or by its
*Notable links - 'University of Illinois publication about Ph' and
'NWU's Ph site' (user guides):
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Original Article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CCSO Nameserver