Winlink Wishlist

🎶I wish I had a Winlink stack that’s free and open-source🎶
(sung to the tune of Wishlist by Pearl Jam)

I use Winlink quite a bit, which is probably widely known since I run the #FediFridayWinlinkNet. The system is very reliable and robust with so many access points and modes. But like many Winlink users, I am not fully “bought in” to everything about it. By that I mean that there are a lot of changes that I would like to see. Here is a running list of my thoughts as well as some input from others (which I will try to update):

  • Make RMS Express (and all Winlink clients), and all modems/protocols (e.g., VARA) free and open-source. It would be great if creative hams could fork, adapt, and improve all elements of the software stack. (Also on the wishlist of W1CDN, AI6YR, KC1PYT, K0STK, …)
  • Do not require (even softly, as a nag) registration for RMS Express.
    • Note that I would be happy to support ARSFi if it was clear what they did, and if others could get involved and share their thoughts. But none of that seems clear from their website. And the only way to contact them is through snail mail?
  • Develop modem software compatible with HF tri-mode servers that works on mobile devices (especially Android). It would be awesome to harness the power of modern phones and tablets to run a full Winlink stack (including clients such as WoAD, which should also be free) on a mobile device.

And below are some thoughts from other operators.


  • Have officially supported clients for Mac and Linux
  • Modernize the client interface
  • Custom domain support
  • Better client tuning support when using auto connect

…and we’ve got a least 3 votes for changing the name to anything but “Win…” lol

Do you have other ideas or things to add to the Winlink Wishlist? Please leave a comment and I’ll add them to our running list.






3 responses to “Winlink Wishlist”

  1. William Arcand Avatar
    William Arcand

    There is always pat. Cross platform, etc. It does not solve the VARA part of the equation, but VARA certainly works in WINE for Linux and Crossover for the Mac.

    Last FFWN check I did was on a Mac using pat and VARA running in Crossover. More hoops than one should have to jump through. pat covers the winlink client part. A nice open source “next generation” modem is the missing part I think.

    1. Bud Talbot Avatar
      Bud Talbot

      I need to play with pat again. I haven’t used it in a while. And yes, what we need is a good open source, next gen modem!

  2. Mike White Avatar
    Mike White

    I’m a fan of open standards. Open source is great stuff, but things got done back in the days of closed source unix. People paid strict attention to interop for TCP/IP, NFS, UUCP, email (can’t recall the RFC,) SMTP, etc. which was beneficial to everyone.

    I’d be happy if Vara stayed closed if the author would post the technical details on how to work with it. Perhaps there’s some sort of borrowed (in a legal way) IP in it which would prevent that, however. You know, sort of like that blasted codec for D-Star (which would be awesome if IT was opened, too.)

    All said – it would be awesome to run the stack on Windows / Linux / Mac / FreeBSD. (Imagine a live image on cd that had the stack – pop it in, boot it, and boom, you’re on Winlink. A little config persisted on a USB schtick and it’s now portable.)

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