Picture of Orville Wright

Orville Write Homepage

Version 2.55
Jan Wolter

Orville write is a reimplementation of the Unix write program adds many nice features while remaining close to the standard Unix program in spirit. It has been very heavily used on M-Net since 1985 and on Grex since 1991, as well as a few other systems. It is a ground-up reimplementation using no proprietary code. It's available under a Berkeley-style license (no charge, no restriction on commercial use, just don't take my name off of it). The current version is very portable and should be easy to install on most Unix-flavored systems.

Orville write was written for use on M-Net and Grex, both public access unix systems in Ann Arbor, where writing to each other was a popular adjunct to the conferencing and chat areas. As such, many of the features are designed to support a system featuring a delicate mix of novice users and hostile pranksters, plus a lot of people who just want to talk. It's user interface is pretty much identical to the normal write program, but it offers many low-key extensions and improvements.

We strongly recommend installing Orville Write on any system where 'write' is heavily used. The added complexity is probably not worth the trouble on systems where there are few users or where talking to each other is not a big part of the culture.



This program must run SUID-root. (Otherwise you couldn't write people who are writing you even when their message perms are off.) However I believe it is secure. Of course, I also believed that before I found and fixed some significant security holes.

As mentioned in the HELPERS discussion, we have made some associated mods to the finger program. I'm not currently supporting any version of finger, so you're on your own if you want to do things like flag helpers on the finger screen. We've also adpated ntalkd to respect Orville write permissions. A copy of our modified ntalkd is available, though not fully supported.

Our original purpose in rewriting write was that our old system (before you were born, kid) had people's tty's writable to others when their message perms were on, and this led to too much "cat /etc/termcap > /dev/tty04" kind of stuff. This write program supports a choice of two different workarounds for that problem, but neither is simple to install. You either have to modify login (and possibly finger and other programs) or you have to live with some inconveniences. Of course, no modern Unix systems have this problem (tty's are owned by some "terminal" or "tty" group and only group permissions are ever turned on). So this is really academic these days and there should be no problem installing write.

Getting It

Orville write source:

Ntalkd-0.10 (not the latest version) modified for use with Orville write:

Someday I'll redo this, working with a newer version of talkd.

Tue Sep 28 23:43:54 EDT 2004
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