PHost - Introduction to PHost
The Portable Host (PHost) is a host program (game server) for VGA Planets 3.x (this links to the site that used to be www.vgaplanets.com). VGA Planets is a play-by-email space-combat game for the IBM PC, written in the early 1990's by Tim Wisseman. Client programs to play VGA Planets 3.x are available for MS-DOS, Windows, and now also for other operating systems.
PHost is intended to be a replacement for the HOST 3.2 program supplied with VGA Planets. The PHost program was designed to emulate the original HOST program in as many ways as possible yet it offers many new features that enhance both hosting and game-play. All versions of PHost are intended for version 3.x of VGA Planets, and do not work with Planets 4 (which is currently in beta stage).
PHost's enhancements can be grouped into the following broad categories:
What PHost is not: PHost does not contain everything you could need to play VGA Planets. You may need some or all of the following components, too.
The latest version of PHost can be found at
There are also a few mirror sites which might be faster than that one.
The most recent version of PHost is 4.1h as of June 2015. If it is more than a few months past this date, chances are good that a new PHost version has been released.
The web site also has an RSS feed you can subscribe to. New versions are announced on the phostdev mailing list and usually in the newsgroups.
Nothing! PHost is freeware (but is not in the public domain). You can use PHost and its associated programs freely as long as you observe the copyright restrictions.
VGA Planets itself is shareware; players have to buy a registered client if they wish to use the registered-only features. PHost does not bypass the registration system.
The PHost set of programs is available as a native application on (at least) the following platforms:
The above are the platforms that we can regularly expect to have access to. From time to time, we may be able to compile PHost on other platforms as they become available, but we cannot guarantee that we will always be able to keep PHost current for those platforms. Check the PHost Home Page for all available distributions. PHost 4.1 is available for these additional platforms:
We will not generally give out the host source.
For changes within the 4.x line of PHost, see the Changes in PHost 4.x document.
For changes in PHost 4.x compared to 3.x. see the What's new in PHost 4 document.
Your comments, suggestions, and bug reports are appreciated.
We usually read the mailing list and the newsgroup, but the safest and fastest way to contact the PHost group is email@example.com.
Before sending in a bug report, please try to make sure...
This is not to discourage bug reports, quite the opposite. Handling bug reports is a very time consuming process being handled by people with limited time. Spurious reports only serve to slow down the fixing of real bugs. However, if in doubt, send it. A bug which turns out to be a feature is much better than a bug not fixed because no-one reported it.
The "old" PHost 3.x documentation has some known deficiencies, so I've been writing a new one for PHost 4.x. In particular, the "new" documentation should document all aspects of the game, not just the HOST/PHost differences. As of version 4.1, this documentation should be complete and usable stand-alone (i.e. no longer needs you to reference the 3.x documentation). It might still contain typos or omissions, any helpful hint is appreciated.
The PHost 4 documentation is generated from XML sources. It contains valid HTML 4.01 Transitional with a bit CSS, and should be viewable and look good in any browser.
You can link directly into the documentation HTML files as you see fit. For example, to refer to this section, you would refer to
Note that anchors starting with "gen-" change from one version of the documentation to the next, so don't use these.
PHost was programmed by Andrew Sterian and Thomas Voigt with help from Steffen Pietsch and Matt Mueller.
In early 2001, daily care & feeding of PHost was handed over to a new PHost Team, consisting of: Stefan Reuther, Alexander Babanov, Stefan Glasauer, and Matthias Degenhardt (Degi), with wisdom and advice from the seniors, and with all the ideas, suggestions, opinions & flames from all the cool guys on the phostdev mailing list.
The original PHost documentation was written by Andrew Sterian using AOLpress and Netscape Composer. The PHost 4.0 documentation was thrown together by Stefan Reuther, borrowing a lot from the original one, using XEmacs and LotusXSL resp. xsltproc. The PHost website is generated by a Perl script named php.pl.
Many thanks to the people who took the time to point out mistakes and provided suggestions for improvement.
Translating the PHost language database into a foreign language is a painstaking and time-consuming task. The following people deserve special recognition for their translation efforts.
Michael Lemon helped with the documentation. The work of Falko Poiker and Chris Smith is appreciated. Thanks to Jeff Hupp for maintaining our infrastructure. Thanks to Dave Boynton for the use of his HOSTEDIT program. Thanks to Mike Campbell for the Solaris port and John Spickes for the use of his swampthing. Thanks to Matt Mueller for his work on alternative combat. Thanks to Robert Jackson for his hyperjump formula. Thanks to Joshua Io for his advice. Thanks to Daniel Tryba for helping with the FreeBSD port. Thanks to Robert Dejournett for helping with the BSD/386 port. Thanks to Stefan Glasauer for his many PHost support hooks in EchoView. Thanks to Alex Ivlev for his excellent PHost support in VPA. And special thanks to Thomas Voigt for knowing more about this game than anyone else in the Echo Cluster and for freely contributing his knowledge to the project.
Many thanks from the new crew go to Piotr Winiarczyk, Heiko Schlenker, and Thomas Klebes, who help with ideas, code and testing. Special thanks for their eagle-eyes go to Bart Dopheide and Ingo von Borstel. PHost would be quite a bit more inconsistent without them.
In addition, Stefan Reuther wishes to thank Olaf "Falo" Selke for the schnitzelmitkartoffelsalat and the beer :-).
PHost is developed on hardware sponsored by Thomas Klebes, Christian Brückner, Matthias Gietl, Maurits van Rees, Michael Brückner, Matthias Degenhardt, Bernd Huneke, Holger Bauer, Mark Wendt, Gunter Schaumburg, Alexander Overmann, Georg Strünkmann, Uwe Kalinowski, Robert Schaumburg, Stefan Wäsche, Andreas Schikora, Jens Fuhrberg, Reinout van Rees, Gunther Löbach, Daniel Scharnweber, Oliver Manns, Carsten Krenz, Jan Windte, Timo Maschke, Steffen Frey, Olaf Selke, Sascha Rambeaud, David Wardlow, Michael Ledwa, Frank Kopf, Heiko Schlenker, Markus Krings, Daniel Brüdigam, Dirk Häger, Rainer Heil, and Jörg Habenicht. Thank you all!
Thanks for the Linux/PPC version go to Thomas Liesner who borrowed me an account on his machine.
Ian Adams gave me an account on his Macintosh for the MacOS X port.
Alexey Veselovsky did the port to BeOS.
Also, many thanks to the people who submitted suggestions for enhancing or improving PHost. Many of the new features that have appeared over time are a direct consequence of your ideas.
"Smilies with multiple right parentheses," he went on, shaking his head, "are a sure sign of a double chin."
Finally but foremost, many thanks to all those who participated in the testing of PHost, both as hosts and as players.
The Original Portable Host Project Team is:
All software and documentation in this distribution is copyrighted and must only be distributed in accordance with the terms below. The software and documentation are NOT in the public domain but remain the property of the program authors. All users of this software are given a license to reasonably use this software subject to the conditions below. If you do not agree to abide by the below-mentioned terms, then you do not have the right to use and/or distribute this software and documentation.
Permission is granted to include this distribution as part of a compilation, including but not limited to a CD-ROM compilation, as long as this distribution is included in its entirety and without modification. As a courtesy, notification of inclusion in a compilation should be sent to the PHost Support List firstname.lastname@example.org.
The software and documentation in this distribution may be used at no charge and may be distributed freely but must always be distributed unmodified and as a unit with all files present, including this file. The documentation files only may be distributed separately from the software and may be freely copied or excerpted as long as proper attribution is given and the file(s) is/are not modified. The software and documentation may be modified for personal use but no modified files may be distributed under any circumstances. All copies of the software and documentation must be distributed at no cost, monetary or otherwise, except for a reasonable fee to cover the cost of physical media (if the copies are distributed on physical media). If this distribution is included as part of a compilation, including but not limited to a CD-ROM compilation, then no cost, service charge, fee, or other form of required payment is allowed for including this distribution over and above the cost of the compilation itself.
At all times, the receiver and/or end user of this distribution, regardless of whether this distribution is a stand-alone distribution or a part of a compilation, must remain aware that the distribution may be obtained electronically and at no cost from various sources on the Internet. As long as this distribution remains intact and unmodified, the above requirement is considered to be met.
The software and documentation in this distribution are provided "as is" without express or implied warranty including, but not limited to, the implied warranties of merchantability and fitness for a particular purpose. In no event will the authors of this software be liable for direct, incidental or consequential damages of any kind, even if the authors have been advised of the possibility of such damages.
The documentation in this distribution is Copyright (C) 1995-1997 by Andrew Sterian, 2001-2014 by Stefan Reuther. The software in this distribution is Copyright (C) 1995-1997,2001-2014 by the program authors: Andrew Sterian, Thomas Voigt, Steffen Pietsch, Matt Mueller, Stefan Reuther, Alexander Babanov. All Rights Reserved. The PHost logo and graphic file logo.gif are Copyright (C) 1996-1997 by John W. Smith.
No Hommingberger Gepardenforelle was harmed in the making of this product.
Last updated 31 May 2015.
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