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Does Anyone Still Use Token Ring? 185

Posted by Cliff
from the just-because-its-old-doesn't-make-it-useless dept.
blanchae asks: "Does anyone still use Token Ring, or is it dead? I remember hearing about 100 mbps TR a few years ago but nothing since. I remember that the strong point of TR over Ethernet was the QOS and the consistent response time. Does the banking community still use TR?"
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Does Anyone Still Use Token Ring?

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  • token ring usage (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 15, 2006 @09:15PM (#15136174)
    This is the first time I see slashdot post with 0 comments; I guess it means something for tokenring's popularity :-).

    100mbps version existed, but AFAIK tokenring is now extinct. Everyone is moving to wifi, anyway.
    • I even found references to gigabit TR. However the latest I see discusion on it is around 2002.
    • by CRCulver (715279) <crculver@christopherculver.com> on Saturday April 15, 2006 @09:22PM (#15136249) Homepage
      There is clearly a lot of research going on, with results published, as in Raja's Optimal bandwidth utilization in wireless token ring networks [amazon.com] released earlier this year. However, 1998 was the last big year for user's guides, which indicates that this technology has long since fallen from the mainstream and now survives only in academia.
    • Re:token ring usage (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Bush Pig (175019) on Saturday April 15, 2006 @09:25PM (#15136279)
      I was working at Mitsubishi Australia a couple of years ago, and they still had some token ring. It was quite weird to see half the office unable to work and the other half saying, "What's your problem?" when either the token ring or the ethernet failed for some reason.

      It's redundancy, of a kind ...

    • NOOOOOO!!!!! (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Everyone is moving to wifi, anyway.

      NO!! That's way to general of an assumption and is just wrong. It's like saying everyone is deploying CAT5e, or everyone is deploying fiber. I would say it is a mix of the three, cat5e for Ethernet (up to 10Gbe soon!), fiber for higher speed or longer run needs, and wifi where needed. How ever, we have setup a lot of networks and the vast majority of people (businesses any way) and still deploying CAT5e. Wireless is just nerver going to be fast enough, secure enough, and r
    • Everyone is moving to wifi, anyway.

      Over my dead body they are! Are you joking?

      Seriously, I have yet to actually have a GOOD experience with Wifi. At two of the sites I support we have wireless laptop trolleys (18 laptops, 2 access points - the recommended amount) and neither of them "just work" like they should be.

      This isn't my incompetence either before you assume that. We setup one of them, and the other was setup by an external company. A company, I might add, that had to come in about 5 times before the
  • Does the banking community still use TR?

    No.

  • by Pig Hogger (10379) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [reggoh.gip]> on Saturday April 15, 2006 @09:17PM (#15136194) Journal
    Deep down in what passes for their hearts, the banking "community" still uses hand-written ledgers with Monroe crank-powered adding machines.
  • I doubt anyone uses it anymore. By now all the token have surely been lost!
    • you would like to think...

      but I was walking around our dev lab and saw what looked like some of accordingthose evil token ring boxes with all the connectors. MUX did they call them?

      Anyway... theres still companies with old ass systems still in service. I know it must be used somewhere.

      Lets not forget department stores too... they buy a system for the store to run all the cash registers etc, how often do you think they upgrade their systems?

      IBM did alot of those systems, alot of them used token ring to commu
  • What possible advantages would using Token Ring wield? Even if it can go 100mbps now we do have 1000mbps ethernet. I think Token Ring should be buried.
    • Re:Advantages? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by plover (150551) *
      It's strictly a cost issue. If you have a 10-15 year old network consisting of a thousand nodes of token ring equipped machines, look at how much it will cost to replace them all with shiny new machines and shiny new cat 5e wiring.

      Most places with even the largest investments switched out years ago. At some point the cost of maintaining TR exceeded the cost of reinstalling new network gear. These days, if there are any TR nodes left, they probably exist in isolation. When our company was upgrading the

      • Large initial investment, is pretty Econ101 to realise that putting of a major investment by minor investment over long time when in the end you will be forced to action (sooner or later TR-equipment will be ebay-ware) is not a sound financial policy...
      • It's not just cost, it's inertia, too. I get calls on plenty of companies that would have no problem dropping the cash to convert but still use token ring. They also are using 10 year old PC Servers to run it. They don't see a reason to upgrade, and they pay us enough to support them that they don't have to.
  • No.

    Token Ring is a great idea, in theory, but in the days of full-duplex GigE over Cat5e with 100 hosts on a segment, passing a token around is horribly inefficient, as well as pointless. We don't need it, so why use it? Old installations should have been replaced years ago, moved up to commodity ethernet hardware that everyone and their dog supports, for less than it costs to employ someone who knows about token ring.
  • Not Really. (Score:3, Informative)

    by jgaynor (205453) <jon@@@gaynor...org> on Saturday April 15, 2006 @09:19PM (#15136229) Homepage
    You're thinking of HSTR [ieee802.org] - and no, no one really uses it anymore. In looking around I was amazed to see that the working group even thought far enough ahead to start planning a gigabit spec. I havent seen a concentrator/MAU (right word?) in years, though. Any QoS features that were implemented in Token Ring are pretty much duplicated in 802.1p and other (proprietary) layer 2 QoS/CoS protocols.

    Rings themselves are still used, just in other topologies. You may still see some FDDI [wikipedia.org] here and there, and many cable companies use RPR [wikipedia.org]/DTP/SRP [wikipedia.org] to deliver digital cable and broadband access at the same time in their cores.

    Either way, I'm sure the pointy haired boss doesn't miss it [ozguru.mu.nu].
  • Hopefully Not... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by stungod (137601) <<moc.krowtenypslabolg> <ta> <ttocs>> on Saturday April 15, 2006 @09:23PM (#15136254) Homepage Journal
    About 5 years ago, I worked for a trucking company that was very heavily invested in token ring and would not consider switching to ethernet, no matter how compelling the argument was at that time. I can only imagine it's harder to justify staying on TR now, but it can't be cheap.

    Its only advantage was that it could run at much higher utilization than ethernet without your network choking - we would see times where a ring would be running at 75% and that was no problem.

    However, it was a real problem from a financial and operational standpoint. When we bought new PC's, we would rip out the ethernet cards and install Olicom TR cards we paid $180 each for - we got a good deal because we bought hundreds of them. Server-class cards were more - a lot more.

    And we did get the 100Mb token ring switches, which was truly one of the more absurd things I have ever seen IT money spent on. I still don't have a clear idea how this was a good thing: you got a 100Mb token ring switch, which would create a ring on each port. Then you could plug exactly one device into each port, as long as it had a 100Mb token ring adapter. This was 5 years ago, and I remember that per port, it was price-competitive with Gig-E fiber.

    Then there are the usual entertaining issues with drivers and growing the network. Need an extra PC at your desk? You can't just plug a hub in and go - you have to pull another cable from the wiring closet. You need certified drivers for your Windows cluster? How about a touch-screen network device for your truck terminals? A firewall? A NAS? No, you can't have any of those.

    I know there are plenty of people who will swear by TR. You'll find the evolved version of this technology in FDDI rings - and it makes a lot of sense and works very well in that application. But as a LAN for your company, it sucks ass...technically, the concept is sound but nobody is developing it further and it takes a lot more specialized knowledge and maintenance overhead than ethernet. And every year that goes by makes it much more expensive to keep it than to switch to ethernet.

    I turned down a job 3 years ago at a place that was still running TR - a mid-sized retail chain. They said they were starting to look in to ethernet, but were happy with their token rings. That was the deciding factor for me to keep looking...At this point, a company that isn't actively working to replace TR with something else has some serious management issues and I would wonder what else was lying inder the surface.

    So if you can find a few cards and a MAU somewhere, experiment with it at home. But avoid it like the plague in a business setting. That's just my $.02 anyway.
    • if token ring had evolved more it would have become physical star virtual ring, where the cable would be the send and return path for the ring to a hub with the option to, at any point link multiple machines on the same line using a simple plastic and copper connector. would actually be a versatile network topology being able to add devices without hubs just daisy chain new machines untill you have time or money to give them each their own line (a severed line would only be permenant back to a router, whic
      • Re:Hopefully Not... (Score:3, Informative)

        by plover (150551) *
        IBM store systems used to have a topology similar to that. Back in the 1970s when your wiring installer was a phone guy, it made sense to have him point-to-point wire a network, just like he did with phones. IBM's answer to "offline" was for any device failing to receive the token to start sending an "I AM #7 AND MY UPSTREAM LINK IS DEAD" type packet, and turn on an "offline" light. Any register recieving the offline packet would simply forward it. A store person would see the offline light, go back to
        • a virtual ring would most likely normally be used in normal speed star topology, however for cheap expansion or higher LAN speeds you could build a ring which would then, on that circuit free up the "return" path of the line to act as a second token ring moving in the opposite direction. hubs would come in three variety: static dumb hubs mad of nothing but copper and plastic would require all ports be in use to function and would be used to expand a ring (or star branch if terminated as a branch) digital
    • Re:Hopefully Not... (Score:4, Informative)

      by rakslice (90330) <.rakslice. .at. .gmx.net.> on Sunday April 16, 2006 @02:00AM (#15137169) Homepage Journal
      >And we did get the 100Mb token ring switches, which was truly one of the more absurd things I have ever seen IT money spent on. I still don't have a clear idea how this was a good thing: you got a 100Mb token ring switch, which would create a ring on each port. Then you could plug exactly one device into each port, as long as it had a 100Mb token ring adapter.

      As you say, it's a bit absurd to use expensive TR switches like that (instead of cheap Ethernet switches) -- since in a single-NIC-per-port arrangement there's no chance for collisions in any case, so TR's main advantage is meaningless.

      Still, it made sense to migrate to TR switches -- but by having small rings of clients share switch ports, and dedicating a port to a single system only for real bottleneck systems such as file servers. If you ask me, the real reason to stick with TR would have been that switching to Ethernet would meant either replacing everything at once (prohibitive in labour cost and downtime) or a potentially messy gradual transition either with routers (and a whole lot of reconfiguration of systems) or translational bridging (here be dragons).

      • Of course, I should add, for those who haven't figured it out --

        Token Ring is dead -- D-E-A-D -- dead. It has lost the war. As I said, cheap smart Ethernet switches make TR's advantages irrelevant.

        If you're seriously wondering whether TR is used for new LANs, please put down that crack pipe. You do not have to be the Tivo owner that starts VHS vs. Beta arguments; you can salvage what little dignity you have left and move along.

    • I turned down a job 3 years ago at a place that was still running TR - a mid-sized retail chain. They said they were starting to look in to ethernet, but were happy with their token rings. That was the deciding factor for me to keep looking...At this point, a company that isn't actively working to replace TR with something else has some serious management issues and I would wonder what else was lying inder the surface.

      I would have formed the opposite conclusion. If it works, then management are being pra

  • Washinton Mutual (Score:2, Insightful)

    by cybersavior (716002)
    Washington Mutual used token-ring networks in most of their branches until 2003. I was a bank teller when they upgraded from OS/2 Warp machines on a Token-ring to Windows XP on Ethernet.
  • Still have a few mainframes that have the management devices on a ring. Fortunately, they also
    support ethernet, so we use it. I still have the 4-port TR card in my 7500 router. And if I dig around
    I'm sure to find a MAU somewhere.
    • Oh, I forgot. I still have a TR Network General sniffer in my lab. I used to have a FDDI also, but it died and I scrapped it. I have a few 4000 routers at my house ( play lab) that have TR cards and an ISDN card. Geez, I just dated myself here. Yeah, I am an old fart!
  • Token Ring (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 15, 2006 @09:31PM (#15136316)
    I experienced P2P token ring back in college. Here's how it worked: a group of peers arranged in a circular manner would pass around a named pipe. Each peer would hit the pipe, a process known as token. After a while, the pipe would be cached, and a designated peer reloaded the pipe.
  • when you are using a shared bandwidth. In the days of hubs w/o switches, it was appreciably more effecient. However, in today's world of a switch on every port, it just doesn't matter. An interesting example of its use would have been for wireless networking -- but people were already used to 802.11.
  • I used to use token ring, but I was never very good at it. I was always fucking up the rotation. [penny-arcade.com]

     
  • Phillip Morris had the largest Macintosh TR network until around 95ish. They dumped token ring even before they ended up dumping macs.

    Banks, I still used to see OS/2 based ATMs and stuff until '99. You could go in, and see it on the backs of desktop machines in the lobby too, until right around then. I've not seen anything but windows and ethernet since, though.

    One of my sparcstations has token ring. A few of the macs have it. And I have one in my main linux server too... but ifconfig up'ing it is asking fo
  • Some still exists (Score:5, Interesting)

    by anticypher (48312) <anticypher@gma[ ]com ['il.' in gap]> on Saturday April 15, 2006 @09:34PM (#15136338) Homepage
    I see token ring still in use in bank branches, main bank data processing centres, and some insurance companies. NATO is rumoured to have a bunch of legacy systems on TR. On the PC side, its mostly old ISA cards, and the 486-PII era machines which still have some crappy 32x0 emulator running in fullscreen mode on OS/2. On the the mainframe side, there are still old IBM 3080s+3090s, system 36/37/38s and many C390s around. Be afraid, be very afraid.

    One of the side effects of some companies locked into dino^H^H^H^Hlegac^H^H^H^Htime tested solutions, is that they have to pay whatever it takes for dino^H^H^H^Hexperienced old-fa^H^Htimers to come in and fix the fsckups caused by young ignoramuses not having any knowledge of TR. My going rate right now is EUR400/hour, with a minimum of an 8 hour payment up front before I even set foot on the premises, and I still get called out about 3 times per year. get off my lawn...

    Cisco must still have TR, I met a dejected CCIE candidate who told me he paid many thousands of euros for a one week CCIE-mill course, which took him from windoze point and click to supposedly a CCIE, only to have half his stack be wired with TR which the fly-by-night company had never heard of. Clearly the CCIE proctors have some tricks up their sleeves when they detect a candidate who has all the answers but none of the experience.

    the AC
    As well, my cisco study kit still has some 2513s and AGS+s and a box of TR cables (hermaphrodite and RJ45), ISA cards, and some 8228s. I haven't touched any of it in at least 5 years
  • by creimer (824291) on Saturday April 15, 2006 @09:36PM (#15136352) Homepage
    I had a one-day job last year where I helped a financial company upgrade from Token Ring to Ethernet. It was a bit shocking see all these relatively new machines with built-in Ethernet using Token Ring adapter boards. Even more surprising that the company just recently moved into the building a year before had it wired for Token Ring even though it was already wired for Ethernet.

    The worst part of the job was cleaning up after the two junior technicians who plugged the Ethernet cable into the Token Ring adapter board instead of the Ethernet port. For all 90 machines. They then wondered why I got more respect from the project leader. I kept telling them to get their certifications. ;)
  • About 3 years ago I had some exposure (if you'll excuse the pun) to some of Britain's nuclear power stations' IT, and several stations are no doubt still using broken thing, sorry, token ring.

    The power stations have had IT infrastructure for years (probably 5+ years more than the average office, after networking kit for nuclear and safety related stuff I should think), and the kit installed at the time would have been possibly the fastest available. Upgrading doesn't happen because of the way the operation

  • Probably no NEW installations. If someone got ahold of a large building that already had token ring installed, and it would be horribly expensive to replace, then they probably still have token. When I was in college, they were gutting a few buildings that had token ring still. This is about 1998-99 era, at UCF.

    At some point it just becomes too expensive to maintain and replace/repair, and that high cost of installation for a switch to ethernet looks better and better.
  • I'm assuming not. (Score:3, Informative)

    by Geoffreyerffoeg (729040) on Saturday April 15, 2006 @09:44PM (#15136402)
    From [[Token ring]] [wikipedia.org]:
    Madge Networks, a one time competitor to IBM, is now considered to be the market leader in Token Ring.

    From [[Madge Networks]] [wikipedia.org]:
    Madge Networks NV. was a global leader and pioneer of high speed networking solutions in the mid 1990s. The company was founded by Robert Madge.

    The company filed for bankruptcy in April 2003.


    Granted, they still exist, and sell stuff, but for a market monopoly to file for bankruptcy...can't be too many customers left, can there?
  • No, no one uses it anymore. Not since the close of the Third Age, when it was destroyed by a Halfling in the fires of Mount Doom.
  • by Inoshiro (71693) on Saturday April 15, 2006 @09:50PM (#15136430) Homepage
    Ethernet's big thing is that it uses CSMA [wikipedia.org] instead of passing a token around [wikipedia.org]. It seems dumb at first (and is!), until you realize all the things that can go wrong with token ring, and some of the other logistics of it.

    Ethernet won't work so well for a bus layout, but it works great for a star layout. Token ring is supposed to be awesome on a bus layout, because of how it manages access to the network resources, but it's not something that's better in reality (only in theory).

    Plus, as devices scale up, the simpler (and thus cheaper and easier to design) ethernet go there first. Token ring just is not efficient from a cost perspective. We don't use token ring for the same reason we don't use RISC machines -- money and economies of scale :)
    • This becomes a moot issue when you can obtain a 24-port gigabit switch with an internal 48 gbps fabric for less than $200. CSMA vs. token passing is irrelevant since all packets are handled and queued on dedicated links.
      If every port isn't directly switched on your network, then someone fucked up. There's just no excuse.
    • I've no mod points, but you make some good points - at least, when it comes to LANs. One of the big advantages of Token Ring networks is that they have known, stable delivery timing - unnecessary for most "LAN"-style network traffic; and when it is, you start running into all the QoS/timing/delivery kludges that have been implemented on top of ethernet line & TCP/IP protocols.

      Or, in other words, the advantages that Token Ring has turned out to be unnecessary for the way LANs came to be used. Until recen
  • ... rotflol.. lord of the token rings right? It was about some pot smoking elfs, who made trees talk and dwarfs sing right?

    does anyone still make them?

  • TR is dead.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by eggoeater (704775) on Saturday April 15, 2006 @09:53PM (#15136438) Journal
    I work for a bank... a LARGE bank.
    I know we have one small location that still has TR because the site has been on the chopping block for 4 years.
    (It's finally closing this year.)
    I know we stopped installing it in new locations about 10 years ago in favor of Ethernet. My site (and most of the rest of the bank) was upgraded from TR to Ethernet(100Mb) about 5 years ago.

    Banks and any other large companies are going to stick to industry standards in order to reduce costs and complexity. I know we've had a hell of a time finding replacement hardware for the switching/routing equipment in that last TR location. My point is, why should a large company build a custom LAN network when the cheaper, easier technology will do just fine. e.g. We would have to disable the ethernet adapter in the Dell workstations we use and install TR cards. I have a laptop...I'd have to find a PCMCIA TR card. This is exactly the type of BS that large companies don't want to deal with.

    Here's the real reason TR is dead: QOS was only an issue with Ethernet when you had people using hubs. Now that massive switches are the norm, it isn't an issue since each user can run in full duplex. If you're on a hub, you're sharing bandwidth. If you're on a switch, you've got 100Mb all to yourself. (Unlike a hub, the switch can buffer the frames if the destination port is busy.) In addition, you can run in duplex which means your ethernet card can send and receive at the same time. If your office is using a switch, it's your WAN connections you have to worry about, not your LAN.

    And thats just for the cube farm. For the server room we have either dual 100Mb or dual 1000Mb connections to multiple backbones (more for redundancy than bandwidth.) There are also dedicated fiber going to SANS drives.

    The computer in my cube is piggy-backed onto a Cisco IP phone, which all goes to a single 100Mb switch port. I have never had a problem with it.

    Token Ring is DEAD. DEAD. DEAD.

  • by sakusha (441986)
    Wow, I remember in the 1980s, I used to have corporate customers that would order 250 token ring cards at a time. Unfortunately, IBM couldn't deliver. They're probably still on backorder.
  • I know for a fact that the state of California still deploys token ring, but I can't give you my direct source (sorry). A Google search [google.com] for "token ring" at ca.gov will give you some ideas though. This PDF [ca.gov] adted January 7, 2005 says:

    6.6.7.5 Managed Frame Relay (M-O)
    ...
    The Contractor shall provide tailored comprehensive WAN solutions for each location based on traffic load, usage patterns, transport requirements, and economics.

    • Provide design for routed solutions for many LAN protocols in the Ethernet or to
  • int token_ring=bsd;
  • I believe my company still uses some token ring cabling to carry ethernet. You have to put this funny adapter on the end (at each end) and then the token ring cable will carry ethernet. It cant go any faster than 100Mbps though. I think they are supposed to replace it next year when a large part of the company moves buildings.
  • I have a friend who inherited a working install between a bunch of OLD wireless access points for an inventory system. He has converted everything else over to the Ether Bunny, but his management is not in the mood to put in and replace a bunch of RF equipment.
  • It is funny this came up. I submitted this as an article just today, but it was rejected (grouse, grouse). Anyway, it lists Token Ring as one of the top flops of IT in the last 20 years. I have actually never used a token ring network, but this is stuff I always thought about it when I read about it:

    Network World's [networkworld.com] editors and columnist have nominated their favorite [networkworld.com]
    IT flops of the last 20 years, making for an interesting and entertaining read. Among the flops are the OSI protocol and technologies such as ATM and Token Ring, but also making the list IBM, Microsoft's Bob and ME, and the Apple Newton.
  • I don't think anyone has seen the Token ring since that hobbit lobbed it into the volcano a few years ago.
  • Token Ring was a good tech for the time (until the early 90's), but switched Ethernet killed Token Ring. Later there was faster switched Token Ring as well, but by that time Ethernet was so cheap Token Ring no longer made sense to implement. It was cheaper to replace existing infrastructures with inexpensive Ethernet than to upgrade the old Token Ring networks. You know, you could have almost the same conversation about ATM. s/token ring/atm/g
  • Why its gone (Score:5, Informative)

    by Spazmania (174582) on Saturday April 15, 2006 @10:56PM (#15136683) Homepage
    The big deal with token ring was that the network would remain stable under 100% load. Classic 10mbps ethernet with hubs would start experiencing trouble around 60% load and collapse by the time load reached 90%. If you had a big, flat network it just plain wouldn't work.

    Look at why: With token ring, only the card holding the token could transmit. Everybody else had to wait for the token. So each station would empty its transmit queue and then pass the token on to the next station. On ethernet, a station would send a packet whenever and if another station sent a packet at about the same time they'd collide. Every station observing the collision would assert a collision signal and after the collision signal cleared the two stations that transmitted would wait a random period of time and then retransmit. That's oversimplifying a bit but more or less correct.

    So, token ring was much more stable in a large LAN with a high probability of multiple stations having outbound traffic ready at the same time.

    Now, along comes 100baseTX on cat5, the end of coaxial ethernet and the proliferation of $50 switches. When you're plugged in to a switch there are only two devices in the collision domain: you and the switch. So, lots less collisions. When you're in full duplex mode (as you generally are), collisions are impossible since by definition both sides are allowed to transmit at the same time. Now your ethernet network remains stable at 100% utilization. And if the nic in the PC burns out, the rest of the network doesn't care.

    Token ring is very sensitive to malfunctioning nics. A malfunctioning nic may drop the token, that is it may receive the token and then fail to transmit it to the next nic. That kills a token ring network dead until the admin wanders around with an analyzer and figures out which PC is at fault.

    Suddenly the tables were turned. Token ring was an administrative headache and expensive to boot. Ethernet was simple, cheap and worked just as well.

    Token ring died out except as an academic curiosity -- an interesting early answer to a problem that was eventually solved another way.

    • by billstewart (78916) on Sunday April 16, 2006 @01:59AM (#15137167) Journal
      Sometimes you've got old IBM equipment that was working fine in the early 90s and you didn't replace for Y2K, and because you don't want to touch the computers, you don't need to change the routers. Or sometimes you've got a building cable duct full of asbestos so you don't want to touch it, but there's too much metal in the building for wireless to work reliably. Basically, token ring was old a decade ago.

      I've had one customer for whom token ring on Shielded Twisted Pair wiring was the right choice even after Cat5 Ethernet cards were cheap - they had lots of Big Electrical Equipment, and the alternative would have been to do fiber, which was cost-prohibitive back then, plus they didn't really need high data rates.

      Performance differences weren't really all that significant for the different technologies, except for obvious base-rate differences (100 Mbps >> 16 Mbps > 10 Mbps > 4 Mbps.) Even if they were, Full-Duplex Ethernet (which is pretty much universal these days if you use switches instead of hubs) doesn't have the same issues that half-duplex does.

    • by Animats (122034) on Sunday April 16, 2006 @02:44PM (#15139181) Homepage
      The big deal with token ring was that the network would remain stable under 100% load. Classic 10mbps ethernet with hubs would start experiencing trouble around 60% load and collapse by the time load reached 90%. If you had a big, flat network it just plain wouldn't work.

      In theory, Ethernet on coax should be stable under heavy load. But in the late 1980s and early 1990s, it wasn't, due to defective design of some widely used interface chips. Here's the actual story. See this note by Wes Irish at Xerox PARC [bilkent.edu.tr]

      The worst device was the SEEQ 8003 chip, found in some Cisco and SGI devices. Due to an error in the design of its hardware state machine, it would turn on its transmitter for a few nanoseconds in the middle of an interframe gap. This noise caused other machines on the LAN to restart their interframe gap timers and ignore the next packet, if it followed closely enough. This happened even if the SEEQ chip was neither the sender or the receiver of the packets involved. So as soon as you plugged one of these things into a LAN, throughput went down, even if it wasn't doing anything. A network analyzer wouldn't even see the false collision; this was at too low a level.

      This was tough to find. Wes Irish worked on the problem by arranging for both ends of Xerox PARC's main coax LAN to terminate in one office. Then he hooked up a LeCroy digital oscilloscope to both ends. Then he tapped into a machine with an Ethernet controller to bring out a signal when the problem was detected and trigger the oscilloscope. Then, when the problem occured, he had a copy of the entire packet as an analog waveform stored in the scope. This could then be printed with a thermal printer and gone over by hand.

      Because he had the same signal from both ends of the wire, the wierd SEEQ interference mentioned above appeared time-shifted due to speed of light lag, making it clear that the interference was from a different node than the one that was supposed to be sending. You could measure the time shift and figure out from where on the cable the noise was being inserted. Which he did.

      It took some convincing to get manufacturers to admit there was a problem. It helped that Wes was at Xerox PARC, where Ethernet was born. I went up there to see his work, and once I saw the waveforms, I was convinced. There was much faxing of waveform printouts for a few months, and some vendors were rather unhappy, but the problem got fixed.

      So that's why.

  • by NitsujTPU (19263)
    Did you really need to ask that in order for it to be answered?
  • by porky_pig_jr (129948) on Sunday April 16, 2006 @12:13AM (#15136913)
    I've worked for several insurance/investement companies, and everyone switched from a Token Ring to Ethernet. I can think of several reasons. The first one is cost. The ethernet equipment is cheaper. The second is management. With ethernet hubs, you get all the management capabilities you need and none of the disadvantages of the token-ring (e.g.,. situation with the 'lost token'. The 3rd: ethernet switching is predominant (vs collision based classical ethernet), so you have a constaant response time as well. The 4th: token-ring based bridging protocol is a bitch to manage/integrated with ethernet and TCP/IP.

    That does not mean that a token-ring based protocols are dead. A ring configuration is still a viable option, say, to connect multiple routers over large distances, say 50-100 km. But as a LAN, token ring is pretty much dead.

    An interesting titbit. I was working for IBM at that time (a few years ago, around 2000), a highly confidential message came from the top: "IBM is migrating internally from Token-Ring to Ethernet.". And then I knew Token-Ring was *really* dead.
  • That franchise is played out. Old news. Last year. Passé. If they could have worked out the rights to The Hobbit in time for Christmas 2005, then maybe there'd be time for one final she-bang, and perhaps a TV spinoff or two - but by now people've moved on to World of Lovecraft.

    However, LAN: A Dog - now that's a book I can identify with.
  • Well, we are using a book in my electronics course that teaches about computers. The book was revised in 2005. 90% of the networking chapter refers to token ring networks, and makes us learn about mesh, hybrid, and ring topology. It states how ethernet networks are not commonly used due to frequent collisions. It also refers to infrared networking as an efficient means of communication. In the operating systems section, it teaches us that while reformating a computer, just use FAT16 if in doubt of a fs to u
  • A small shop unit opened up on our campus last year selling cheap laptops, mobile phones etc etc. Legend has it that a fresher wandered in to get a network card for his PC to connect to his residence room network point and was sold a token ring card. The legend does not tell if it was ISA or S-BUS, or what the newbie did to his motherboard to connect it. But doubtless the tale will grow in the telling...
  • Not even at IBM... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by sirwired (27582) on Sunday April 16, 2006 @06:51AM (#15137646)
    Myself and my wife work for IBM. One of my wife's first jobs at IBM was writing Token Ring drivers for early iterations of the NDIS interface. She had to write all the code on a 3270 terminal connected to a mainframe and cross-compile to the PC because the PC's couldn't handle the code. I joined the company two months before the Networking Hardware Division (which made Token Ring cards, ATM switches, Ethernet switches, mainframe communication devices, and Multiprotocol Routers) was paid $2B by Cisco to go out of business.

    The Token Ring products were withdrawn from marketing a couple of years ago, so no more MAU's and Concentrators or NICs can be purchased, at least not from IBM. However, the products are still supported, and not uncommon in mainframe installations.

    At IBM we finished the Ethernet migration a couple of years ago. The thing that struck me the most about the migration was how converting from 14Mbps TR cable to 100Mbps Ethernet cable involved nothing more than inserting an adapter cube into the connector on each end of the building cabling. One of the primary features of the "IBM Cabling System" was that it could be adapted to many different cable types by just using adapters; coax, twinax, UTP, etc. To accomplish this feat, it was actually shielded, as opposed to unshielded CAT3/5, etc. This made it hideously over-specc'd for the original common use of TR. The cabling was designed so you could run it past just about anything and not have to worry about interference, cross-talk, etc. You could even get cable that had some UTP pairs stuffed between the shielding and the sheath so you could run your phone and data cabling using the same cable run.

    The drawback was that the cabling was bulky, expensive, and difficult to work with.

    Making cable that will actually work at over six times it's origninal intended speed while being more than a bit difficult to work with is an interesting example of Enterprise-quality engineering philosophy at IBM from the '80s.

    SirWired
    • Actually, you can still buy token ring pcmcia cards from IBM if you're a large enough customer (as my employer is). Yeah... we're still on token ring and won't be changing anytime soon. :\
      • Truth is, IBM probably has tens of thousands of TR PCMCIA cards that had been issued to employees back in the days when TR was the internal LAN standard, and which are now sitting idle in cupboards and drawers around the corporation. Any customers out there who still want/need the things should not be persuaded that they are a rare item. You'd actually be doing IBM a favour by taking them off their hands. Of course selling refurbished kit has always been a key element of IBM's business model.
  • Check out http://www.ether2.com/ [ether2.com] for a technology that uses ethernet but avoids using switches at all. They seem to try to deal with collisions by each station learning and knowing when it is ok to send. They claim to get much higher utilization and latency that scales down as bandwidth scales up. While not token ring; it is one of the few new switchless technologies I know of in networking.
    -Ack
  • Beat this.
    The company I worked at for a year during my industry placement had a combination of standard 100Mb ethernet, and Decnet. Yes, I kid you not, Decnet. There was a MicroVAX in the server room with a ton of parallel lines coming out of the board which snaked off to the desks of various engineers (as in metal) who had dumb terminals wired up to them. Yes, with greenscreens.
    It gets worse. By some horrible horrible technical voodoo, the MicroVAX was connected (by a single TR system) to the main compan
    • DECnet is a set of network protocols. It runs over Ethernet (and other physical networks.) You'd expect a DEC MicroVAX to use DECnet in the same way as a Windows/DOS machine would support NetBEUI.
  • by crayz (1056) on Sunday April 16, 2006 @08:59AM (#15137828) Homepage
    (..to the tune of "Particle Man")

    Token Ring LAN, Token Ring LAN
    Doing the things a token ring can
    How does it work?
    It's not important
    Token Ring LAN

    Is it a drag or is it a waste?
    When it's installed
    Does it get replaced?
    Or does that admin get axed instead?
    Nobody cares
    Token Ring LAN

    Ethernet LAN, Ethernet LAN
    Ethernet LAN hates Token Ring LAN
    They have a fight
    Ethernet wins
    Ethernet LAN

    Internet WAN, Internet WAN
    Size of the entire Internet, man
    Usually kind to the smaller LAN
    Internet WAN

    It's got a link with PPP band,
    A T1 band, and an OC3 band
    And when they're together it's a happy LAN
    Powerful WAN, Internet WAN

    Workgroups LAN, Workgroups LAN
    Formerly known as MS LANMAN
    Lives its life in a garbage can
    Workgroups LAN

    Is it depressed or is it a mess?
    Does it feel totally worthless?
    Who came up with Workgroups LAN?
    Degraded LAN, Workgroups LAN

    Ethernet LAN, Ethernet LAN
    Ethernet LAN hates Token Ring LAN
    They have a fight
    Ethernet wins
    Ethernet LAN
  • Token Ring is deterministic, which means that it is possible to calculate the maximum time that will pass before any end station will be capable of transmitting, something that can only be approximated with Ethernet. In a manufacturing environment using robotics and precise timing requirements such as stamping operations on a conveyor belt, Token Ring is still being used. Token Ring does not have collisions, eliminating most retransmissions that are common in half duplex ethernet, which will also cause a d
  • by mnmn (145599)
    I have two TR switches on my desk now and piles of NICs. Theyre not being used and will end up on ebay soon. I dont expect to get much from selling them.

    I've HEARD of banks using them, but all the banks I've visited use Dell or IBM PC workstations with AIX or AS/400 servers using 100mbit ethernet. TR died for the same reasons ATM died for smaller locations... its way to complex to make. An ethernet hub is $10 and a gigabit ethernet hub is under $50. Theyre also well standardized compared to TR and others...
  • Airplane Usage (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Mia'cova (691309) on Sunday April 16, 2006 @09:05PM (#15140409)
    It was mentioned in a networking class I took that token ring is used in aircraft due to their predictability. So by extension, any real-time system would be a good candidate for a token ring setup. It lets you prove that you have adequate bandwidth for the situation. Ethernet is at heart still random, no matter how much bandwidth you have.
  • They were hiring and of course we went down in what they had etc.

    The company still had a big IBM mainframe running batches that people had to fill from a green CRT. They still used Token Ring in their machine environment, just because they didn't change it since it works great. They are thinking about decentralizing for security reasons though.

    I heard different researches still use them as you can calculate the latency and round-trip and for some tests that is really important.
  • Real men don't use cable you can coil... That's why I stick with good old 10B5 thick ethernet.

  • I misread the title and thought we were going to be talking about "The Lord of the Rings"

    Back to the topic though, Token ring is so old, they should throw it into the volcano.
  • I believe Royal Bank of Canada [rbcroyalbank.com] still uses Token Ring. They have rolled out new computer systems to many branches, and the one I was in recently had new computers at the teller's counters which appeared to have Token Ring addresses on the info-stickies (system serial number, helpdesk phone number, etc) stuck to the monitors.

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