Period: 22 - 29 December 2003. Country: Malaysia
  Purpose of the Visit
  Research on the Computer Network Environment at the Malaysia Field Station and Setting Up the Network
  UMEKAWA Michihisa (ASAFAS: Division of Southeast Asian Area Studies)
  Record of Activities
  12/24 (Wed)
  • Osaka - Kuala Lumpur
      12/25 (Thu) – 28 (Sun)
  • Research on the network environment at the National University of Malaysia and setting up of the network and computer in the office of the Malaysia field station
      12/29 (Mon)
  • Kuala Lumpur - Osaka


      Outcome and Progress Report

              The purpose of this research was to investigate the computer network environment at the Malaysia field station and our counterpart, and to set up a computing environment for the office of the Malaysia field station. The method of the research work mainly involved meeting with the administrator of the counterpart's computer network and inspecting the system. Almost all the work was done in collaboration with Mr. Kitani (Research Associate of the Center for Southeast Asian Studies.)

     (1) Summary of the Computer Network Environment at Our Counterpart, the National University of Malaysia
              The office of the Malaysia field station is in the Institute of the Malay World and Civilization (ATMA) in the National University of Malaysia (UKM), located in the Bangi area near Kuala Lumpur. To investigate the computer network environment of UKM, we met with Dr. Ibrahim Taat, a research fellow at the computer center (Pusat Komputer) of UKM. The backbone of UKM's computer network is an ATM network with a data transport speed of 622 Mbps. The data transport speed at the end of network is 10 Mbps. There are a total of 5,000-7,000 users. Computers can be assigned IP addresses dynamically by the DHCP server or can have a fixed IP using the user's proposal for the Pusat Komputer. In the case of the Malaysia field station, the client computer obtains an IP address from the DHCP server. The Pusat Komputer isolates the internal network from the DMZ network with a router, which checks all packets for the DMZ network for illegal access such as cracking and viruses. These monitoring functions are only carried out on some ports related to web access, however, the internal network cannot be accessed from outside of UKM. This security policy is normal, and users have confidence in it. If university staff or students want to access the networks, they can use two methods, dial up and DSL. Both services are provided by Malaysia's largest telecommunications company, "Telecom Malaysia ." For dial up, the data transport speed is 56 kbps and the cost is 18-20 RM/month. For DSL, the figures are 2 Mbps and 2000 RM/month. The cost for DSL is higher than in Japan . During this trip, we were not able to study the reasons behind these costs, which come from technological problems or other social problems. At present, the members of the Malaysia field station do not have any need to use the dial up or DSL system. However these services are useful, and we should be prepared to use them since we might want to use our own or the campus' login and mail server based on a Unix system in the future. We had a meeting with Prof. A. B. Shamsul, the chief of ATMA, and obtained some information about the database project to make a portal site with a bibliography of papers. According to Prof. Shamsul, the project team has now finished building the basic system, which will call up individual databases, allowing users to search for papers or books they need from the databases. The home page of this system will be a portal site to the top of each database. The data is not collected from the internet automatically using a robot. All data is submitted and recorded by the staff. Building databases is important for holding data in common and public, and many experiments are being conducted. We expect that this search system will develop into an integrated search engine for all recorded databases.
     (2) Setting Up of the Network Environment in Malaysia Field Station
               Using approximately two days, we set up the terminal hardware and software in the office of the Malaysia field station. From the preparatory work in Japan , we predicted four possibilities:

    1. Setting up an original mail server and terminal,
    2. Only setting up a terminal connected to the internet using a fixed IP address,
    3. Only setting up a terminal connected to the internet using a DHCP server, and
    4. starting from nothing.

              We were able to choose (c), the easiest method. Thanks to the two days of work, the servers at ASAFAS and CSEAS can now be accessed from the office of the Malaysia field station. Accordingly we can use mail, web, and login by ssh on the ASAFAS and CSEAS servers. The memorable first e-mail message was sent from the office of the Malaysia field station to ASAFAS after the completion of this work.


      Future Tasks
                Through this research trip, we were able to get detailed information about the network environment at UKM and ATMA, our counterparts. However, in setting up the computer network environment in the office of the Malaysia field station, we did not build original network servers but only connected the terminal computer to the internet. The members of the field station can now use mail, web, and other network services. At present, the network resources of the field station are sufficient for the members. However, we may need an original mail server or other servers in the future when the office expands.


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