Project Bosnia: Independent Media Server

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Trip Report Spring 1998


Spring 1998 Trip Report

Independent Media Internet Server
Banja Luka Trip Report
Monday, March 16 through Friday, March 20, 1998

  .........Project Bosnia’s objective in Republika Srpska ("RS") is to promote the free flow of unbiased information by developing an Internet-based independent media information infrastructure, which will enhance the rule of law in Bosnia and Herzegovina. While this goal is distinct, it is related to Project Bosnia’s work in the Federation, which connects the legal community through the Internet. To that end, a delegation of Project Bosnia successfully installed the Independent Media Internet Server in the International Press Club ("IPC") in Banja Luka.

          The media server in Banja Luka is fundamental for returning Bosnia to the rule of law. The free flow of information between legal institutions, the press, and the people is crucial to the development of democracy. The war in Bosnia destroyed much of the physical infrastructure of the media, including libraries and printing presses. Until these physical elements are rebuilt, an electronic information infrastructure can accelerate the rule of law by serving as a cheap printing press, virtual library, and global newsroom.


          The equipment of the equipment for the Independent Media Server was arranged through Janet Garvey’s office at the United States Information Service in Sarajevo. She worked with someone at the US Embassy to arrange to have a Diplomatic Protocol completed by the time we arrived on Sunday, March 15, 1998. The equipment comprised of twelve boxes and was brought to Sarajevo as extra luggage on the airplane.

Problems overcome

          Initially, Project Bosnia had arranged for the transportation of our equipment to occur through Delta Cargo. It was given to Delta Cargo in Chicago on Sunday, March 8, 1998 and was scheduled to arrive on Wednesday, March 11, 1998 in Sarajevo. After a series of mishaps, we were informed that the cargo would not arrive until two weeks after we were scheduled to leave Sarajevo. To add to the problem, the cargo was already in New York and two of the most expensive boxes were missing. Although the boxes were never found, they were insured for $2475.00.

          On Wednesday, March 11, 1998, IV Ashton spent numerous hours on the phone with the various Delta Cargo representatives in Atlanta and New York to resolve the problem. Delta Cargo terminated the shipment in New York, and canceled the charges. The freight was held in a secure location at JFK International Airport until Saturday, March 14, 1998 when the student delegation arrived from Chicago. A Delta Cargo supervisor, Joe Miranda met IV Ashton at the gate and together they brought the boxes to the Austrian Airline baggage claim. From there, Joe arranged to have the shipment sent free of charge to Sarajevo.

          Ten of the twelve boxes arrived on Sunday with the students, and the other two arrived on Monday. The problem, however, was getting the equipment out of Bosnian customs. Luckily, AES Cargo assisted us in this process. The boxes were held in a warehouse until the Diplomatic Protocol was completed late Monday afternoon. AES Cargo arranged to get the Protocol from the US Embassy and take it to the airport customs office. AES Cargo transported the boxes to Banja Luka on Tuesday morning.


          The Independent Media Internet Server is located at the International Press Club in Banja Luka. The IPC was established by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe ("OSCE") before the election. The IPC is centrally located in Banja Luka and is easily accessible. All branches of the media are welcome at the IPC, including the written press, television and radio journalists. The Director of the IPC, Milos Solaja, openly supports a free and independent press and assures us that zero tolerance for bias exists. In fact, the Federation media and Turkish media have safely worked at the IPC in the past.

          The server is located in a special room behind the main conference room at the IPC. The location is ideal as is safe and is supplied adequately with power and telephone connections.


          See Attachment A for a detailed list of equipment.

          See Attachment B for a detailed schematic of the network.

Sun Netra Internet server:

          At the core of the network is a $25,000 Sun Microsystems Internet Server. It is a Sun Netra Internet server with Ultrasparc 167 Mhz processors and 192 megs of RAM. The server allows anyone connected to it to browse the Internet, and likewise gives anyone using the Internet access to documents stored on the server. A person simply requests access to the server via one of the following addresses: www.bl.project-bosnia.org, pbosnia.bl.project-bosnia.org, mail.project-bosnia.org and proxy.bl.project-bosnia.org. Technically, the server is also known by the IP address

Challenges overcome

          There were no major problems in the configuration and set up of this server other than changing the IP address and the Netmask so it would run over the gateway. Afterwards, some small problems with inconsistent entries in the tables for the domain name server were found that caused mail to be infinitely looped.

Hewlett Packard Advanced-Stack 12 Port Ethernet Hub:

          Four IBM computers are connected to the media server through a Local Area Network ("LAN") by 10BaseT Ethernet cables (also known as rj45), which plug-in to a Hewlett Packard Advance-stack 12 port hub. The hub, as the name suggests, serves as a way for all of the computers (and other devices) to connect to one another. It has twelve 10BaseT style ports, one AUI connector and one 10Base2 (thin coax) connector. A modem also attaches to the Ethernet hub and connects the server to the Internet.

Cisco 3000 Router:

          The thin coax port on the Ethernet hub attaches to a Cisco 3000 router. The router acts as the "gateway" to the Internet for computers on the LAN by controlling the direction of the Transport Control Protocol/Internet Protocol ("TCPIP") packets. When the TCPIP packets are sent to the Internet from the LAN, they first go through the router and are processed and forwarded to INECCO.Net. This is accomplished through an attached Ascom 128k NTU, which will be described later.

Challenges overcome

          We obtained the Cisco 3000 router literally moments before we boarded our plane to Sarajevo, and as such, were unable to configure it before we left the United States. We were forced to configure the router in Bosnia. Configuring the router proved to be most challenging aspect of our trip.

          We first obstacle that we overcame was obtaining the security password. Initially, we attempted to get the password from the company that donated the router, but were unable to as the password was commonly used on their routers, and thus was a security risk.

          Will Sadler (Executive Director of Law and Computers, Chicago-Kent College of Law) obtained instructions on how to bypass the password, however, our attempts to do so were unsuccessful. Under normal conditions, we would have accessed the console port of the router to bypass the password but we did not have the proper connectors to attach to the console port (these connectors are almost impossible to find in Banja Luka). As such, we attempted to connect to the router through the auxiliary port. But, as we quickly learned, it is impossible to bypass the password using the auxiliary port.

          IV Ashton telephoned the company that donated the router and talked to an engineer. They reached an agreement that the engineer would dial-in to the router to change the password (the router had a modem connected to the console port). Initially, however, Igor and Pat could not get the modem on the router to answer incoming calls, but after playing around with it for about 10 minutes, the router was answering incoming phone calls.

          IV then called the person who was supposed to change the passwords on the router and managed to get the passwords over the phone. Pat changed the passwords on the router, and a technician from Belgrade dialed into the router to configure it. However, before we could proceed, we had to connect the router to the LAN. Both the router and the Ethernet hub for the LAN had an AUI Ethernet port on them. Since it would have been impossible to find an AUI Ethernet cable in Banja Luka (they are hard enough to find in Chicago), we were lucky that Igor had a MAU that converted AUI to 10Base2.

          The problem then became finding a thin coax cable, which also proved to be very difficult to do. Igor searched to find all of the parts to make the connections, but was unable to find all of the parts. Thus, we could not make the cable. Igor had to go to the Technical Faculty at the University of Banja Luka to obtain them.

          Even after all of these struggles, the largest problem still lay ahead. The router still wasn’t talking to the router at INECCO. After numerous phone-calls to Belgrade we were able to get the help we needed and around ten hours later, the router was working and sending packets over the Internet.

Ascom 128 NTU Modems:

          The device connected to the router that sends the packets over the Internet is an Ascom 128k NTU modem. It is essentially a modified modem that is designed to run over a leased line.

Challenges overcome

          Ascom 128k NTU modems are fairly hard to configure, and ours didn’t come with a manual. Thankfully for us, Andrej Andrejovic, the head engineer from Telefonija in Belgrade was working that day in Banja Luka and was incredibly helpful in configuring these devices. He was able to work with his people in Belgrade to configure the modems.

          As an interesting aside, we also had to overcome some adversity in obtaining the modems. We arrived in Banja Luka with two Motorola FT100 T1 terminal adapters to use as our modems. T1, however, is a standard specific to the United States and does not work in Republika Srpska. Since they do not sell the particular modems that are necessary for a leased line in Banja Luka, Assistant Dean Charles Rudnick and ABA CEELI liaison Bill Hallock had to drive to Belgrade at midnight that night to purchase them.

3Com/US Robotics Netserver Plus 8:

          Dial-up access to the network is obtained through a 3Com/US-Robotics Netserver Plus 8. The Netserver connects to 6 phone lines at the IPC to the media server.

Problems overcome

          Before our trip, we did a test configuration of the Netserver in Chicago. However, when we set-up the Netserver in Banja Luka, we had problems with the Netmask on the network. In Banja Luka, we only had 16 IP addresses on the network as opposed to the usual 255. This produced a Netmask of instead of (which is standard). For a reason unknown to us the modems did not acknowledge the IP addresses that we initially used, and we were forced to hard code them into the dialup client software.

LAN – Four IBM Desktop Computers:

          We connected four desktop computers to the Ethernet hub through 10BaseT Ethernet cable (in addition to the two computers that we brought with us, we networked two computers that were donated by USAID). Each of the Ethernet cables runs about 45 feet in length and runs along the ceiling of the IPC.

Problems overcome

          We had to purchase some Ethernet cards to put in the computers as the ones we brought actually required power conversion. Igor went to a local computer store and purchased four Ethernet cards.

Other problems overcome

          We also had a small problem was the distribution of IP addresses on our network. For some reason, only a few computers acknowledged the DHCP for IP address assignments. As such, Pat had to switch all of the computers to static IP addresses.


          The Independent Media Internet Server is connected through a 16K dedicated leased line supplied by INECCO, a local Internet service provider in Banja Luka. We have arranged for a special 50 percent discounted rate on the cost of the leased line. The monthly cost of this line is $555.00 (US dollars). (For more detailed information regarding this agreement, see Attachment C – the Memorandum of Understanding between Project Bosnia and INECCO). In addition to this connection, the server is connected to six dial-up lines. As such, the media server makes email and Web information available to anyone with a modem-equipped personal computer and an account on the server.


          Bill Hallock, the ABA CEELI representative in Banja Luka and Milos Solaja are helping oversee the management of the media server. Milos will watch the day to day operations of the server, and Bill will be responsible for paying for the leased line and the network administrator.

          The network administrator of the media server is Igor Loncarevic. He was instrumental in setting-up the network and is very familiar with how the system operates. Prior to his work with us, he has worked on UNIX-based systems since 1992. He is also the network administrator at the University.

          We agreed that we would pay him 500 DM for his work helping set-up the server and for his services through March. We also left with Bill Hallock, 810DM to pay him for the Month of April. We agreed that he would work an average of 15 hours per month (.5 hours per day) and for the first months would receive a set fee of $30.00 (US dollars) per hour. This equates to $450.00 or 810DM per month. His rate will increase to a set fee of $40.00 after if the IPC obtains a United States Information Service ("USIS") Democracy Grant, which we applied for when we were there (see below). (For more detailed information, see Attachment D).


          Training journalists will be key to the success of our project. When we were in Banja Luka, IV Ashton, Tomas Johanson, and John Warden held a small training group of about four journalists.



          The Independent Media Server is comprised of the following equipment:

          Sun Netra Internet Serer

          Ultrasparc 1 Processor (167 Mhz)

          192 Megabytes of RAM

          6.4 Gigabytes of Hard Disk

          15 Inch Sun Color Display

          Solaris 2.6 Operating System

          Tripp Lite 3000int UPS

          2000 Maximum

          Intelligent Shutdown

          Cisco 3000 Router

          With AUI to 10Base2 MAU

          HP Advancestack 12 Port Hub

          12 10BaseT Ethernet ports

          1 AUI Port

          1 10Base2 (Thin Coax) Ethernet port

          USR Netserver 8 Plus

          6 incoming phone lines

          2 unused (total of 8)

          Ascom 128k NTU

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