Feast or famine? A response to two recent RFC's about network information (RFC0531)
Original Publication Date: 1973-Jun-01
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2019-Feb-12
Internet Society Requests For Comment (RFCs)
Network Working Group M. A. Padlipsky Request for Comments #531 MIT-Multics NIC 17450 June 26, 1973
Feast or famine? A Response to Two Recent RFC’s About Network Information
In RFC 514, Will Kantrowitz returns to the theme of his superb RFC 459. There are too many people spending too much time asking for too much information about Network Hosts. In RFC 519, John Pickens returns to the theme of his rather querulous RFC 369. It’s not easy to learn how to use network Hosts. On the one hand, it would seem that there’s a veritable feast of information going around; on the other hand it would seem that there’s a terrible famine. Can this apparent contradiction be resolved?
I think it can be, and will attempt to do so after making a few observations about the respective poles. In regard to the issues Kantrowitz raises, matters are perhaps even worse for the "big" Servers than for the experimental ones; we have something like 50 CUBIC feet of system listings for Multics, plus untold user-supplied programs which might be of interest, plus several thousand employees (if our "site" is construed to mean M.I.T. as a whole) -- surely they didn’t want all that, even before the request was withdrawn.
But what of the issues Pickens raises? Surely prospective users ought to have some means of learning about the resources available. The point, it seems to me, is that they do ... but they aren’t using them. As Network Technical Liaison for Multics, I’ve never heard from any of the U.C.S.B. investigators. I don’t even recall their having requested a Multics Programmers Manual despite the fact that our Resource Notebook section offers one to any Network site, on request. I do recall seeing instance after instance of botched login attempts from them in our error logs, though. I called their Liaison to alert him to the problem but they weren’t in touch with him either.) I also recall saying time after time, after seeing them floundering around, "it’s a pity nobody reads the Resource Notebook."
That, I think, is the key: we have a Resource Notebook; it lists Technical Liaisons; it gives information about the Hosts thought to be relevant to Network users; it gives references to other published information. _Why_don’t_we_use_it_??? Sure, not all the sections are up to par. Sure, some sorts of information are neither contained nor pointed to. But that amounts to a need for seasoning -- the meal is there, and it’s neither a glutton’s portion nor a starvation diet. Let’s work with what we’ve got instead of charging around demanding MORE