Network Working Group Jean Iseli (MITRE)
RFC # 462 Dave Crocker (UCLA-NMC)
NIC # 14434 February 22, 1973
Responding to User Needs
The ARPANET is currently undergoing a transition to an environment in
which network resources will be made available to a larger user base.
This emergent user base already contains a significant number of
terminal users not associated with a server site. Information relative
to network host services and access characteristics is needed to
encourage and assist new users.
To date, the Resources Notebook has been the primary outlet for efforts
to provide users with Network-wide information. A separate RFC, from the
NIC, discusses the past and current history more completely. In this
RFC, we would like to second the NIC's suggestion for the formation of a
Working Group concerned with User Information and Services, and we would
like to offer a specific suggestion for consideration at the NIC's
Many of the problems associated with the lack of adequate Network
information are caused by the many compilation steps. Too many resources
(most of them human) are required. In addition to delay, errors are
introduced. Part of the solution is to place the acquisition of basic
information closer to the source and make the source responsible for the
acquisition and maintenance.
The "source" is distributed around the Network and, therefore, the
proposal is to develop and implement a distributed and extensible
network data-base which contains the desired information. This
would require each server site to create and maintain an information
file locally and/or at the NIC. As a further (more down stream)
step, a mechanism to access these files could be specified and
People at different sites would thereby be able to use the tools
most comfortable and accessible to them.
An interesting technical issue involves making the disparate
files accessible by an automaton. The NIC is currently
attempting to smooth out the interface between NLS and non-NLS
files, and this seems like a reasonable object for such efforts.
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