Network Working Group W. Kantrowitz
Request for Comments: 514 LL TX-2
NIC: 16445 5 June 1973
Updates: RFC 459
The ARPA Network seems to have developed the proclivity of dragging
compulsive collectors and organizers out of the woodwork and placing
them in the forefront to annoy everybody.
Recent occurrences have been:
1. A set of charts on characteristics of the hosts. The orientation
seems to have been: If you can come up with names for the
horizontal and vertical nodes and if it has to do with the hosts,
make a chart out of it. This collection of charts goes under the
euphemism "ARPA Network handbook". Information on a host is
scattered over all the pages which is a questionable organizing
scheme. Additionally, since the charts contain much of what is
already in the Resource Notebook, we now have the delightful task
of maintaining two documents when changes are necessary.
2. A telephone call asking for hourly loads on the TX-2 computer for
every hour of the months April and May. One can easily imagine
all this information being keypunched in some computer (on the
network, of course) and then lovely bar graphs, curves, plots,
etc., being generated. Probably in triplicate.
3. A mailbox message about a "central software repository" and a
personnel file. (Copy of the message is attached). This was just
too much and is the immediate precursor of this RFC.
My first reaction to the "central software repository" was that this
has got to be some kind of prank. But when the second message
(identical to the first) arrived an hour later and when I learned
that others had also received it, I reluctantly accepted its
legitimacy. Actually, sending the message in duplicate fits in very
nicely with the general bureaucratic syndrome evidenced by the
contents of the message.
This RFC addresses itself merely to the idea of listings of every
program. That does not mean that I think that the rest of the
request is better, just that I don't have the time to write a
treatise on the general subject. It should be noted (if not obvious)
that what follows is being written with almost unbearable restraint.
Listings of every program available to network users? Has anybody
calculated how much paper would be generated? How many trees would
have to be cut down for this paper? How many filing cabinets are
going to be needed? How is this massive amount of information in its
totality going to be of use anyone? Is there going to be an
answering service which will answer such questions as to what is on
the third line of page 5 of the listings of the editor at a given
host? Will one be "required" to send a new listing in order to
change a program?
This material has not been reviewed for public release and is
intended only for use with the ARPA network. It should not be
quoted or cited in any publication not related to the ARPA
From the point of view of a site such as TX-2, the questions become
even more intriguing. Many of our programs are written in assembly
language. Should we, therefore, also send along a copy of our
(incomplete) assembly language manual? Or should we drop everything
else and complete the manual? What about listings of our operating
system since the programs make calls upon the system for input-
output, file management, etc.? (I could go on and on, but the
readers should get the idea by now.) Much of this applies to any
host, but for a host which has a one-and-only computer,the problems
are more acute.
Once again, may I repeat my plea from RFC 459. There are small
research sites on the network. TX-2 is one of them. Please, network
community, don't drown us in a sea of make-work. We might get
nothing done just keeping up with it. Or is that no longer
In particular, the network community ought to be glad that in the mid
1960's we at TX-2 weren't bombarded with tons of make-work and were
able to get something done. What I have in mind is the initial
experimentation with a small-scale network prototype with SDC which
demonstrated the feasibility of networks and led to the ARPA Network.
(Please see reference.) Who knows what we, or some other site, will
come up with if given the chance?
Some people have suggested that I not write this RFC reasoning that
if I just ignore it, the problem will go away. But the problem is
not going away. If anything, it seems to be getting worse. Silence
becomes in effect tacit consent. I do not intend to sit by and
sacrifice useful work to satisfy bureaucratic compulsiveness.
It says someplace that one should end on a positive note. OK, here
goes: May I respectfully suggest that the next potential perpetrator
of network (make) work for someone else think very hard about the
justification for it. Also, think about how much time it will take,
remembering that not everybody is as fast or brilliant as you are.
If you would like positive responses from others, you should consider
why someone else should feel motivated to do the work you request.
Then put all this down on paper as the introduction to the "work
order." Then think some more. Try it on some colleagues. If it has
still survived then maybe you have something. Just maybe.
T. Marill and L. Roberts, "Toward a Cooperative Network of Time-
Shared Computers" in AFIPS Conference Proceedings, November 1966.
NET MAIL FROM SITE USC-ISI RCVD AT 30-MAY-73 10:59:44
DATE 30-MAY-73 0740-PDT
FROM RML AT USC-ISI
RE: RML CENTRAL SOFTWARE REPOSITORY
- - - -
RML CENTRAL SOFTWARE REPOSITORY
RML IN THE CAPACITY OF ARPANET MANAGER IS INTERESTED IN ESTABLISHING
AT RML A CENTRAL REPOSITORY OF PROGRAMS ADVERTISED IN THE NETWORK
RESOURCES NOTEBOOK BY THE HOST SERVER SITES AS AVAILABLE FOR USE BY
NETWORK MEMBERS. IT IS ALSO DESIRED THAT PROGRAMS GENERALLY
AVAILABLE FOR USE BY NETWORK MEMBERS BUT NOT LISTED IN THE RESOURCE
NOTEBOOK ALSO BE INCLUDED. AVAILABLE DOCUMENTATION ON THE PROGRAMS
IS ALSO REQUIRED. THE TYPE OF PROGRAM DOCUMENTATION DESIRED INCLUDES
BUT IS NOT LIMITED TO -
1. PROGRAM DESCRIPTION
3. RUNNING INSTRUCTIONS
A. OPERATION INSTRUCTIONS
B. INSTRUCTIONS FOR THE PREPARATION OF THE DATA TO BE PROCESSED
4. PROGRAM LIMITATIONS
5. ANY OTHER AVAILABLE DOCUMENTATION IN THE ABSENCE OF THE ABOVE.
YOUR COOPERATION IS THEREFORE SOLICITED IN PROVIDING COPIES OF THOSE
PROGRAMS WITH THE ASSOCIATED DOCUMENTATION ADVERTISED BY YOUR SITE AS
AVAILABLE FOR USE BY NETWORK. IF THERE IS A CHARGE FOR THE MATERIAL
PLEASE PROVIDE THAT INFORMATION BEFORE INITIATING ANY ACTION. IN
THOSE CASES WHERE THE PROGRAM RESIDES AT A GIVEN HOST SITE AND THE
DOCUMENTATION IS LOCATED ELSEWHERE SIMPLY PROVIDE THE LOCATION
RML IS ALSO ESTABLISHING A FILE OF HOST SITE PERSONNEL OR STAFF
INTERESTED IN OR POSSESSING PARTICULAR TECHNICAL TALENTS OR
CAPABILITIES IN ANY SCIENTIFIC FIELDS. THE PERSONS NAME, CREDENTIALS
AND A SHORT SUMMARY OF PARTICULARS IS DESIRED AND WILL BE
APPRECIATED. PLEASE MAIL COPIES OF THE PROGRAMS, DOCUMENTATION AND
INFORMATION TO -
LT. COL. E.P. SCHELONKA
RANGE MEASUREMENTS LABORATORY
PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, FLORIDA 32925
PLEASE SEND ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF THIS MESSAGE INDICATING IF YOUR
SITE WILL PROVIDE THE REQUESTED MATERIAL AND INFORMATION. SEND
REPLY TO RML->ISI ATTENTION G. CLARKE
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