Re: If i had a hammer...

From: Markus Mottl (
Date: Tue Feb 02 1999 - 16:01:42 MET

From: Markus Mottl <>
Message-Id: <>
Subject: Re: If i had a hammer...
To: (Xavier Leroy)
Date: Tue, 2 Feb 1999 16:01:42 +0100 (MET)
In-Reply-To: <> from "Xavier Leroy" at Feb 1, 99 02:49:16 pm

> I have followed this discussion with interest. Having some sort of
> central archive of publically-available Caml tools and libraries
> would be an excellent thing, both to connect developers and users,
> and to coordinate future developments.
> I strongly encourage everyone who has written a piece of Caml code of
> general interest to publish it on their web pages and announce it on
> this mailing-list.
> It would be great to have a set of Web pages listing all such
> announcements. We've been willing to do this for a long time, but
> didn't quite find the time. We could try harder, of course; but if
> there are any volunteers for maintaining such a list (or other
> Web material for Caml), we'd be very happy to provide an account on
> the server. (Please contact us directly at

I guess that also maintainance can be decentralized to some extend,
though this raises security questions. I am not sure, how much "human
ressources" you have for supervising such a site. But it should be
possible to restrict "time consumption" of this task to things like
"granting (write) access", etc...

> We have plenty of old workstations that could be used for this
> purpose, and indeed I've been thinking lately about providing
> read-only CVS access to the OCaml development sources, as a simple way
> to make available patches between releases.

This would certainly be a great idea - this could speed up the development
cycle due to smaller "feedback cycles" from users.

> Setting up such a machine raises delicate security issues (our
> machines have been attacked twice in the last three years), and even
> more so if read-write access is provided for some users. Remote
> developers would also need the ability to make .tar.gz distributions
> of their sources available on our FTP server. This can also be done,
> but raises further security issues.

I see that this can be a problem. This strongly depends on the question,
in how far you can seperate such a machine from your "production network"
or any other security relevant facilities.

> A more decentralized development model, where developers maintain
> their own CVS archives and release on their own Web sites, would
> certainly be easier to implement. We would still have a centralized
> listing of available software on our Web site, and perhaps automatic
> mirroring on our FTP server (and on the INRIA Rocquencourt CD-ROM).

I am not sure whether this would work so easily. Here some reasons:

 * many users do not have superuser rights on servers that are accessible
   "around the clock". The actual administrators might (as in my case)
   be reluctant with introducing remote repositories.
 * Administrative maintainance of such repositories would multiply -
   I am sure the overall effort is smaller if there is one central
 * Some developers might not be this familiar with setting up such
 * Contributors would have to contribute to different repositories on
   different servers, which might be a bit confusing - especially if
   some projects "fit into the same category".

There are probably further arguments against this. I think it would be a
very logical approach to have such a site somewhere at INRIA. Of course,
any security questions would have to be solved first, but this certainly
depends on facts only INRIA can influence...

> Let's start to fill that Caml's hump!

So that it may traverse the deserts of software engineering!

Best regards,
Markus Mottl

Markus Mottl,,

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