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Re: Contributing software

From: Peter Samuel
Subject: Re: Contributing software
Date: Wed, 16 Nov 1994 12:47:47 +1100 (AEST)

Jeff Kingston writes:
 > I'd like to find out what people think about the whole issue of
 > contributing software to the Lout world.  At present, the only
 > Lout-related software available on the net (as far as I am aware)
 > is the Lout distribution itself.  However, I know of several
 > people who have produced various things related to Lout: one of 
 > my correspondents has an sgml-to-lout filter, another has a
 > shell for running Lout repeatedly and massaging the error messages
 > so that they can be used to direct an editor to jump to the error
 > point, and so on.
 > Occasionally I get requests from people to incorporate their
 > software into the Lout distribution, but I have always declined
 > to do this so far.  The problem with it from my point of view is
 > that if I start to accept such contributions, I either have to
 > accept everything or else set myself up as some kind of referee.
 > Neither course appeals.
 > I guess my preferred solution is for people to put up their own
 > things on the net; then they can look after their own users, do
 > their own updates, etc.  But there has to be some way for people
 > to find out what is available, and presumably this mailing list
 > would be part of the solution of that problem, but exactly how
 > I'm not sure.
 > Anyone care to comment?
 > Jeff Kingston
 > address@hidden

Other pacakges often include a "contrib" directory in which user
contributed source is kept. There is usually a disclaimer stating that
such software is:

    a) unsupported by the distibutors of the package

    b) untested by the distributors of the package

    c) not guaranteed to work in any way shape or form

    d) it is up to the user to contact the originator of the
       contributed software for any support issues

The distributor (Jeff in the case of Lout) undertakes to incorporate
updated versions of contributed software into future releases provided
the original author provides such upgrades.

If, and only if, the distributor sees fit to incorporate contributed
software into the "official" release, the distributor undertakes to
provide the same level of support to this new software as to the
previous softare included in the official release.

This approach works well with other packages such as perl and bind so I
see no problem with using it with Lout.

An alternative approach is to provide a "contrib" directory at your ftp
site in which interested parties can download contributed software.
This relieves you of the burden of including it in subsequent releases.
Anonymous ftp access to upload new contributed software will need to be
arranged and managed. The above disclaimers will still apply.

This still doesn't solve the problem of how to moderate the

The simple answer is NOT to moderate any contributed software. Simply
set up a mail alias, eg address@hidden which takes incoming
mail - checks to see if it contains source code in a particular format,
say a shar file, and if so places it in the lout contrib directory.
Mail which doesn't contain a shar file is rejected and a suitable
reply explaining the rejection is automatically returned to the

Instructions on how to drive the lout-contrib mail alias can be
included in the lout distribution in much the same way as instructions
on how to contact this mail list are already included.

A simple wrapper program could also be included in the lout
distribution which could automate the process of "making a

I'd be happy to create such a system for you but I'll wait for
sufficient feedback before I begin.

Peter Samuel                                address@hidden
Technical Consultant                        or at present:
Uniq Professional Services                  address@hidden
Phone: +61 2 339 3843                       Fax: +61 2 339 3688

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