Re: more oddities from the swamp


J. Noel Chiappa (JNC@XX.LCS.MIT.EDU)
Wed 21 May 86 21:14:04-EDT


        The reason the subnet RFC didn't speak about net.0 versus
net.subnet.0 is a) we wanted net.broadcast to mean something different
from net.subnet.broadcast, and b) that spec was written, although
unfortunately not released, before 4.2 came out.
        I have already complained fairly strongly to Jon Postel about
the lack of subnet stuff in the IP protocol documents. I didn't
realize that broadcast was also missing.

        The whole problem of out of date implementations attached to
the network system is one of the key organizational (as opposed to
technical) problems the system faces right now. You are correct that
currently the time around the loop is several years. The problem is
that this kind of delay is not acceptable if the system is going to
continue to grow successfully at the rate that it has been growing.
Things are going to break and need to be replaced, and we can't wait
around for years until vendors feel like fixing things.
        I think we need two things: a certification process, and
pressure from buyers. The need for the first is clear; right now there
is no comprehensive test of whether or not something correctly obeys
all the protocols. It's hard to beat up vendors when you don't have a
definite measuring stick for them. Second, people have to get militant
about timely support. Don't buy something if you don't get either a)
source, or b) a written commitment to pass the testing suite within N
months of changes.
        Such products may cost more, but look at the other side: you
will waste countelss skilled people hours pasting things together if
you buy whatever's cheapest. But people *have* to exercise discipline
and say to vendors "No, your stuff does not meet the spec, *go away*".

        Noel
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