Subject: UnixTeX business going under
From: eichin@ATHENA.MIT.EDU ("Mark W. Eichin")
Date: Thu, 11 Feb 93 09:20:01 EST

from TeXhax Digest    Wednesday, 10 Feb 1993  Volume 93 : Issue 003
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Date:    Fri, 22 Jan 93 08:36:44 -0800
From:    mackay@cs.washington.edu (Pierre MacKay)
Subject: UnixTeX

This message may be addressed to a minority of the readers of this
bulletin, but it is a significant and growing minority.

I must regretfully announce that under present revenue projections,
UnixTeX is technically bankrupt, having drifted into default on
at least two occasions in the past six months.  We have a grand
total of two orders for 1993.   We will go on as long as we are
allowed to, but that may not be very long.

UnixTeX is not supported by the University of Washington.  Quite the
reverse.  The University of Washington seizes a substantial percentage
of all UnixTeX income for ``overhead'', and since that ``overhead''
must be paid before all other obligations, we will probably be shut
down absolutely when the next assessment for ``overhead'' comes due.

At that time, all consultation services by email or by telephone will
cease, and all Unix-specific tape distributions will also cease.  An
FTP archive of the UnixTeX distribution will be made available until
University of Washington accountants require its removal, but it will
be frozen in its present state.  There will be no further upgrades or
corrections to this file.  It may be that some site, possibly in
Europe, can take over the work of tape distribution, but that will be
out of our hands.

For four years I have predicted at TUG meetings that free,
unrestricted FTP distribution of UnixTeX would lead to this result.  A
few generous supporters, and an unexpected increase in tape orders
kept it from happening last year, but the crisis has been accelerated
this year by several major hardware failures.

The nine-year old SUN-1 and eight-year old SUN-2 on which the
distribution was resident have become too unstable to be of any
further use.  CPUs, disks, controllers and our last 9-track drive have
all failed.  UnixTeX put together a SUN-3 server out of second-hand
and salvage parts, and this was the source of all tape distributions
for two years.  But the cost of this new hardware eliminated any
balance that UnixTeX had in reserve.  The 600 MB SMD disk on that
machine has now failed, and in the inauguration-day windstorm, a power
surge blew the formatting board on our last tape drive.

The source of our financial problem lies in the fact that
four-fifths of the calls for compilation assistance and similar
support are now from sites which picked up the software by FTP. While
a handful of FTP users have been touchingly generous -- sending in
amounts from their own pockets, and while we acknowledge that many
have helped in other ways -- taking the time to summarize system-specific
problems encountered on varieties of machines we have no access to, the
majority of sites that retrieve UnixTeX via FTP benefit without cost
to themselves, from a service supported in the main by TeX users who
have absolutely no FTP access and who therefore must obtain the
distribution via tape orders.  We strongly support the principles of
the Free Software Foundation; and as long as we are around, we shall
honor our association with those principles by continuing to make all
elements of the distribution available for FTP.  But as the distribution's
survival rests with the ever-diminishing number of sites that order
the distribution on tapes directly from us, and not by FTP, we must warn
that the associated work of organization, documentation and first-level
consultancy is probably about to cease.

We have two proposals for interim support in preparation now, but it
is all too likely that we will not be around even if those proposals
succeed.  Supposing that we do get through the immediate crisis,
however, if UnixTeX is worth keeping alive, it will have to survive on
some sort of subscription system, like National Public Radio.  It is
improper to solicit funds even for a non-profit activity over the
Internet, so we cannot do that here.  It is, however, worth noting
that UnixTeX survived last year in part on some donations that were
made to the University of Washington and specifically earmarked for
the support of UnixTeX.  It is our understanding that such donations
provide a tax exemption.


Email concerned with UnixTeX distribution software should be sent primarily
to:     elisabet@max.u.washington.edu           Elizabeth Tachikawa
otherwise to:  mackay@cs.washington.edu         Pierre A. MacKay
Smail:  Northwest Computing Support Center      Resident Druid for
        Thomson Hall, Mail Stop DR-10           Unix-flavored TeX
        University of Washington
        Seattle, WA 98195
        (206) 543-6259

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