Subject: Re: in fact, that's a good formula
From: Simon Cozens <>
Date: Sat, 24 Aug 2002 22:38:52 +0100

The FSB list witnessed another wonderful example of TomLordese:
> figuring out how to duplicate the repeatedly
> demonstrated success of "cs depts" 

And given Tom's recurrent beef, we know that this probably translates to:
"FSBs ought to create an environment in which I can live like a student
but get paid for writing free software".

As well as working for an FSB consultancy and hacking various Perl
things, I work for a University computer services department. (I am a
Busy Man.) 

Just in case you're confused by the terminology, cs is not cs. "Computer
science" is the department full of people who either sit around and
theorize about provable correctness or get funded by Microsoft to
produce anti-decompilation obfuscators for .NET executables. (At least,
that's what happens here.) "Computer services" are the guys who produce
useful free software and keep the mail servers running. 

We're currently engaged in a small battle with the University lawyers
about whether or not we can actually *legally* release the things we're
releasing. It looks like we're winning. When we finally win, we're going
to come out with some free tools which will be much better than the
competition in the areas we're dealing with. 

Of course, the competition in the areas we're dealing with are the
computer services departments of the University of Maryland, the
University of Washington, Washington University, and Cambridge
University. Do you notice a pattern?

The difference is this: computer science departments are given research
money to do Interesting Things; computer services departments have a
serious job to do and, if they have to, will write tools which help them
get that job done.

exim was not written because Phil Hazel had an academic interest in what
a mail delivery agent ought to be like; exim was written because Phil
Hazel had a crapload of mail to move.

Tom is correct in some sense: FSBs need research and design wings. They
need to fund research and design so that a new generation of free
software gets created. But let's not forget that free software evolves
out of necessity far more efficiently than it evolves out of curiosity.


"Life sucks, but it's better than the alternative."
-- Peter da Silva