[RC5] re: A look to the future

David McNett nugget at distributed.net
Mon Apr 26 05:17:16 EDT 1999

Thomas Tavoly had a lot to say, and deserves some answers:
>> It has also become clear to us that Adam's goals for Cosm and
>> distributed.net's vision of its future differ enough to justify this
>> parting of ways.
>I don't quite get the difference from reading up on his manifesto.

The difference of opinion between Duncan and distributed.net is more
related to development philosophies than it is to our ultimate vision.

Duncan sees Cosm as very much his personal invention, and he wants to see
his vision implemented.  We are more interested in exploring in the
direction of a more open development environment.  Trying to co-mingle
those two philosophies was difficult and ultimately damaging to the

>For it to be open the number one thing it needs added is completely open
>source development. This means adding extra security, but it's better
>than security by obscurity, especially since the very effort is supposed
>to be exposing things (apart from the other goals of course).

Yes, open-source is the holy grail of distributed computing and is
arguably the single greatest task lying ahead of us.  It also makes
sense for this task to be the first we tackle as we move forward.
I would say that it is by far the most compelling and desirable goal
we've laid out.

The move from our sub-optimal "security through obscurity" model (which
was never intended to last as long as it has) to an open source model is
not really an issue of just slapping on some "extra security", however.
The concept of trusting work performed by untrusted code is the
sticky-wicket of distributed computing.  Zero-Knowledge Proofs, as
treated to date, don't entirely address the issue in a compelling and
aesthetic manner.

I'm not sure anyone knows quite the best way to approach this problem,
and it is our hope that by encouraging discourse and open development we
can, as a group, hone in on the most appropriate choice for our various

Believe me, though, when I tell you not to read anything at all into 
the fact that we have been closed source to date.  This does not imply
any loyalty to closed-source or closed development.  We are all very 
committed to solving this dilemma and we always have been.

>D.Net is supposed to coordinate all of this at the top level, be
>responsible for keeping the focus so things don't become a mess regarding
>code and intention wise. The latter one currently needs attention it

It has been very difficult for distributed.net, as an entity, to agree
upon and convey a common and compelling focus when internally this was
not the case.  Unfortunately, much of our energy lately has been spent
trying to reconcile two distinct and at-odds design philosophies.
Ultimately we all decided that it was no longer prudent to try to come to
an agreement and thus the decision followed that Adam and distributed.net
should each proceed in their own desired direction.  

You are exactly correct, we ARE supposed to coordinate this at the top
level and maintain focus and direction.  And this is a task we are now
able to do with complete abandon and enthusiasm.  

>We need a better clarified statement than 'renewed enthusiasm blah
>blah'.  Which as an Amiga user I've heard so many times it has become

On a technology front, distributed.net's goals are to utilize a truly
open development environment to develop the next generation of
distributed computing client and server.  We are committed to moving our
codebase beyond the ultimately indefensible closed-source model and to an
open source codebase.  Not open implementation, but open
development.  distributed.net needs to begin living up to its name and
distributing not only our client base but our brain trust as well.

On an organizational front, our goals are unchanged.  We seek to be the
central standard for distributed computing.  To continue to grow
exponentially and expose as many people as possible to the concept of
distributed computing and encourage them to become involved in the group.
We wish to be the bar against which all distributed computing efforts are

>Lastly, I would like to have some assurance that D.Net will not turn
>into a corporate entity, or corporate funded puppet or diverge from the
>ideology with which it was started and become commercial or
>favouritist/dependent in any way.

This simply cannot occur.  It was a difficult and arduous task to
convince the IRS that we qualified as a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt, non-profit
organization.  Ultimately we did this by providing sufficient examples
and demonstrations of the fact that distributed.net does not exist, nor
ever will exist for commercial or financial reasons.  Our by-laws bind us
far beyond the requirements of a 501(c)(3) in that there is no way any
individual can benefit financially from the groups efforts.

We have never sought corporate sponsorship, and never will as there is no
reason for us to be beholden to any outside influence.  Our
responsibility and obligation is to the userbase alone, and no other

|David McNett          |To ensure privacy and data integrity this message|
|nugget at distributed.net|has been encrypted by using dual rounds of ROT-13|
|Birmingham, AL USA    |finger nugget at distributed.net for my news and pgp|
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