Linux NetKit

netkit-0.10 came out in early 1997. It's now December 1999, and netkit 0.16 is coming out. What happened to 0.11 through 0.15, and why hasn't there been a release in all this time?

The short answer to the first question is that there weren't any releases after 0.10 until 0.15. This is not quite true; there were actually 0.11 versions of some packages and a couple 0.12's, and an 0.14 release of telnet. But many of these releases didn't get propagated very well, and there was, in any case, no coordinated release of everything.

The answer to the second question is longer. In the late summer of 1997, I was almost ready to make another comprehensive release. I no longer remember if it was going to be called 0.12 or 0.13; in any case that's not important. But real life got in the way; my job was taking up all my time, as well as all my interest, and NetKit wasn't getting done. So, finally, and reluctantly, in October of 1997 I handed over responsibility for NetKit over to someone else.

I continued to get maintainer mail for NetKit, because the new people hadn't put out a release yet; but I just forwarded it all. I answered some of it, as time permitted, but I tried to get everyone to talk to the new guys.

However, time passed and they still didn't get a new release out, for the most part; some interim releases came out, but they weren't announced or distributed widely, and some of them were broken. I didn't see it as being my problem, so I didn't worry about it. In fact, I disappeared almost completely from the Linux community.

In the spring of 1999, however, it came to my attention that Red Hat had given up on NetKit and was planning to do their own ports of the same programs from the OpenBSD versions. Since this meant that, basically, all the work I'd done on NetKit was about to be thrown away, I decided something had to be done.

I didn't take NetKit back; I didn't particularly want it. What I intended to do was to do what was necessary to help the new guys get a new release out the door, after which the maintainer addresses would all be updated and people would hopefully, finally, stop bugging me about it.

Unfortunately, it turned out that the source tree had bit-rotted -- there were multiple divergent versions lying around, some of which didn't work, etc., etc., and a talk rewrite that I'd contributed the previous fall had been forgotten -- basically, it was quite a mess. So over a month or two in the spring I gradually cleaned that up and set up a CVS tree that we all had commit access to. It was decided that the next release would be 0.15, and it would be gotten out the door as soon as possible.

It was important that 0.15 get out, you see, because there's a y2k fix in it - nothing major, but nonetheless, something that shouldn't be left to wait. But, the work necessary to get the release out just wasn't getting done. It was no particular person's responsibility, so nobody felt the need to actually do it. I had commit access, so I could have done what was needed just as well as anyone else. But I didn't, because it wasn't really my problem, and it wasn't particularly fun or exciting work.

It got to be December, and the release still wasn't done. At this point something had to give. The options were fairly clear, so I decided that I would take NetKit back and make it officially my responsibility. There is probably a psychology lesson in this: now it's only a few days later and the new release, 0.16, is basically ready.

0.16 is not everything I'd like it to be, though. If you've sent bug reports or patches that appear to have been lost, please resend them to the maintainer address, netbug@ftp.uk.linux.org. They may be in the backlog of stuff I haven't gotten to, or they may have disappeared.

Please do not send NetKit mail to any of my personal e-mail addresses, though - that will only slow things down.

click here for the old netkit page


12 decembre 1999