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From: "Stuart Herbert" <S.Herbert@sheffield.ac.uk>
To: "LWN News Items" <lwn@lwn.net>
Subject: Five years of Generic NQS - and a call for a new community resource
Date: Tue, 12 Oct 1999 15:15:56 +0100

Hi there!

I doubt that many of your readers have heard of Generic NQS.  I believe
that this will be of interest to your readers.

Generic NQS is a GPL'd batch processing system for UNIX.  It has been
GPL'd since 1992, and the source tree goes as far back as 1985.  Today,
Generic NQS is developed primarily on Linux, and is maintained by
volunteers such as myself.  On the 14th October 1999, I will have been
the maintainer for five years.

More background information on Generic NQS can be found on


I believe that Generic NQS is of wider interest because of two main
points.  I believe both of these points are very topical right now.

  o  Generic NQS is a working example of a formerly closed-sourced
     product flourishing since being open-sourced.

     Since being opensourced, Generic NQS has gained many new features
     and many important bug fixes.  Many of the new features have been
     added by the users themselves.  Additionally, we have now ported
     Generic NQS to many different versions of UNIX.  Generic NQS is
     now available on more UNIX platforms than any known closed-source

     Indeed, to further improve matters, we've recently secured a
     hardware donation from Sun Microsystems, which will allow us to
     further improve SPARC/Solaris and SPARC/Linux support.

     And yet, the NQS system (as originally designed by NASA) remains
     the batch system our closed-source alternatives interoperate with.

     GPL'd projects are not the answer in of themselves; by opening
     up the source base you aren't guaranteed success.  From my own
     experiences, I believe that the "headline" GPL'd projects have
     attracted a critical mass of skilled developers (a rare commodity
     these days!), and this in turn attracts more skilled developers.

  o  Far from competing with closed-sourced products (or any other
     type of commercial product), Generic NQS has actively recommended
     such products to would-be GNQS users over the years.

     Our belief is very much that Generic NQS is simply a tool, and
     one that our users should choose because it fits their needs
     rather than just their ideology.  Why use something which doesn't
     quite do the job if something else *will* do that job the way
     you want?

     Our focus remains firmly on what our users need - they are our
     priority.  We believe that this is what many GPL'd projects are
     about - software developed because someone needed some particular
     functionality, and which has grown by sharing with the wider world.

     I make this point because I've seen and read over the last couple
     of years the publicity generated by certain leading figures in
     the "open-source" or "free software" community.  There is no
     doubting their contributions to the software we all run, but
     I question both their right to "appear to speak" for the community,
     and what they have done in those positions.

     Instead of climbing into bed with whichever IT company someone
     wants to be close to, irrespective of what they can and do
     actually contribute to the rest of us, I'd like to see those
     leading figures use their self-appointed positions to help the
     rest of us secure the resources we need to do a better job.

     Personally, I'd like to see a new type of resource; some kind
     of free (or at least affordable) Internet site where developers
     can easily access integrated source control (BitKeeper?), bug
     reporting (Bugzilla?) and news (Squishdot?) + mailing lists to
     help them share their projects with a wider audience.  And each
     project to have its own DNS entry - eg. <project>.openprojects.org
     or something.

     I'm willing to help contribute to building such a resource.  I
     hope that through this I can find enough volunteers who would
     also like to see this happen.  However, such a project needs
     hardware to run on, and Internet bandwidth.  We also need to
     figure out how the machines will be administered and supported.

     So the next time our leading lights get up to say something,
     and the room goes quiet - please, remember the rest of us, and
     help us help each other.  Help us build this resource, so that
     we can help GPL'd projects of the future.

There you go.  I hope you find this suggestion for an article
interesting, and will publish it in some form or other.  Please - any
questions or anything - just let me know.

Best regards,
Stuart Herbert                                         stuart@gnqs.org
Generic NQS Maintainer                            http://www.gnqs.org/