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11th Systems Administration Conference (LISA '97)

Chaos Out of Order: A Simple, Scalable File Distribution Facility For `Intentionally Heterogeneous' Networks

Alva L. Couch
Tufts University


In large networks, heterogeneity in hardware, operating systems, user needs, and administrative responsibility often forms boundaries that inhibit sharing of information, expertise, and responsibility. These boundaries can divide networks into `feudal fiefdoms' of administrators, each with a disjoint domain of responsibility. DISTR is an easy-to-use file distribution tool for homogeneous networks that also provides controlled file transfer between disparate architectures and administrative domains. Using DISTR, administrators of unrelated networks can collaborate to reduce duplication of effort while retaining control of their own networks. DISTR's controls allow collaboration, cooperation, and camaraderie to evolve, not from grand and imposed designs, but from informal and serendipitous commonalities of mission and purpose.

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