From: b...@cs.mcgill.ca (Alan Emtage)
Subject: [comp.archives...] Announcing Archie version 2.0
Date: 13 Mar 91 01:16:20 GMT
Sender: e...@ox.com (Edward Vielmetti)
Reply-To: b...@cs.mcgill.ca (Alan Emtage)
Organization: SOCS, McGill University, Montreal, Canada
Approved: e...@ox.com (Edward Vielmetti)
Archive-directory: quiche.cs.mcgill.ca:/archie/listings/ [126.96.36.199]
Original-posting-by: b...@cs.mcgill.ca (Alan Emtage)
Original-subject: Announcing Archie version 2.0
Reposted-by: e...@ox.com (Edward Vielmetti)
The "Archie Group" of McGill University is pleased to announce Archie,
the "Archive Server Server" Version 2.0.
McGill University Operating "archie"
- An Internet Archive Server Listing Service
Given the number of hosts being used as archive sites nowadays, there can
be great difficulty in finding needed software in a distributed
environment. You may know that the software that you need is out there,
but it can sometimes be difficult to find. The School of Computer
Science at McGill University has one solution to the problem - "archie".
Since the announcement of the dedicated-database version of archie in
November, the popularity of the program has grown by leaps and bounds.
From an average of about 30 logins/day in November we are now averaging
over 550 with our all-time high coming in at 700 for a single day.
(Our ex-boss owes us lunch for the 500+ mark :-). Archie's email
interface averages about 40/day and anonymous ftp to quiche (for
retrieval of the compressed site listings files in ~ftp/archie/listings)
is over 70/day. Needless to say, quiche is a well-used system right
about now :-)
Getting To The Point:
So how do you get to use archie? If you are Internet connected, it's
easy. Telnet to quiche.cs.mcgill.ca (188.8.131.52 or 184.108.40.206) and
login as user "archie". You should get a banner message and status
report on our latest additions (there's no password, although we do log
the sessions to provide rudimentary stats). "help" gets a list of valid
commands. Feedback welcome and can be sent to archi...@cs.mcgill.ca
NOTE: The following changes only apply to the interactive version of
archie (the one you see when you telnet or rlogin to quiche) and NOT to
the E-Mail interface. We will hopefully be overhauling that interface in
the coming week(s).
For those of you who don't want to read the whole thing, here's a quick
summary of what's new in V2.0. If you want the full explanation, skip to
the next section. Otherwise, see the archie online help facility.
(a) Speed and performance under load should be improved. Feedback (to
archi...@cs.mcgill.ca) on this would be appreciated.
(b) 3 new searching methods added. See help section under "set search".
(c) Output may now be sorted. See help under "set sortby".
(d) New Software Description database to help you find the names of
packages to do what you want done, as well as an RFC index and other
useful information. See help under "whatis".
(e) New "mail" command allows you to mail archie results back to you.
Say goodbye to those hated script sessions :-). See help under
"mail" and "set mailto".
(f) "list" command now tells the truth. Help "list".
(g) A "status" variable allows you to turn on or off search progress
information. Help "set status".
Changes in Version 2.0
Thanks to all the feedback we've gotten over the past couple of months,
we have modified archie into what we hope will be a more friendly and
The changes in V2.0 are:
(1) Speed & Implementation
For faster execution, Archie has been rewritten using a shared memory
model which greatly improves execution times especially when the
host on which archie is running is under load [which, for those of
you who use archie regularly, know that quiche has been for some
time now :-]. This model also allows for much faster database
updates. We'd appreciate feedback on what kind of response times you
are getting (subjective rather than objective).
Wider range of search methods. Until this point, archie could only
search using regular expressions (as defined in ed(1)). Since most
users don't require the power of regex's (and many who don't use them
regularly have (understandably) trouble composing them), 3 new search
methods have been added, bringing the total to 4.
To change the search method, set the "search" variable and use the
"prog" command per usual. Command line options are in the works
but have not yet been incorporated into this version of archie. The
value of the search variable for each method is listed in brackets
'[ ]' below. Type "help set search" at the "archie>" prompt if you
want more info.
(1) Substring (case insensitive) ["sub"]. As above but ignoring
the case of the strings involved. Speed about on par with the
(2) Substring (case sensitive) ["subcase"]. A simple, everyday substring
search. A match occurs if the the file (or directory) name in
the database contains the user-given substring. Slightly faster
than the equivalent regex.
(3) Exact match ["exact"]. The fastest search method of all. The
restriction is that the user (search) string has to exactly
match (including case) the string in the database. Provided for
those of who who know just what you are looking for. For example,
if you wanted to know where all the xlock.tar.Z files were, this
is the kind of search to use. [For those of you that are
interested, the search is O(1) in this case via the magic of
(4) Regex ["regex"]. The "old" method. Searches the database with
the user (search) string which is given in the form of an ed(1)
regular expression. This is the DEFAULT search method.
Note : The "status" line that used to appear when the "pager" variable
was set and the search was proceeding (showing the number of
matches found and the percentage of the database) can be enabled
or disabled by the use of the "status" variable, which can
either be set or unset depending on if you want the line to be
displayed or not. Therfore there will be no search ouput
displayed until the search is complete or aborted by the user.
Ordering the output. Archie V1.X had no concept of sorted output,
except for the fact that we tried to do the updates in lexical order
so that the output would be (mostly) sorted in that order. It didn't
work. Consequently, you may now sort your 'prog' command output in 5
different ways. For each method, the "natural" sort order (or at
least, what we consider to be the natural order) is the default.
To change the sort method, set the "sortby" variable. The value of
the sortby variable for each method is listed in brackets '[ ]'
below. Command line options are not available at this time.
The reverse sorting orders from those described here are obtained by
prepending "r" to the sortby value given. (Eg. reverse hostname
order "hostname" is "rhostname").
(1) Hostname order ["hostname"]. Output is sorted on the archive
hostname in lexical order.
(2) File/Directory name modification time ["time"]. Output is sorted
with the most recent modifcation times of the found
file/directory names coming first (youngest -> oldest).
(3) File/Directory size ["size"]. Output is sorted by the size of
the found files/directories, largest first.
(4) File/Directory name lexical order ["filename"].
(5) Database order ["none"]. In other words, effectively non sorted.
This is the default order and is the one that most users of
archie 1.X versions will be used to.
Note: Typing the keyboard interrupt character ( Ctl-C for most people on
UNIX) during a search will cause the search to aborted. The
results up to that time will be sorted (determined by the value of
the sortby variable) and the results output. Typing an abort character
during the sort will cause that to be aborted. Results up to that
point will be output.
(4) PD Software Description Database
A new database, similar to the one that the man(1) UNIX command uses
when doing a "keyword" ( -k option ) lookup has been added to
archie. The database currently contains about 2600 entries that we
have gleaned from various sources (such as the comp.sources.*,
alt.sources and RFC indices). The format is basically the name of a
PD program, document, or software package followed by a short
description of said object.
The command is "whatis" and takes a (sub)string as an argument. All
lines in the database containing that substring (case insensitive)
will be printed.
I think such a beast would be very useful if it were properly
maintained. These current entries should be considered the mere start
of the database and I'm depending on all you authors and maintainers
out there to send me additions, corrections and updates to the
various entries in the database. All such info should be sent to
All entries are welcome, and I'll endevour to keep the database
uptodate. I have not finialized what will and will not be in it so
send whatever you have along and I'll make up the policy as we go
(5) Getting rid of those crummy "script" sessions
Your days of typing "script" before every interactive archie session
are now over: archie can now mail you the results of your interactive
sessions. It works like this:
(a) Set the "mailto" variable to your E-mail address
(b) Run archie as you normally would. When you get a result that you
want to keep a record of (and after you have finished browsing
through it if you have the pager set on) type "mail". Archie will
automatically forward the results of the last request (site,
prog, etc) to the email address set before. If you have not set
the address in the mailto variable you may specify one on the
command line to the "mail" command. [If you do neither, and type
"mail", archie will tell you].
(c) The mail is sent asynchronously (you don't have to wait for it to
be sent). You will be informed when it is complete.
If the generated output from archie is greater than 45K bytes, it
will automatically be split it into as many parts as required to get
it to you in chunks this size or less. This is so as to cooperate with
certain mail systems which don't handle 50+ K chunks. [Many thanks to
Mark Crispin's c-client library of mail routines which made this code
SOOOO much easier]
Note: For those of you who have to do source routing for your email,
remember that the mail address given has to be a path from our
machines to yours. Our mail setup here is pretty darned good
(if I might say so myself) so the results should get to you in
reasonable time (there's no queueing on our part unless the load
gets abnormally high).
(6) What achive sites does archie know about ?
The "list" command which has been out for a couple of weeks under
version 1.3 is now formally part of archie. This command allows you
to specify a regular expression as an argument and prints the site
names in the database which match that expression, along with the
primary IP address of the site and the date that archie last updated
the site for the database. "list" without an argument prints the
data on all sites that archie knows about.
(7) Getting kicked off for loitering
Archie now has an autologout feature (well, actually it has had one
for the past couple of weeks, but we're now telling you about it
:-). If you hang around for too long without doing anything, we'll
bump you off and free up the resources for the next person along. We
aren't very strict on this and, in fact, you can set the autologout
period yourself, varying from 1 minute to 5 hours, with 1 hour being
the default. The variable "autologout" controls this feature.
Things to be done
A couple of things on our wishlist that still haven't been done:
(1) Restricting searches to specific sites (soon hopefully).
(2) Non UNIX sites aren't in the database (soon, maybe).
(2) GUI interface (a little further off).
The email interface will have to be brought up to the level of the
interactive interface (as well as fixing some pretty annoying bugs
in it), and hopefully that will be done fairly soon.
That's all for the moment folks. We would really like to see that
"whatis" database get off of the ground and all contributions are welcome.
If you have any comment, suggestions or constructive critisism, please
don't hesitate to drop us a line at
It was your comments which led to the above improvements and we'd like to
keep hearing from you.
- The "Archie Group": Bill Heelan (whee...@cs.mcgill.ca)
Peter Deutsch (pet...@cc.mcgill.ca)
Alan Emtage (b...@cs.mcgill.ca)