Forum OpenACS Q&A: What should OpenACS be doing for the day aD is gone?

Request notifications

It would be a service to OpenACS and its users if OpenACS could
obtain permission to host or mirror the tcl portions of the acs
repository (3.x and 4.x), perhaps various ASJ articles, parts of
their documentation tree, anything else we ought to be doing?
Posted by Don Baccus on
Yes, you're right.  If you or someone else wants to organize getting permission for the stuff that needs permission, gathering the bits and pieces and all that, I'm willing to help with the mechanics of making the stuff appear on

It would probably be best to ask if we could mirror some of that stuff for our users, rather than to ask if we can have it so it will be preserved after they're gone.  The issue of aD's survival seems to be a sensitive one at the moment...

Another biggy to mirror is the web-db forum.  I often search the forums for answers before reading TFM or asking a question.
The repositories contain GPL'd code.  We don't need permission to download that.  It would be polite to inform them and it might be beneficial to their customers and clients (and ours) and easier for everyone to coordinate with them.

Mirroring the forums would be good, and might not be too difficult.  While a db dump would be best, it can also be mirrored by crawling.  At my request several months ago, aD removed from their robots.txt entries around the web/db forum.  So an honest, heartfelt, thank you aD!  Nevertheless, I would think it best legally to ask permission to do so.

I'm not sure about the documentation.  I don't believe it was "freed" so they almost certainly hold the copyrights.  Same with the ASJ.

I strongly believe that what we propose is in aD's favor: it's akin to finding a second source to takeover support of an end-of-life'd product.  It will help them offer a support path for prior customers, it will enable them to focus on their new initiatives, and it will reduce their bandwidth costs.

I believe the steps to take are

One: make a list of what we would like to mirror or "takeover support for" -- we can use this forum for that (again I suggest the repository, relevant ASJ articles, ACS Tcl project documentation, and relevant forums)

Two: enlist some "group" with credibility to approach aD.

Three: determine who at aD is in a position to grant OpenACS (or Ben or Don) permission and maybe even assign copyrights to the fora, and grant reproduction and distribution rights for the ASJ, documentation, or anything else we may want?

I do wish aD the best of luck.  I've heard that they want to become a product company, and if so, that makes a lot of sense.  I don't believe that VC and consulting organizations have ever made a good fit.

Posted by Don Baccus on
The repositories can certainly be mirrored, I was thinking mostly about the need to get permission to the ASJ articles.  Permission from aD, the author, or both?  They solicited articles from non-aDers so I think the issue might really be one of asking the authors if they'd mind our placing copies here.  Those written by aD staffers may require aD permission instead.

In general I think Jerry's summary is very good and IMO folks could move forward based on it.  The question of who to approach at aD was one that  entered my mind, too.  I don't even know who's left in management that would understand the reason for such a request.  I'm not saying that no one would, just that the "stealth layoff" of over 40% of staff leaves me with very little idea of who is left.

Jerry - do you want to take the initiative on this?


I am happy to help, but I will need help too.  I don't have the access to this site (maybe someone from OpenForce or Musea can handle the actual data migration issues, once permission is worked out.)

If someone (private email perhaps) would like to suggest some names at aD for us to approach, I would certainly appreciate that.

What I will do is visit the ASJ and contact the various authors and ask for permission to distribute the article on the OpenACS site.  That will only solve a bit of the ASJ issues.

And I ask everyone's help here in building a list of URLs of doc they would like to see mirrored.

Posted by Don Baccus on
Access to the server was what I originally meant by being willing to help with the mechanics of getting stuff on-site (i.e. I have  the ways and means, or at least the right passwords!)

If you and others are able to get the bits, I can make the bits appear here...

Okay then, I will try to get the pieces.  If Musea's site relaunch is soon, I would think their help might be nice, at the least they probably have faster bandwidth and larger disks than I.
That's a great thing Jerry. Thanks for organizing that.

I myself have been looking for a copy of jplot for days. is gone, and a couple weeks ago when I asked about it in web/db, David Dao (I think) said that there had been some problem with the server that was being fixed, and that he'd try to find a new location for it.

So if anyone has a copy of jplot around, please e-mail me in pvt or put it somewhere I could download it please.

Jerry - I can give you an account on, no problem there.  We'd want an estimate of the size of the files involved, there's currently about 400MB available on /home on the system, but 5 GB on /usr  ?  Hmmm, is that right?  Anyway the website's on /home so if the files are too big someone will have to futz around.

cvsroot is on /usr so we can dump tons of stuff there.

Anyway, you could copy tarballs over to the server yourself.  All I or someone else needs to do is to organize filtering it into the website.

It will be the new site, I believe, because Talli's close to ready to letting folks play with it.  I know they're swamped at the moment which is why I'm offering to pitch in...

symlinks are a sysadmins best friend when you run out of partition space.
Oh, yeah, I'm well aware of that!  I just want some idea of what kind of volume we'll be dealing with in various categories so I can think about how I'll scatter stuff about.
Jerry, we'd be happy to help. As Don said, we are working on right now and will start working on the bboard migration issue very soon. Drop me a line and we can talk about it, although I won't be online for a day or so.


Posted by David Cohen on
May I suggest that we also think about the Ars Digita University ( stuff? In particular, they have videos and lecture notes, etc. for the one year intensive computer-science curriculum taught last year that should be worth saving.

The hard part about this stuff is that the video files are big:(500 Meg each). Letting people stream or download that stuff might get expensive. Perhaps ultimately some organization like should get the files and sell each course as a set of CDs at cost. Or perhaps the videos could be re-encoded using a better format, like DivX--given that the videos feature people standing in front of a blackboard, one would imagine compression could work rather well.

In any case, it seems that this material should also be included on the list of stuff to keep alive (thanks Don Baccus for prodding me to post this here).

I'm not that familiar with aduni.  If you could suggest URLs that would be a big help.


They are now seperate from the arsdigita foundation. The site is run by the alumni of aD University.

What are the alumni using for their server?  If they have a stable server then we needn't worry ourselves about preserving the information (David posted here on my recommendation, though, because I didn't realize that the alumni were now running the site).

It would be a pity to see this stuff lost, that's the key issue.  Serving the long video content and the like would be expensive if the site became popular but it would be nice to know it's going to survive.

FWIW, their FAQ section states specifically ...

"Can I mirror some or all of the site?

Sure. Actually, we'd be your new best friend if you could mirror some or all of our course materials. But be warned, it takes a lot of hard drive space and a lot of bandwidth - we currently have almost 80 gigs of material (mostly lecture videos) and during the school year we got an average of 10 gigs/day of downloads. "

"Sure. Actually, we'd be your new best friend if you could mirror some or all of our course materials. But be warned, it takes a lot of hard drive space and a lot of bandwidth - we currently have almost 80 gigs of material (mostly lecture videos) and during the school year we got an average of 10 gigs/day of downloads. "
I personally have failed to download *any* of those huge video files at any time in aduni's history. I would much prefer getting some tapes and then mastering some DVDs (I have a large amount of video equipment at my fingertips here).
I think mastering everything up to point X in time would be great -- and great for a fund raiser for the community also.  That way, by releasing periodic DVD disk sets, the community can generate money for hosting and bandwidth expenses and those with slow net connections can get everything for a small price.

Maybe release updated DVD sets on a yearly basis.  Might also be good for evangelism -- giving a set to schools, for instance.

I would absolutely _love_ to get a DVD of those presentations.
I'm with Roberto - I'd love to have DVDs of the aduni presentations!
We could further rip a DivX from the DVD and distribute it over
eDonkey or Kazaa... The pros of a DivX are that the movies up to
around 100 minutes fit on one regular CD and everyone has a
CD-Burner these days. The quality is shockingly good too!

This way ACS/OpenACS would maybe get some attention?

24: Get the AD Uni Stuff (response to 1)
Posted by Malte Sussdorff on
Now that a lot of us agree, who has the capabilities of

a) Get in contact with AD Uni guys and ask for the ORIGINAL material (not the RM stuff they have on their site).

b) Master a couple of DVDs for viewing on a DVD Player.

c) Encode using DivX and burn this on a computer DVD.

d) Make a business plan, how much this is going to cost.

I agree that getting the money in, once we know how much it is going to cost, will hopefully not be that much of a big deal. Maybe we could talk with MIT to extend the lectures with additional series from MIT (e.g. on "hot" topics not covered in the foundational lectures).

Does anyone has any news about this? Any contact with the aDUNI people? The idea of mastering all the courses in DVD sounds really great to me ... This real-coded-format is not that good ... terrible quality :(
Posted by Tom Kat on
Hi there,

I may be able to help fund this project, as long as it's opensource.Has anyone estimated the costs?


80Gigs of video to DVD. hmm  How many hours of video (to convert to DVD)? And... who has the publishing rights (any licensing barriers)?
There are about two hundred 75-minutes videos and they are released under OpenContent License (OPL --
Thank you, Neophytos Demetriou.  I just sent a message to regarding the status and specifics of available video formats etc. I'll post the answer here. DVD seems like a great approach for archiving and distributing if its not yet available offline..
I would _love_ to get a DVD with all those lectures. If somebody is going to make a DVD out of it to sell or distribute, please make it region 0 so anyone in the world can get it.

I hate this region coding thing of dvd's. writes (and confirms):

> Currently all of the video files of are available
> only in 300kb/s Real Video format... And there are about
> 275 hours of lectures.
> ... we're certainly happy to provide the data to people who
> have that interest. It's all licensed under the Open
> Content license, which.. explicitly permits copying and
> format translation.

Roberto, I'm sure every effort would be made to make a global distribution to work on any TV. That's a goal of open-source evangelists! =) It seems there will likely be some limits for reading on some DVD machines in one way or another given the quirky DVD revision standards and apparent built-in sub-license burn rights associated with current computer DVD-Rs. Any unfortunate sole could probably get an alternate distribution via portable HD. Perhaps this would be a legitimate use of the linux DVD copy/hack/writer program to circumvent individual DVD-machine-read barriers. hmm..

I just checked out and found out that they offer all lectures etc. as .rm (download) and .ram (stream)...

At the moment I am downloading a course with Philip, but their bandwidth is not that good (1.7 k/s from Germany)... Is anyone aware of mirrors?? That could be a good way to spread the word!

One lecture has ~300mb and there is 12 lectures covering the one month web application course by Philip for example...

What would people think to be the best strategy of packaging? Burning a DVD or rather cd-roms? Leaving the Real format as it is or converting to something else, maybe divx? or such might also be nice to spread the lectures in the P2P arena... (We would just have to name them "aduni xxx" or something like that ;-)