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Interview with Sun's Tim Bray and Radia Perlman

CmdrTaco posted about 8 years ago | from the thats-a-bit-old-school dept.

76

ReadWriteWeb writes "To celebrate the 15th anniversary of the World Wide Web, Richard MacManus interviewed two senior engineers from Sun Microsystems - Tim Bray (Director of Web Technologies) and Radia Perlman (Distinguished Engineer). The interview discusses the past and future of the Web, including the impact that Sun's servers have had over the years. Also discussed is the reason why Tim and Radia believe that P2P won't be a driving force on the Web going forward. Radia thinks that having central sites where people can register is key to making the Web scalable and more secure."

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Why Sun? (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15874032)

Q. Why an interview with Sun's Tim Bray and Radia Perlman to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the World Wide Web?

A. Because Sun put the . in .com of course!

OK! ok, sorry, I'll get my coat.

P2P (4, Insightful)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | about 8 years ago | (#15874041)

Tim and Radia believe that P2P won't be a driving force on the Web going forward. Radia thinks that having central sites where people can register is key to making the Web scalable and more secure.
I'll say. Nothing feels more scalable and secure than when I register and login to all my favorite P2P trackers.

P2P at twofo (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15874088)

Great p2p hub here dchub://hub.twofo.co.uk:4144

In other news, Zeus sucks cock.

Re:P2P (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15874205)

P2P is a dead technology, plain and simple. It can't work in a secure network, for several reasons.

1. P2P requires holes in firewalls. You cannot use P2P applications safely through a firewall, you must also allow incoming connections.

2. P2P and a distributed attack look identical. There's no way to tell the difference between a P2P application and a worm attacking a network. As such, allowing P2P applications to exist necessarily lessens the security of the network by allowing worms to hide in the P2P traffic.

3. There's no way to secure a P2P network to require certain permission levels to access data. Once data is flowing in the network, every peer has to be trusted not to distribute the data to another peer without proper validation.

And perhaps the biggest reason:

4. P2P isn't. You have to have a central source at some point that tells the peers where to find each other. If you have a central source anyway, you might as well just have all peers connect only to it so you have clearly defined routes and security roles.

P2P is already effectively dead. It's only going to continue to die as more and more ISPs strengthen the security on their network and, as a side effect, kill off all P2P traffic.

lole (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15874270)

I don't think I've seen *this* troll before.

Re:P2P (2, Insightful)

Aladrin (926209) | about 8 years ago | (#15874309)

You've forgotten 1 very very important thing:

People like it.

All the technical reasons in the world don't matter if people prefer it to everything else. Until you have actually created and properly hyped a better 'technology', then P2P is here to stay.

Re:P2P (4, Insightful)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | about 8 years ago | (#15874461)

P2P is a dead technology, plain and simple. It can't work in a secure network, for several reasons.


Who said anything about the Internet being a secure network?

Look, the Internet, by its very nature, is inherently insecure. It cannot be secure. Only networks where resources can be controlled and managed can be considered secure. You can only secure your own private network, and if that network is connected to the Internet, even via a firewall, its security must be considered at least compromiseable, if not already compromised (this depends on how important security is to your network -- U.S. military and civillian intellegence consider air gap security to be the only security that is acceptable in relation to the Internet and their classified systems). P2P or no P2P.

As for holes in the firewall -- any service your network provides to the public internet requires holes in your firewall. If you don't like that, then don't run services on your public facing connections. *shrug*

Re:P2P (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15877089)

The Internet is a network made up of other, smaller networks. It may be impossible to secure the Internet, but it's not impossible for the smaller networks to secure themselves.

The #1 cause of spam is rooted boxes on residential lines. Eventually ISPs will start securing their own networks and, in the process, kill P2P. It's inevitable as the network security for each individual network that makes up the full Internet secures itself.

And I thought... (1)

guruevi (827432) | about 8 years ago | (#15874045)

that decentralization was the driving force to even create DARPANET or TCP/IP. If we centralize everything again we might have some overhead on administration and traffic but when one or multiple nodes fail, the internet will still be there. If you centralize everything at say the USA and that country decides to implement the Great Firewall, you're pretty much boned.

Well, that's what I think of it... Isn't Sun almost dead?

Re:And I thought... (5, Informative)

mrogers (85392) | about 8 years ago | (#15874118)

There's a difference between decentralising the infrastructure and decentralising the control. Radia Perlman's thesis [vendian.org] is a good example: a robust, decentralised routing protocol made possible by a centralised PKI.

Re:And I thought... (1)

andrewman327 (635952) | about 8 years ago | (#15874222)

Fortunately the US is not installing the great firewall. Sadly, other countries like China are. The people within those countries are SOL for some content. I also do not think that TFA is talking about centralizing everything to the point of no fault tolerance.

Re:And I thought... (1)

portmapper (991533) | about 8 years ago | (#15874968)

> Fortunately the US is not installing the great firewall.

Well, in many places in USA, schools and libraries are required to use filters
to remove "bad" WWW sites. Btw, the list of "bad" sites are secret, or you may use
reverse engineering. Oh wait, I forgot about DMCA.

> Sadly, other countries like China are.

US companies are providing the technology and know-how, but hey, "let the market decide".

Re:And I thought... (1, Informative)

andrewman327 (635952) | about 8 years ago | (#15875165)

The United States protects the freedom of the Internet. If you want to use a computer that is 100% purchased and maintained by the government, they have a right to control access. If I used you computer, you would probably not want me doing certain things on it either. This is very different from a nation like China, where the whole country's access is blocked for many different things.


Most oppression software is not American, but I still disagree with selling to certain actors. At a special event last year in DC, I asked Senator George Allen (R, Va) how he felt about US companies aiding Chinese oppression. He did not know what I was talking about but he said he did not like the sound of it. A few months later congressmen started speaking out against the practice occasionally. News really takes a while to work its way up the chain.

Re:And I thought... (1)

tehcyder (746570) | about 8 years ago | (#15879292)

Most oppression software is not American, but I still disagree with selling to certain actors.
So which "actors" would it be OK to sell it to then?

Re:And I thought... (1)

Jerry Coffin (824726) | about 8 years ago | (#15875594)

> Fortunately the US is not installing the great firewall.
[ ... ]
> Sadly, other countries like China are.
US companies are providing the technology and know-how, but hey, "let the market decide".

Presumably that was meant more or less sarcastically. The question I'd ask is whether you can figure out a way of providing only technology that can't be abused in such ways (and yes, IMO, the great firewall of China is an outright abuse of the technology). While it's applied to a much larger number of computers and a much wider variety of subject matter, I don't see a lot of difference in the basic technology or know-how involved in the great firewall of China than in quite a few perfectly legitimate corporate firewalls and such.

The difference is primarily in the application of the technology and know-how, not in the technology itself. Is there any real difference between my filter that knows "viagra" is a bad thing and theirs that knows "tianamen square" instead?

And to answer the obvious question: yes, I'd even give up my spam filer if it meant the whole world would have unrestricted communication. Somehow I doubt that's going to happen though...

Re:And I thought... (1)

portmapper (991533) | about 8 years ago | (#15876079)

> Presumably that was meant more or less sarcastically.

Yes, it meant that way ;-) USA produce so much wonderful technology, but only to have
it abused so much.

> The question I'd ask is whether you can figure out a way of providing only technology that
> can't be abused in such ways (and yes, IMO, the great firewall of China is an outright abuse
> of the technology).

Most technologies, as you know, can be used for evil, but that does not mean that the technology
in itself is evil. However, some technologies are so dangerous or easy to abuse that they are
a real concern. A well known example is usage of nuclear power.

What is objectionable is corporations like Cisco that actively facilitate human right abuses
in the name of profit and "free markets". Too bad that it's not presently possible to
prosecute the repsonsible Cisco executives, and others of the same ilk.

While it's applied to a much larger number of computers and a much wider variety of subject matter, I don't see a lot of difference in the basic technology or know-how involved in the great firewall of China than in quite a few perfectly legitimate corporate firewalls and such

Oh I get it (1, Funny)

ThePopeLayton (868042) | about 8 years ago | (#15874061)

I guess having a centralized server that is prone to attacks does make the internet more secure? How could I have been so stupid.

Re:Oh I get it (3, Funny)

OakDragon (885217) | about 8 years ago | (#15874125)

To make the internet more reliable and secure, maybe we could have a whole bunch of centralized servers, all spread out.

Re:Oh I get it (0)

novus ordo (843883) | about 8 years ago | (#15874367)

So how many of these servers would you like to order today, sir?

Re:Oh I get it (1)

wild_berry (448019) | about 8 years ago | (#15874562)

Just yesterday I read someone's planet.debian.org [slashdot.org] post linking to the manifesto of Sovereign Computing [advogato.org] . I suspect there will be a bigger market-space when groups like me and a few friends buy a server or two between us.

Re:Oh I get it (1)

Kadin2048 (468275) | about 8 years ago | (#15875370)

Unfortunately, there's just not enough space in the tubes to allow us to do that.

Instead, we'll need to use a dump truck to move the data around.

Re:Oh I get it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15874185)

Who says 'centralised' means there can be only one of them ?

centralised

adj
1: drawn toward a center or brought under the control of a central authority; "centralized control of emergency relief efforts"; "centralized government" [syn: centralized] [ant: decentralized]
2: concentrated on or clustered around a central point or purpose [syn: centered, centred, centralized, focused]

Nothing to do with quantity and not neccessarily about location.

Re:Oh I get it (3, Informative)

dc.wander (415024) | about 8 years ago | (#15874313)

I wouldn't be so condescending about the suggestion... Radia Perlman has accomplished more for modern networking and the internet that you probably will in your lifetime. She is more than just a "sun employee." She is inteventer of the Spanning Tree Protocol amoung other things http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spanning_tree_protoco l [wikipedia.org] .

Maybe check out her book, Interconnections, on Amazon to get a feel for the type of work she does.

Re:Sig (1)

WilliamSChips (793741) | about 8 years ago | (#15876548)

Do you know what the chain of command is? It's the chain I'm going to beat you with till you listen to my commands
Personally I prefer Jayne's version. "Do you know what the chain of command is? It's the chain I'm going to beat you with until you realize who's in ruttin' command here!"

Off Topic: Interview w. Slashdot editor Rob Malda (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15874083)

Rob Malda Interview [whitedust.net] . Rob founded Slashdot.

Re:Off Topic: Interview w. Slashdot editor Rob Mal (-1, Offtopic)

vally_manea (911530) | about 8 years ago | (#15874182)

Rob is that you?

Wrong Questions (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15874098)

"Also discussed is the reason why Tim and Radia believe that P2P won't be a driving force on the Web going forward."

What should have been discussed is why Sun is no longer a driving force on the Web going forward.

the NSA Needs it Centralized (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15874104)

Gee, maybe because a centralized database would make tracking people much easier?

I would not be suprised if the NSA/CIA had their fingers in it already, just look @ google logs / AOL logs, etc.

I wonder... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15874132)

Radia Perlman (Distinguished Engineer)

I wonder if Radia is an expert in Perl.

Don't be stupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15874179)

Radia Perlman is an expert in running a singular Radius server!

What's Danny Devito have to do with Sun? (1, Funny)

JoshDM (741866) | about 8 years ago | (#15874291)

I SWEAR the subject line said "Rhea Perlman" when I first read it.

Ron Perlman... (0, Offtopic)

milatchi (694575) | about 8 years ago | (#15874307)

I think the interview would have been better if they had spoken with Ron Perlman instead of Radia Perlman.
Ron Perlman photo [imdb.com]

secure== (1)

hachete (473378) | about 8 years ago | (#15874318)

"they own your arse and every search query you ever use" Hang on...

Need a new interviewer (5, Insightful)

buffoverflow (623685) | about 8 years ago | (#15874336)

This was a disappointment. I was really hoping for a lot more out of this interview. Two brilliant interviewees, (one of which is arguably the most influential and groundbreaking female engineer to ever work in this industry, the other is the creator of one of the most prevalent markup languages used); an interesting topic, (I'd like to know what these two think of the past 15 years, and more importantly, what they see to come); finally a simpering imp of an interviewer.
Let the two with the IQ's & overly impressive resumes do the talking. MacManus, I'm really hoping you're leaving all the good stuff for part 2. I didn't see much in the way of a single worthwhile question or topic. The writing was dry and elementary.
Mr. MacManus.. When you get people of this caliber to speak to you, don't treat it like a freshman project for the campus paper. Please do something before you release part 2... Or just toss that page into the fire before you embarrass yourself any more.

(P.S. It never hurts to plug your interviewees work either... "Interconnections" kicks ass...)

Re:Need a new interviewer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15874446)

agree, completely underwhelming interview when you consider what it could have been. I was picturing farley interviewing mccartney ala saturday night live reading this. Interconnections is still the bible of networking books.

Re:Need a new interviewer (2, Insightful)

bsartist (550317) | about 8 years ago | (#15874686)

Two brilliant interviewees, (one of which is arguably the most influential and groundbreaking female engineer to ever work in this industry
I have to disagree. No disrespect to Ms. Perlman intended, but I think the term "groundbreaking" more accurately describes the work of Admiral Grace Hopper [wikipedia.org] . I will give you however, that Ms. Perlman is arguably the most influential and groundbreaking female engineer currently working in this industry.

Re:Need a new interviewer (1)

fm6 (162816) | about 8 years ago | (#15874780)

Grace Hopper's main achievement was inventing COBOL. "Groundbreaking" is not the word I'd use....

Re:Need a new interviewer (1)

sgtrock (191182) | about 8 years ago | (#15874963)

At a time when the only programming was done using assembler??? Nope COBOL was a major step forward. :)

Re:Need a new interviewer (1)

Mikkeles (698461) | about 8 years ago | (#15875098)

'At a time when the only programming was done using assembler???'

And FORTRAN and LISP and ALGOL58 mainstream languages.

Re:Need a new interviewer (1)

sgtrock (191182) | about 8 years ago | (#15877356)

How many of those ran on IBM mainframes? Seriously, outside of Fortran I can't think of one that I would expect to see there.

Re:Need a new interviewer (1)

Mikkeles (698461) | about 8 years ago | (#15879764)

LISP was originally implemented on the IBM 704.
I believe that an ALGOL58 implementation was begun at IBM, but I don't know if it was ever successfully finished (as you note, FORTRAN was the standard there). A derivitive (MAD) was implemented on the IBM 704.

Re:Need a new interviewer (2, Informative)

fm6 (162816) | about 8 years ago | (#15875240)

COBOL was not the first high-level programming language, not by a long shot. There were already languages that knew how to interpret formulas (FORTRAN), process complex data structures (LISP) and even primitives forms of block structuring (Algol). The one big idea that COBOL added to the mix was that source code should resemble natural language (IF X EQUALS 3 OR 4 ADD 1 TO X). Hopper had to have been pretty ignorant about the sheer ambiguity of natural language to make this mistake.

Re:Need a new interviewer (1)

Mikkeles (698461) | about 8 years ago | (#15879886)

'The one big idea that COBOL added to the mix was that source code should resemble natural language ...'

And the record structure as well as sophisticated file handling.

Re:Need a new interviewer (1)

bsartist (550317) | about 8 years ago | (#15875164)

Think about what COBOL represented at the time. Adm. Hopper didn't just invent a new high-level language - she invented the concept of high-level programming languages, and the first compiler as well.

Re:Need a new interviewer (1)

fm6 (162816) | about 8 years ago | (#15875274)

Invented high-level languages? Compilers? Have your perchance heard of FORTRAN? Algol? Both are older than COBOL.

Re:Need a new interviewer (1)

bsartist (550317) | about 8 years ago | (#15875653)

I may have failed to correct the idea that she invented COBOL - but since you were the one who suggested she did, you'll have to share the blame for that. :-)

Adm. Hopper's actual invention was A, the first compiler and the first of the so-called "third-generation" of "English-like" programming languages. A was released commercially as FLOW-MATIC, which later led to COBOL.

Re:Need a new interviewer (1)

fm6 (162816) | about 8 years ago | (#15876698)

Flow-Matic wasn't the first compiled language either. That honor belongs to Fortran, which was first developed in 1953. Every reference I've ever seen credits John Backus with inventing the compiler.

And distinguishing between Flow-Matic and COBOL is not useful, since both languages have the design flaw I'm criticizing.

You're getting your info from Wikipedia aren't you? Well, the entry on Flow-Matic is accurate enough, but is easy to misread. It says that Flow-Matic was the first "English-like compiled language". Which is perfectly true, but not the same thing as being "the first compiled language".

Re:Need a new interviewer (1)

bsartist (550317) | about 8 years ago | (#15877220)

You're getting your info from Wikipedia aren't you?

Yep. (Yeah, I know...)

Well, the entry on Flow-Matic is accurate enough, but is easy to misread. It says that Flow-Matic was the first "English-like compiled language". Which is perfectly true, but not the same thing as being "the first compiled language".

Yes, but I'm not talking about FLOW-MATIC when I refer to the first compiler, I'm talking about A-0. From Adm. Hopper's Wikipedia entry [wikipedia.org] :

... A pioneer in the field, she was the first programmer of the Mark I Calculator and developed the first compiler for a computer programming language.

... In 1949, Hopper became an employee of the Eckert-Mauchly Computer Corporation and joined the team developing the UNIVAC I. In the early 1950s the company was taken over by the Remington Rand corporation and it was while she was working for them that her original compiler work was done. The compiler was known as the A compiler and its first version was A-0. Later versions were released commercially as the ARITH-MATIC, MATH-MATIC and FLOW-MATIC compilers.

The Wikipedia entry for A-0 [wikipedia.org] agrees:

... A-0 was the first language for which a compiler was developed.

A-0 was produced by Grace Hopper's team at Remington Rand in 1952.

Meanwhile, the FORTRAN [wikipedia.org] entry says:

... In late 1953, John W. Backus submitted a proposal to his superiors at IBM to develop a more efficient alternative to assembly language for programming their IBM 704 mainframe computer.

1952 is earlier than 1953, right? Also, the Wikipedia entry for John Backus [wikipedia.org] doesn't mention anything about his having invented the compiler, nor did I see anything in the FORTRAN entry about it being the first compiled language.

If I'm wrong about all that - blame Wikipedia. :-)

Re:Need a new interviewer (1)

fm6 (162816) | about 8 years ago | (#15878556)

Why should I blame Wikipedia? You're the one who's lending authority to "facts" edited by anonymous bozos with no indication as to where they got their information.

Re:Need a new interviewer (1)

bsartist (550317) | about 8 years ago | (#15880038)

You're the one who's lending authority to "facts" edited by anonymous bozos with no indication as to where they got their information.

Are you suggesting that an anonymous slashdot poster is somehow more credible? Why is that? (I'll ignore the "bozos" part - although I can't help but find it amusing that someone with a sig like yours is resorting to name-calling instead of citing better sources of information...)

You want more references, just Google for "invented the compiler" (include the quotes) - every link on the first page credits the invention to Admiral Hopper. You stated that "every reference I've ever seen credits John Backus with inventing the compiler." What references are you using then? I can't find a single one - not one that credits him for that.

You're half right (0, Troll)

FrankieLiebkind (994212) | about 8 years ago | (#15874722)

Radia Perlman [bio [sun.com] ] is one of the great network engineers today - and has been making the net more robust and secure for 20 years.

The other guy is an ass in a hat [dvorak.org] who likes to suck up to his management [tbray.org] .

No contest.

Re:You're half right (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15876850)

This isn't a troll. The poster is 100% correct. I'm still not sure what Mr. Bray actually contributes or does at Sun other than pushing the use of markup languages. Blogging was already starting to bubble at Sun, so while I'm sure he'd like to claim all the credit for Sun's blogging policies, he really can't.

I shudder to think how many employees would still have jobs without Sun having to pay his salary as a director. Has he gotten any employees reporting to him yet or is the title still fluffy?

Re:You're half right (1)

FrankieLiebkind (994212) | more than 7 years ago | (#15963464)

No one reports to Tim. But no one can get him to do any work either.

Re:Need a new interviewer (1)

fm6 (162816) | about 8 years ago | (#15874874)

the other is the creator of one of the most prevalent markup languages used
You mean XML? Bray didn't "create" it. He was a key member of the committee that designed it. Calling him the "creator" devalues the other members of the committee, especially Jon Bosak [wikipedia.org] , who defined the need for a simplified SGML and drove the project to create it [sun.com] .

Re:Need a new interviewer (1)

Penguin Programmer (241752) | about 8 years ago | (#15874886)

Agreed. Why would you paraphrase an interview with two incredibly intelligent and interesting people, instead of just giving us the interview verbatim? We don't give a flying fuck about what the interviewer has to say, so his commentary is irritating and irrelevant.

Algorhyme (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15875178)

Radia wrote a poem called "Algorhyme", modified from another poem by Joyce Kilmer, "Trees":

        I think that I shall never see
        A graph more lovely than a tree.
        A tree whose crucial property
        Is loop-free connectivity.
        A tree which must be sure to span.
        So packets can reach every LAN.
        First the Root must be selected
        By ID it is elected.
        Least cost paths from Root are traced
        In the tree these paths are placed.
        A mesh is made by folks like me
        Then bridges find a spanning tree.

Re:Need a new interviewer (1)

The Pim (140414) | about 8 years ago | (#15875922)

Strong agree. I think Tim Bray may be overrated, but Radia Perlman is on my list of "listen to anything they say" people since I heard her at Usenix this year. An incisive and original thinker. (And funny, as in her anecdote of having someone try to explain the difference between a bridge and a switch.) But this interview gets nothing out of her.

Re:Need a new interviewer (1)

ReadWriteWeb (954305) | about 8 years ago | (#15876536)

Ouch! If it's any consolation, part 2 delves into the future of the Web a bit more. Topics discussed will include: Web-connected devices, Web Office, how Sun fits into 'web 2.0', and I pick Tim's brain about ATOM (an alternative RSS format that Tim helps drive) and GData. I haven't written that up yet (it took me 3 hours to do part 1, I might add). I'll try to do better in pt 2 ;-) Incidentally, what would you consider a "worthwhile question or topic"? I could always follow up with Tim and Radia, if there's a topic you're particularly interested in.

Re:Need a new interviewer (1)

buffoverflow (623685) | about 8 years ago | (#15889875)

Mr. MacManus... Glad to make your acquaintance. I know this reply is a couple of days late, so I hope you get it before you've completed part 2 of this piece.
First off, I must apologize for the "simpering imp" comment. I have a great deal of respect for most writers, as I do quite a bit of it and know exactly how difficult a profession it is. All that aside, while I maintain my original stance, I'm not one to poke holes in others work without providing anything constructive in return. First, I must admit that my views are a bit one-sided; I work primarily in the network & network security side of the industry where Radia Perlman is held in extremely high regard. Second, these are only my opinions, so take them however you like:

1) Both of the interviewees are exceptionally intelligent people, and while I've only heard Ms. Perlman speak in person, my guess is they are both quite articulate speakers. That being said, don't paraphrase what they have to say. The original article came off like the author just wanted to see his own words in print. (Being a good interviewer is as difficult a skill as being a good writer. With people of this caliber, show off your interviewing skills).

2) Consider your audience. The majority would much prefer a strait question & answer, interview style article (with most of the content coming in the form of "" of the interviewees).

3) Ask each of them different questions. These two people may both work in "IT" & both write code, but that's pretty much where the similarities end. You have the rare opportunity to get a front-end/back-end perspective on the main topic. Get Tim's views on the past, present, and future of the web from the front-end perspective, and Radia's perspective on the back-end. For example:

- Ask Tim: How XML came into being, how it changed the web as it grew in popularity, and where it is going, as well as how it will grow to meet the needs of "Web 2.0". Ask about XML offshoots (i.e SAML, etc.), ask about Atom, ask about AJAX, etc. I believe he's from Lebanon, ask for some political commentary. Point being, keep the questions concise and relevant to his background, & let Tim's comments fill the article.

- Ask Radia: If she had the opportunity to do it over, what (if anything) would she do differently in regards to her work with Spanning-Tree, with ISIS, and in regards to the ISO vs. IETF, etc. Ask her about the pending transition to IPv6, how she believes it will impact the web, and the global Internet as a whole. Ask her where she believes network security is going, what threats does she expect to see, and what needs to be done to make the next generation of Internet services secure. Find out what major projects she has on the table. Hell, just ask her what she'd like to discuss & have written. She's a phenomenal writer, with the rare ability to take very dry content & make it interesting and lucid, ask her opinion as an author. (I could continue, but it would be a very long list & I'm guessing you get my point).

Again, I know how difficult a job you have, but you've been given a great opportunity to get your name in print next to these two. Don't try to show off how well you can spin their words, show off how well you can interview people of this caliber. Being a good interviewer is an equally difficult skill, but that's the skill that you want to accentuate in this instance.

I wish you the best in part 2 and am looking forward to reading it.

Re:Need a new interviewer (1)

ReadWriteWeb (954305) | about 8 years ago | (#15891968)

Thanks buffoverflow, your comments are helpful. I will indeed adopt the Q&A style next time. I should also mention that I got very short notice about having the chance to interview Tim and Radia (literally I was told of the opportunity the same day I conducted the interview). So I didn't have much time to prepare questions. It's fair to say my interests are in the Web (Tim's focus) than in the security/networking side of things (Radia's focus), so the questions probably were slanted to the Web.

Live and learn though :-) I certainly now know what to do to make /. readers happy next time I interview a computing industry luminary! I hope you get a chance to listen to the podcast though, as I think you'll enjoy Tim and Radia's comments in their full context (despite my clumsy interviewing style). Thanks, Richard

Central Server vs. P2P (4, Interesting)

nascarguy27 (984493) | about 8 years ago | (#15874340)

IMHO, The central server stucture is the way to go. The entity that owns the central server(s) can concentrate security on those server(s) and thus provide verification that you download what you wanted. You can also track payments and such easier with a central server structure. With P2P, you never know what you are going to get until you run the file, and it's harder to track for liscensing purposes and the like. P2P has been shown to be faster in some applications, but with people getting faster and faster connections to the internet, the speed advantage is going to be less in the future.

Re:Central Server vs. P2P (1)

Jerry Coffin (824726) | about 8 years ago | (#15875131)

IMHO, The central server stucture is the way to go. The entity that owns the central server(s) can concentrate security on those server(s) and thus provide verification that you download what you wanted.

There's no need for a single central server for this purpose. If anything, a really big site becomes enough of a headache to manage at all that in a lot of cases, there seems to be nobody who understands its overall structure well enough to be at all sure they've provided even minimally adequate security. If you want a secure system, keep it small and simple.

With P2P, you never know what you are going to get until you run the file, and it's harder to track for liscensing purposes and the like.

Nonsense. It's trivial to provide a secure hash of a file so the receiver can verify that they've received what was originally intended. A P2P protocol could carry out such verification automatically. If memory serves, BitTorrent (for one example) already does this automatically.

Tracking for licensing purposes doesn't require a centralized server either. We're looking at updating a database, but a distributed database (about which, see more below) is a perfectly reasonable way to do that. The simple fact is that most people writing P2P simply haven't been interested in such things; rather the opposite, side-stepping licensing issues and such seems to have been one of the major attractions of P2P for many.

You can also track payments and such easier with a central server structure.

Distributed database technology has been around for decades. In fact, even when you're working with something that looks like a single central server, in a lot of cases it's really distributed across a number of machines for redundancy. Putting those machines next to each other makes it a lot cheaper to wire fast communication between them, but when you get down to it, there isn't much fundamental difference between two blades in the same server and two servers that live on different continents.

P2P has been shown to be faster in some applications, but with people getting faster and faster connections to the internet, the speed advantage is going to be less in the future.

Here you've got things exactly backwards. When/if all those people with fast connections try to talk to a single central server, that central server needs bandwidth that's roughly the aggregate of all its simultaneous users to be able to keep up. As more people get faster connections, it becomes increasingly difficult for that central server to keep up with the whole load.

OTOH, most of those fast connections are currently only used at anywhere close to their full bandwidth a small fraction of the time. The rest of the time they could just as well be acting as servers to provide information for others. This allows those fast connections to bear the load rather than just imposing it on others.

You have no privacy, get over it. (4, Interesting)

Zigurd (3528) | about 8 years ago | (#15874533)

"You have no privacy, get over it." - Scott McNealy

Although McNealy spent a lot of time and ink explaining his point of view, and claiming he was taken out of context, he never backed off that statement. In fact, he clarifies this way "If there were no audit trails and no fingerprints, there would be a lot more crime in this world. Audit trails deter lots of criminal activity. So all I'm suggesting, given that we all have ID cards anyhow, is to use the biometric and other forms of authentication that are way more powerful and way more accurate than the garbage we use today."

The part that is wrong about this is that audit trails are for government and corporate operations, to make sure they are honest and within the law, and within the bounds of their investors' and constituents contracts. Applying the same controls to individuals is oppressive, and McNealy should not have been surprised to find out many people objected to his view.

Everyone needs to remember.... (1)

Lumpy (12016) | about 8 years ago | (#15874599)

These two experts are talking from the corperate world angle.

Tracking every minute detail about your customer and being able to control them is #1 priority.

P2P as we know it is not even an option for business and corperate use. Audit trails, logging and control with recall capability is what they are talking about and is what is wanted by control freaks in the corperate world.

And they are right, that is what the corps want. Ignore the fact that most people HATE logging in at a site to access thigs and do not want to be tracked.

What a pity... (1)

cardpuncher (713057) | about 8 years ago | (#15874782)

Great, I thought - an interview with one of the brightest people I've ever worked with: must be full of insight and wisdom.

Don't even waste your time reading it. Just a couple of dull, out-of-context remarks about P2P that the interviewer picked out of what I hope was a rather more interesting conversation. Who is Richard MacManus - and why?

Central sites? (1)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | about 8 years ago | (#15874795)

Radia thinks that having central sites where people can register is key to making the Web scalable and more secure.

Central sites?
Hmm... I thought Sun's slogan was, "The network is the computer".

Re:Central sites? (1)

Ana10g (966013) | about 8 years ago | (#15876328)

Actually, if you read TFA, you would have seen that she wasn't really talking about a few ginormous servers for everyone to connect to. Instead, she's specifically talking about the anonymity of P2P, and that, for the corporate world to embrace it, the anonymity will have to go away. One way to do this is to have 'centralized' gateways to which you authenticate yourself, which, in turn, take care of the P2P transmission of data. Think layers of networks talking to each other.

Her ideal is having central sites where you rendezvous, so you know what is where. And then the file goes peer to peer from that point.

Layers is the key (2, Insightful)

presidenteloco (659168) | about 8 years ago | (#15874838)

Google is based on a network of x-number (say 500,000) of low-grade server pcs.
They layer on a highly redundant, fault tolerant, hot-computer-swappable,
massively distributed file system.

This is a much smarter solution for reliability than centralization. Further
decentralization (even across corporate boundaries) would lead to even less risk of
information loss.

Consider that one single corporation, even with massive decentralization, is still
vulnerable to a single legal attack by a single misguided corporation or government.

A distributed, encrypted, cache-migrating filesystem layer on top of millions of
anonymous peer computers would be even more secure and reliable.

The fact that 1 expensive Sun computer can be replaced by 2 or 3 (or 10 or 20)
commodity pcs networked together is what is causing the death of Sun.
And make no mistake; unless Sun reinvents its business model to FULLY recognize the
power of commodity-computing and decentralization, it WILL complete its long death
spiral, or live out a weak, pathetic old age selling replacement Sun "mainframes" to
technically locked-in fortune 500 customers.

Note: You can re-introduce a layer that creates virtual "centralization" and "registration"
on top of a fully decentralized, encrypted, and migrating filesystem layer, if you need
to. Google already does this. So the argument made in the article is specious.

   

Physically decentralized, logically centralized. (1)

Kadin2048 (468275) | about 8 years ago | (#15875710)

I think you need to make a distinction between logical and physical centralization.

It's possible (as your Google example points out) to have a physically decentralized system which is logically "centralized," at least insofar as it can be made to look like a monolithic system.

It's this sort of thing which seems to have a lot of possibilities in the future. Having all your eggs in one basket is just asking for trouble (just ask Napster, or the people who had their websites run out of New Orleans datacenters last year). But having to deal with a distributed/decentralized environment is hard, and it's limiting. Networks which can self-organize, and then present a unified front to the outside world, are really the future. It's sort of a reversal of the old client server model: instead of taking a single server and creating lots of little virtual server volumes, and showing them to many clients, you instead take lots of processing/storage nodes and abstract them into a single VM, and then present that to the user or the user's applications as a whole.

I'm not saying it's a magic bullet -- having a distributed system that's logically centralized makes it almost as vulnerable to malware as a true centralized system (because by centralizing it, you provide an avenue for a virus to spread or affect large amounts of data) -- but it does solve a lot of the problems inherent in old-style centralized systems while retaining some of their advantages.

Re:Layers is the key (1)

hlge (680785) | about 8 years ago | (#15878283)

Dhu,

That's what Sun has been doing for the last 3 years or so, changing their business model away from large irons to scalable commodity based based systems. Today you can get a Sun Galaxy to a lower cost that an Dell....

But there are still a lot of customers where a large scale system is a way better fit than a cluster of 2 to 4way systems, ask any Bank about their core banking system :)

Cheers

JXTA? (1)

micromuncher (171881) | about 8 years ago | (#15875776)

http://www.jxta.org/ [jxta.org]

Does Radia even know about this? One of few projects Sun funds and hasn't been canned because it actually makes money.

Consider the source... (1)

Kazoo the Clown (644526) | about 8 years ago | (#15876514)

Those who want to sell us a centralized internet conveniently forget why the internet was created in the first place and why even before that the old centralized configurations were traded in for decentralized computing in the '70s and '80s. But it's always lucrative to sell you all new stuff, and if you're a server manufacturer there's not much profit margin in P2P...

Full Interview available now as a podcast (2, Informative)

ReadWriteWeb (954305) | about 8 years ago | (#15877977)

Given some of the comments about wanting more context, I've now done a podcast of the entire interview [readwriteweb.com] .

Re:Full Interview available now as a podcast (1)

HaydnH (877214) | about 8 years ago | (#15879199)

Can somebody write this up for us poor souls who can't access podcasts from work? =/

Re:Full Interview available now as a podcast (1)

tehcyder (746570) | about 8 years ago | (#15879279)

Given some of the comments about wanting more context, I've now done a podcast of the entire interview.
And what's wrong with a transcription?
Oddly enough, I can't use an iPod at work, because it might be obvious that I wasn't fucking working.

We don't all work in laid-back web design studios, you know.

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