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The Definitive "Why don't we have a driver collection site?" topic

southbird

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With my recent experience in this thread, I have to ask the question I know has come up a few times before. Why doesn't someone come up with a user-submittable obsolete-only driver website?

Obviously we don't want to become the next "driverguide.com" (that would only draw more traffic and problems than any of us would want for a collection project), but just an archive site for drivers that either the main company doesn't distribute anymore or -- in the worse case -- where the company itself doesn't exist anymore and the drivers are hard to find.

In the thread I linked above, and as confirmed by Zoom Telephonics tech support, ftp.bocaresearch.com had fallen into disuse and lack of maintenance -- and it contains files that I have not been able to locate with various FTP mirror sites (likely because it's been non-anonymous for a few years -- which nobody noticed! -- and mirroring services missed it.)

Let's not worry about hosting so much for now. I anticipate that such a collection would be minority traffic since it would only be for collectors like us (to emphasize, **NOT** a new driverguide.com) so the traffic should be manageable for consumer-grade web hosting and so that's not a major issue.

So with a very specific purpose in mind -- knowing full well that it would never be "complete" because that's darn near impossible -- to host drivers which a company no longer makes available -- what are the issues with this idea?

With the idea of desiring search capability by company name, or model, or maybe even FCCID -- does anyone have a suggestion of an EXISTING web technology that could handle this? Preferrably one that could be managed by any of us, so that burden of maintenance is not necessarily limited to the free time of one individual. An example would be a Wiki; though not SPECIFICALLY targeted to this purpose, it "could work" and is an existing tech that allows editing and maintenance can be shared among many.

Some control rules would have to be in place, and I'd probably figure we wouldn't have a public uploader, but instead some kind of submission system, etc.


This is just talk right now, I'm not committing nor expecting commitment from anyone. It just seems like this is a need and would reduce the requirement of going around finding and pestering virtual strangers for driver files... and help to make sure that some of the ones that may disappear completely (like Boca's) are able to put in the hands of as many people as possible. So share your ideas, dreams, concerns.
 

Chuck(G)

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My thoughts are that if you make it open to the general public as a web site, you're going to be deluged with other sites downloading your whole collection and your bandwidth is going to kiss the sky. I'd put it behind some sort of access control, perhaps with a captcha for each download to prevent that.
 

Unknown_K

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An FTP site with a generic login and password for the world limited in MB per day to keep the major leeches out?
You would also need an upload area and people to screen it and maintain the ftp.
 

southbird

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My thoughts are that if you make it open to the general public as a web site, you're going to be deluged with other sites downloading your whole collection and your bandwidth is going to kiss the sky. I'd put it behind some sort of access control, perhaps with a captcha for each download to prevent that.

Captcha is an excellent idea. Possibly induce a download limit per IP per day or something wouldn't be a bad idea either.


An FTP site with a generic login and password for the world limited in MB per day to keep the major leeches out?
You would also need an upload area and people to screen it and maintain the ftp.

The upload is the tricky thing, and I was thinking about that. We wouldn't really want generic public access to upload anything and everything (we may end up hosting illicit or at least unrelated things at that rate.) If we do the "upload for screening" area, there should still be a sensible limit to prevent someone from hosing the system on purpose; again, an upload limit per IP per day would likely be a good idea; this would probably be very low, like 10MB. If someone wants to submit a really large driver (which is highly unlikely for the old equipment that usually just had a floppy or two!) they can always email for a special request. I know some folks around here also have collections of drivers, which would also likely be better off emailed in a ZIP for an admin to sort out, just to keep things simple.
 

tingo

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Doesn't this forum software support a file area? Or couldn't one be constructed using attachments? If so, membership rules govern who can upload and download (things like the number of posts you have made, the number of days you have been a member etc.). Would that work?
 

southbird

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That would require the owners of this site to support this, which as of right now I don't think they're interested in being a file hosting site. But it is true that each user is allocated a tiny bit of attachment space. Still, IMO a forum is not really an appropriate means to distribute files in a general fashion as such.
 

hargle

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i have an FTP server running on one of my machines already; I would be happy to dedicate some bandwidth and storage for such things. I doubt we'd ever grow beyond a gig of storage. I cannot however provide any sort of screening, sorting, collecting or maintaining of said repository.
I also just got notice that fiber is now available in my area, so bandwidth might not be a problem. ;)
 

southbird

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i have an FTP server running on one of my machines already; I would be happy to dedicate some bandwidth and storage for such things. I doubt we'd ever grow beyond a gig of storage. I cannot however provide any sort of screening, sorting, collecting or maintaining of said repository.
I also just got notice that fiber is now available in my area, so bandwidth might not be a problem. ;)

Heh, I ran a website off my DSL years ago when 56K was still the rage... obviously couldn't get away with that like I used to.

Anonymous FTP would probably work for the getting of files easy enough; just see warnings above about spiders and things that will download all of your files ... perhaps several times!! It's just the upload/screening part that really might need an interface ... to make it sane anyway.

What OS and specs define your host machine? For a proper interface (especially if don't go a simple FTP route which is probably not recommended) you're looking to likely have at least PHP and MySQL or something similar to install safeguards.

What kind of bandwidth does the potential "fiber" service get you? Remember it's your UPLOAD speed when you're a host, so like when I had DSL years ago, it was 1.5mbps down, 128K up, so the max any ONE person could download was like 16KB/sec; and that was all of my upstream bandwidth which could cause problems with my own Internet use (which is why I later capped site downloads to 10KB/sec; boy that was tough for broadband folks...)
 

barythrin

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Perhaps an odd idea, the main problem is abuse (infected drivers, allowing uploading from the public, etc) then of course bandwidth being blown away by your provider or whatever.

What about collecting as much as one can, then offering versions as a torrent. The bad part is this requires a master server and maintainer (or maintenance team) but this would officially offload the bandwidth, it would allow us all to help share, and folks can still select just the drivers they want to download out of the torrent.

The real issue of course I think returns to ownership of the drivers, but this is the torrent world we're talking about. It's a best case scenario for distributing things publicly. The catch of course would be getting the first database/list together in the first place.. then I'm not sure it would be feasible to know if all the drivers work or not.
 

hargle

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What OS and specs define your host machine? For a proper interface (especially if don't go a simple FTP route which is probably not recommended) you're looking to likely have at least PHP and MySQL or something similar to install safeguards.
The FTP is hosted on a QNAP NAS storage box. it is pure and only FTP. No php or mysql is available.

What kind of bandwidth does the potential "fiber" service get you? Remember it's your UPLOAD speed when you're a host, so like when I had DSL years ago, it was 1.5mbps down, 128K up, so the max any ONE person could download was like 16KB/sec;
IIRC, my current service has 5 down, 768 up.

the fiber connection deal is here: http://www.qwest.com/upgrade

you can read the nitty gritty details there. No guarantee that I'll upgrade, but I would certainly like to give it a shot.

considering that the advertisement of the site is niche, and the collection of material available on it is niche, plus the quantity of items available is limited, i don't really see a massive impact on bandwidth.

Besides, we're vintage. we think 300baud is cool right?
 

tezza

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considering that the advertisement of the site is niche, and the collection of material available on it is niche, plus the quantity of items available is limited, i don't really see a massive impact on bandwidth.

Yes, I thought that when I rented a file server to hold some of my DS System 80 manuals, NZ Bits and Bytes and various other niche magazines of interest. I have a monthly allocation of 25GBs and, remarkably, twice now that's been used up in the first week of a reset!!??

I suspect some kind of Bot might be the cause, but it might just be just some enthusiastic downloading...maybe by a class of students that have found the material ideal for their project. I dunno. Unfortunately, I don't have control of the file server and so can't control these things. The service doesn't provide logs so I can't really see what's happening (Yes, I'll be changing to another provider once my annual sub runs out).

Anyway, my point is that sharing things to the public via standard download makes it accessible, but don't underestimate the bandwidth requirements when it's going out to the world.

Tez
 

Raven

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I have a 750GB disk that I archive things on, and a reasonable pile of obsolete and hard-to-find drivers are in there that I'd submit if we get something going.
 

southbird

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Anyway, my point is that sharing things to the public via standard download makes it accessible, but don't underestimate the bandwidth requirements when it's going out to the world.

I agree with this. Like I said, when I did personal hosting, I needed to put a speed cap on it and also made it generally impossible for a straight bot to download everything (you needed a user account that passed a knowledge test to be able to access the files!)

But for a general public site, I think the aforementioned captcha and IP download limits are probably suitable control, unless someone can think of something better. I'd shy away from forcing registrations because that can quickly fill a database with hundreds of one-time-use accounts. Of course, speaking of the way the world works, this has downsides such as a college campus with a common outbound IP may get shafted, and alternatively someone who wants to increase their download goes via a proxy... but it's still probably a reasonable compromise of functionality.
 

Raven

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How about we create a forum user class between Senior and whatever the basic class is called that gets assigned after 5 or 10 posts or something small, and any user with a forum login with that class can get access (with captcha, still)?

IP limits annoy me, because the first thing I'd want to do is mirror the entire thing. :p
 

southbird

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How about we create a forum user class between Senior and whatever the basic class is called that gets assigned after 5 or 10 posts or something small, and any user with a forum login with that class can get access (with captcha, still)?

IP limits annoy me, because the first thing I'd want to do is mirror the entire thing. :p

Thought: A combination of these. The IP limit / captcha site is for those who need single downloads, where we also try to run a community torrent for those who Want It All. That should hopefully avoid any major bandwidth drains caused by mirroring and upsetting hosts while the primary site with a pretty interface exists for those who really just want to find specific things for their specific hardware.
 

Raven

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Problem with a big torrent is that it's not maintainable - you'd have to recreate the torrent and then run a recheck just to grab one new driver - doable, but pretty bad.

How about a combination, as you said, but those of us with X posts (wish there was a better way than posts, but anything else incurs administrative overhead) get unfettered access, while those without accounts can go in with an IP limit and captcha, and those with fewer than X posts can go in with captcha and less strict IP limit?
 

MikeS

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Problem with a big torrent is that it's not maintainable - you'd have to recreate the torrent and then run a recheck just to grab one new driver - doable, but pretty bad.

How about a combination, as you said, but those of us with X posts (wish there was a better way than posts, but anything else incurs administrative overhead) get unfettered access, while those without accounts can go in with an IP limit and captcha, and those with fewer than X posts can go in with captcha and less strict IP limit?
A good thing that the guy who started this already has a copy since he won't be among the privileged elite; presumably I will be though, since all those OT and trivial posts of mine (like this one) will finally be rewarded...
 
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Maverick1978

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Problem with a big torrent is that it's not maintainable - you'd have to recreate the torrent and then run a recheck just to grab one new driver - doable, but pretty bad.

Not necessarily. Update packs work wonders. Keep the main torrent, provide a major update pack every X amount of months (to keep it manageable).

The torrent packs are only for those that want EVERYTHING, not for those that want a specific driver. If we need something specific, we can goto the site interface. If we want to update our "pack," we goto the torrent download page and grab the newest torrent file, adding it into the "main" folder where the original torrent was downloaded.

Hell, how do you think most of us keep our MAME archives up-to-date? :) - and this will be MUCH easier to handle/maintain, as there is no need to rebuild sets within the torrent - all we'll be doing is adding to.
 

barythrin

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Right, the problem at hand is this will be an administrative nightmare either way. Partially duplicate uploads, maintaining file locations, possibly corrupt files (also make sure we..er..whoever virus scans them). I know my friends had a driver archive somewhere when doing tech support, I'll find my copy although it'll be for 95/98/2000 systems probably. Other than that I can peck around at some point and see what else I have around.

The torrent/database idea I'm thinking and I believe Maverick is catching onto was the TOSEC model. Effectively you end up with a master/revision torrent (so yeah you would start with a v.001 torrent then update it once a month or so and/or release the update pack torrent). It's for the mirror people so we don't kill whoever is hosting this's service with a bunch of us trying to mirror all the data.

The cool part I still think is that you CAN deselect files in a torrent so if you truly just wanted the master catalog, you could have that, deselect everything, then reselect a 3c509 nic driver for OS/2 or whatever and hopefully enough folks seed it. It's just my idea for offloading the bandwidth consumption. I suppose the other way would be to get a few folks who can burn it and mail it for the cost of the media and shipping. Kinda the Hobbes project.

Of course I DO love the bbs idea.. being a bbs guy! But it's again the overhead and who wants to do it idea. Maybe this will spring up some additional sites with the data though. I'm not sure if going off of posts here is really a way to rate folks since that would be a completely separate site. I do think we can trust most of each other though which is a nice part of creating the initial repository.

Another thing which will be needed eventually is the maintainer(s) to filter through the uploads and move things that aren't related off the site or to another area. I just see with ftp and wanting to share that some software or other things will eventually get thrown into the mix. While a great asset it is probably higher risk than drivers for IP, although again we're mostly talking 20/25 year old stuff so it may be a matter of "contact us if you see a problem with anything on the site or are the owner of the information found and would like it removed".
 
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