Subject: Re: Proposal for new utility in base: bin/nc
To: None <>
From: der Mouse <mouse@Rodents.Montreal.QC.CA>
List: tech-userlevel
Date: 10/13/2001 20:17:46
> It looks handy for some circumstances, but _I_ personally don't see
> the need for it in the base system.

So?  I personally don't see the need for tons of stuff that's in the
base system.  chio, domainname, ksh, pax, rcmd, rmail...and that's just
looking at /bin.  Skimming /usr/bin, I'd say at least 10%, probably
more like 20%, of the stuff there belongs in packages for people who
want it.  (Now, it's true these numbers come from a slightly old
system, but given how hard it is to remove _anything_, I suspect that
the situation has gotten no better and indeed probably worse.)

> Without examples, I can't see any advantage to using nc over using
> ftp (and in fact anything I can think of seems harder using nc since
> you need to actively set up something on the listener side each time
> you want to use it).

No, that's why it's _easier_.  You can just run nc on the listener side
isntead of having to bludgeon ftp into running and hope you haven't
botched it and left a security hole gaping in the meantime.  If the
listener machine is not one you admin, but just one you have a user
shell account on, you may not even be able to set up ftop, and if it is
already set up, it may be unable to see the file you want to transfer.

You also don't have to be root on the listener machine to set it it up,
which you usually do for ftp.  You don't have to send passwords over
the net in the clear, which is big if the net between them isn't fully

It's trivial to use any port desired for nc.  Convincing ftp to work
through fascistic filtering schemes, even if you can frob the ftpd
config and with the help of passive mode clients, can be hell.

nc can transfer data not stored in a file, such as the output of a
pipe.  If you don't have enough filesystem space (whether for lack of
disk or lack of quota or whatever), this can be critical; otherwise,
it's merely convenient.

> If we started adding everyone's
> favourite-but-in-their-eyes-most-necessary tool the installed system
> size would become quite unreasonable very quickly.

IMO this has already been done, far too often - it's just that it's
been done only for very restricted values of "everyone", mostly
developers sufficiently highly placed to be able to throw in their
favorite "necessary" tool and make it stick (or not even be
questioned).  (I don't necessarily mean NetBSD developers; I also
include people like CSRG staff when the CSRG was still driving BSD,
though I think the NetBSD situation is worse in some respects.)

Not that it makes a great deal of difference to _me_.  But the "I can't
see why nc is better than ftp" was so unfair I couldn't let it go

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