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Re: Mirror sites for IUCr W3 services

  • To: epc-l@iucr.org
  • Subject: Re: Mirror sites for IUCr W3 services
  • From: Brian McMahon <bm.iucr.org>
  • Date: Wed, 10 Dec 1997 10:32:36 +0000 (GMT)
  • In-Reply-To: <348D5FE1.4424@cryst.unige.ch> from "Howard Flack" at Dec 10, 97 09:51:05 am
>   I think the EPC should express an opinion to the execsec for
> transmission to the IUCr executive on the desirability of this second US
> mirror.
>   Personally I vote 100% in favour. Would you please let me have your
> thoughts, comments and opinion on this matter.

Following the express wish of the executive to promote a network of IUCr
mirrors, and with initial reservations because of the potential for
expending substantial time and effort in helping other sites to maintain
their mirrors, I began working to establish an efficient mirroring system.

The result is:

-  a modular directory structure that includes large components of the
pan-crystallography service (currently CWW, SinCris; later, perhaps, neXus
and others) as plugin modules. This facilitates the role of Chester as the
hub for collection and redistribution of information resources.

- clear separation of the static and dynamic page components, so that
mirrors need only serve the static pages. There are no requirements for
system resources on the mirror servers beyond a functioning httpd server and
sufficient file space.

- a scheme for querying the Chester server for dynamic information, but
receiving pages from Chester with onward links within the requesting mirror

- a supported protocol for downloading updated pages. Currently this
involves the wget software; but concern about its efficiency and portability
to non-Unix platforms is leading us to develop another ftp-based update

Following the initial tests and installations at Geneva and Paris, and a few
small teething problems with the first couple of accredited mirrors, the
system now functions well, and requires very little investment of time
to extend (typically 1/4 hour to write a note of welcome and ensure that the
new site administrators can locate the necessary documentation; 1/4 hour to
design a new country-specific logo; 1/2 hour to update the DNS and the list
of mirrors on the relevant IUCr pages) and maintain.

I am therefore in favour of allowing as many mirrors as is deemed necessary
by the National Committees (who after all are providing the site resources)
[with the proviso that a request for 13 sites accredited to the Isle of Man,
say, might well justify further inquiries as to the strict necessity for
this; but common sense can surely be relied upon in such cases].

In the case of the US, I know that many people on the East Coast do use
Chester in preference to San Diego because the network connectivity is


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