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tlug: Jim Tittsler Saves TLUG

Hi!  :-)  I'm trying to give Jim Tittsler some recognition for his
work today and also to give TLUG some more exposure.  If you know
anyone in the press, pass this along.  :-)   

Jim Tittsler Saves TLUG
June 12, 1998
For Immediate Release

Tokyo, Japan:  Linux, the free UNIX-like OS promoted by such giants as
Netscape and Corel, is developed and maintained by a voluntary community
of enthusiasts, researchers, and information technology professionals over
the Internet.  That a robust OS like Linux could be created is amazing.
That it operates some of the core routers and servers on the Internet is
not amazing.  Linux enthusiasts claim that Linux is far more powerful, stable  
and better suited to use on the Internet than the Mac OS, Windows '98, 
or Windows NT.  While critics complain that Linux is the product of
a hacker culture without industry support, even these critics concede
that Linux is creeping into the corporation, often through the back door
of the engineering department. 

Linux has a strong community in Tokyo, populated by a lively mix 
of users and developers.  A popular Linux community in Tokyo is
the Tokyo Linux Users' Group (TLUG), an electronic community that
also hosts either a party or a seminar every month.  However, the
heart of the community thrives on the Internet and if there were
one center, it would be the mailing list running on the group's
private Linux server.  TLUG offers many of the same services offered
by an ISP including e-mail, home pages, mailing lists, FTP archive uploads
and downloads, CGI development environment, search engines, and shell access.
However, while an ISP charges customers for use of the system, TLUG does
not.  Instead, it relies on generous donations for individuals and businesses.
TLUG also does not offer dialin access.  It only offers the server services,
all running on Linux.  While dialin access is essential for a customer
to access the Internet, it is one of the easiest sections of an ISP to
maintain.  The parts that are the hardest, and therefore the most expensive
to maintain are the servers.  The whole TLUG system is operated by a volunteer 
community, many of them with high paying engineering jobs who perform
system adminstration work for TLUG at no cost in their spare time.  Why do they
do this when these engineering services cost 20,000 yen per hour in Tokyo?

The answer is almost universal, "for fun!"  Ahh, the "fun" word again.
Fun is one thing, but can this system stay up?  Well, it has for some
time and it probably will continue to stay up. 

On June 12, this optimistic belief was put to the test.  One day before
a big summer TLUG meeting and a week before Tokyo Linux Fair, the mailing
list was practically shutdown by a mail loop with another mail server on the
Internet.  The situation was outside of the server, out in the mysterious
and sometimes dangerous Internet.  Smaller problems have brought down
the servers at famous ISPs.  Could a volunteer group's server hope to
survive in the wilds of the Internet?   Would some mysterious hero 
suddenly appear out of thin air to save the community?   The answer is
to both questions is yes.  The response time can also be faster
than at many ISPs.  Within minutes of the problem occuring, a team of 
volunteer network specialists had isolated the problem and devised a strategy
to break the mail loop.  The hero of the day was Jim Tittsler, a long-time
TLUG member.  Although Jim was can be considered a computer expert, he is 
a quiet member, preferring to let others learn about Linux by doing instead
of being vocal about his knowledge.  Some of the newer members even referred to 
him as a lurker.  However, on June 12th the TLUG community was quite thankful
that he was lurking in the right place.  According to one member of the network
team, "there I was, accessing our Linux server through an encrypted line,
staring at the configuration file for mail and wondering, how the heck I
was going to break the mail loop.  When out of void of the Internet, a white
knight appeared.  A message called to me and opened up a real time talk 
session.  Then, I heard the word of our savior, Jim Tittsler.  He said to me,
[ <<  END
and in a flash our problems were solved."  Jim didn't stop at solving the source
of the problem.  He even went through the mail system and cleaned up any stray
messages caused by the mail loop. 

Jim Tittsler, hero of the day, saviour of a community.  According to Craig
Oda, TLUG member and early pioneer of the Internet in Tokyo, "heroes like 
Mr. Tittsler are common in virtual communities.  People will go through
heroic efforts to save a community and TLUG has a unique community filled
with technically brilliant and creative individuals.  A virtual community
is similar to a real-world community, except we don't pay taxes in a virtual
community."    A unique community indeed, TLUG may be one of handful of truly
independent virtual communities, owning not only the hardware that runs the community,
but also the operating system.  It is also populated by people that can keep
the community running for a long time to come.  The group has also gained the
support and sponsorship of major organizations including HSBC - a prominent 
financial institution, Pacific HiTech - makers of TurboLinux, and PSI - a major
Internet infrastructure developer.   

Next TLUG Meeting: 13 June Sat, Tokyo Station Yaesu gate 12:30
Featuring Stone and Turnbull on .rpm and .deb packages
Next Nomikai: 17 July, 19:30 Tengu TokyoEkiMae 03-3275-3691
After June 13, the next meeting is 8 August at Tokyo Station
Sponsor: PHT, makers of TurboLinux

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