Document: FSC-0061
Version:  001
Date:     08-Mar-1992




                      Proposed Guidelines for the FileBone
                                Erik VanRiper 
                                  1:107/230




Status of this document:

     This FSC suggests a proposed protocol for the FidoNet(r) community,
     and requests discussion and suggestions for improvements.
     Distribution of this document is unlimited.

     Fido and FidoNet are registered marks of Tom Jennings and Fido
     Software.




  1.  Purpose.

      The purpose of this document is to set down basic guidelines for the
      handling of File Distribution Networks on a "File Distribution
      Backbone".


  2.  Definition of Terms.

    a.  FDN.  FDN is a File Distribution Network, made up of at least one
        file area dedicated to moving files through Fidonet compatible
        mailers for other nodes to utilize.  An example of this is the
        Software Distribution Network or SDS as it is more commonly known.

    b.  FTN.  FTN is a term coined to signify that another Network besides
        FidoNet has the same technology as FidoNet, and can transfer files
        and mail via FTSC-001 compatible mailers.  An example of this is
        SigNet.

    c.  TICK.  TICK (and HATCH) is (C) Copyright Barry Geller - 1988, 1989,
        1990, 1991, 1992.  TICK is the current popular way to move files in
        FTN's participating in File Distribution.

    d.  FILEBONE.  FILEBONE is the "File Distribution Backbone".  The term
        FILEBONE is used in place of BACKBONE because the BackBone is used
        for transfering mail, not files.  There is a seperate document for
        procedures of FidoNet BackBone systems.


  3.  Reasons for this Document.

    a.  Spending the last five months compiling information on all the
        FDN's and how the files are moving in each, I noticed that a lot of
        time, money, and hassle can be avoided by creating a well defined
        mechinism by which all FDN's can participate.  In the past, (and
        currently), there has been more concern by the heads of individual
        FDN's as to WHO is picking up their FDN, and not enough concern in
        how FAST those nodes are getting newly hatched files.  This
        document will attempt to address both issues.

    b.  Personally, I feel that there is not enough credit given to those
        major file hubs all over the world who pay an arm and a leg to pick
        up different FDN's from several different locations to support 50
        or more FTN systems they have polling for support.  These HUMANS
        have always worked hard, and received almost no credit.  I would
        just like to take time out in this document to thank each and every
        one of them for the wonderful support they have contributed to
        several different FTN's.


  4.  The Outline.

    a.  The FILEBONE will be created in several stages, taking up to a year
        to become fully operational.  This will require several support
        programs to be written, tested, and documented, as well as
        re-arranging current FDN links to test speed and reliability of
        actually moving the files.

    b.  The FILEBONE will consist of no less than 15 systems in Zone 1 (I
        cannot speak for other zones).  Each system will be required to
        make at least one call a night to drop off and pick up ALL the
        available FDN's that are participating in the FILEBONE.  These
        FILEBONE sites will also be primary hubs (acting as "stars") for
        other FTN compatible systems interested in obtaining parts (or all)
        of the files transferred.

    c.  Each FILEBONE site will use several different programs written to
        aid in locating delays, problems, and undesireable conditions while
        processing the files.  They will also be required to submit "File
        Distribution Reports" each week to the FILEBONE database, which
        will maintain and analyze the information, detecting possible
        problem areas.

    d.  Each FILEBONE site will be required to submit to the wishes of each
        FDN concerning hatching policies, linking policies, cutting of
        links to problem nodes, and general reporting of usage.  FILEBONE
        sites are not "pawns" of individual FDN's, but "tools" for each FDN
        to use to get their files (and support conferences) from one end of
        the FILEBONE to the other.

    e.  Each FDN will be required to submit a statment of agreement to this
        document to the FILEBONE systems, as the FILEBONE systems are the
        ones paying to move their files.

    f.  The FILEBONE will consist of a two-tierd system.  The largest being
        the actualy FILEBONE, where all the "released" files will be
        transported.  The second smaller level will be a "back area" for
        each FDN that requires one.  The concept is this: If a system
        hatches a file in area GENERAL, and Joe Smith, the moderator of the
        GENERAL area has not authorized that system to hatch into that
        area, the first FILEBONE site to get this file will move that file
        to the GENERAL "back area" for review by Joe Smith.  Once Joe Smith
        decides on suitability, he will then send a message back to that
        FILEBONE site (and all other in-between) saying it is OK to let the
        file pass, delete the file, or alter the description of that file
        before letting it pass.  The FILEBONE will move the file to that
        FDN's moderator on the "back area", so all FILEBONE sites that have
        already seen the file can simply "move" that file back into
        distribution, so that those FILEBONE sites already having the file
        will not need to re-transfer it.  This system ensures that there is
        only a small delay in time for checking the validity of that file.
        A basic diagram follows:

        Key:  "="   = FILEBONE
              "-"   = "Back area"
              1:0/x = FILEBONE sites
              0:5/x = FDN nodes
              A     = Node hatching
                                                0:5/5
                                                  |
                                                  |
       A ----> 1:0/0 ---- 1:0/1 ---- 1:0/2 ---- 1:0/3 ---- 1:0/4
                 |==========+==========+==========+==========+

                                                       
        System A hatches file "FILENAME.ZIP" into the GENERAL file area.
        1:0/0 detects that system is not on the list authorized to hatch
        files into the GENERAL file area, so sends the file to 1:0/1 in the
        GENERAL backarea, enroute to 0:5/5.  When 0:5/5 gets FILENAME.ZIP,
        1:0/0, 1:0/1, 1:0/2, and 1:0/3 will have already seen the file, and
        1:0/4 has not.  Joe Smith (The moderator of the GENERAL file area),
        at 0:5/5 will test FILENAME.ZIP to see if it is acceptable for
        distribution.  If it is, Joe Smith will send a netmail message back
        to a program running on 1:0/3, letting the FILEBONE know it is OK
        to distribute the file.  1:0/3 will then move the file to the
        GENERAL area, and continue to send it on.  1:0/3 will also generate
        a message back to 1:0/2 letting them know the status of the file,
        and so on, until 1:0/0 has finally moved the file back into the
        GENERAL area.  Another options to Joe Smith are to have the file
        deleted (Usually because it has been duplicated), or to have the
        file fowarded to another FDN moderator, where the file would be
        more suitable.  With this method of checking files, FDN's can allow
        the FILEBONE to let anyone hatch files into their FDN without
        having to worry about duplicates or programs that are not suitable
        for that FDN.

    g.  FILEBONE sites will also be required to keep an online database
        available to any nodes requiring information about individual FDN
        areas.  This information will include:

          1.  Average traffic per week and month.
          2.  Average time to obtain file submitted.
          3.  A listing of nodes carrying that FDN area.
          4.  Guidelines, applications, and policies associated with that
              FDN.

        This will be an automated process, carried out much like a node
        sending an AREAFIX or RAID request.  The FILEBONE site being
        queried for the information is only resposible for 2 things:

          1.  Ensuring the database is operational.
          2.  Placing the requested information on hold for pickup.

        Anything else that FILEBONE site does with the request for
        information is at their disgression, such as sending back the
        information on their dime.

    h.  All FILEBONE sites will be required to drop the individual "User
        Flags" in the nodelist that corespond to individual FDN's (in
        regions that allow Uxxx flags in the nodelist).  They will instead
        use the "UFDN" flag.  This will help (albeit a small amount) cut
        down on the flag usage in the nodelist, since all the FILEBONE
        sites will be moving most of the available file areas.


  5.  The FILEBONE has started, with 21 systems in Zone 1, one system in
      Zone 2, and several "OtherNets" getting involved by the day.  Several
      of the programs outlined in this document have already been written,
      and are in use, being tested.  There are still a few more programs to
      be written, but things are running smoothly as of the date on this
      document.  99% of the known FDN's in FidoNet are linked into the
      FILEBONE in one form or another, and the future looks very promising.

      This document is by no means complete.  There are several other
      aspects to FDN's and FILEBONE that are not discussed here.  This
      document is put forth for comments, additions, deletions, and all
      general changes.  This is only how I (the author of this document)
      envision the FILEBONE operating, and this document may be flawed in
      one or several areas.