[OS X TeX] MacTeX-2008 Status

David Watson dewatson at me.com
Wed Sep 3 16:50:36 EDT 2008

On Sep 3, 2008, at 3:21 PM, Adam R. Maxwell wrote:

> On Wednesday, September 03, 2008, at 01:11PM, "Joseph C. Slater PE,  
> PhD" <joseph.slater at wright.edu> wrote:
>> So, while everybody was using bittorrent... did anyone pause to think
>> that, yet, the psu server is public, and you can get mactex there
>> directly?
>> ftp://carroll.aset.psu.edu/pub/CTAN/systems/mac/mactex/
> Yes, and I found it on the Wisconsin mirror also:
> http://gentoo.chem.wisc.edu/tex-archive/systems/mac/mactex
> Using p2p software is a major violation of security policies at  
> work, so bittorrent wasn't an option.

Just to clarify some misconceptions about p2p and security that some  
seem to have.
The use of p2p software to distribute any type of digital information  
is not inherently insecure.
In fact, there is nothing more "insecure" about p2p distribution than  
there is about distribution through traditional (ftp, uucp, http)  

I understand the reasoning behind the policy: people distribute  
viruses/spyware via p2p, therefor p2p==evil.
However, one could argue that people distribute the same sorts of  
things through social engineering by relying on people to click on  
URLs on webpages.
So we should also ban using http protocol, and therefor no one should  
use the world wide web?

In the end, the only way to know for sure is to use a non-compromised  
algorithm for non-repudiation and validation of the things we download.
As the years go by, this is getting harder and harder because of the  
advances in computational power and methods for breaking long- 
established hashing algorithms.

So, in short, the security policy is well-intentioned, as are rules  
such as not having interpersonal relationships with students.
There must be exceptions to the rule, such as if I were to  
incidentally be the instructor for a course my wife was taking.
I don't think there is a court in the land that would argue that I  
should not have an interpersonal relationship with my wife simply  
because the rules state that instructors should not have relationships  
with their students.

I understand your predicament, and I would not violate any set policy.
I would, however, take a moment to educate the policy makers that, in  
certain cases, distribution through p2p is a necessary evil and the  
only real remedy is education and an honor policy.

David Watson • Graduate Student • Medicinal Chemistry • 425 Faser Hall  
• University MS  38677 • 1.662.915.1663

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