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[questions] Re: NTP community feels broken



On 17/06/2022 00:30, chris wrote:
lack of full disclosure, documented

I'm having trouble understanding what this means. If you mean that the documentation is poor, that is a common problem with open source software, as it relies on volunteer effort, and programmers don't like writing documentation.

Actually, in terms of end user documentation, I find most technology poor. Businesses tend to document the small number of marketing claims, in marketing language, and don't provide detailed functional descriptions.

For software, the only really good documentation is often the test plan, but that is considered highly confidential for commercial software. Open source coders are less likely to write formal test suites.

The original author of ntpd saw it as a maths problem, and was frustrated by the inability of the RFC system to cope with mathematical notation. The primary documentation, the version 4 RFC, is written as a maths paper, but with the Greek letters spelled out.

ntpd will have been documented to the same sort of detail as an experimental rig in an academic paper. The main detail would have gone into the particualr property of the core algorithm that the paper was trying to investigate.

It may also be significant that its primary developer is now 84.

Although I say lack of documentation is a problem for all technology, what I sometimes find out with hardware is that it is all based on a small number of special purpose ICs, and if you can establish what is being used you can get a long way towards a real specification, rather than the half page marketing hype on Amazon, by looking at the 100 page data sheet for the ICs. Semiconductors seem to be an area where detailed end user documentation is still available in the public domain.

It is common for the consumer products to be more or less direct implementations of the typical application circuits, from the IC data sheet. This doesn't work so well with software, as every user can end up customising its use to a level that only the final manufacturer would do for hardware, and they are more prepared to do so than the people who sell products on Amazon.
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