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Matt Wright buys out CPAN. DOJ say Wha?

posted by hfb on 2003.04.01 7:23   Printer-friendly
Jasvir Nagra writes "In an unanticipated move Matt Wright of MSA fame has bought out CPAN, the beloved archive of perl modules that forms the core of the perl community. This morning bleary eyed perl hackers all over the world stood stunned over their coffee buckets, as the regular reload of saw the familiar CPAN logo replaced by the haunting flashy banner of MSA. MSA is a collection of perl cgi scripts written by perl programmer Matt Wright, that has been on the web since the early 1995. The archive constitutes perhaps the most popular repository of perl scripts currently available on the internet and has almost an iron grip monopoly on the world of free scripts.

However, all is not well at the MSA headquarters (located at One MSA Way, Seattle). MSA has often been accused of providing scripts that are badly written, buggy and insecure and has been the target of a lot of wrath by the otherwise rather tolerant and meek perl community. Recent scathing remarks by Randal Schwartz, aka merlyn, were picked up by the media causing a minor uproar. The accusations have been sufficiently loudly voiced that recently even DOJ's interest was piqued - this inspite of their recent shortcomings in a similar but smaller case of monopolistic practices.

The backslash has been accompanied by the formation of Not Matts Scripts (NMS), a rebellion group designing a set of drop-in replacement scripts for those provided by MSA. A nonprofit group, led by the London PM and calling themselves a Merry Bunch of Hackers, these perl programmers aim to provide a fully functioning alternative that "work exactly as before, except that the user will sleep easier knowing that their web site is that little more secure".

The continued popularity of Matts scripts inspite of NMS attempts to undermine it is touted by some as proof that all the fuss is just too many $`$'$&s in the s//g. While proudly points to their growing list of ISPs that prefer NMS over MSA, their wins in the server market is dwarfed by their complete failure to penetrate the desktop community. Perhaps the biggest blow to MSA was a few comments by Matt that was leaked by his webmaster to the world. An excerpt from the memo, now often referred to has the Halloween Memos evidenced the lack of faith Mr Wright himself had in his own organization:

While the free code found at my web site has not evolved much in recent years, the general programming practices and standards of CGI programs have. nms is an attempt by very active programmers in the Perl community to bring the quality of code for these types of programs up to date and eliminate some of the bad programming practices and bugs found in the existing Matt's Script Archive code. I would highly recommend downloading the nms versions if you wish to learn CGI programming. The code you find at Matt's Script Archive is not representative of how even I would code these days.

This mornings replacement of the CPAN front page with a copy of MSA frontpage was met with varied response. Markus Dominus wearing his favorite red "Just Another $#@_&! hacker" t-shirt, said it was a disappointing blow but admitted that most people are idiots anyways, while d@rKn1t3, a thirteen year old self proclaimed hacker was heard to say "p30pl3 who use NMS are l@m3r5. I can't own j00r." Tom McSweeney, corn farmer from Idaho and winner of this years rude vegetable competition commented "Wha?"."

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  • Dear god I hate April Fools Day.
    • here, here!

      Replacing the primary entry point for one of the world's largest repositories of source code as a prank.... I've heard worse ideas, but as most of them came from people who were beyond the stage of dunkeness where they understood why I was holding their hair out of the way, that's not much of a benchmark. ;-)

      Yet Another Just another perl hacker, //
  • Joyeux Poisson d'Avril pour vous ausii. Thank you to HFB theFinnish Chef for posting this! Borkia! Borkia! Borkia! How's life in South Artica? -- bill
    # I had a sig when sigs were cool
    use Sig;
  • hehehe !!! I just tried to get to cpan and sat slack jawed when the MSA front page appeared. Ya got me guys - nice one !
  • I thought it was Matt Kruse?
  • After seeing and recognizing this and a number of other "obvious" April Fools postings around the net, I got caught.

    I was talking on the phone to my wife. She mentioned that she was about to do a small shopping, and that we were out of Coke - would I like her to pick up some of the new Freedom Cola that Coke and Pepsi had come out with to show a spirit of co-operation in time of war. Don't get a whole case, I fell. I'll try a single bottle sometime.

  • good shot!