Section 9 : Miscellaneous Stuff

Q905: Where did FlexFAX/HylaFAX come from (and other comments)?

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Where did FlexFAX/HylaFAX come from (and other comments)?

From the author of HylaFAX, Sam Leffler:

From time to time it's worthwhile to remind folks of some things about the software that I give out and my involvement. I work full time for Silicon Graphics doing work (that's supposed to be) totally unrelated to fax software. HylaFAX (aka FlexFAX) is a project that I've been working on, and giving away, for more than 5 years. I use only SGI equipment. I do my best to make sure the software functions on non-SGI platforms solely because I believe that everyone (especially SGI users) benefits from the widest possible distribution and use of the software. In particular, I believe that the more users there are, the more cross-platform bugs that will be found, the more modems that will be supported, the more enhancements that will be contributed. That said, people should understand that I make an effort only to insure that the software functions correctly on SGI machines (and in particular, *my* SGI machines) and that it does what I need. I am sympathetic to folks with non-SGI environments and/or with needs that differ from my own. However, if you want something fixed or want something enhanced, then you should send me a complete patch so that I can easily understand the change and integrate it. Otherwise the problem/enhancement is likely to be ignored. Please note also, that if you send me something that I don't feel belongs in the basic software then I'll likely stick it in the contrib area on

In general I spend lots more time on HylaFAX than I should. I cannot promise that I will provide timely answers to questions or new distributions; though people that know me recognize that I try my best to keep people happy.

BTW, be sure to check out the acknowledgements section. You will see that many people have contributed to this software besides myself; many more than are listed there. I really do appreciate contributions, comments, critiques, etc. despite the brusk and/or curmudgeonly attitude that often comes across in my notes :-).

Date: Tue, 19 Mar 1996

HylaFAX is free software. I've been giving it away in one form or another for ~6 years (probably more). I get nothing in return for this software; it is provided purely because I find it useful and my company has decided not to make a product out of it. I make no promise that the software works on any systems but the ones that I use (SGI IRIX and BSD/OS). I do however try my best to make sure the software builds and functions properly on other systems. The motivation for doing this is to have as many people as possible using the software so that problems are identified and fixed.

In general I try my best to help people when they have problems. I expect folks to read the documentation before asking for help and to provide sufficient information in their postings to let me (or someone else) answer the question without referring to a long littany of postings. This means in particular that if you have a problem you should include basic information such as the version of the software you are working with, the host type and operating system version, and probably the type of modem (and perhaps the firmware rev). It is also important to provide documentation of the problem you are having. All the programs that make up HylaFAX support some form of controls for generating information used in debugging problems. Generic descriptions of problems rarely elicit a response from me; provide a session log or the like and you're almost guaranteed to get a reply of some sort. I almost never respond to a posting whose answer is in the documentation. You may consider this elitist, conceited, or just plain being an asshole, but given the amount of mail I routinely receive about this software I find this necessary. I also do not respond to questions sent to me directly by mail--if your question does not appear on this mailing list I will not answer it. This last decision is bound to anger some people but I have had to resort to this because everything else I tried just generated more work for me (e.g. forwarding questions to the list, responding by saying to post to the list, etc.). Please recognize that it is not my job to support HylaFAX; I do it because I feel like it, but only when it does not interfere with my other work.

Regarding changes to the software. I welcome any and all changes. Many people have made significant and valued contributions and I appreciate the work that folks do to help improve the software. However I cannot guarantee that I will accept changes or incorporate them in a timely fashion unless they are fixes to problems. Because I am almost always running a version of HylaFAX that is very much newer than what is being distributed it is important that any changes be sent in the form of a context diff listing that I can directly apply using the patch program. I am unable to accept GNU unified context diffs; please send me the output of diff -c or if that's not available just plain diff. If you feel your change is of interest to all users feel free to post it to the mailing list (so long as it is small); otherwise sending it to me directly is fine.

Finally, I have been saying for some time that there would be a new distribution of HylaFAX "real soon now". I apologize for the delay in getting it out to folks. Some unexpected events have delayed things and I do not distribute software that has not been well-tested (to my satisfaction). The next distribution is currently in "alpha test" and there should be a publicly available beta version available for folks within a month.

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