"Briefly, my talk is going to explore the architecture of the sendmail MTA from a historical/introspective perspective," Allman told iTWire in an interview. "Like so many other tools, sendmail was originally written as a quick hack to solve an immediate problem; unlike most other tools, it is still around over 30 years later and continues to be one of the major MTAs on the internet."
He said he would first provide an overview of the historic situation. "What were machines like? What already existed in the email world? What was happening that triggered the problem?"
Then would come an examination of design principles and the early days of the evolution of sendmail. "Why did I do it the way I did? How did sendmail change as the world changed?"
Allman then plans to take a somewhat deeper dive into "individual design decisions (as distinct from design principles), including some analysis of whether they were good decisions, bad decisions, or decisions that should have been changed over time."
And to finish, there will be "an overview of what I would do the same, what I would do differently, and what we can learn."
"My hope is that people may be able to take away some knowledge they can apply when architecting a new system," Allman said. "I'm a pragmatist, and a lot of what you read in 'the literature' is disturbingly bogus for actual use in the trenches."
He said that to be honest, there wasn't very much specifically about open source in his keynote.
"The principles I used with sendmail are identical to those I would have used with commercial software - I'm of the school of thought that all software should be written as though it was going to be open sourced, even if it obviously will not, because I think programmers do a better job if they think that others will be evaluating their source code. But that's about as far as it goes."
The LCA 2011 will be held at the Queensland University of Technology from January 24 to January 29.