Thanks to the unc.edu University and the system administrators there, sunsite contains the bulk of interesting packages for Linux (and similar systems). Packages vary from fundamental system packages, to Yohan's favourate soundblaster utility. Many of the packages are very good, but be wary of files older than a year or two.
Your CDROM set should include a mirror of sunsite, maybe slightly re-arranged, to reduce the duplication of the tsx-11 site, without the non-distributable files. If possible, build your machine from one set of CDROM's. Then rebulding it will be easier, and known to work.
sunsite.unc.edu is a machine somewhere in North-Carolina. Many universities sponsor Internet, by providing a connected machine (with administrator) for public use.
The benefit to themselves, as well as to the public is in-estimable, and costs relatively little. Bandwidth consumption is seen as a sign of a need being fulfilled.
Sunsite is one machine, other sites have other machines, either broadcasting their own packages, or everybodies. tsx-11.mit.edu is another example. Many Universities simply mirror sunsite (why waste good time duplication work done well elsewhere? Time that could be spent doing something original), and add their own ftp areas.
The existence of such Internet-BBS's, allows others to access and broadcast material 24 hours a day, and good system administration builds up a library of relevent code packages. IE it makes Linux possible.
GNU really means that the package came from the FSF, but it also includes packages from _anyone_ under the GPL or Library-GPL.
In general, the Library-General-Library-License is much better than the original GPL license, as it free's up a lot of grey areas, especially concerning the boundries between a Library and an Executable.
Arguably an older GPL'd package can NEVER be converted to an L-GPL'd package. Please, use L-GPL not GPL, even if your "Library" is a self contained binary, it contains code that could be useful as a library.
Personally, I think that this contradicts it's own stated policy, to make your program "the greatest possible use to the public", since it restricts it's use.
The L-GPL effectively lifts these restrictions by allowing commercial sites to re-use your code, in L-GPL'd libraries, in their products. Arguably, NOONE can do this, so it's not good for GNU developers.
People contribute to public-domain, gnu and shareware for various reasons. Projects that come out of universities get prestige for that department, and many departments hold on to valuable staff, by providing them with a work environment that makes them happy.
Some commercial sites choose to purchase configuration help, installation time, and support channels from GNU suppliers. They pay for results, and like the idea that their installed code, could be supported elsewhere.
The MIT university has a policy of making much of it's work available to the general public. This of course benefits other universities, who may be 'competing' with MIT, or who don't pay for the running of MIT, but MIT somehow comes to terms with that fact.
Most Universities have facilities to mirror other sites, and to broadcast their own material, both computing orientated, and all other subject studied there. Computing just tends to be first in the queue for computer resources.
Company consortiums, contribute to X11, because it benefits everybody, including themselves. Open systems don't need restrictions to sell, they need open acceptence, and quality products/services.
JAVA is a Sun product, made available to others. The benefit to Sun is that everyone can use and wants Java, and that helps it sell more Sun boxes - even though the customer doesn't HAVE to buy Sun.
When the race is on, for the fastest Java-Byte-Code-Interpreting piece of silicon, Sun will be there.
Companies allow staff to maintain packages, as part of aquiring that person, that skillset, and that package - supported on its hardware.
The sum of all this is that when someone releases a neat pice of kernel technology, the support utilities already/soon exist to build it up to a fully fledged UNIX-like system.
This system gets used, configured, bridged, tested, supported and developed, my everone, and those focusing on their special interest group.
This is how graphics libs get supported, or compiler tools, or how user-groups develop standard profile packages such as gnu_plot for botanists.
InfoMagic, and other CDROM vendors, download the entire contents of sunsite, tsx-11, and other key sites. Making them available to the rest-of-us, who don't have permanent Internet facilities. Some of the material on sunsite is not distributable for copyright reasons, but is still available on the net.
Some material is duplicated, especially when included in more than one distribution. Here are a few sites for you to try out and enjoy.
There are mirrors of sunite, other hosts apart from sunsite, and there are URLS of pages of information indexing other sites and documents. "sunsite" is actually a chain of University installations, all mirroring each-other!
Mirroring is an overnight task, between universities. Who's nightime, can give occasional connection refused, so look to see that the version you find is the one you're looking for, and check the date of the files. Some mirrors might only copy Incoming on a daily basis, and the installed files weekly. That is their mirroring policy, and is one of the reasons why different parts of the network go slow at different times.
Having a fast, nearby, up-to-date mirror is a great asset, especially if it's off-peak hours are your dial-in time, however don't be supprised if at certain times, it's recalculating pi, whilst simultaneously handling lots of nice anonymous ftp sessions, and swamping it's own nets with hi-pri network traffic (ftp backup). It is doing what it's designed to do.
sunsite.unc.edu Linux toolkit prep.ai.mit.edu FSF - GNU - GCC ftp.x.org X11 from all directions ftp.xfree86.org XFree86 X11 head drivers (SVGA) ftp.azstarnet.com Linux on Alpha vger.rutgers.edu Linux on SPARC archives ftp.coast.net /SimTel/ ftp.cdrom.com ftp.redhat.com