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amigaOS Magazin January 2000   (pages 20-22)

Cracken und Hacken ganz legal - Das RC5-Projekt

By Robbie Schäfer

amigaOS: How did you get the idea of participating in the rsa-secret-key challenge with an Amiga-Team and what were your initial goals?
Thomas Tavoly: The idea came from reading about the DES challenges and trying the first Amiga client for RC5-56 and then meeting a couple of people on IRC who agreed a team would be cool. Our initial goals were quite moderate, simply to throw together in a team and see how far we got, under the Amiga flag of course. Once the effort grew it became apparent that it could be a lot more, and hopefully will be.
amigaOS: When you started the Amiga-effort, did you expect such a big resonance amongst the Amiga-users?
Thomas Tavoly: Not really, but once the ball got rolling I actually expected more people to join in, there must be a lot more Amiga users (or Amiga minded people) out there than the approximately 2000 participating now. So while the first explosive growth was surprising, later on it became a steady but slower one.
amigaOS: At the moment our team is in the fifth position. Any chance of entering the top 3 or even the first place?
Thomas Tavoly: We have almost done 14% of the keyspace now, depending on how lucky we will get (some other challenges found the key well below the statistical average of 50%) it might be finished tomorrow, or continue for another two years. Some of the teams ahead of us have a substantial lead and would be very hard to catch in time even if we grew explosively again. But a top 3 ranking is possible, if G4 becomes a success and/or participation grows more rapidly. We would only need a couple of hundred people upgrading to a G4 to make a sudden jump ahead again. Since the currently fourth placed team just overtook us this could be a real possibility to get ahead quick, if the cards ship fast enough. On the other hand, expecting miracles is almost too painful after the last five years, so conservatively speaking we will stay at number five. Not like that is anything to frown at of course, out of thousands of teams.
amigaOS: You have put a lote time and work in the infrastructure (Website, statistics, etc...). Wil this infrastructuere in future be expanded for a more general distributed computing, beyond rc5 and des?
Thomas Tavoly: Yes, that is the plan. The RC5 challenge is a finite effort, beyond that there is much to do. At this point it's not clear yet which direction this will take, but 'Distributed Amiga' could carry anything that builds directly on present or future (open source or not) versions of the Distributed.Net client infrastructure to offering anything that has to do with networked computing in the Amiga spirit. This could range from whatever Amiga come up with through activities developing in the remaining classic Amiga niche and perhaps a resurgent one (PPC?) to distributed computing in the aforementioned Amiga spirit in general, so theoretically we could continue if the (Amiga) world ends tomorrow. It would certainly be a shame to just close the book once RC5-64 is finished and waste the resources of such a gathering of like minded people.. Of course the current effort only offers potentional for any of that to become reality, we need a critical mass of participants and developers that can sustain continued existence.

But things are opening up already, soon the D.Net clients will get support for Optimal Golomb Rulers (OGR, useful for optimizing some engineering solutions if I'm not mistaken), then CSC (another encryption standard), and probably lots of others in the future, from geek chic/political encryption and mathematical problems to more mundane applications like research into the human genome, diseases, distributed chess and other games, rendering stuff, artificial intelligence and probably a lot more.

amigaOS: A few weeks before Jim Collas resigned, this effort was about to gain official recognition and support from AmigaInc. Do you still expect some support from the new management?
Thomas Tavoly: I have no idea. With Jim Collas leaving and Bill McEwen who handled communication it has once again become uncertain, purely from a logistical point of view already. Since Amiga OE is supposed to be a middleware layer very much centered around networking it should have a natural affinity with what we are trying to accomplish on the technical level, but some of the motivation behind our team specifically is the Amiga spirit, which the new management apparently does not seem to be very concerned with. Tom Schmidt has shown a profound lack of understanding what Amiga has been about (even apart from technicalities) and corporations who would rather be rid of a fanatic userbase concerned with diverging technology can't be expected to support community efforts. I've had more of these near misses, but if you take all aspects into consideration, the answer would probably have to be no. It's sad, but commercial enterprises do not seem to value possible long term or indirect beneficiaries unless there is a direct and preferably short term impact on the bottom line. Of course I'm open to communication that leads to any cooperation.

I've seen this on a smaller scale too, trying to talk to phase 5 for example was pretty fruitless, even though something like RC5 could (and probably did) sell them some PPC cards..

I would also like to stress that expecting some kind of redemption from a higher power is stupid without providing for yourself in the meantime, else you may starve waiting. Self reliance is important considering the Amiga's checkered past, and we have done well so far, considering.

amigaOS: At the "Computer '98" in Cologne, I noticed some people who wanted autographs from you on their rc5-shirts. Well, how does it feel to be a star? ;-)
Thomas Tavoly: It was a pretty weird feeling, but flattering somewhere :) But I need to stress that I'm just one person, without the cohesion of the community and everyone participating or contributing in some way none of this would be happening.
amigaOS: In a few words: How would you invite our readers to participate with the effort?
Thomas Tavoly: En masse of course :) Maybe the best way to put it is: Amiga may be dead, so long live Amiga! I.e. it's not just the box that counts, but the user behind it, no matter where he or she goes, as long as he takes the essence with him.
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