Intermediate meeting of the Belnet Workgroup on Information Servers

Date: August 5th 1997

Place: Belnet offices,Wetenschapsstraat 8, B-1000 Brussels


Patrick Vanouplines, François Vanderseypen, Pieter Liefooghe, Herman Van Uytven, Karel Debruyne, Viviane Vermeire, Nathalie Verhelle, Peter Van Rossem


Paul Nieuwenhuysen, Anne-Mie Vandermeeren, Wim Holemans, Paul Borgermans, Jan Torreele (Belnet)

Present from DWTC

Olivier Vandeput, Didier Vandevelde

Table of contents

  1. Review agenda
  2. Mobilization of members of Belnet organizations
  3. Report of User Committee meeting
  4. Status current WGIS projects
  5. New WGIS project proposals
  6. Other items and next meeting

1. Review agenda

See Table of Contents.

2. Mobilization of members inside institutes of Belnet

The workgroup has expressed concern that Belnet and the workgroups do no seem to be very well-known inside the different Belnet organizations. The assigned UCP's are mostly working as network administrators and not persons from departments that might be able to have projects that can be sponsored by Belnet and DTWC.

As there are plans for a meeting in November 1997 for members of the different workgroups organized by the User Committee, it would be interesting to invite UCP's and ACP's as well.

We await the response of the different Belnet institutes on the first projects when there are finished before starting a mobilization campaign towards the different Belnet institutes.

It is however necessary to inform the different Belnet institutions about what Belnet does for them beside offering them Internet connectivity. Therefore some documents will be prepared:

If some of those actions do not have the expected results, the workgroup will develop a strategy to contact members inside the institute directly.

3. Report of the meeting of the User Committee

Peter Van Rossem gave a short description of the last meeting of the User Committee in June 1997. The different projects from all workgroups - IS, LIB and BIODIV - were discussed, as well as their current status. For the Workgroup IS there were some minor problems with the Internet Landscape project, as the person in charge of it has left the VUB during the project, so Pieter Liefooghe took charge for the remainder of the project.

It was decided that all projects would be continued. As the workgroup IS already came with new proposals, Olivier Vandeput asked to discuss this further in the workgroup as at the last meeting in May 1997, only 4 people from the workgroup were present.

To have a better cooperation between the different workgroups, the UC will also organize a meeting in November 1997 between the different workgroups on which the different projects will be presented to the members of all workgroups.

New projects would only be able to start from next year on.

4. Status of current projects

4.1. Internet Starter Kit

The project managers presented a document which described the latest version of the project. The workgroup had different remarks about the version which was available at that time. By the end of August 1997, a version should be available on the Internet and would be announced.

There are plans to distribute the information on CDROM, which includes a Powerpoint presentation as well as several kinds of software.

Update from 19 Sep 1997: it is now available at; please send your comments for François Vanderseypen.

The workgroup did ask that Belnet would more actively promote itself and the projects towards the Belnet institutes. Olivier Vandeput will contact Belnet requesting to do so.

Other remarks will be discussed over the workgroups's mailinglist.

4.2.The Internet Landscape in Belgium

Pieter Liefooghe explained the status of this project. The graphical part was mostly finished, except for some minor visual modifications.

The Dewey classification was chosen to define the different categories, though this can still be changed into another classification.

There were some remarks about using alternatively a road map instead of satellite images, or to use black and white images. There were no plans to use a roadmap as possibility; one of the problems is to find an organization willing to provide roadmaps which can be distributed on the Internet. The option not to choose black and white images was taken because it would not make such a difference with the current - limited color - images.

A standard disclaimer will be added. Registration will probably be by email and confirmation before adding a site.

5. New project proposals

5.1. The Belnet Internet Information Port (BIIP)

This project can be considered as an extension to the Internet Starter Kit, but would be more focussed on providing links and references useful for research and culture.

For further details on the project, see the project description introduced at the meeting last May.

5.2. Extension to The Internet Landscape in Belgium

Pieter Liefooghe proposed an extension to the Internet Landscape project, which among other things would contain:

See the project description introduced last meeting (updates were made since then though).

It was suggested that adding email addresses did not seem to be too hard using the same engines that were developed to register normal sites.

There was a lot of discussion about the search engines of this project and the project Webmanage (see the next paragraph).

5.3. Webmanage

Herman Van Uytven presented the major points of this project

For the full description of the project, see

The main purpose of this project is to offer an index of documents available at Belgian sites, as most international search indexes just give non-Belgian sites as results. The advantage of a Belgian index is that users in Belnet/Belgium would get a list of nearby documents in which they primarily would be interested.

The project also offers server management, that is assisting administrators of Belnet/Belgian sites in managing their server. Among other things it can look up dead links, expired entries, ...

The project itself has been partly realized at the KULeuven in Perl. However this is not very performant and the interaction with the database with indexes is rather slow. The main object of this project would be to convert the Perl programs into a faster language (as C or C++) and to provide a more performant database interface (in fact another database scheme would be preferred).

The alternative for this project may be to buy an indexing server - like AltaVista - but this would be far more expensive and non configurable, and is estimated not to be a such use for the Belnet and Belgian Internet community.

5.4. Conclusions

There were no special remarks regarding project 5.1 One extra item might be the list of search engines from Hans Arents and what will become of it. Peter Van Rossem will try to inquire about this.
Update: I managed to contact Hans Arents who had no objection that his pages would be transferred to Belnet or another site (one person in the UA was interested to take over these pages, and another person in Gent was also interested in this information as well). Hans did express the wish that this project would be bookmarked as an initiative of the Belnet Workgroup IS, and preferably got a place at Belnet.

Projects 5.2 and 5.3 have a conflicting (this is too strong) interest as both projects offer an indexing system but with a different background and technology. Both projects do have elements that the other does not offer. A final decision will be taken by the workgroup on the next meeting which will be somewhere in October.

The members of the workgroup are asked to examine these projects, and send their remarks and suggestions to the project managers. A decision about these projects will be taken at the next WGIS meeting.

6. Other items and next meeting

6.1. Status Belnet

Jan Torreele will be contacted to find out the status of the changes in the Belnet WWW server.

6.2. Anti-spam procedures

Spamming becomes more and more a problem on the Internet. Belnet's Marc Roger earlier sent instructions to the different Belnet sites on how to deal with spamming and how to avoid being used as a mailrelay host for spamming purposes, but not all areas of spamming can be covered.

The workgroup might work out instructions how to deal with spamming which could be sent to users and system administrators. It will also be investigated which juridical steps could be taken against offenders, especially those outside Belgium; several members of the workgroup will inquire at their institute with persons specialized in this matter (Peter Van Rossem, Herman Van Uytven, Olivier Vandeput DWTC).

6.3. Next meeting

The meeting from September 15th will be canceled, and replaced by a meeting somewhere in October. The exact date will be announced through the mailinglist (probably the 7th of October).

Report made by: Peter Van Rossem
Updated: 22 September 1997