A network utility written by Ihug's senior programmer Bryan Christianson is to be bundled with Apple's MacOS - but Christianson won't get a cent for it.
Christianson has been developing WhatRoute since 1996, when his then ISP was having network problems. He was connecting with a Macintosh, for which there was no traceroute utility that worked over a PPP connection - so he wrote one.
Since then Christianson has continued worked on the program, adding the functionality for ping, DNS queries, whois and finger, plus the ability for the software to be configured as a telnet server and a feature that graphically plots Internet routes on a world map. Christianson's work on that feature saw him invited to a conference on "visualising the Internet" at the University of San Diego last year.
In all that time, WhatRoute has been freeware - and Christianson says that's how it's staying.
"It's all quite flattering for me. [Ihug director] Nick Wood thinks I'm a moron and that I should have told them to pay me a royalty if they wanted the software, but I can't see the point. My whole thing with it has been that a traceroute function is something an operating system should include.
"I'm quite happy to provide it, and it being free, I'm under absolutely no obligation to fix bugs or whatever. I try to, out of professional pride, but if I don't have time to do stuff then it's no skin off my nose."
One concession to his software's new status is that, shortly after he was emailed by Apple earlier this year with the request to use WhatRoute, Christianson went to register whatroute.com - and found it had been taken by cybersquatters 18 months beforehand.
"So I emailed them and said hey guys, enjoy the royalties you get from this, because I ain't paying anything for it. Then I decided whatroute.net made more sense anyway, given the nature of the software."
WhatRoute is to be included in the Networking Extras folder of the next MacOS release, 9.1.