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Retiring Tucows Downloads (tucows.com)
512 points by andrewdutton 41 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 194 comments



Wow, nostalgia, it's been years since even hearing about Tucows. Tucows was a huge part of my childhood from 10 to 18 years old. Good run and great early repository for software. Thanks Tucows.


A former coworker of mine went to work there, and my immediate thought upon learning of this was "The download site?"

It turns out they're doing pretty well for themselves. They might not have much brand recognition these days, but they're a much bigger company than I thought.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tucows


> In 2000, Tucows acquired Linux Weekly News.

What? I had no idea.

There's a reference too [1]. The next article [2] in that series (which was a retrospective about five years later) goes on to say:

> Meanwhile, by this time [2002], Tucows had come to terms with the fact that its acquisition (and ongoing operation) of LWN was not helping it, given the directions its business was taking. So, after some discussion, LWN was unacquired - it was given back to its creators, with Tucows holding on to a small piece just in case.

[1] https://lwn.net/Articles/264980/

[2] https://lwn.net/Articles/265813/


That was a while ago at this point, back when the download site was still a significant part of what they did.

The acquisition was at the end of the dotcom boom, and we had several options to choose from. We ended up with Tucows for a number of reasons, but right near the top was the fact that they seemed like truly decent and honest people. That decision, I think, is a big part of why LWN still exists today.

The end of the download site is definitely a moment in nostalgia...but in truth I didn't know they were still running it. Tucows has long since moved on; I'm glad they are doing well.


Reading TFA, that was exactly the sense I got: a wistful announcement that a cherished part of the Internet was maintained for years beyond most of its users even noticed, and is being closed down. It seems readily apparent from their actions and words that they truly seemed to care about Tucows Downloads, whatever it might be worth financially.

Glad to get to the comments and see further reinforcement of that feeling. It seems you had a great read on them as people. Kudos.


Seeing "TUCOWS" was like smelling something I hadn't smelt in decades. I barely remember what it was, just have positive associations with that word from my child hood. Very cool to read that I'm not alone in that.


Union Square Ventures invested in them a few years back, and blogged about their rationale and some info on where Tucows is/has been headed as a business:

https://www.usv.com/writing/2017/02/tucows/


I have used Hover for years. I don't really do anything too complex with them, but I have no complaints which is basically the best endorsement I can giver for a domain registrar.


They did sell their Ting Mobile division to DISH the other month though, so some retrenching has apparently been in order.


Yep. It was one of your first stops after you reformatted Windows. Like you, I haven't heard about them in a long time. I haven't thought about them in a long time, either. Guess that means Windows got more stable? I don't reformat anymore...


Adding windows defender by default has gone a LONG ways in fixing windows.


Well Windows 7 (and Vista?) had it by default but it was pretty useless. Basically a user-friendly GUI to the firewall with very basic anti-virus. Microsoft released Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE) which was the precursor to what we see now built into 10. It’s come a long way.


Back in the XP days it was a veneer on GIANT AntiSpyware which as I recall was viewed as a separate component to anti-virus back then. As things evolved you saw combined firewall/anti-spyware/virus/adware from companies like Norton/Symantec and as you note MSE was really MS's anti-virus entry in Vista & 7.

Nowadays 'anti-virus' subsumes all those products into one unified thing.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microsoft_Defender#Beta


I remember downloading GetRight download manager from there. Aeons ago, truly Internet 1.0.


Oh wow, GetRight... I don't know if it's just nostalgia, but the UI of those apps was much better than today's UI. Back then everything had a standard UI and you could count on menus and elements being Alt-accessible, nowadays everything is a hodgepodge of web apps and nothing works the same way as anything else.


And to add to it, it seems that none of them hear of keyboard shortcuts.


That is the worst offender. Keyboard is the best way of quickly navigating, but no, no keyboard shortcuts anywhere any more, and definitely no underlines on buttons so you can alt+key to them...


Almost shellshocked from reading the name GetRight. Jesus that feels long ago.


As an Australia I still long for the multi-stream download of GetRight. I regularly use axel (or aria2c) to just get my connection to 100Mbit.


Holy heck that’s a blast from the 56k past.


I was on a 28.8, after pitching my parents for weeks about the benefits of keeping the telephone busy for 2 hours per day...


Same, download manager used to be a must-have app in the early internet days.


This hurts. You Remember getright aeons ago and I still remember JetCar ( the products name before that)


Don't forget Teleport to download websites for offline viewing.


Me too! I miss the era of the internet that Tucows represents.


I miss the walnut creek days of ftp.cdrom.com. Many an id demo and FreeBSD isos downloaded. Before that I knew of them from actually buying their CD's in the mid 90's before we had the internet.


ftp.cdrom.com was the fastest slackware mirror for me for all of my teen years.

this reminds me of poking around on my ISP's shell server to find warez drops other people had put there.

... now I can smell magic: the gathering cards for some reason.


whoops, gg guys, dinner's ready

+++ATH


I remember getting Windows 95 on the Internet, not having a browser, but having the command line FTP client built in and FTPing to cdrom.com to download a copy of Netscape so as to be able to get browsing.


Windows has and still does an excellent built-in FTP API also that was very handy. It works even on Windows 95 all the way to Windows 10.

https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/win32/api/wininet/n...

Downloading from HTTP has always been messy, specially for big files. The FTP API been always rock solid.

Edit: Apparently the Gopher API is also still available!

https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/win32/api/wininet/n...

and even has websites!

In January 2020, Veronica indexed 395 gopher servers,[16] within which it indexed approximately 4.5 million unique selectors. http://gopher.floodgap.com/gopher/gw?gopher/0/v2/vstat


I still have my copy of Walnut Creek's FreeBSD 2.2.3 distribution, a double CD set with Beastie on the front. And we had the internet back then, it was just over a 28.8 modem.


Haha me too! It was such an amazing thing for me, a 12 year old in 1994 in Mexico to actually receive the FreeBSD CDs with all the nice paraphernalia (beastie stickers and whatnot) on it. A friend of my family bought it for me because he was happy I was into computers at that age.


Memories!

There was a time where you could replace “www” for “ftp” and in most occasions there would be a file listing!


I was a maintainer of a FAQ that was posted to news.answers, which in turn was mirrored at Walnut Creek. They would send maintainers free CDs of the archive periodically. Good times.


I downloaded many Doom WADs from ftp.cdrom.com


my fingers still have muscle memory for "ftp ftp.uwasa.fi" which I think pre dated cdrom.com (for me anyways)


Showing my age. src.doc.ic.ac.uk

It was known to some at my university (or maybe just me) pronounced as "Srk Dok Ik Ak Uk".


Same!! So many fond memories of the early web. I miss what was that "new frontier" feeling.


How do we get that feeling again? Where is the newness today? I miss that feeling so much.


We need to decentralize things a bit to get that old internet smell back.


Agreed. Everything feels over-saturated.


NFTs?


This brings up memories for me also. I was under the impression that Tucows was founded in Canada though, because their headquarters is in Toronto. Although most people know them for their download site, they have also always been a pretty big domain registrar. According to wikipedia, they are the second biggest at the moment.


I register my domains through hover.com to support Tucows. It happens to be an excellent registrar.


>Tucows was a huge part of my childhood from 10 to 18 years old.

Same. One of the first places I downloaded software in the mid 1990s


That's sad, I was just thinking last week that I wish Tucows were still around so search for new interesting tools. I thought it was taken down ages ago.


For me it seems like a decade or two, but that can't be right because I haven't had internet that long.

Maybe it is just that it was a different life and therefore it seems like that long ago?


They've been hosting downloads since 1993. That's more than two decades, and certainly a couple of lifetimes ago for me :)


Speaking of nostalgia, I remember downloading Trumpet Winsock from Tucows way back when....


Agreed. I used to love getting my Windows 3.1 freeware from there.


+1 (different age range, same idea)


So say we all


tucows and download.com were the "app stores" of the web before the walled gardens of the big companies today. You could distribute your app to one of these sites and have it be automatically syndicated to thousands of other download sites. This is how distributed web worked. We're making the web more centralized and it's not just social media and youtube.


Yeah. Plus you'd have FTP sites that would mirror a variety of sources too. Now Chrome has removed FTP support completely.


I wish “removing features” wasn’t such a popular thing for software companies. I mean I understand the cost of having complexity but is it REALLY that bad to just keep an unmaintained feature going that people use?


You do have to maintain features, fix security issues, refactor surfaces get smaller, even unused - bitrotting code generates at least some work.


It's not that bad ... right up until someone finds a security problem involving said feature, and the original code authors have left.


Well, now that QA is a mature process and people expect tests on every single thing, it's more "expensive" to keep a feature around, as you have to keep on testing it.


There is no way to keep an unmaintained feature in. They will break so fast and there is no point keeping a broken feature in. Just download an FTP client.


> Now Chrome has removed FTP support completely.

You can just as effectively have HTTP sites that are simple listings of available software. I don't think FTP removal is really relevant here except for nostalgia.


FTP has some interesting features not found in straight HTTP such as charset conversion and my favorite the HOST command. HOST was the escape valve for commands you needed run that weren't implemented in the FTP protocol itself. I'm sure it's a terrible vulnerability now but it was fun to use and see what you could make a remote machine do.


Disagree. FTP as a protocol made self hosting all kinds of things much easier. We could soon live in a world where people self host their own data powered by protocols that will borrow heavily from FTP.


Did it? I've always had more trouble throwing up quick FTP servers vs a quick "python3 -m http.server" for a throwaway HTTP server.


Hardly. You can install Apache and drop your files in it and the default settings make it look pretty much like an FTP listing.


Gemini says hello!


Hello! If only protocols weren't treated as cash cows


HTTP is one layer too low to replace FTP. HTTP can provide the transport but not the application semantics. We would have to agree on a protocol that uses HTTP to replace FTP.


That is a fair point. WebDAV seems to provide the listing and update semantics that you are looking for. WebDAV is widely supported by webservers so I think it is a great replacement for FTP.


Is there any meaningful difference between a ftp server and a http server with directory listing enabled?


With http you lose all the fun with active/passive FTP and tricks to get around firewalls. Though stateful firewalls already ruined it.


FTP had better support for doing server-server transfer - you could start a receiver on machine 2 and then trigger a transfer from machine 1 to machine 2 without using your own bandwidth. I guess you can achieve the same thing by doing curl on machine 2 in a screen session or something, but it feels a lot less elegant.


I think scp can do stuff like this, I remember occasionally hitting it when wanting to move a file between two servers that can't talk to each other, expecting it would use my bandwidth/route for the transfer.


wow. I used ftp for years and even ran my own server for a while and never knew that was a thing. is that something that was actually used to mirror those sites? Debian mirrors certainly don't use this (anymore?) at least, for example..


It's called FXP: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File_eXchange_Protocol

FlashFXP was a popular client that supported this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FlashFXP


It's called fxp and you can still find information on it. In the top site scene it was widely used.


IIRC at least initially the FTP had some special modes to transfer binary data, whereas HTTP was not as efficient. And of course, HTTP was meant to be "pull only" whereas FTP had upload capabilities too.


The 'binary mode' of FTP just meant not to translate line endings or potentially character set, in opposition to 'text mode'.

The advantage with HTTP wasn't efficiency, it was that resuming interrupted downloads was typically possible with FTP but not HTTP (because ranged GET took a long while to get support in both servers and clients).


The difference between binary and text is deeper than just line endings and character set; PDP-10's, for example, stored text 5 7-bit characters to a 36-bit word. In text mode, it would unpack that to ASCII, whereas binary mode would pack two words into 9 bytes. If you transferred in the wrong mode, you'd just get an amorphous blob of protoplasm and need to transfer again


Actually I believe http was originally envisioned to be 2 way, a la webdav.


If it's unidirectional (user only downloads) and the files aren't crazy big, then given today's connection speeds and reliability I would say no not really.


This is the right thing to do. FTP should be handled by an FTP client, not an HTTP client.


It's gone the way of the gopher!


They were such shit though, with the fake download buttons and everything.


Those didn't come till they started pumping the site with banners. From there, malware assholes figured out they could advertise with a duplicate "download" button and get a healthy number of clicks (certainly got me more than once).

They went to shit, but didn't start out that way until they started to try and fund their site through a shit ton of ads.

That was a dark day for the internet. Thank goodness for ad blockers.


I remember a Tucows before the fake download button. But as a kid I definitely downloaded a virus or two on my parent's computer.


It must have been a big reason why these sites fell to irrelevance so quickly. And to think of the missed opportunities...


Tucows killed the goose that laid the golden egg with that change to shady downloaders and never fully recovered or were trusted again by a large majority of ex-users.

Still - at least Tucows left up their mia-culpa (entitled "Tucows Cuts the Crap") https://tucows.com/blog/2016/05/03/tucows-cuts-the-crap/


Handango and some others that I forget were the equivalent for the handheld Palm PDA.


The article doesn't link to the Tucows Downloads Archive, for whatever reason it only links to the archive.org homepage.

Here's the direct link: https://archive.org/details/tucows

It also appears that the archive wasn't manually reviewed; some items are just screenshots, and others are unrelated to software at all.

Example (mildly nsfw): https://archive.org/details/tucows_71077_Sung_Hi_Lee_2


> The article doesn't link to the Tucows Downloads Archive, for whatever reason it only links to the archive.org homepage.

> Here's the direct link: https://archive.org/details/tucows

> It also appears that the archive wasn't manually reviewed; some items are just screenshots, and others are unrelated to software at all.

I'm really glad they went through the trouble of even doing that. They didn't have to.

A lot of it's probably only good for nostalgia, before it's totally forgotten without much loss; but as someone who recently spent a bunch of time trying to track down 90s FTP site mirrors chasing a vague memory of a game, I appreciate it.


I, ahem, had to look into this as a matter of intellectual curiosity -- there is an archive file in the "DOWNLOAD OPTIONS" section which holds the .scr Windows screensaver file: https://archive.org/download/tucows_71077_Sung_Hi_Lee_2

(On another note, .scr-s are just renamed .exe-s, and it was a highly questionable choice to download and run those in their heyday as well.)


> it was a highly questionable choice to download and run those in their heyday as well

I never let that stop me! I was going to have my realistic fish aquarium screensaver, come hell or high water.

Besides, I could always reformat. I had that Windows XP serial key memorized, after all!


That's exactly me, you described there!


>and others are unrelated to software at all.

Your example is software.

It is a "screensaver", a program that displays something other than a static image on the screen when the computer is idle (which prevented CRT burn-in).

Those used to be popular back in the day, and long after few people had CRTs around.


Maybe email them with your findings? They to care about history, maybe they'll be receptive to fixing the issues.


Your example has a link to a ZIP which has a windows screensaver in it.


Some related obscure nostalgia - I used to like downloading games from Happy Puppy.

https://web.archive.org/web/20000815211217/http://www.happyp...

"Happy Puppy was launched on Valentine's Day 1995, establishing itself as the first-ever commercial games site. It was an overnight success and has been the leading gaming lifestyle publication on the web ever since."

Related in the sense that it was another site I would download software from in that era. Disappeared in 2006.


I remember Happy Puppy. Although the thing I remember most is that I won a free 56k 3Com (nee US Robotics) external serial modem from them just by entering my name and address into a sweepstakes on the main page. It just showed up in the mail one day. It was a nice upgrade from our winmodem. My mom was sure it was some kind of scam.


Buying an external 56k US Robotics modem was a giant leap when I was a teenager. It opened up the internet as I only had a winmodem at the time and RedHat 7.3 didn't play nice.


I remember HappyPuppy back when it was run by Jennifer Diane Reitz, who sold it off in 1995 or 1996 and whose career since has been... interesting, to say the least.

She changed the background to one of the puppy mascot peeing on the Communications Decency Act, back when the "Blue Ribbon Campaign" was a thing.


> We’re pleased to say that much of the software and other assets that made up the Tucows Downloads library have been transferred to our friends at the Internet Archive for posterity.

The usage of the word "much" makes it seem like IA crawled most of the archive, "probably".

@ Elliot Noss:

The real classy way to shut down something as historically important as this would be to transfer a 100% (edit: ~100%) dump to the IA.

(Hoping to be disproved.)


Alas, my app listing for ButtonWiz is gone (maybe I removed it years ago). It was listed in Windows Magazine as one of the top 10 shareware programs sometime around 1998.

That makes it sound bigger than it was, the Top 10 list was a small 1/4 page article that appeared in a bunch of issues.


Has your app been around for longer than '98? The screenshots I've found look familiar.

If it was available around, say, '94 or '95, I am almost positive I had it installed at the time I started messing around with the Compuserve Homepage Builder...


Yes, I developed it for nearly a decade starting around 1994.


Speaking as a person who faced this, licensing concerns are probably driving the mostiness.


Sure - I'd just like to make sure. So much early content has been deleted from history for no reason at all, really. If there's been a serious effort to save at least the early content from the 1990s I'd be super happy. If everything minus problematic content has been saved, I'd be even happier.


Jason Scott of the Internet Archive seems to have said they were offered the data https://twitter.com/textfiles/status/1352523064874053632



Fantastic!


Sites like this have a long tail problem. Yes doing a 100% dump would be best, but 90% of it is likely stuff that hasn't been accessed in years and never will again. So from a resourcing point of view it is better to save "most" than none at all.


And yet, all is still better than most. The IA's entire point of existence is to preserve that long tail stuff that doesn't get preserved otherwise, and they certainly currently hold on to things that are far less useful than literally anything on tucows was (for eg. a website I worked on in 1995 that probably only had a few hundred visitors even then).

I hope this is just soft wording.


> I hope this is just soft wording.

Yeah, I hope that too. Maybe everything except 0.01% really problematic content has been transferred to the IA.


I guess I'm mostly concerned about an authoritative dump from those first years until 1996/1997 or so, probably less than 1 GB.


I wonder if someone still has a copy of the Tucows CD-ROMs from those days? (Since most folks were still on dial-up and everything.)


Excellent run! It's been ages since I've downloaded things from Tucows, mainly late 90s and early 00s. The era of PlanetQuake and all the other sites. Hmm, off to the IA for a nostalgia browse...


PlanetQuake... the nostalgia is running through my veins! Not heard that name in two decades.


... and IE for a nostalgia browser


Let's not get carried away.


Tucows and, the more Mac focused, Version Tracker, where a huge part of the early Web.

Besides finding new stuff (which was awesome), in those days you had to manually check in those sites to see if there were new versions of your apps. I'd be very surprised if you told me back then that we're all OK with apps calling home to check for updates regularly.


> I'd be very surprised if you told me back then that we're all OK with apps calling home to check for updates regularly.

I think we'd have thought of that as a great development. "In the future, you'll automatically get bug fixes and new features in your programs as they're released." What's not to like? After all, you already trust the developer (the programs were not typically open source).

The justified distrust we have now for software vendors shipping "features" that benefit them rather than us came much later.


Trust changes. Software owners do as well. It was also common back in the day to keep running old versions of your apps for whatever reason. It’s much harder and sometimes not possible these days.


> I'd be very surprised if you told me back then that we're all OK with apps calling home to check for updates regularly

I'd have been fine with it from a user control/privacy perspectie (this was back in the day when people were fine downloading and running random shareware with zero sandboxing or memory protection whatsoever), but we didn't have the bandwidth or memory to do it.

With a modem you were almost never online. You maybe went online for an hour or two in the evening. If everything started updating as soon as you dialed up your 28.8k modem, you'd never get anything done. And with the tiny RAM sizes and poor multitasking of those old OSes, background update daemons and such were out of the question.


Downloading Winamp from Tucows so I could listen to illegally downloaded NOFX mp3s. The good old days when the WWW was so new and exciting for me.


Elliott Noss is super smart and humble. Left a huge impression on me when I met him way back in the day as a youngster. He had nothing to prove at all, just super bright and very fun to talk to; I met him at a tradeshow and he spent 30 minutes with me just because he thought our product was cool.


Wow, end of an era. I guess it realistically ended a while ago, but I remember downloading stuff from Tucows when I was a kid playing around on the internet with dialup.

I was really surprised to learn recently that they own Ting (the cell phone provider) and big domain-related businesses like eNom and Hover. Looks like they're doing just fine.


Ahh..the sound of dial up and playing connection roulette. I got a fluttery feeling just thinking about it.


This is the worst part of the internet: Tucows was such a bit part of life for so many people, and now it's just... gone. We have the internet archive, which is great, but it feels like there should be a way to highlight touchstones these sites.


Well, in this way, the internet is just like real life. How many stores in your hometown have lasted 20, 30 years? It's hard and it sucks losing them, even though they might not be part of your life anymore. They were touchstones to someone's past.

My favorite little bookstore was called Readmore, it's been gone for 20 years, but every time I see the GNC in it's old location, I still get nostalgic. Part of life I guess.


Ah, bookstores! The travesty of consolidation in the last 25 years really cements things. I miss the independent retailers and variety. Kinda makes you think about having total recall and being able to revisit what once was.


Tucows isn't gone. They're the second largest domain registrar in the world. They run OpenSRS and Hover, for example. They also run Ting.


Ting was sold to DISH in September. They may have kept the ISP part.


It's a joint venture now apparently.


That is how I felt about the imdb forums and also ftp.cdrom.com. I was huge into Doom and Quake in the mid-late 90s and I used to get a ton of files from ftp.cdrom.com.

All the WAD hosting went to places like doomworld and one day they announced it was shutting down and I realized I hadn't been on it in 5+ years.


I remember downloading x-files windows 98 themes when I was a kid on dialup on weekends. good times. Also surprised it still exists. was a great time to be into computers.


Here it is, for your nostalgic pleasure (try Arizona, it works):

https://web.archive.org/web/19970212181139/http://www.tucows...

I'm amazed at how many clicks you have to go through to actually see software. No "top 10" list at the start, no "popular", nothing. You have to pick a mirror, which brings you to an almost empty page, click a small "Windows 95" link hidden on the left sidebar, then pick a category, and only then you see the actual software.

Odd how much UX leeway you have when you're about the only thing on the web.


The Ultimate Collection of Winsock Software - wow internet history. I forgot that TUCOWS even stood for that


Back from the days when hotmail.com stood for HTML mail.


bunch of years before that... but wait, did hotmail really mean that?! Not sure I've ever heard that! Or at least also forgotten that. Feel like when MS acquired they didn't promote/brand it like that so the HTML connection was lost (even tho it was obviously a website/webmail etc) :)


I think canada_dry is right. They used to spell it HoTMaiL.


Yes, it briefly had this abomination of a logo before adopting a more sensible identity:

https://logodix.com/logo/715204.gif


Oh God, the 1990, it hurts.


> Old sites are a maintenance challenge and therefore a risk. Maintaining the Tucows Downloads site pulls people away from the work that moves our businesses forward.

This is the larger tragedy.


do you even use their download site? nobody does anymore. To keep it up would be hoarding. We can archive screenshots and move on.


Yes, I went from audio coupled 120 baud BBS in 1983 to the 56K by 1993 and loved Tucows when they emerged. Many happy years spent learning at their knee - as others have said, Thanks, Tucows - live long and prosper in whatever internet sea you now swim in....


There was something magical about this era when I was a child downloading gameboy emulators like No$GBA.

I miss download.com

Is there fewer people making desktop software nowadays? It seems there is less software available. It's also very hard to be profitable and monetize software.


I hated Download.com. It was buying up all my favorite download sites of the era and shutting them down without integrating their features. I think SoftSeek was my favorite and I'm hard pressed to find even a screenshot of it these days.

Off to look.


Yes, I was late '90s downloading enthusiast, and SoftSeek was the best one, particularly because every app had a screenshot.

https://web.archive.org/web/19991118153527/http://www.softse...


I feel like native desktop development has stagnated a lot in the past 10 years. But Electron and other frameworks have enabled hundreds of desktop software that are basically web tech based.


And all those frameworks add so much bloat.

Windows Calculator now consumes 12 MB of RAM. Sure, 12 MB is nothing when systems have 8+ GB, but if you think about the fact that it hasn't really changed much since Windows 3.1, you have to wonder why it takes a couple orders of magnitude more memory without having significantly more functionality.

I bet if DOOM were to be written today, even using the same assets, it would be a 2 GB install that consumed 4 GB of RAM while running.


The bloat of abstraction is a small price to pay for the deathmarch of progress. When you look at the ever growing chasm that software needs to fill, it all makes sense.

Consider how the most modern computer most of us could even write an emulator for is over 40 years old. Abstraction is the only way we have a hope of meeting hardware where it has progressed.

Just compare the best game anyone could build with z80 assembly vs. Unreal Engine / Unity. It's easy to pick on a 12MB calculator app, but don't let that rob you of being truly humbled by what can be built today.


For Doom, you don’t have to guess! There are half-dozen source ports that are still under active development - some of them have fairly high system requirements in terms of CPU/GPU/RAM for advanced graphical features, but they’re generally much smaller than 2GB in size. e.g. GZDoom is 16 MB, not including the game assets.


> Is there fewer people making desktop software nowadays?

Yes. Developing native desktop apps is more work (Win32 and Cocoa, who even knows those? you'll have to implement the app in both) and these days you'll have to go through the app signing bureaucracy even if you're not using app stores. And good luck with the monetization, especially if you're not distributing through app store or other and paying a huge share for it.


I make my living selling desktop software for Windows and Mac. Yes, there are definitely less of us than there were 15 years ago, when I started. But there are still plenty of niches where desktop apps are as good as or better than web apps. I use C++/Qt to stay away from the horrors of the native Windows and Mac apis and avoid bloat. Code signing isn't a big issue. I don't sell through any app stores. Getting noticed is an issue, but it always has been.


The second best thing after print magazines' CD-ROMs... also extinct :-<


I miss brand new, big, hulking Computer Shoppers.

It was like a Christmas wish book every month!


Agreed! I used to love exploring those discs, which were jam-packed with new demos and utilities, or new games or add-ons for existing ones.


Used Tucows as most reliable source for downloading software for Windows back in the days (I think I did not trusted e.g. download.com). Will remember all the cows on the early internet days ;)


Well that's one less email I'll be getting every week - the "Weekly Statistics Report" for downloads of my software from tucows.

As below:

"You receive weekly download and CPC statistics because you are a Tucows ARC Subscriber. If you no longer wish to receive this communication, please login to ARC, enter the Profile Manager and uncheck the box marked "Weekly mailings.

Files: weekly_report_29299_20210110004906-20210117004906.zip"


Oh wow. I have not heard of or seen tucows for ages. The last time i visited their page must have been 15 years ago because it looked like https://web.archive.org/web/20050715014500/http://www.tucows...


Pleasantly surprised to know Tucows is a thriving internet company.

Nostalgia overload. I remember downloading so much stuff from tucows.


I've been selling Windows and Mac software online since 2005, so I remember them well. Tucows and similar sites were quite an important part of selling software online as an Indie back then. But they became less and less relevant as search engines improved. Eventually most of the download sites just became automatically generated online garbage heaps, trying to trick you into downloading things you didn't want, adding dodgy brower toolbar extensions and pushing fake awards ( https://successfulsoftware.net/2007/08/16/the-software-award... ). In some ways it is good that download sites are less relevant, but we have just swapped one lot of gatekeepers for another (mostly Google and Apple).


"The Ultimate Collection of Winsock Software" ... For a company that's now the 2nd large domain name registrar, started and sold a successful MVNO, and runs a fiber internet service it's been a crazy ride. I had no idea the download site was still up. That and Sourceforge were so important at one point.


Wow.Just wow.The last time I was on their website was probably nearly 20 years ago. No way I would have imagined they not only exist but also hiring. Kind of glad they pivoted to other areas.

[Edit]: I occasionally cover tech stocks in my spare time- this is definitely one I'll write about!


I didn’t even realise Tucows were still around. Man I loved that site in the 90s.

So long and thanks for all the fish :’(


Haven't thought about Tucows in many years... I used to love exploring it to find new software to try out. There were so many interesting utilities and such to enhance Windows 95/98. Would love to give it one last browse. Ah well! Thanks for the good times, Tucows.


For me freshmeat.net was the source of new software around that kinda timeframe.

But I did help a few people download browsers, and better FTP clients from tucows.

There was a related site, an index of available software, but I can't remember the name. I remember it had an abbreviation, something like "chase" and hosted mostly shareware stuff. But the details elude me.


first thought: What, Tucows still existed?

clicks on link

second thought: That's not Tucows! Where is the logo with the two cows???


Where will I be able to download my winsock.dll apps now though?


End of an era. I remember using them consistently in the mid- to late-90’s. Sad to see them go but change is the only constant in life. Goodbye old friend!


Tucows is still a domain registry. (See: https://tucowsdomains.com)

In my experience, they are one of the shadier ones, but maybe they are all bad these days. For example, if a rare domain (E.g. any three-letter .com) is registered with them and about to expire, instead of releasing it as they should, it will be held for auction.


One of the early success stories in Toronto based internet companies (besides ISPs).

Hover is pretty good. It looks like their fiber business is growing too.


I own several domains that I registered through Hover.com .

I noticed the billing statement always comes through as from Tuwcows Corp, but I didn't realize Tuwcows was it's own thing that existed apart from just Hover.

According to Wikipedia, its been around since 1993, so a relative dinosaur on the internet. Wild.


Nostalgia for sure! Tucows was one of the originals for me. Back when AOL was still running on 28.8k...thank you for being a part of my childhood and the start of the internet revolution! Tucows, Lycos, Geocities...wow! Where has time gone?!?!


I use to browse tucows and freshmeat and seeing what new software people released, was fun to see what people created. Just a nice updated list of new applications.

Now I have no idea what people are creating unless they post to a few forums I follow, so limited.


Man... I had some of the first freeware programs I developed listed on Tucows. They were crucial to developing a userbase. I had no idea they were still around, and I'm thrilled to see they made it this far. Farewell, old friend!


Just this week I was trying to find an animated Windows 98 startup screen replacement I used of a borg cube.. couldn't quite find the exact one but found a few linked on tucows and FTP archives of tucows :)


Great memories of using Tucows. It was a dependable source of software. Have a similar feeling using f-droid now. Look for a useful tool, and find something completely different, that is either useful or fun.


It's funny how you never know when your last visit to a site will be!

One day it's your go-to site for things, the next it's not on your radar.

Maybe search engines, mobile, and app stores all contributed to changing the .


Though it is now headquartered in Toronto, it is interesting to note that Tucows was originally founded in Flint Michigan, the only internet company I'm aware of that comes from there.


Reminds me of download.com and how that was such a go-to site for me. I still have that in my muscle memory when I open a new tab, along with a few others from my childhood.


Now that is a name I had almost forgotten about.

Like many I had plenty of downloads from there, back in the day, on the university connection.


Tucows made lots of Macs great!

With a Mac, it was sometimes hard to find software. Tucows usually had something for you!


I still have my ‘official mirror’ T-shirt from Tucows (1994?)


Wow!! That’s a blast from the past. Goodbye and Thanks!


tucows, jumbo, and x2ftp.oulu.fi were my goto places :-)


That thing was still alive? Wow.


But where will I download TCPMan and Trumpet Winsock from now???


That's a great question, retrocomputing enthusiasts better grab what they need for their dream retro installs.


pour one out for tucows


> Old sites are a maintenance challenge and therefore a risk.

Hard disagree unless you want/need to update it. They’ve moved it to internet archive, so I’m happy, but still a dumb statement.


Even if the software it was running on never had a bug finding, the hardware would eventually fail and it'd have to be updated to run on modern software. Coupled with the fact that bugs do pop up in operating systems, web servers, etc, it is no free to maintain. The Internet Archive screen scrapes everything and just saves the pages you see, but even that isn't free or trivial if you don't already have the software.


> The Internet Archive screen scrapes everything and just saves the pages you see, but even that isn't free or trivial

That’s what I’m suggesting: you run a big screen scrape job, disable the search and any other forms (review entry or comments) and host that. At the end of the day, you have an unchanged archive running on your existing www server.

At least that’s how I’ve kept up old stuff that isn’t popular anymore but still pulls in enough visitors and ads to cover costs.


Depending on the underlying infrastructure.

Unless you freeze the infrastructure too, this is incorrect.


Updates are going to be a requirement if you care at all about security.

New vulnerabilities are being found in the most popular web servers on a regular basis.




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