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Community Server


--k40z 14:29, 13 Jul 2004 (BST) ...just to get going


It has been suggested in various emails and chats sessions that it would be great of AktiviX had its own server in one form or another. First of all we need to be able to host this Wiki and the lists that we have already set up. The server space we're using at the moment is only temporary. The ideal situation would be a UK based version of The Seattle Community Colocation Project (SCCP), but that might be a bit far away from our capacity, since we don't even really know what we are - a group, network, collective or co-operative? Are we just friends of friends or are we looking to be some sort of formal legal structure that could in fact become a SCCP inspired project?

In any case the basic models that we are wanting to emulate are...

...and the vision is to take control of informational flows through community building. People are encouraged to discuss participation in this collaborative effort with their local collectives and friends, -bring ideas and experiences to build this community server!

The organisational options

  • Do it only as AktiviX and then define what and who we are
  • Invite others to join on a "prominent link" relation basis... meaning that "radical think tanks" like ShiftingGround could contribute to the financial aspect and thereby be entitled to a prominent link and of course to the services that AktiviX provides. The linking shold be mutual, obvikously and would bring more people to the site, at least in theory. Also good for Google ratings.
    • PROS are... that we could be a wider network and quicker get the dosh collected to get the show on the road
    • CONS are... that we need to define who we would work with (although this is perhaps a good challenge of organisation and self-identification); means that groups with money get prominent links - isn't that called capitalism?
  • Work towards something more formal
    • PROS are... a wider focus, which would be needed to clone SSCP.
    • CONS are... takes time to get going and might be too wide for us at this stage

The technical options

  • Joining with Riseup.net in a rack in the US.
    • Cost of server for rack is £?????
    • Setup cost is £ ???? (Cost of server, plus karmic debt to person who sets it up)
    • Running cost per year is £ ????? ($50USD/month)
      • PROS are... cheap bandwidth in the U.S; possible to do more or less right here and now, which means that we could get going and take it form there.
      • CONS are... the political climate in the U.S, and if Riseup goes we go with them or vice versa, which somehow defeats the point of wanting to be a complementary/support project to Riseup... micah adds: we are actually looking at another community colocation location in Chicago as well as the one in Seattle, to increase our geographical redundancy. Chances are we'd host our friends in the Chicago colo, and our webservices, and everything else would stay in Seattle. So, not everything would go at once.
  • Paying for a service with any old commercial option here or elsewhere
    • Running costs per year are £ ???? [$200 per year with redwoodvirtual.com, which uses User Mode Linux. A UK alternative is bytemark, however they're a bit more expensive. User Mode Linux is cheaper and more green than getting a real dedicated box, because you share your physical box with others, whilst still getting you complete root access and control over your virtual machine. Well, except for the kernel. -- Robin]
    • [ Running costs will vary according to whether we go for virtual server, a co-located server, or plain hosting. Virtual servers (ie UserModeLinux) start at around $10 per month. Co-lo costs generally have two components - rent for the rack space + power, and bandwidth charges. Bandwidth charges come in two flavours: fixed bandwidth with no transfer limits, or per Gb of data transferred with bandwidth set at the maximum capacity of the co-lo facility. The latter option is likely to prove difficult to administer as there would be no way of knowing costs in advance, and it might well prove difficult to pass on costs proportionally to use. Youn don't run into any practical bandwidth considerations whicxh can be good if say you want to start streaming services, and can prove cheaper for low bandwidth usage. With fixed bandwidth you get so much bandwidth to use as you please, it doesn't matter how much you put through it overall, only at any one time, which is capped automatically anyway. Its a while since I have had to buy any co-lo but I have just been quoted £20 per month for a 1Mb line in Telehouse (in a private arrangement). -- tallpaul]
    • Setup costs are £ ???? [0 for redwoodvirtual]
      • PROS are... we don't risk going down with / taking down riseup
      • CONS are... could be expensive?; possible restrictions as to what we host [there are only two restrictions with redwoodvirtual: nothing illegal and nothing that hogs the CPU all the time]; it would involve giving money to a commercial organisation [ yeah but ultimately you have to do that anyway whichever option you choose]; <--- Yeah, but if you colo'd at a community colo then you'd be giving money to a non-profit alternative, who would then be paying upstream, rather than giving money to a commercial organization who skims some profit, then gives money to the upstream. Removes one layer. A UML instance is resource intensive on the host machine, so if you are doing something low-profile its not a problem, but anything beyond that they'll charge ya big, or just ask you to go elsewhere. Might be a way to start.
  • join up with other small collectives - e.g. indymedia germany
    • Setup costs are £ ????
    • Running costs per year are £ ????
      • PROS are... we don't risk going down with / taking down riseup; we can set up more cheaply than commercial option... except this organization (nadir + IMC germany) are currently doing colo with riseup. Chances are they'd continue.
      • CONS are... how do we divide work? take time to negotiate/set up
  • Note: The fear of being "taken down with riseup" really should be flushed out some so it is clear, and not just circling FUD (Fear/Uncertinty/Doubt). If the authorities were interested in a particular user's email at riseup, they would subpoena riseup's IP address for the mail server, and ask for logs and email pertaining to that user. If they were brave because they didn't think riseup had legal friends (they'd be wrong here, hi EFF :), they'd ask for all logs and all email. If Riseup were to refuse and continue to refuse over time, weeks and possibly months of legal wrangling would ensue where at some point in there the federales may decide to seize the machine where the data was located (their excuse usually is that they fear the information they seek will be maliciously deleted). How does this impact Aktivix? The IP of the Aktivix box would be different, so the chances of it being included in an actual seizure are much lower, since they don't just seize everything in a colo (although there is a slim chance that they may get greedy, and a higher chance that they are idiots and seize the wrong box), and if and when such an event would happen, it would not happen suddenly without anyone knowing. This all would be different if Riseup's machines were in closets in people's basements (*cough* thats how they are now*cough*) and the Feds were to come a knockin', then they'd seize everything in sight that looked technical (including a paperpunch)... but we are talking a colocation environment that requires secure entry cards, so any visit by the men in black would be to the main business office (30 miles away) where they would deliver a legal document demanding the hand-over.
  • Note2 - the above is fine if we trust the US to keep to the rule of law. but some of us are thinking of things like homeland security excuses, or even a failure of 'law and order' in the land of the free. hopefully that's far fetched, but perhaps it isn't...
  • Note3 - and what about real (or induced) power blackouts or 'acts of nature'. i remember after 9/11 enviroweb was down for ages.
  • What other options are there?
    • Blagging co-lo : When you rent co-lo space you rent your own rack (=specialist cupboard) that you control. Racks come in standard sizes ie full. 1/2,1/4 rack. A full rack is about 7 or eight feet high and is spaced for standard sized equipment that is generally 19" wide and multiples of 1U (=1.75 inches high). The upshot of all this is that often people have to rent more rack space than they neeed. Sympathetic techies have been known to rent rack space, pass the cost of the cabinet rental onto clients and then give the rest of the space away to their mates. This can make it a relatively cheap option (though rack-mounted servers are pricey) but dependent on goodwill. This obviously has risks but it might be an option.
  • would it be possible to set up on our own?

Making the decision

This page is the first step to put together what has been on lists and IRC. The archives has the stuff. Have a look at...

It would be good to have this page sorted out with the various options that we have, so that making the decision at Aktivix:AktiviX_II is as painless as possible.