[na-user] Should VE7TCP.AMPR.ORG Upgrade?

Lyndon Nerenberg Lyndon Nerenberg <lyndon@ve7tcp.ampr.org>
Fri, 04 Jul 1997 20:33:37 -0600

Well folks, it's that time of year again ...

The ve7tcp.ampr.org (VE7TCP) server has been hanging about on the
Internet for four years now (and the DX mailing list preceeds that
by a bit). In that time it has grown from a '386 in my basement to
a T1 connected P100 with nearly 10 GB of disk serving over 4500
mailing list subscribers, mirrors of the ARRL and OAKLAND ham
radio FTP archives, and one of the first (if not the first?) WWW
sites devoted to amateur radio. Up 'till 1996 I funded the machine
out-of-pocket, but by the spring of that year the load on the machine
required some serious hardware upgrades. In the spring of '96 we
conducted a fund raising drive to cover the operating expenses
associated with running the server, and to upgrade the hardware
in order to keep providing the services people had come to expect.

Since then the server has seen quite a bit of tweaking and upgrades
to continue to provide those services to the ham community. In particular
this included a doubling of the RAM to 64 MB to accomodate the mailing
list and web traffic related to the VK0IR Heard Is. DXpedition, and
to increase the size of the FTP archives for the ARRL and Oakland
ham radio FTP mirrors. We've also had to deal with hard disks
dieing from old age, broken monitors and keyboards, dead power
supplies, etc. We're also at the point where the load on the
server has saturated the I/O bandwidth available on the system.

In a nutshell, the existing server needs to be replaced with a
machine capable of keeping up with not only the existing load, but
also with the next year or two worth of growth. Where this all
goes depends on what you the users would like to see the server
provide for services. Right now we're doing this:

	* Mailing lists for: CT-USER, DX, LOGPLUS, LOGWINDOWS,
	  and NA-USER

	* The web site, primarily targeted at DX and contesting
	  (With Easter and Heard Islands as special cases of
	  unique services we've provided)

	* FTP mirrors of ARRL, Oakland, and a number of ham-radio
	  related software packages

	* NNTP feeds of ampr.*, rec.radio.*, and alt.ham-radio.*

Where *I* would like to see things move towards is this:

	* A generic site where future DXpeditions could provide
	  near-realtime log search capabilities ala VK0IR

	* A repository for DX and contest related wisdom from
	  the "Old Guard" (things that wouldn't fit into a
	  magazine article)

	* A repository for DXpedition and contest logs (with
	  search capabilities and web interfaces that would let
	  people analyze the logs to determine propagation
	  and operating conditions in order to forcast how
	  to optimize their next operation)

	* A database for QSL information, with client
	  software for Windoze, Mac, Eunochs, TOPS 10, etc.
	  (based on WHOIS for you protocol hacks)

	* A *reliable* hardware platform that won't suffer from
	  bad disks and broken power supply (or CPU) fans

	* A web interface to bandpass (and other) filter
	  design software (or a generic interface to things
	  like CAP or SPICE) that peecee users cannot expect
	  to be able to run.

Right now the server is limping along fairly well, but we're rapidly
approaching the point where we're going to see some substantial
hardware failure. (The bits are just plain getting old.) As I
mentioned above, the whole bloody mess needs to be replaced.
That won't be cheap ...

At a minimum the server and disk farm have to be moved into
an industrial grade rack mount chassis with proper cooling,
and the motherboard upgraded to something with multiple I/O
busses to handle all the data traffic. I'm convinced that the
last two disks died due to lack of cooling. The existing disk
farm also needs to be replaced with current technology. (I have
the biggest collection of small 5.25 inch form factor SCSI disks
on the planet :-)  And we still don't have a tape drive to do
backups on.

Beyond that, we can expand as far as all of you want. What I'm
looking for right now is feedback on what you would like the
server to provide to the ham community on the internet.

Keep in mind that replacing the current gear (plus adding the
tapedrive for backups) will cost close to US$5000. Since I
cannot solicit sponsorships for anything on this system (a
condition of being registered under the .ampr.org domain)
this will have to be funded entirely by the users of the
system, so it's up to all of you to determine the future
of where the system goes. And as I said last time around,
I won't make this a subscription service, therefore the
future of the server is in yur hands. What I would really
like to see over the next week or two is some constructive
talk about how we can make VE7TCP a usefull place to hang
out. (E.g. "mee too" responses are not required.)

For lack of a better place I'd like to direct discussion
about this onto the DX mailing list. If the traffic warrants
I'll set up a seperate reflector in a week or so. 


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