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Join us as a member to give back for the free software you use

by Ruben Rodriguez Contributions Published on Nov 29, 2016 05:40 PM
At the FSF, we run our own infrastructure using only free software, which makes us stand out from nearly every other nonprofit organization. Virtually all others rely on outside providers and use a significant amount of nonfree software. With your support, we set an example proving that a nonprofit can follow best practices while running only free software.

As software permeates more and more aspects of society, the FSF must expand our work to protect and extend computer user freedom. We launched our yearly fundraiser with the goal of welcoming 500 new members and raising $450,000 before December 31st. Please support the work at the root of the free software movement: make a donation or – better yet – join us and become a member today.

For the past year, we have been very busy upgrading our server infrastructure, which we wrote about in the Fall FSF Bulletin. The new stack of machines works fully on free software all the way down through the BIOS, and makes use of redundant network attached storage over 10Gbps Ethernet. Cool stuff! We take care to prevent issues with freedom and privacy on our machines, which means avoiding the current x86 server CPUs that are encumbered with back doors as well as other components that require the user to load nonfree firmware. We use a high-end ASUS KGPE D-16 server motherboard, supported by Libreboot. Despite being a few years old – and thus supporting CPUs without known back doors – it is a beefy piece of gear, running up to 32 CPU cores, 256GB of RAM, and many terabytes of Solid State Disk storage.

Making the extra effort to build a uniquely free server stack does not come without some hiccups. Although the motherboards work fine on their own – we are already using them to run lists.gnu.org and Savannah services – they do have rough edges that need to be polished, for example, to get reliable Peripheral Component Interconnect support. The setup of the new stack and migration of our services will require a sustained effort from our three-person tech team during 2017, which cannot happen successfully without your support.

By hosting most of the GNU Project, we enable development on free software components that are key for the whole computer industry, such as Emacs, Bash, and the utilities at the base of all the GNU/Linux distributions powering supercomputers and the Internet's servers. Our public FTP server, ftp.gnu.org, serves 100Mb per second of free software all day, every day. That is more than a terabyte! On top of that, lists.gnu.org and lists.nongnu.org spool out about a half million emails between free software developers and users each day!

We are excited to have the opportunity to benefit the community by building, testing, and perfecting new hardware and technology that doesn't just work, but also supports our freedoms. Our ability to provide dependable servers for the FSF and GNU Project comes from your generosity and commitment. Your support funds hardware and the time of free software experts to work on deployments. We need you to give back and support this root infrastructure, enabling future free software development and distribution to thrive.

P.S.: If you have not already submitted, the LibrePlanet Call For Papers is closing tomorrow, November 30th, 10:00 EST (15:00 UTC)!

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