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You are here: Home Bulletins 2018 Fall How the tech team has been supporting you and GNU

How the tech team has been supporting you and GNU

by Ruben Rodriguez Contributions Published on Nov 12, 2018 12:32 PM
The tech team at the FSF is in charge of maintaining and extending a large set of infrastructure that includes the systems at the Foundation's office as well as over a hundred virtual machines on a handful of servers at three different data centers. Our machines host the GNU Project, FSF campaigns, and services for the community. This gets us hundreds of task requests every month, and this year we met our goal by resolving over 2800 tasks and keeping the number of pending tasks under 150.

We made good progress on the GNUHope cluster project, a modern server stack that is replacing our main infrastructure. Since its deployment at the beginning of the year, we have now increased its storage capacity, improved the network design, and hardened the firewall. Thanks to that gained capacity, we were able to decommission the biggest server of the old stack, Pyxis, a venerable machine which had been hosting some critical infrastructure – including gnu.org and fsf.org – and that had started to show its age by overheating and crashing. We also had some hardware and network incidents that caused a bit of downtime, but they were resolved without any data loss.

We launched an improved forum for FSF associate members at https://forum.members.fsf.org, powered by free software called Discourse. This is a dedicated space where members can meet, communicate, and collaborate with each other. You'll be able to log in using the same Central Authentication Service (CAS) account that you used to set up your membership. We encourage you to log in, check it out, and get the conversation going.

Over the spring and summer we welcomed a great group of collaborators, including four talented interns and an independent contractor (see the LibreJS article for info about our contractor’s work). During the spring, as part of our mentorship-internship program with GNU, Darshan Kadu worked closely with the GIMP project to update the JPEG 2000 plug-in to use OpenJPEG as its backend library. His code was released in GIMP 2.10.0.

Next, during the spring, our on-site intern Alyssa Rosenzweig documented the state of free software compatibility with single-board ARM computers, designed a fully free remote management device for servers, and developed a tool to make PayPal payments without nonfree JavaScript. We also welcomed two Outreachy interns, Sonali Singhal and David Hedlund, who both did important work on the Free Software Directory (https://directory.fsf.org). Sonali added images to Directory entries, improved our Semantic MediaWiki templates, and upgraded the site to the most recent long-term support version. David made changes to scripts that update the site with information about popular free Mozilla extensions, made adjustments to our license naming format, and researched performance improvements to the site.

For the fall, we're collaborating with UC Berkeley's Blueprint program to write a phone application that will offer a way to make small, convenient donations to the FSF, and help members keep track of FSF news, blog posts, and petition action alerts. We're also starting with two remote interns, Hrishikesh Barman and Lei Zhao, who will be helping us to improve our system monitoring, and who will contribute to LibreJS and other projects.

All this work is part of our never-ending effort to bring better tools and support to the community so our advocacy work can be better heard and much-needed free software can be developed. We rely on your support and contributions, both through donations and through intern work. We accept interns four times a year; if you are interested in applying, see the latest schedule at https://u.fsf.org/gj. For information about being an intern through Outreachy, see https://outreachy.org.

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