Tech updates, episode 2018: A GNUHope
Over the last six months, the Free Software Foundation tech team has been busy with system upgrades. We migrated services to our new Ceph-based server stack, which we are calling “GNUHope," and added more code to our Ansible configurations to increase automation.
In January, we upgraded our CiviCRM instance to the latest version, and fixed issues with our custom code. With the help of a previous intern and many volunteers, we successfully streamed and recorded video at our annual LibrePlanet conference, uploading the recordings to our GNU MediaGoblin instance. We also recently hit a record low in the tech team's task queue: 150 tickets, down from 280 in October, after resolving over a thousand new tickets.
The infrastructure that runs our office also got some love. Over the last year, we have been consolidating the multiple services we use for our office work into a more compact stack, getting us closer to our goal of having a single large server running all our local systems. Getting to that goal would continue to simplify maintenance and lower power usage, noise levels, and heat. The new machine ("Hal") runs on a Respects Your Freedom (RYF) certified platform, so it will never tell us "I'm afraid I can't do that."
As we completed major tasks, we took some time to prioritize and plan for upcoming projects. As we write this, here are the projects at the top of the list:
Complying with European Union General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The proper handling of personal data is extremely important for us, and this regulation seems to be a very positive step overall. A recent survey says that 15% of businesses said they think they will be GDPR compliant by the May 25, 2018 enforcement date. Based on our experience, many widely used free software projects still have a lot of room for improving documentation and functionality to enable their users to more easily comply with GDPR, and we look forward to helping as we make sure our own house is in order.
Upgrading virtual machines, and deploying and consolidating a few more servers. One project we are keen to finish in this category is the improvement of our mail servers, which will be transferred into GNUHope.
Renewing our internal infrastructure and services, and upgrading the systems we offer to free software communities to run development work. We are preparing a new set of machines to host build farms, continuous integration systems, and other heavy-duty tasks. This serves the dual purpose of increasing our ability to support projects that develop fully free software, while separating their hardware from our mission-critical systems.
Redesigning and modernizing fsf.org. This is a very large project; our first step here is to select and implement a new associate member discussion forum. In recent years, there has been a proliferation of exciting new forum-like software, and we hope that a new one will help build a stronger and more active member community.
We do all this hard work to continue sustaining and advancing the free software community, the GNU Project, the Foundation, and our members. Our infrastructure improvements will directly benefit thousands of developers, and indirectly, millions of downstream GNU/Linux users. It could not have been done without your generous contributions, so we thank you, and we hope you will continue with your very needed support. If you are interested in volunteering your sysadmin skills to help with projects like these, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.