[57north-discuss] Space projects

Robert McWilliam rmcw at allmail.net
Sat Oct 8 00:10:11 BST 2016

On Wed, 5 Oct 2016, at 11:53, Shell Turner wrote:
> We were having a conversation last night in the space about space
> projects, precisely what the space should provide, and how to provide
> a reasonable separation between "space infrastructure" and member
> projects.

I meant to reply to this sooner, but only now (and at the few points
during the day that I wrote bits of this) found a few spare minutes to
try and put together something (hopefully) coherent...

My thoughts are along the lines that members of the space building
things for the space is great - I'd love to see more of it. The ID
system helps greatly in making it easier to do that.  

I think we need to be careful to keep a distinction between "core"
infrastructure, things that are required for the space to function, that
are owned by the space, with multiple people having access and knowledge
to keep them running, and member projects that will work as long as the
member(s) involved care enough to keep them going. I've seen us doign
that disctinction wrong in two ways: core infrastructure being run as
member projects (mostly I'm worried about the really low bus factor that
comes from that) and how we present member project things to new people
(we have given new members lists of membership benefits that included
stuff that then died). I think the second problem is relatively easily
dealt with: we just need to be careful that introductions for new people
include an explanation that the space is built and run by members; they
are welcome/encouraged to get involved in building/running things they
want, and that things will come and go as interest in them waxes and

As for the first problem, I think we've gotten a lot better at that over
the last while, I'd prefer if knowledge about the set up of the
infrastructure was more widely held, but for most things we have a few
people with access and there are probably enough pointers in the wiki to
figure it out if the folks who have been running it are lost at sea (or
lost otherwise). The wiki is the last of the things where I'm not happy
with how it's set up (but I've been unhappy with it for a while so it's
obviously not all that urgent...) - we need Iain to avoid walking in
front of any (moving) busses (or dying/becoming unavailable through any
other mechanism) until we get it sorted out. 

A related issue is if/how the space provides hosting for member's
projects. We've got a mix of "core infrastructure" and "member projects"
running on space servers ATM (though limited to members who've been
granted access to the servers - which is mostly directors). Too low a
bar for giving access results in things getting broken (as we've seen
previously with letting anyone use the doorbot PC for anything that
needed a computer in the space (I'm still kind of sad that kicking
everything other than doorbot off that killed the LED display (and the
sensors died around then too, but I can't remember if they were dead
before the ffs-people-can't-be-trusted lock down))). I also don't like
the current approach where space provided hosting is only available to
directors (and people who are involved in running "core
infrastructure"). I'd like to be able to trust you lot with access to
the servers so anyone can run their own stuff. But I don't. Maybe we can
do something with containers/virtualisation/jails - does anyone know
what they're doing there and want to help? 

I'm reflexively opposed to anything running in the space because
electricity costs us money and we don't really have money to spare to
run more things (ways to reduce the power budget of the things we're
already running would make me happy). Though I think we have been above
the break even point for the last few months: do we want to spend the
surplus on something for hosting member projects? My preference would be
not to: I'd rather we not spend money on *anything* till we have enough
money in the bank that we can make rent for long enough to wind the
space down if you all decide to stop paying (I'm not sure we even make
rent for one month if our income dries up ATM). 

Robert McWilliam      rmcw at allmail.net    www.ormiret.com

Apparently, three out of four people make up 75% of the population.

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