The start of the server

by Flemming Funch, 19 August 1995.

The server that Joachim Steingrübner is operating is an essential component in making NCN work.

The New Civilization Network itself sprang into being the 13th of March, 1995. It had no mailing lists at its disposal, so communication basically happened by me sending out messages with a lot of recipients in them. That started to get very cumbersome as we were getting 50 and more members. It was confusing how people would answer and some people's mail programs couldn't handle the messages.

I had applied for another mailing list for the purpose from my Internet provider, Netcom, at that time. But for some reason they chose to ignore my repeated requests, so it never materialized. So, I didn't really know what else to do to provide some kind of infra-structure for NCN.

Joachim and I usually meet about once per week to talk about life, the universe, and everything. And not only were we both excited about what was emerging out of NCN, but now Joachim brought up the idea of setting up an Internet server and using it for the purpose.

Not only would it provide us maximum flexibility in setting up the services we would need, but it is in itself an exciting project to run a server. In a sense, NCN provided an excuse and a motivation for Joachim to set up a new toy.

We had on a number of occasions talked about the principle of building a more workable society by increasing the amount of free resources. That is, an individual or group would determine what it would be able to provide freely to others for the common good. And as more and more people would do that, the amount of free resources would grow until most of what we would need would be available.

Thus Joachim decided to finance the server all by himself. That is, he would not ask for donations, he would not rent out space, and there would be no charge of any kind for using the services of the server. It would be part of his contribution to a new civilization.

Setting up an Internet server is nowadays quite feasible to do for one individual. But still, there is quite a number of things that have to be bought and paid for. In this case, we are talking about a 486 computer with a couple of gigabytes of harddisk space, about 4 modems with their own phone lines. And on an ongoing basis the monthly charge for the upline to an Internet provider, which isn't cheap when we are talking about a 24 hour a day connection.

Joachim decided to run the server with a Linux system. Linux is a freeware variant of UNIX that is very popular on the Net. That it is free and that most utilities for it are free is not just an economic consideration. It is very much in line with what the new civilization is about, and the way we would like to think about resources. Linux is developed by volunteers who do it because they see that it needs to be done, and because they enjoy it. And it is freely given to the world.

Joachim started up his Linux system the first time on April 26th.

He had also applied for the domain name, which arrived around the same time. The domain name allows for an identity for the server, and an easy way of referring to the services on it. The org extension signifies that NCN is a non-profit activity.

May 3rd the server first got online. That is, the basic components of an Internet server was in place, and the name had propagated around the world enough so that it could be reached from the outside.

The Server One now operates a well-visited collection of Web areas, and a number of mailing lists. As well as it provides mail access for various people, myself included.

Quite amazingly, the rather large amount of access is handled very well over one 28.8K modem connection. The beauty of most Internet services is that not everybody is doing the same thing at the same time. It only takes a few seconds to pick up a Web page or to deliver a mail message.

The server has now become the hub for new civilization related activities. Not only for NCN but for various other aligned non-profit activities.

Keeping the server running is by no means an automatic affair. It takes rather constant attention from Joachim to make sure that everything works, and that new needs are taken care of. To the users of the system it might well be transparent when everything is working well, but there is quite a lot going on behind the scenes, the majority of which Joachim has the credit for.

- Flemming