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New Web Server (2016)

Sun 01 May 2016

For the past 9 years or so (February 2007 through April 2016), this website has run reliably despite being a weird machine: a custom prototype web application for archiving and sharing digital "artifacts" of all sorts. I remember a bold and sparkling afternoon at a coffee house in Santa Cruz agonizing over URL structure and refining categories to collect all the material that would (aspirationally) accumulate here over my adult life. All things considered I think this effort wasn't wasted: I have indeed collected wiki notes, photos, images (distinct!), short links, one-off pages, and longer form writing over the years. My enthusiasm for maintaining and interfacing with idiosyncratic administrative and upload panels, however, declined rapidly. Neither the source code web interface nor the git-backed wiki were ever completed or used. I gave up on spam moderating the comment system pretty quickly, never actually posted any blog entries, and only ever pecked in a couple dozen web links and tweet-like microposts. Even the photo gallery system became too much of a time sink to deal with after traveling. Over the years I deployed gitweb and gitit, and after RSS starting going out of favor I even started using tumblr for random content posts. I was still using the Django admin panel's "flatpages" plugin to update my contact info and project pages right up through this spring though.

While it's been amazing how simple and low maintenance running everything (email, repositories, website, etc) has been, the thrill of being on an old and unmaintained release of GNU/Linux (Ubuntu 10.04) has worn off, and I'm cleaning house. This website ( is now a simple statically generated (pelican) site. I've kept gitit, but moved to gitolite (one of my favorite pieces of software) and cgit for repository hosting. The server runs Debian stable (jessie to start with), and SSL/TLS certificates come gratis via the Let's Encrypt project, for which I'm very grateful. I've stuck with linode hosting for this server, though [digital ocean][] is comparable and cheaper for setups with fewer photos and large files. Many of these components are deployed in an automated fashion using the ansible deployment tool; you could fork and edit my infrastructure scripts to set up those components in minutes if you like (though it would probably take an afternoon or longer if you've never done something like this before). Not everything is settled yet: I haven't moved email, and I'm not sure if I'll stick with mediagoblin for photo hosting.

An adelie penguin (the tiny black spot) wandering off alone over the Ross Sea ice shelf

The name of my old server is adelie (named after a small species of penguin that I saw a lot of in Antarctica), and it's days are limited. Though the hier (filesystem layout) of most of my systems are almost identical, I'm particularly comfortable on this one. It's seen me through a lot, more than any other computer system, and I'll probably miss it in a weird way.

The new server is adze; here's hoping it lives even longer!

Note: As initially posted this was just a stub; I re-wrote it in June 2016