Then, less than a week later and with the documentation server still offline with a RAID failure, the server known as 'web1' starting falling. This server has been under great strain for some time and hosts quite a number of indymedia sites. IMC techies quickly got the server and the effected IMCs back online but the trouble continued. The video.indymedia.org site was identified as contributed the highest load on the server resouces and so it was shut down so that the other sites could remain online until and better solution was found.
It was decided to move ahead and move the IVDN video site to another higher spec server, which has the highly boring name 'web4' but this server was not yet ready to be commissioned and didn't even contain a file system.
They say trouble comes in threes and it certainly did for the indymedia servers this week. With docs and video still offline, radio.indymedia.org vanished as well. The radio site is hosted on a server called berkman, the third indymedia service to go offline during the last two weeks. Of the three it was the quickest to be resolved and is now back online and serving dozens of indymedia radio streams from around the globe.
Meanwhile the news appears to be that docs should be up soon after being repaired by London techs and the video site is being migrated to it's new host and should hopefully be online by the time you read this.
These incidents highlight one thing, and no, this reports isn't going to end with a plea for money to buy new servers. The problem is lack of techies with time to and skills to contribute to keeping indymedia servers running with a minimal of downtime. The servers are not necessarily located where indymedia techies are instantly available so delays become unavoidable when trying to deal with repairs. Additionally, techies are over-burdened with demands from many IMCs and unrelated projects, as well as having commitments to work and family.
The bottom line is that indymedia needs more techies, so if you think you could help please email imc-uk-tech (if you are in the UK) or imc-tech (if you are somewhere else).
For the last couple of years that i've been active as an imcista i have never really come across a workshop or tutorial about technical issues - please correct me if i'm wrong here. And whenever i or other imcistas ask about technical stuff there's often a muted response that mostly includes some technical shorthand that we then have to spend hours looking up!
If the rest of us non-technical imcistas responded like this to other areas of indymedia like film- making or writing reports then I'm sure no-one would feel empowered to contribute. For example, there are simple and complicated ways of explaining codecs or for that matter how to write a good article. Sorry if this offends anyone but that's how i've experienced it.
Perhaps the time is ripe to really reflect on how we share information technically as a network and think more inclusively about this? We can't just rely and assume that people will find out technical stuff all on their own and that's why i reckon we've got this skills shortage.
Simple really innit?
non tech imcista
There are many local imc groups, linux user groups, media groups. If you really want to learn, get in touch with them and you will be surprised how much there is to pick up.
Programming is highly skilled profession which takes considerable time to master and those skills must be constantly maintained as they become outdated and redundant quickly. Usually, people that have these skills are using them professionally and not merely as a hobby. Programmers learn their skills over years spent teaching themselves, reading, practicing and evolving from one language to another. It's not like using a camera or video editing where a complete beginner can be taught the basics with a day and start producing their own material.
Likewise with computer hardware technicians. Most are self taught from building and maintaining their own machines or from employement. You could quickly learn some basic skills, enough to diagnose some simply problems but if you don't really have a technical background and intend to continue to exercise such skills on a regular basis then you will not really progress. Everything changes pretty quickly in computer hardware so you have to continue to use the skills or they become redundant.
That doesn't mean that there is no place for indymedia training for techincal skills and in fact there have been quite a few indymedia related training events for people to share tech skills. For example, the resent gatherings about video included sessions on encoding and uploading to indymedia, regular radio workshops in the radio studio at rampART taught people not only how to record and mix audio but also how to compress and upload. However, these skills are fundamentally different from the kind of advanced technical skills I think we are talking about here.
Nether-the-less, there are a number of hacklabs around the country were people could go to share and develop such skills if they wished but I don't see much of that happening or even much demand for it unfortunately.
Additionally there are the indymedia IRC channels were people regularly request and receive help on technical issues and share their skills or diagnose problems. Clearly there is a willingness by techies to share their skills and it is in their interest to do so in terms of indymedia work since it is not a competition over contracts and wages.
p.s. There are a couple more articles on these issues in the newswire at the moment...
Indymedia needs you
I have found these resources useful;
1, a good intro linux http://www.openicdl.org.za/courseware.html#releasecourseware
2, a intro to the command line http://www.linuxcommand.org/
3, This is pretty much everything you need to know
4, This covers webservers see in particular section 36 Apache servers