June 4, 2024 by Drew DeVault

The state of SourceHut and our plans for the future

Good morning! It’s been a tough year for SourceHut and I know many of our users are waiting to hear from us. Our last update was the post-mortem following the DDoS attack we sustained in January, and we have some additional news following this update as well as plans for the coming months to share.

I apologise for the reduced communication as of late. We are a small team dealing with a lot of big problems, and between keeping the lights on, dealing with issues as they arise, and leaving time for us to rest and spend time with our families, there has not been as much room for keeping you up to date. Nevertheless, our ship sails on, things have quieted down now, and we have an opportunity to get you filled in today.

So far in 2024

I’ll be honest with you – it hasn’t been great. We are not facing an existential crisis – we have extensive disaster planning for many scenarios we might face, and our situation is well within the scope of our planning – but nevertheless it has been a challenge.

As you know, during the DDoS we suffered a total network outage on our primary datacenter and had to perform an emergency overnight migration of all of our infrastructure to our research installation in our datacenter lease in Amsterdam. Our infrastructure became stable following this intervention, but we have been operating at a reduced capacity since – we are running SourceHut on infrastructure provisioned for research, not production. Currently we are supplementing our owned-hardware compute with a lease from OVH for build server cycles.

Following the failure of our primary datacenter, we arranged to have our equipment shipped overseas to our research datacenter, so that we could install this equipment and restore our infrastructure to its full production capacity on SourceHut-owned hardware. At our now-deprecated site we had ten servers totalling an investment of about $50,000 USD. Some of this equipment was at the end of its operational life and was disposed of accordingly, but we arranged to have five servers shipped to Amsterdam. However, all five servers were lost in the mail. These parcels were insured with the shipping provider, but we have been unable to reach the provider for any information regarding the status of the parcels or any resources for filing an insurance claim. After several months of attempts, we have ultimately had to write these servers off.

Moreover, we are facing some financial issues. The loss of this equipment represented a significant lost investment, and the shipping costs were substantial. Additionally, we are working with a tax issue in which we were over-taxed by about $20,000; we filed an appeal months ago but that money is tied up for the time being and the tax authorities have sent us timely notices every 60 days informing us that they require an additional 60 days to process the issue. We still have an entirely sustainable financial situation, but we lack access to the capital we would ideally be using to build out our infrastructure and address other needs for growth.1

You may have heard that we also had to part ways with one of our staff members recently. This reduces our headcount to two. For the time being we will not be hiring a replacement, but our near-future plans are achievable with our current headcount. Though we usually aim for transparency to the maximum extent possible, we will not be sharing further details about this departure, as a matter of reasonable privacy.

As you can imagine, it has been a stressful time for us. However, I wish to stress that everything we’ve been dealing with is planned for in our models, both technical and financial. There is no existential threat to SourceHut. Nevertheless, we are grateful for your patience and support.

There is some good news to share – some old colleagues of ours generously provided us with eight servers to shore up our capacity in the new datacenter and mitigate some of the losses from the bungled overseas shipments. These were installed last week, and we are provisioning them now and preparing to bring them into service. We also did a marvelous job at upgrading our research installation to production readiness, polishing it into a much more robust system over the weeks and months following the disastrous DDoS attack.

Also, as a happy side-effect of our surprise move to Amsterdam, SourceHut’s datacenter installation is now entirely powered by renewable energy sources. We have also finally rolled out IPv6 support for most SourceHut services as part of our migration!

In the months to come

It follows from our story that we have been focusing on two things this year: provisioning and managing our infrastructure and getting as much rest as possible. Our situation has calmed down, and while we still have a lot of loose ends to attend to I’m happy to say that we’re resuming a sense of normalcy here and preparing to resume our work on the features you need.

Our plan for the coming months involves the following objectives:

  1. Implementing Kubernetes for managing our infrastructure
  2. Paying down tech debt in the codebase
  3. Fleshing out the remaining “alpha” feature goals

Conrad will continue leading the efforts to k8s-ize our production infrastructure. Our AMS datacenter installation was provisioned with k8s in mind, rather than with the parameters we used for our earlier libvirt-based infrastructure. As a temporary measure, we have bolted our libvirt approach onto the servers we have installed here, but we are planning on gradually migrating our deployment to a k8s-based approach which is better suited to the infrastructure we have provisioned, as well as (hopefully) being more robust and scalable, meeting the original objectives of our k8s research. We have migrated our large persistent storage system to Ceph, and are working on moving our API and web services into k8s one at a time.

Then there is the matter of “tech debt”. SourceHut’s codebase traces its lineage directly to our early prototypes, and there are many design choices and bright ideas which are not so bright in hindsight. We had initially planned to work on paying down tech debt between the “beta” and “full production” phases of SourceHut’s development lifecycle, but these areas are causing us enough headache that we have made the decision to spend some time reducing our tech debt today. In particular, we have the following goals:

Following this we intend to finish up the remaining “alpha” feature goals, which includes the following:

We have further plans over the long-term: reducing the use of Python in our codebase, overhauling builds.sr.ht and expanding its features, improvements to man.sr.ht, and so on, but for now the goals enumerated above are chief among our priorities.

Thanks for sticking with us

Thank you for your continued support and patience while we get our house back into order. We hope you are continuing to enjoy SourceHut for your needs and the needs of your projects.

If you have any questions about the events of this year, or our plans for the future, or anything else – feel free to reach out. You can reach all of us in private by emailing support, or the community in public at sr.ht-discuss, or you can reach me (Drew) directly via sir@cmpwn.com. We’re also around on IRC – #sr.ht on Libera Chat.

Take care!

  1. If you have the financial means and wish to help, this would be a great time to consider upgrading your paid subscription – though it is by no means necessary for us to keep things running. ↩︎