FREE to USA Discourse hoster -- four mini-servers

:mega: Please note that this offer is explicitly USA only because shipping costs would be prohibitive anywhere else in the world. Thanks for your understanding!

I have four “scooter computers” that we’re no longer using any more at Discourse*, but I will mail them to you for free if

  • you live in the USA :us:

and

  • you reply to this topic with your plan to host Discourse instances on them

Specs are somewhat modest but more than enough for hosting several Discourse instances each:

  • Intel Broadwell i5-5200 2 core / 4 thread CPU at 2.2 - 2.7 GHz
  • 120 GB SATA3 SSD (generic brand)
  • 16GB RAM
  • dual gigabit ethernet, dual HDMI video, 8 USB ports
  • fanless, completely silent

All four boxes were vetted and reliable when running in our infrastructure, and have been drive wiped and are working 100% fine, ready for a clean install of Ubuntu Server LTS!

* It’s a long story but we decided lack of built in IPMI (remote always on KVM-over-IP) was no longer tenable for our infrastructure longer term.

So, if you are interested in these cute little server boxes, reply here with a story of how you will host Discourse instances with them. :point_down:

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Also if you do need more storage, there are 4 front USB 3.0 ports, and you can get some decently fast USB 3.0 flash storage these days.

That’s 256GB for $40, 512GB for $80, and performance will be SSD-esque but you definitely don’t want the OS installed on there. It’d be more likely to be useful as a volume mounted for Discourse attachments and images, akin to Digital Ocean block storage (which is never as fast as the native SSD on the machine, either).

(You can also plug in a real SSD via USB 3.0 but that’s about 2× the cost I listed above.)

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Sweet! If I were to get one of these, I would use it to set up a new neighborhood discourse instance out of my house. My interest is in being able to help neighbors keep in touch, socialize on and offline, and help one another out on a daily basis, and build resilience so we are prepared in the event of an earthquake or other natural disaster. For bonus points I would like to explore ways to keep the instance operating when there is no internet or mobile service.

The instance would serve about 100 people and be fairly low traffic on a daily basis, like the yahoo group we use now that gets a few emails a week.

I will be happy to share notes on how I set it up for the benefit of others seeking to do something similar.

As mentioned here: Hosting Discourse on a Raspberry Pi?

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Are you able to consistently host websites via your home internet connection? You’d want to verify that first, as most consumer internet providers suuuuuuper do not like it when you host websites at your house. You’ll also be blacklisted a bunch of places based on your consumer hosting IP range.

The other option is to colocate them somewhere nearby, or ship them somewhere for colocation like endoffice.com

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Can we host our current discourse website with these mini-servers? Or should it be explicitly a new discourse website?

Btw I’m not exactly sure how to install ubuntu on these servers. I mean can we send these servers directly for collocation and then install ubuntu remotely? For example with normal servers, we might use something like kvm or ilo to install ubuntu. But I’m not sure about these.

I have never looked into hosting a Discourse instance like this - would it be free, or would there be a recurring payment?

If free, I’ll bite on the servers and explain why below.

Thanks, Jeff! I hear what you’re saying and agree with you.

Maybe the answer is to have the day-to-day interaction happening on a site hosted online, and to provide access to a self-hosted site that is available locally when the power goes out. The local site could be a mirror of the online site, updated daily. It should be possible for me to set up a separate local wifi that serves the neighborhood just to provide access to what is available locally.

There are quite a few challenges ahead, certainly, and I’d welcome any and all suggestions.

Well, maybe not - couldn’t do anything with them until November anyways

You would install the server OS at the correct IP address (your hosting provider would indicate the correct IP config / gateway / subnet etc), then mail it to the colocation provider. Once it is racked and powered on, you can access it via the IP address you set it up.

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Ok then. So as I said if we can host our current discourse website, I would be very happy to have one of these :slight_smile:

I’m not giving out one to four different people. I’m giving four to one person :wink:

Plan changed: in the name of diversifying opportunity, I am indeed giving four out to four people.

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wow its even better. I was going to ask for more in the first place, however I thought it might be rude :smiley:

So my business is about language learning. So far I was only focused on English. However my customers want me to also support some of the other major languages like Spanish, Arabic, Russian, and French. Each language needs its own dedicated forum. So I can use these servers to host one or more instances of discourse depending on the traffic of each forum. If I could host all four servers in a 1 unit rack, I think it would reduce the price of collocation a lot and would be affordable for me.

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Where exactly would you colocate them? Let’s hear a concrete plan with specifics.

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I looked at some websites however didn’t find anything better than this option that you mentioned : EndOffice Mac Mini and Mini PC Hosting page
It’s about 25$ per month. compared to what I can get with digital ocean at same price, I think its affordable.

Hey Jeff, I’m a Systems Development Engineer who loves to ride motorcycles and participate in several Discord groups that promote safe riding, education, and community. Some of these groups are quite large, and lots of important advice gets lost in the free form nature of the platform. If I had these cute little boxen, I would host scalable/redundant discourse instances to offer a more sticky place to put these discussions, not to replace the discord chatter, but to ensure quality info is captured, searchable, and collaborative. I would offer this platform to the existing communities I’m involved in to create a complementary presence on Discourse. I have a stable fiber internet connection in the DC/Metro area with access to a static IP from my ISP. I’ve been looking for a unique opportunity to flex my systems design and system administration skills outside of my day job.

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I run a decent sized cycling forum at http://tarck.cc and would love to save on hosting. I would host the server at home on my gigabit fiber connection through Cincinnati Bell with a static IP. Home servers are explicitly an acceptable use for my connection type. I just double checked. I would continue to use our CDN services to keep the site quick for users around the world.

I’m not going to lie to you and say we will host a ton of other cycling communities but if we already had the hardware overhead covered I wouldn’t be against it. We’ve already helped a couple other communities move over the discourse after we did it about a year ago. We run on donations of time and money and have been around for almost 11 years.

edit: I would just want 1 server. I have no plans to run a server empire.

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This would be a great infra project. Would give me a chance to have a puppet stack at home, and contribute back to any existing puppet discourse modules. Would use NGNX for reverse proxy and load balancing. Oh man, this is making me want to be an SRE again.

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I am liking these proposals and may ship the 4 boxes independently, it is all about having a great convincing Discourse hosting action plan!

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If I am gifted a server, I plan to host a small community in which we will talk about Linux. I want to talk about Ubuntu, Manjaro, and all of the other operating systems (Peppermint, puppy Linux, Pop! OS, Linux Mint, etc). I use spectrum, and I have extremely fast internet speeds. 150 upload speed and 15 megabytes download speed.

I’m not really convinced that your ISP allows you to host websites? Can you link to a spectrum policy page that indicates this is allowed? Have you hosted an externally visible website on your home network (on any hardware) to prove this works at all?

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