Alachua Freenet

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Alachua Freenet

Free web hosting for Alachua County residents and non-profits

Alachua Freenet Sunset Coming Soon

It's been a long fun ride, but all good things must come to an end. Alachua Freenet will most likely be shutting down late 2023 or early 2024. The University has asked that we vacate the data center, and there is at present no alternate on the horizon. Something may come up, but we are advising all users to download any content they wish to save and make other hosting arrangements for any active websites. Once it's determined a final date will be announced here.

News and Updates

Alachua Freenet Email Sunset Date Set for December 31, 2019

AFN Email service will be shutting down December 31, 2019. Anyone still using AFN email needs to find an alternative now. We've had problems with the email service for some time now, but we hope restore the service briefly so that anyone who needs to get at their AFN email to notify contacts or update any services that do notification or authentication via AFN email addresses.

Remember, this applies only to the email service. The AFN webserver will remain online.

Friday, June 7, 2019

Well That's Embarrassing

With profoundest apologies for the long hiatus, your longsuffering admins have finally gotten AFN.ORG back on the air. The server's been up, but with no DNS, so unless you had the IP addresses memorized not a whole lot was going to be reachable. Turns out to have been a small but in retrospect glaringly obvious syntax error introduced during some recent DNS troubleshooting. Again, deep, heartfelt, and somewhat embarrassed apologies for the long outage.

Reminder: Please be hunting for an alternate Email provider!

Anyone still using AFN as their primary or only email service really needs to be shopping around for an alternative. UF IT Security is still keen on our shutting down the email server, both because of ongoing hacked accounts and email spamming that are hard for our volunteer sysadmin staff to track down and squash in a timely manner, and because the University frowns on having non-University entities' servers on its network. Your primary sysadmin made the jump to Gmail some time ago and has been pretty happy with it. There are other free alternatives out there, and most ISPs (Cox and ATT, for example) offer email sevice with their basic Internet connectivity.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Recent Security Issues

The email service is back on the air after some major security issues. A userid was compromised, and an illicit cryptocurrency mining package was installed under that userid. It took quite a while to eradicate the last vestiges of the coin miner malware, and during that effort UF IT Security had us blocked from outside access. The malware is now gone, and several side issues that were found have been fixed.

Reminder: Uncertain Future of AFN's Email service

The administrators would like to reiterate that AFN's email service is living on borrowed time. UF IT Security would like to see the service go away, for the reasons mentioned in our post last summer; the University does not like having a non-University email server within its network. We would encourage AFN users to migrate away from using AFN's email service.

Upcoming System Maintenance

Sometime in the next couple of weeks, we will be upgrading the AFN server to a new operating system. This work shouldn't take more than a day, and is necessary from time to time to keep up with security patches and upgraded versions of server software. We will announce the date when it's scheduled.

Purge of Inactive User Accounts

Having thousands of dormant user accounts just sitting and doing nothing is wasteful of system resources and a potential security exposure. Therefore, we are planning on purging inactive user accounts later this spring. If there has been no shell login and no email login in the past couple of years we will archive the account's home directory and delete the account.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

We're back!

The most recent set of security updates went sidewise and wiped out part of the system's configuration, and several weeks of slim to nonexistent sysadmin free time added up to an extended outage. We've got the system configuration put back together again, and all services are up.

NEWS FLASH: Probable sunset of the AFN email service

It's been a long couple of decades, but the time is most likely approaching that we will have to discontinue the AFN email service. There are several free or low-cost email services out there that didn't exist when AFN was first brought into being. The University's administration and IT Security staff are concerned by the existence of a non-UF email server run by part time volunteer admins residing within UF's IP address space. Occasionally, when one or another email problem or compromise lands AFN on someone's blacklist service listing, the University's entire IP block winds up tainted. Neither AFN nor the University want to see that happen going forward.

We have not set a specific date for the end of AFN email service, but we are encouraging the user community to begin migrating to alternative email providers.

At this time we do not expect any impact on the AFN web server; it will remain for as long as UF will allow us to reside in the data center.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Happy New Year!

Apologies for the delay, but we've FINALLY gotten the email service more or less reconfigured and restarted. BRACE YOURSELVES for a period of extremely high mail activity as the weeks long backlog of undeliverable emails finally gets delivered. We know there'll undoubtedly be a bit of spam involved but we hope that updated spam filter utilities will start learning and rejecting the bad stuff sooner rather than later.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

We're working on getting the email service configured but we're running into some snags. Hopefully things will be resolved before too long and we'll get everything back up, but we can't give a firm time for restoration of the email service.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

System Migration in Progress - Please Be Patient!

The AFN server has decided it is no longer going to boot. So, rather than putting any more time and effort into keeping that very old, rather underpowered platform limping along, the decision has been taken to move ahead with migrating to the new, much faster, much higher capacity server platform.

The migration will involve moving the old server's external RAID array to the new server, copying all user data over to the new server's internal RAID array, and configuring the web and email services on the new server. The entire process is liable to take several days. Please watch this page for updates as we make progress on the migration.

Update 1

The webserver is now configured correctly. We're starting the rather large task of copying all the user data from the old external RAID array to the new server's internal RAID array. As each users's data is copied to the new array, any web pages should become accessible.

Update 2

User data has been moved to the new RAID array and all user websites should now be back up. We're now working on getting the email server configured and the mailboxes copied over.