The Internet Archive’s mission is universal access to knowledge. For us, that access happens over the Internet. In many places, there are two or few providers of fast Internet access, which tends to lead to high prices, bad service and makes censorship too easy. We would like to see more options and are doing something where we can: in places where we own buildings, the Internet Archive provides free and fast Internet access. Currently, we cover parts of San Francisco and Richmond, California with Community Wireless. Our most recent community project is with Atchison Village, in Richmond.
There are two layers to this, an access layer that anyone can connect to with WiFi devices, and a backbone layer that connects the access layer to the Internet at large. The backbone layer is built and operated by the Internet Archive. We monitor its performance and upgrade parts as needed.
The access layer is largely build in a crowd-sourced manner by willing participants. Anybody can connect with their own WiFi devices. The Internet Archive recommends specific devices that we know work well, but access is not limited to those. We also recommend connecting rooftop-to-rooftop; while rooftop-to-couch might work for some people, best results are achieved with devices mounted outdoors with line-of-sight to the closest access point.
Participants will be responsible for their own devices, including purchasing them, mounting them, pointing them and keeping them powered. For recommended devices the Internet Archive can provide initial configurations. If such a device’s configuration is changed, it is the participants responsibility to make it work.
There are a few caveats: Both layers operate in unlicensed frequency bands where interference is common and expected. The network is also a shared resource. Thus, experienced bandwidth and latency can and do vary. The Internet Archive will do a best effort to keep the backbone running well, but we cannot guarantee specific performance metrics. Also, over time expectations of what is an acceptable speed tend to go up. For this reason, we recommend upgrading devices about every three years, just like computers and phones.
[Update: Upgrade is done, we were offline twice, as we predicted (and are sorry about), but now we have twice the power.
New transformer for the Internet Archive Building.
Thank you PG&E, Ralf Muehlen, and the Archive engineers.]
This week, we are doubling the power coming into our primary data center so that we can archive and serve even more web pages, books, music and moving images. During those upgrades, there will be times when many of our web sites and services will not be available. Details below.
To keep the data safe, we will proactively shut down most of our services served from our primary data center. archive.org, openlibrary.org, iafcu.org and our blogs will be unavailable during the outages. The upgrades will happen over a two day period. We anticipate two prolonged outages, the first one from about 7am to 12noon PDT (14:00-19:00 UTC) on Tuesday, April 16. And the another one from 3pm to 7pm PDT (22:00-02:00 UTC) on Wednesday, April 17. Work might require additional outages between those two major ones.
During the outages, we’ll post updates to our @internetarchive twitter feed. Sorry for the inconvenience.
Update: To be on the safe side, we’ll expand Wednesday’s outage window from 2:15pm PDT to 7:15 PDT (21:15-02:15 UTC). For some of our services, the actual outages might be shorter.
We are excited to join the Electronic Frontier Foundation and other open-minded organizations in the Open Wireless Movement. We have long believed that there should be many and low-cost options to get access to the Internet. Individuals and organizations sharing their WiFi networks with their neighbors can be one such option. The Open Wireless Movement shows how do that safely and legally.
The Internet Archive has offered free open outdoor unrestricted WiFi since 1998 using 3 generations of equipment. Currently we serve users in San Francisco libraries and about 5,000 families in housing projects as well as our neighbors in Richmond, California and San Francisco.
Fast and Free.
In celebration of IPv6 Day, we are happy to demonstrate our first step into the IPv6 world. We set up a special static web site that is only accessible over IPv6. We will use this as our test bed to debug all the various software and network layers involved. If http://ipv6.archive.org/ displays in your browser, your network stack is IPv6 compatible.