A new server for CDS Forum & Portal?

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Rosie Gray
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A new server for CDS Forum & Portal?

Post by Rosie Gray »

I would like to suggest that it is a good idea to consider moving the hosting of the CDS portal and the forums to another, stand-alone server on a commercial host. We are seeing right now problems with both the forums and the portal, and both can only be fixed by one person (a different person for each asset), due to the fact that they are the only ones that have access to the server that the asset is on.

Right at this moment I see that we could host both these assets with a company that I use for my websites, https://www.hostpapa.ca/, for $3.95 Cdn./month (currently that is equal to $3.01 US). I am only pointing out this host company because it is the one I'm most familiar with, but there are many, many others I'm sure equally as inexpensive and good.

If we did this, then the current administrators of the portal and of the forums could still manage them, but also some other people with these skills could also have access to manage them.

What does everyone think of this suggestion?
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Re: A new server for CDS Forum & Portal?

Post by Han Held »

You have two types of server (at least); VPS and bare metal. I'm going to take a stab and guess that what you're proposing is a VPS.

A VPS is a virtual machine, meaning it's a program that pretends to be a computer which runs on top of a computer; bare metal means that you're renting a server, period -free and clear. VPS are often shared and performance may vary, depending on what else is going on on that machine, bare metal is more consistant, but also costs more and requires much more administration.

That's a wide variety of skillsets in the CDS and though I'd normally suggest a bare metal server, I'm hesitant to recommend that for us.

I think we should find a server that is managed -meaning someone else takes care of the installation and (most importantly) the security updating of it. This would be expensive, but the alternative would be to face inevitable hacking and deletion of CDS content.

I think this is a good idea, but I think that this is an instance where we're going to need to figure out a lot of legal infrastructure. Who would run it? How would it be passed on? What happens when there's a disagreement about the content, backup and procedures around the server?

Those questions (and more!) will need to be thrashed out; I suspect it would take most of the 26th term to hammer out.

That said -we need to get every database, every web page, every image or html file YESTERDAY and store them somewhere neutral -eg. in an encrypted file on amazon's cloud (or something).
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Re: A new server for CDS Forum & Portal?

Post by Lilith Ivory »

Once a month I take a back-up from the forum and have stored the latest version on my private dropbox while still trying to figure out how to store it on the CDS goodle website. A 2016 version of the portal got shared with me via dropbox too.
Unfortunately I have NO skills or experience with things like that so I have no idea what I am storing there, how to open it and if it is of any use :)
I have shared the forum backup files with Coop as a fellow SC member so he can have a look at it.

Having only one person each having access to thos websites is a little scary indeed but not having any knowledge or skills with that topic I presfer to leave this discussion to the ones who know what that are talking about :)
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Re: A new server for CDS Forum & Portal?

Post by Rosie Gray »

Han Held wrote: Mon Oct 03, 2016 10:53 pm I think we should find a server that is managed -meaning someone else takes care of the installation and (most importantly) the security updating of it. This would be expensive, but the alternative would be to face inevitable hacking and deletion of CDS content.
Indeed I am talking about a commercial host that keeps things safe, shared hosting plan, and we just need to concentrate on managing our assets. It's not expensive - the hostpapa company I mentioned above is one example. I don't think we need to pay for VPS.
Han Held wrote: Mon Oct 03, 2016 10:53 pmI think this is a good idea, but I think that this is an instance where we're going to need to figure out a lot of legal infrastructure. Who would run it? How would it be passed on? What happens when there's a disagreement about the content, backup and procedures around the server?
Those are all good questions, and right now we are in a situation where we have almost none of the answers as everything is grandfathered. But, I worry that if something happens to the individuals who are now handling things, that we would be left to rebuild the frameworks from scratch - even though we have database backups.

We are in a unique situation being a community with so much history, but with shifting responsibilities and personnel, and layered on top of that the anonymity that many people expect with their Second Lives. All important to figure out, in my view.
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Re: A new server for CDS Forum & Portal?

Post by Coop »

CDSL 23-04 Forum Act lays out most of the responsibilities as to who should be handling things.
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Re: A new server for CDS Forum & Portal?

Post by Bagheera »

I agree with Rosie that having our portal and forums on a VPS or bare bones server is unnecessary and even undesirable, as both of those types of hosting tend to be total DIY management meaning CDS has to handle the nuts and bolts of security and downtime issues ourselves.

I suggest shared hosting. For flat-rate monthly/yearly pricing with a reliable host, I would look at what Wordpress.org recommends (since our portal is on a Wordpress platform). Wordpress.org has a page with four recommended hosts here: https://wordpress.org/hosting/. All four of these would also support a second site for our forums and still be well within budget while providing a stable long-term solution.

Alternatively, if CDS wants to go with cloud instances - both Google and Amazon have cloud hosted website services. The pricing is more complex to figure out but CDS falls into the micro-tier category so we would definitely fall under $20 US a month, but every months costs are calculated on that month's usage, and there are pre-pay options that reduce costs, which I would suggest CDS pursue (i.e. pay for service a year at a time). Here is a useful page that talks about how that might look with Amazon. http://wpnow.io/estimating-costs-wordpress-amazon-aws/ The pages on pricing hosted by Google and Amazon are pretty confusing because they are scaled for corporate sites, but both can ably handle our needs in their micro-size tiers.

Both shared hosting and cloud hosting are considered "managed" by the service providers which means the ability to tap into up-to-date professional support and get help with security issues from the customer support of the host (i.e. Google, Amazon, Bluehost, ect.).

My opinion and leads, fwiw.
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Re: A new server for CDS Forum & Portal?

Post by Bagheera »

Coop wrote: Tue Oct 04, 2016 10:43 am CDSL 23-04 Forum Act lays out most of the responsibilities as to who should be handling things.
yes, and right now, the portal is down, so no one can adequately reference that law except by viewing the Google cache version here:

http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/s ... clnk&gl=us

which indicates to me that something more or different needs to be put into place.

For reference, here is a cut and paste from the Google cache page of the law you are referencing, plus its companion law legislation passed during the same term:
Adopted by the 23rd RA, October 3, 2015
CDSL 23-04 Forum Act

The Official Forums of the Confederation of Democratic Simulators Act

Preamble
The original CDS forums were provided and managed by Linden Lab. As a result, no law addressing Forum ownership or administration has ever been passed.

The open areas of the forums have traditionally been a place where citizens and non-citizens alike have been given free access to discuss any topic, subject only to the moderation rules and guidelines set down by the Scientific Council.

The Forums also contain specific areas that are restricted for use by individual branches of government, or by officially sanctioned groups within CDS. These areas are open to view but are restricted to post by the specific branch or group that the area belongs to. These areas of the Forums provide documentation of the activities and discussions of the RA, the SC and the Chancellor’s office, through transcripts, Minutes and Discussion Forums for each arm of government.

Technical Management of the CDS Forums:

An Administrator of the Forums will be appointed by a simple majority of the SC. The Administrator will agree to maintain the technical aspects of the Forums and to follow all requirements as identified in this law. The Administrator does not control content or provide moderation of any area of the Forums. The Administrator is a civil servant, acting on the direction of the Dean of the SC.

The Administrator may be removed for failure to perform the duties of the position, or may be replaced without cause, by the following process:

The Chancellor, or a simple majority of the RA, may request that a new Administrator be appointed. Such a replacement will occur if the members of the SC, by super majority vote, agree to such replacement. The Dean or any member of the SC may also request removal of the Administrator. A super majority vote of the SC is necessary for removal to occur.

The current Administrator will be given 3 months notice of the replacement. It is expected that the 3 month period will be used to ensure a smooth transition to the new Administrator.
In the event that an Administrator is removed for failure to perform the duties of the position, the replacement may be immediate.

The Administrator of the CDS Forums will:

ensure required payment is made to maintain service of the Forums website
present each incoming Chancellor with a notecard identifying costs for the coming term, for inclusion in the budget
give Administrator access to the Dean of the SC and any other SC members designated by the Dean
create monthly backups of the Forums and any related databases and ensure that the Dean of the SC is informed of how to create and store such backups
manage, in consultation with the Dean of the SC, all technical aspects of the webpage
agree to give 2 months notice if he or she intends to resign
agree to transfer control of the domain, servers, passwords, and all other necessary information to his or her successor
not be permitted to hold the position of Website Administrator, while acting as Forum Administrator

The Chancellor of the CDS will identify a location for digital storage of database and Website backups. The Dean of the SC will ensure that the monthly backups are copied to this location. The Chancellor will ensure that the Dean of the SC and the LRA have any relevant passwords or access levels required to retrieve these backups if needed.

Control of Content

The Dean of the SC, or any designated member of the SC, will enable registration for anyone requesting registration and who agrees to follow the Terms of Use

The Terms of Use for the Forums include compliance with the Forum Rules and Guidelines published by the SC. All registered members posting to the Forums are responsible for the content of their posts.

Moderation of content in the Forums, based on the Forum Rules and Guidelines, is provided by members of the SC; the Dean of the SC, with a simple majority vote of the members, may also appoint additional moderators.

The ability to read the contents of the Forums will be open to all members of the public.
The ability to post to the Forums is restricted to registered members.

Each arm of government will have an Announcement Forum and a Discussion Forum. Posting to these forums is restricted to designated members of that arm of government, during their term of office.

At his or her discretion, the Dean may create additional Forums, restricted or unrestricted, for NGOs, working Commissions, special events etc.
At his or her discretion, the Dean may archive inactive or unused Forums.

__________________________________

Adopted by the 23rd RA, October 3, 2015
CDSL 23-05 Website Act

CDS Website Act

Preamble:

The CDS Portal – referred to in the rest of this document as ‘the Website’ – is intended to be a ‘one-stop’ location for citizens and others to access information about the CDS and its community. Viewing of the Website is to be open to all; content of the Website is to be provided and controlled by members of government and private citizens, as described in this bill.

The website domain and the website itself, including all content on official pages of the Website, belong to the Confederation of Democratic Simulators. The Website’s official web pages include, but are not limited to, documentation of the Constitution, Laws, history of the CDS, and current information regarding citizenship, land and other administrative information.

The Website’s unofficial pages provide a location for NGOs, community groups and private citizens to add information regarding community activity in the CDS through postings to a webpage; in addition, citizens can provide further information on their activities or community by providing links to personal blogs.

This Bill addresses the administration of the Website; responsibility for, and control of, content, and criteria for addition of private webpages or links.

This Law replaces all previous laws related to the ‘CDS Portal’.
NL 7-3 ( just to be clear)
(NL 4-26 Public Information Act
CDSL 15-04 CDS Web portal)

Technical Management of the Webpage:

An Administrator of the Website will be appointed with the agreement of the Chancellor and a simple majority of the RA. The Administrator will agree to maintain the technical aspects of the Website and to follow all requirements as identified in this law. The Administrator does not control content of any area of the Website. The Administrator is a civil servant, and is part of the Chancellor’s Administrative arm of government.

The Administrator may be removed for failure to perform the duties of the position, by the following process:

The Chancellor or a simple majority of the RA may request that a new Administrator be appointed. Such a replacement will occur if the Chancellor and a simple majority of the RA agree to such replacement. Any new appointment to Administrator of the website will be a qualified website developer with the skills necessary* to make the transition and maintain the site as per this law indicates.

*Skills necessary:

FTP to and from web server: setting up the website and monthly backup of all files – this takes about 2 hours on a good bandwidth
phpMyAdmin on the database server: setting up the WordPress database and monthly backup of same.
– copying these backup files to an online archive.
HTML and CSS to clean up text on some pages: on a regular basis to improve text layout when needed
installing new WordPress plugins, widgets, themes, adding new pages, sub-pages to the navigation, updating the WordPress: on a regular basis
using the FAQ plugin: create new FAQ category and FAQ page, inserting the code for these in the text
optional but desirable: creating a WordPress theme from scratch
resizing graphics
creating a photo gallery, inserting into the page
creating new users/passwords

The current Administrator will be given 3 months notice of the replacement. It is expected that the 3 month period will be used to ensure a smooth transition to the new Administrator. In the event that an Administrator is removed for failure to perform the duties of the position, the replacement may be immediate.

The Administrator of the Webpage will:

ensure required payment is made to maintain service of the Website
present each incoming Chancellor with a notecard identifying costs for the coming term, for inclusion in the budget
identify, with the Chancellor’s agreement, two assistants to ensure that technical support is always available. Assistants may be removed by agreement of the Administrator and the Chancellor. Where such agreement cannot be reached, a simple majority vote of the RA will be used to affirm or replace the assistant in question.
create monthly backups of the Website and its database/s and ensure that the Chancellor and the Dean of the SC have access to such backups through password or administrative access.
manage all technical aspects of the webpage
provide usernames and passwords to all government members and citizens authorized to have access
assign roles to government members and citizens authorized to have access, coinciding with their access requirements
maintain the appearance, themes, plugins, widgets and picture galleries of the homepage as directed by the Chancellor and the RA.
create webpages or insert links for other arms of government, NGOs and citizens as described in this Law
agree to give 2 months notice if he or she intends to resign
agree to transfer control of the domain, servers, passwords, and all other necessary information to his or her successor
not be permitted to hold the position of Forum Administrator, while acting as Website Administrator

The Chancellor of the CDS will identify a location for digital storage of database and Website backups and will ensure that the monthly backups are copied to this location. The Chancellor will ensure that the Dean of the SC and the LRA have any relevant passwords or access levels required to retrieve these backups if needed.

Control of Content:

Each arm of government will control the content of the official webpages related to their work. No user will remove content related to the Laws, Constitution or History of the CDS without the agreement of the Chancellor and a simple majority of the RA.

NGOs and private citizens will control content of their own webpages or links.

All content of official and unofficial web pages must conform to LL ToS; all Laws and the Constitution of the CDS; and may not contain pornographic material or inflammatory or libelous speech directed at any identifiable person or group.

The Administrator, when authorized by the Chancellor, will remove any unofficial web pages that do not meet these content rules.

The Administrator will ensure that it is clear that CDS is not responsible for the content of links outside of the Website; however, where such links are found to contain material that does not conform to these rules, the Administrator will notify the Chancellor and remove said links from the website.

Chancellor:

The Chancellor, or his designated PIO, will control the content of the homepage and all webpages related to land, events and promotion of the CDS. The Chancellor will consult with the Administrator regarding the technical aspects of major changes to the website to ensure that such changes are technically possible and within reason for cost or work involved.

LRA:

The LRA, or designated members of the RA, control the RA webpage, the RA journal page, the Code of Law page, and any webpages related to the history or to the long term plans of the CDS. The LRA or RA appointed person will add new laws and move repealed and archaic laws as necessary to maintain the current laws.

SC:
The Dean of the SC, or a designated member of the SC, will control the SC webpage, the SC journal page and any other web pages related to their duties.

The Dean of the SC, or a citizen appointed by a super-majority vote of the SC, will control the content of the Constitution webpage. The Dean, or the appointed person, will add amendments to the Constitution once they have been ratified by the SC.

NGOs and Community Groups:

NGOs and community groups may request web pages to provide information about specific activities of the group e,g: The Guild, MoCA. NGOs or community groups will designate who has control of the content of their webpages.

These web pages are considered unofficial but must still comply with the rules for content identified above.

Individual Citizens:

Citizens may request a webpage to provide information about their activities related to the CDS e.g. historians, artists, performers. These citizens will control content of the page they request. These webpages are considered unofficial but must still comply with the rules for content identified above.

Citizens may have links to personal or commercial blogs added to the Links provided on the website. The CDS is not responsible for the content at such links; however, they must still comply with the rules for content identified above.
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Re: A new server for CDS Forum & Portal?

Post by Rosie Gray »

Coop wrote: Tue Oct 04, 2016 10:43 am CDSL 23-04 Forum Act lays out most of the responsibilities as to who should be handling things.
Most of that law pertains to content management, and framework management - there is not much mention of where hosting should be and nothing designating it. I am not suggesting that we change any of this EXCEPT to decide on a different hosting plan that would allow 'assistant administrators' to have server access so that they can properly manage the assets if there there is a need:
The Administrator of the CDS Forums will:

ensure required payment is made to maintain service of the Forums website
present each incoming Chancellor with a notecard identifying costs for the coming term, for inclusion in the budget
give Administrator access to the Dean of the SC and any other SC members designated by the Dean
create monthly backups of the Forums and any related databases and ensure that the Dean of the SC is informed of how to create and store such backups
manage, in consultation with the Dean of the SC, all technical aspects of the webpage
agree to give 2 months notice if he or she intends to resign
agree to transfer control of the domain, servers, passwords, and all other necessary information to his or her successor
not be permitted to hold the position of Website Administrator, while acting as Forum Administrator
The Administrator of the Webpage will:

ensure required payment is made to maintain service of the Website
present each incoming Chancellor with a notecard identifying costs for the coming term, for inclusion in the budget
identify, with the Chancellor’s agreement, two assistants to ensure that technical support is always available. Assistants may be removed by agreement of the Administrator and the Chancellor. Where such agreement cannot be reached, a simple majority vote of the RA will be used to affirm or replace the assistant in question.
create monthly backups of the Website and its database/s and ensure that the Chancellor and the Dean of the SC have access to such backups through password or administrative access.
manage all technical aspects of the webpage
provide usernames and passwords to all government members and citizens authorized to have access
assign roles to government members and citizens authorized to have access, coinciding with their access requirements
maintain the appearance, themes, plugins, widgets and picture galleries of the homepage as directed by the Chancellor and the RA.
create webpages or insert links for other arms of government, NGOs and citizens as described in this Law
agree to give 2 months notice if he or she intends to resign
agree to transfer control of the domain, servers, passwords, and all other necessary information to his or her successor
not be permitted to hold the position of Forum Administrator, while acting as Website Administrator
*Thanks to Bags for providing the cached copy of the law.
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Re: A new server for CDS Forum & Portal?

Post by Han Held »

Rosie Gray wrote: Tue Oct 04, 2016 8:38 am
Han Held wrote: Mon Oct 03, 2016 10:53 pmI think this is a good idea, but I think that this is an instance where we're going to need to figure out a lot of legal infrastructure. Who would run it? How would it be passed on? What happens when there's a disagreement about the content, backup and procedures around the server?
Those are all good questions, and right now we are in a situation where we have almost none of the answers as everything is grandfathered. But, I worry that if something happens to the individuals who are now handling things, that we would be left to rebuild the frameworks from scratch - even though we have database backups.
I think it's very possible -after all, thousands of companines have those same requirements (strangers passing data management back and forth), there's "best practices" and such ...I can guess at some of them but I have a feeling I'd be wrong. My personal advice would be to back up the files in a standard way (in unix that would be https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tar_(computing) ...I've no idea what it would be in windows), no fancy extensions (xz compression, for instance) or anything.

Figure out a way to back things up and restore them, then write that procedure up in an unchangeable document. Of course we don't want to do this on our production server, so perhaps funds ($20 should work for 4 months at vultr...or any other vps) could be set up for the purpose of having a scratch server to test making a site, backing it up and restoring it on.

The legal side has me flummoxed; but the technical side should be pretty straight forward...after all, thousands of businesses (of all sizes) do this every day. I'm confident we can too.
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Re: A new server for CDS Forum & Portal?

Post by Kate Amdahl »

I just want to chime in belatedly in favor of separate, shared server hosting. Seanic is a very affordable company that I've used in the past, and I have friends I recommended it to who are still happily using it years later. I'm sure there are any number of other good companies, too.

Of course, getting into more First Life expenses is a concern! But we're talking about less than $10 US per month, so I don't think that much of a concern.

When I joined the CDS, there were things I wanted to learn, and I wanted to read this forum, but they were down, for about two days. I am very grateful to those currently hosting the site, because it's wonderful to have this resource. At the same time, for stability, sharing responsibilities, and self-determination, moving the site to a shared server where several people can help manage the account seems like a very positive move to me.

Other than the files comprising the portal, are there any other data stores apart from the forum that would need to be backed up? Instructions for doing that are not super complicated for technical types (my sysadmin skills are not strong, so not volunteering, sorry! much better with project management and user interface design): they have them here.
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