Slow server support response

[ Moderator’s comment: I split this from another topic to its own topic and added the topic title – Anssi didn’t come up with the (slightly complaining) topic title, though I think it’d have been appropriate enough! ]

I know this is a volunteer run organization so I feel a bit bad for posting this, but …

On February 22, I wrote a request to server-owner-help for relocating one of my servers,, from .fi to .sg (GeoIP issue), and also requested that the said server should be added to the .cn zone. While waiting for this to happen, I intentionally kept the server’s score below 10 so that this server in Singapore would not be used for Finnish clients. I eventually sorted out the GeoIP issue myself by submitting the correct data to MaxMind and then deleting and re-adding my server, but adding the server to the China zone still remains to be done.

Would it be possible to process the changes to the China zone some day?

Hi Anssi,

Don’t feel bad for posting it, you are being very reasonable. I got your server added to the CN zone now.

There are a couple other volunteers helping with those mails and requests like that, but I suspect they’ve burned out and the system could probably use a bit of “fresh blood” (if you’d like to help … :slight_smile: ).

As you point out this is a volunteer run project. For me personally my time goes into the system roughly in this order.

  1. General system maintenance, checking on the various bits, pieces and components, learning/testing new ways to run the system, slowly churning through updating things as appropriate.
  2. Maintaining and developing the custom DNS system (for quite a few years Guillaume Filion has been the primary maintainer of the systems running the DNS service and coordinating with the providers for the systems offered up by others which has been just amazingly helpful).
  3. Slowly and super carefully developing and testing any changes. I wish this was going faster, but I also like that the system is Very Stable. In particular the “admin interface” is pretty terrible, so some changes have to be done in the database and I’ve been reluctant to give out access to that and I don’t do those changes say late at night or when I’m otherwise tired or distracted so it ends up being even more limited than everything else.
  4. Following up here and on email.
  5. Replying to vendors with questions and zone requests (way too often I get behind on this).
  6. Replying to server-owner-help and help@ emails. Arnold and John who’ve been generously helping with this really could use better tooling, too, as mentioned above.

Having this forum seems to help on all of it a bit, because lots of things gets figured out here that used to end up in my inbox and then get added to the list of things to answer. The mailing list helps on this, too, of course, but it feels more ephemeral so less useful for new people to the community.

While it could be fun to do it full-time there’s no way that’d be practical given the amount of resources we get (or probably even make sense in any case). It just means that the priorities get even more skewed towards “keep everything reliable” which slows down many of the improvements visible to users and server operators.

My work often ends up being a few months or more focused on a particular area of improvement and then I move on to the next. Once in a while (often?) I don’t like how the effort works out and put it aside until I have a better idea or another burst of time to try again. See above about keeping things reliable.

Another way to help is with bug fixes and improvements to the code. It is ~all open source[1]. I don’t think it’s more than a few thousand lines. I recognize it can be hard to contribute to anyway. Most of the system is written in Perl which isn’t everyones favorite and I’m pretty picky about how things are done (see above about keeping things reliable).

The DNS server requires some more domain knowledge (no pun intended) but is written in Go which might be more approachable[2] than the Perl code, though for the purposes of the pool there might not be many features to add there.

To be clear I’m not complaining; I’m enjoying maintaining and building the system. It’s amazing what we as a community have put together. I don’t know how many NTP queries we answer every month, but it must be quite a few. Last I looked the DNS servers did a little under 60 billion DNS requests a month.

[1] Some of the deployment and operational stuff isn’t, though lately I have been working on making those parts less bespoke and easier to replicate locally say on your laptop.

[2] Though it was the project I used to learn Go and let’s just say I didn’t learn the whole thing before the software was done. :slight_smile: