A new school year starts for 42l!

🕒 20 days ago

Hello everyone!

Here we are, November 2020, it's back to school at 42.

While the GAFAM and the French banks multiply their events at school, we are preparing for a new awareness campaign for this new year, doing our best to adapt to the current health situation.

Contribution of Code Lutin

We received a financial contribution of 600 euros from Code Lutin, which we thank from the bottom of our hearts!

Code Lutin is a company of developers that organizes every year a sponsorship to support free software. We submitted our application for their 2020 sponsorship at the beginning of the year, in order to finance our activities.

This contribution will allow us to continue serenely our awareness-raising campaign, through videoconference.

Remote activities

We thank you for so many of you for sharing and responding to our call ! We were looking for a structure that could host a BigBlueButton instance for our activities, as our current server cannot support this load.

After a board meeting, we initially decided to go to IndieHosters, who were kind enough to give us some time and a videoconference meeting.

The software to be used for a conference was discussed: Jitsi or BigBlueButton. We had a preference for BigBlueButton, which we think is more suitable for one-way broadcasting, while our hosts prefer Jitsi, which is technically more robust and sophisticated.

Study of our usage

We have also thought about our uses: if we organize a maximum of three activities per month, the instance of the videoconferencing software will only need to remain in operation for a few hours per month. So we finally opted for a solution more suited to this use: a Bare Metal instance at Scaleway, which is priced by the hour.

Here are the characteristics of this Bare Metal server:

  • Offer name : GP-BM1-S
  • CPU: 1x Intel Xeon E3 1240v6, 4 cores 8 threads - 3.7 GHz
  • RAM: 32 GB
  • Internal Memory: 2x250 GB SSD
  • Bandwidth: 500 Mbit/s
  • Price: 0.159e HT / hour

For 10 hours of videoconferencing per month, if we calculate at this rate, we would not exceed 2 euros per month for high-end equipment.

However, we are obliged to remove the Bare Metal instance at the end of each conference, and therefore have to reinstall BigBlueButton every time we use it, which takes an hour.

This is a compromise that suits us. We have to install the instance ourselves, but fortunately Scaleway provides a ready-made image for installing BigBlueButton with one click.

Technical notes

Here are the only technical manipulations we have to perform:

  • Execute this command on the server once the instance is ready: apt -y install htop vim tmux && apt -y purge bbb-demo && apt -y autoremove && bbb-conf --restart && docker exec greenlight-v2 bundle exec rake admin:create["name", "emailaddress", "password", "name"], which executes these tasks:
    • Installation of essential packages for "just in case" administration
    • Removing the demo instance and cleaning up unused packages
    • Restarting the BigBlueButton instance
    • Create an administrator account (replace the values in brackets).
  • With the administrator account created, navigate through the Greenlight administration interface to disable registrations and create the room.
  • On our production server, in the settings of our Nginx reverse-proxy, redirect the address bbb.42l.fr to the address of the room. The BBB instance is automatically configured to use a sub-domain belonging to Scaleway.

Going forward to a new activity format?

A priori, except that our activities will take place remotely, we will keep the same format. Conferences will still last one to two hours and will be available on our PeerTube channel hosted at TeDomum, a few days after each event.

Most of our activities will be accessible to outsiders: just as it was possible for outsiders to travel to 42 in person to attend the conferences, we will let our speakers decide whether or not outsiders can attend the videoconference.

Upcoming Events

For the moment, we say nothing, but we will publish an article about it very soon!

We will also have to hold a conference to present the association to the new class. This conference will probably be restricted to students.

Note about the second 42l server

We have been talking about it for several months now, about this famous new server that would host our future services. It is right there, under our desk, just waiting to be connected to the network in a rack.

But alas, our future host is a student association in a university (guess who are they!?). As you know, because of the health crisis and government measures, universities have been closed since the end of October. We don't know when they will be able to open again, but this prevents us from making this project a reality.

So for the moment, we will have to continue with this VPS as the only server. But don't worry, we're not in a hurry: we don't need to add services right now.

Thanks for reading, see you soon!

N&B