A title like that suggests something between a B17 bomber (the “flying fortress”) and Superman’s hideout (” fortress of solitude “). Well this isn’t either, but it is pretty cool none the less. In talking about sdf.org, a group of 8+ enterprise servers running Unix that collectively make a super computing center that is freely available to the public for use.

There are some paid perks as well, but any user can sign up for a free account and get an ssh login to a private online account, complete with storage space, an email address, your own website URL (you have to create the website yourself, but they host it for you) and access to online games, old school “bboard” bulletin board coms, irc, and more!

With very reasonable one time or annual rates, you can also get DNS, server hosting, mailbox hosting, and other cool goodies. They also service dial up internet for a really reasonable rate (I think it is around $10/month). Certainly worth taking a look if you are at all geeky.

They boast around 40000 active users, so it looks like there are plenty of folks to chat or online game with. It is focused on sharing knowledge and generally helping educate people about technical things, as well as provide a means of access to services that might not be available elsewhere based on a users remote location. Most everything is designed around the terminal, since you log in via ssh, but paid memberships can also use some x11 services, which is pretty neat.

Their mission statement and a brief summary:


Welcome to the only all 64bit public access supercomputing center!

The Super Dimension Fortress is a networked community of free software
authors, teachers, students, researchers, hobbyists, enthusiasts and
the blind. It is operated as a federally recognised non-profit 501(c)7
and is supported by its members.

Our mission is to provide remotely accessible computing facilities for
the advancement of public education, cultural enrichment, scientific
research and recreation. Members can interact electronically with each
other regardless of their location using passive or interactive forums.
Further purposes include the recreational exchange of information
concerning the Liberal and Fine Arts.

Members have access to games, email, usenet, chat, bboard, gopherspace,
webspace, programming utilities, archivers, browsers, and more. The SDF
community is made up of caring, highly skilled people who operate behind
the scenes and in the underground to maintain a non-commercial INTERNET.

While we did initially start out on a single computer in 1987, the
SDF is now a network of 8 64bit enterprise class servers running
NetBSD realising a combined processing power of over 21.1 GFLOPS!

Our mass storage configuration is comprised of 60 spindles of mostly
36.4gb and a few 9.1gb SCA LVD SCSI drives using DIGITAL Storage Works
hotswap disk arrays. We have roughly 2 terabytes of storage online.

We are networked via two sprintlink T1s and a T1 to savvis. We do BGP
peering and try out best to load balance between the links via a CISCO
7xxx router/switch. We are using a 'swamp' class C 192.94.73 which has
basically been assigned to our site admin along with his class C back
when you could request one from the INTERNIC without much fuss.

The userbase is comprised of two major user groups: USERS and ARPA

'user' accounts are free and offer many features.
'arpa' accounts are permanent members and can vote on SDF features.

Supplemental ARPA privilidges include:

MetaARPA ('trusted' member privs (cron, tcp port forwarding))
TWEAK (tweakable and additional disk quota)
VPM (Virtual POP3 mailboxes)
DNS (Domain Name Service)
DBA (MySQL database access)
VHOST (Virtual Web hosting - includes VPM, DNS and DBA)
SERVER (Server process (mud, nameserver, et cetera))
MDNS (Dynamic DNS)
MLIST (Mailing List service)
DIALUP (over 10,000 numbers in the USA + Canada)

Sponsorship information can be found on our website or in the FAQ.

Bottom line: a super geek club that is super fun, even for those who are not super technically savvy. However, an above average computer skilset is required to make use of this system, one should at a minimum know how to use ssh. So head over to sdf.org and check it out!

Linux – keep it simple.

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