Shaking the tin for LVFS: Asking for donations!

tl;dr: If you feel like you want to donate to the LVFS, you can now do so here.

Nearly 100 million files are downloaded from the LVFS every month, the majority being metadata to know what updates are available. Although each metadata file is very small it still adds up to over 1TB in transfered bytes per month. Amazon has kindly given the LVFS a 2000 USD per year open source grant which more than covers the hosting costs and any test EC2 instances. I really appreciate the donation from Amazon as it allows us to continue to grow, both with the number of Linux clients connecting every hour, and with the number of firmware files hosted. Before the grant sometimes Red Hat would pay the bandwidth bill, and other times it was just paid out my own pocket, so the grant does mean a lot to me. Amazon seemed very friendly towards this kind of open source shared infrastructure, so kudos to them for that.

At the moment the secure part of the LVFS is hosted in a dedicated Scaleway instance, so any additional donations would be spent on paying this small bill and perhaps more importantly buying some (2nd hand?) hardware to include as part of our release-time QA checks.

I already test fwupd with about a dozen pieces of hardware, but I’d feel a lot more comfortable testing different classes of device with updates on the LVFS.

One thing I’ve found that also works well is taking a chance and buying a popular device we know is upgradable and adding support for the specific quirks it has to fwupd. This is an easy way to get karma from a previously Linux-unfriendly vendor before we start discussing uploading firmware updates to the LVFS. Hardware on my wanting-to-buy list includes a wireless network card, a fingerprint scanner and SSDs from a couple of different vendors.

If you’d like to donate towards hardware, please donate via LiberaPay or ask me for PayPal/BACS details. Even if you donate €0.01 per week it would make a difference. Thanks!

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Richard has over 10 years of experience developing open source software. He is the maintainer of GNOME Software, PackageKit, GNOME Packagekit, GNOME Power Manager, GNOME Color Manager, colord, and UPower and also contributes to many other projects and opensource standards. Richard has three main areas of interest on the free desktop, color management, package management, and power management. Richard graduated a few years ago from the University of Surrey with a Masters in Electronics Engineering. He now works for Red Hat in the desktop group, and also manages a company selling open source calibration equipment. Richard's outside interests include taking photos and eating good food.

13 thoughts on “Shaking the tin for LVFS: Asking for donations!”

  1. Why stick with Amazon S3 and not move to something cheaper? BunnyCDN only charges 0.01 USD/GB transfer with no request fees. Their high volume tiers is only 3–5 USD/TB.

      1. To clarify, you still need to store the files somewhere (like S3 or wherever). Then update your domain’s DNS to point to BunnyCDN instead of the original server. They’ll essentially work like a front-end web proxy and fetch files from your origin server, and serve them from their caches from their dirt cheap proxies. So you’ll get 22 proxies that host (free TLS from Let’s Encrypt and all) your files and fast transfer speeds from their 22 locations around the globe for a penny per gigabyte or less.

        With a standard CDN setup, you can switch your DNS to another CDN provider at any time if something cheaper comes along. You control your CDN with the Cache-Control HTTP header, so you only need to give them your origin name and switch the domain over. Other providers offer a few add-on services that may be interesting (like DDoS protection). However, firmware updates can probably wait a day or two until attackers gets bored with attacking your domain if you ever come under attack.

        Point being: cheap transfer rates are just as good and many CDNs can offer really cheap transfer rates. Do some comparison-shopping and your donations will go much further and scale better. I’d be more willing to donate if my 5$ donation bought ten times more data transfer for the service compared to S3. (From your cost estimate, I assume the biggest cost is the request-fee? That fee goes away entirely with many CDNs including Bunny.)

        S3 really isn’t meant for hosting files that the public will actually want to access. I spent two minute searching the web and found six CDN providers that have price-comparison charts showing how much cheaper they are than Amazon S3 (or Amazon CloudFront).

  2. I agree, running the most expensive CDN on the market for a non-interactive application is such an overkill. Even a $5/month DigitalOcean instance would handle that traffic, and as Hostmaster suggested, there are cheaper CDNs too.

    1. VPS services don’t scale well when it comes to transfer costs (remember they all have limited monthly transfer caps, and many have terms disallowing their primary use to be a public file server). I’ll assume LVFS wants to offer this service for every Linux desktop device. At that scale, you need something that is both cheaper and scales much better than DigitalOcean instance. That being said, it would be cheaper (but comes with an unwanted time requirement for maintenance) with a couple of DO instances for the foreseeable future.

  3. Regardless of how effective the tin rattlin’ turns out to be this week, I’m curious if you see LVFS as something that might one day warrant living as a standalone project with a legal sponsor, like Conservancy, that might could help out with this sort of fiscal sustainability stuff?

    1. You have to be careful with foundations with 501c tax status that have specific open source goals — for instance I don’t think the GNOME foundation could be seen helping to distribute non-free firmware. I’m certainly exploring all options.

  4. Liberapay’s payment processor accepted none of my cards; can you send me your PayPal details?

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