Wikimedia blog

News from the Wikimedia Foundation and about the Wikimedia movement

Server Decommissioning Donations

We have been upgrading and adding new servers for capacity increases as we always do, unfortunately, thanks to the more updated tech, some of our older systems just are not worth the space in our racks.  These are servers that Wikimedia has used on the projects for 3+ years, so they are out of warranty.  These are good systems though, and while we may overload them and want replacements, they are fine for many, many non-profits to use.

Most systems (but possibly not all) have the following specifications:

  • Dual CPU 2.5 GHz AMD (some intel, but most AMD in this batch.)
  • 3-4GB RAM Each
  • Most have 80 GB or larger HDD (Some have two hard drives, some drives are 160GB or possibly even 250GB)

Disclaimers: The Wikimedia Foundation does not guarantee the operation or use of these servers in any shape or form.  They are old, some may have dying fans, bad hdd sectors, and the like.  Servers have been wiped of information, and they ran through that, but no promises on function!  Also, most servers have rails, but occasionally one may not, and we do not sort through them for these things.  However, they are standard supermicro servers in most cases, and getting replacement rails is fairly simple.  Some servers are well over 3 years old, we do not just turn off servers when they hit the 3 year mark, we turn them off when they are no longer worth using in any role or function on our cluster in a reliable manner.  In most cases, it is simply the hardware technology has updated to the point that a new server is much faster, and since we demand high performance of our servers, it is worth upgrading for our needs.

Now, last time we opened this up, we got a lot of individuals asking for servers for various uses.  Some requests were not very clear, and overall we ended up with a lot of stuff to sort through to find those eligible for these servers.

We try to only donate servers to other non-profits whose core values are similar or in support of our own.  This means we do not donate them for individual use.   Since these servers were purchased with donations to support Wikimedia, we feel we need to further donate them to other like-minded organizations, since that is how the money for the servers was meant to be spent.  This means that we cannot, in good conscience, donate these servers for profit or personal use to individuals or corporations.

If you would like to receive some of these servers for your NON-PROFIT use, please email servers@wikimedia.org.  TO BE ELIGIBLE YOUR EMAIL MUST INCLUDE THE FOLLOWING:

  • Subject: Server Decommissioning Donations for <NONPROFIT NAME HERE>
  • Your name, contact information, relationship with non-profit requesting the servers
  • Registered non-profit name and information.
  • Information on the non-profit, who they are, what their mission statement and goals are.
  • Shipping address information for a FedEx Ground delivery to where the servers need to go.
  • How the servers will be used.  (We like to know and share with folks!)

Please keep in mind that deciding where these go is pretty tough, so the more detailed you can be in your email is best.  (IE: ‘Wikimedia uses these for our sites.’ is pretty vague where ‘Wikimedia is the non-profit foundation that runs Wikipedia.  Server donations to us would be used to run our websites that allow access to Wikipedia and its sister projects.’ is a lot nicer. ;)  Also, by submitting and possibly accepting servers from us, you are giving us permission to post about it here on our technical blog.

The submission period will remain open no less than two weeks from this posting.

The last time we did this was in September 2009, which took a long while to get sorted out!  We try to do these in multiple, smaller batches, it just easier on operations that way.

Rob Halsell, Operations Engineer

If there are any questions or concerns, anyone can feel free to email me @ the servers@wikimedia.org address, or you can also feel free just to post the questions in the comments.  (Which is even better, avoids duplicate questions!)
Rob Halsell
Systems Administrator

9 Responses to “Server Decommissioning Donations”

  1. RobH says:

    Unfortunately, it appears that shipping these servers internationally is far, far more than within the US. The price being so great, it really is not worth it for these servers.

    While we do have some servers in the Netherlands, it is a caching center (and lots of toolserver stuff), so the number of servers hosted there is significantly reduced. Since there are not as many, and they mostly accomplish one primary role, they just do not need replacement as often. So while there may someday be some to give away from there, it will not be very many at all (if ever.)

  2. That’s a really fantastic scheme – less IT equipment to landfill is a great goal, especially if it can benefit others. There’s an organisation here in the region I live in called M6 IT CIC (a Community Interest Company is like a 501(c) I suppose) who’ve always worked with older kit – and almost exclusively using FOSS – and they do a sterling job.

    I work for a nonprofit myself based in the Midlands and we’re constantly chasing the pennies to afford all the IT-based things we need to operate. Shame we’re not based in the US, our file/VoIP/domain server is about to die on us – I’m giving it daily CPR as it is :D

    Look forward to being eligible to apply in the future!if/when you decide to open up the offer

  3. Nate says:

    Thanks so much for this posting! I just emailed you, and we’re looking forward to helping you redistribute your technology to the needy folks here in Rhode Island. Thanks so much in advance for your generosity!!!

  4. RobH says:

    Unfortunately, right now it appears that way yes BUT only in terms of the final shipping address. If a non-US based organization wants to apply for some, we just need to have a US based address to ship to. The cost of shipping them internationally, and the customs paperwork involved are just a bit much for this go around. (That does not mean it will stay that way, I am trying to find the details for this sort of thing.)

  5. David Gerard says:

    Is this US-only? (Just to clarify when I tell people about it.)

  6. RobH says:

    There is a list that I keep updated, but its not nearly as formalized as you make it sound Matt ;] I will have to start making it a bit more standard though, because you do bring up a very valid point.

    Since I hope that Wikimedia continues to receive the outstanding support we have in the past, I do not foresee this process of decommissioning servers ending anytime soon. The performance requirements will never allow it. So a list of these sort of things is certainly needed.

    In the future, it may move to some kind of web form, or wiki for submissions both in and outside the submission periodsi, but for now the process is not large enough to warrant that kind of extra effort (hence simply using email.)

    Keep the questions coming folks! =]

  7. Matt McGlone says:

    I think the donations are great. Is any kind of waiting list used? I check the techblog.wikipedia.org site from time to time but I’d hate to miss the next donations that come available. Our non-profiit meets all of the criteria as you can see on our site.

    Thanks

    Matt

  8. RobH says:

    In most cases, it certainly does help quite a bit! However, a good example is there are many open source projects that are not even formalized enough to have such.

    If it is for a good project that falls in line with the Wikimedia mission, then by all means PLEASE DO NOT HESITATE TO EMAIL servers@wikimedia.org with a submission! (I just make a point to mention the non-profit thing because last time I opened submissions, I got a TON of emails from folks wanting servers for personal use, or use in a for profit company. (I also got some from Universities and such, and those are always welcome.)

    When in doubt, feel free to email and ask (or as Adam did, post in comments!)

  9. Adam says:

    Is ti required that the organization be 501(c)(3)?

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