Open-source software and cloud computing hosting provider Fosshost will no longer provide services as it reaches its end of life.
Fosshost project volunteers announced the development over the weekend after months of struggling to reach management, including the CEO.
Users are advised to back up their data immediately and migrate to alternative hosting platforms.
Sudden closure, unreachable CEO, lack of funds
Fosshost, a UK-based non-profit organization, provides services to several high-level open source projects like GNOME, Armbian, Debian and Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) completely free. But that will soon change when the project reaches its end of life.
Since this week various fosshost.org the links are returning 404 (not found) error messages because the service is about to go down.
“At this time, Fosshost is deeply sorry to announce that we are no longer able to continue to offer our services,” says a to remark seen today by BleepingComputer on the fosshost.org site.
“Due to circumstances beyond the control of Fosshost volunteers, we are now in a situation where we cannot guarantee that our servers will remain online, and in fact expect them to go offline shortly.”
“For this reason, we strongly recommend that all Fosshost tenants back up their data immediately and migrate elsewhere as soon as possible.”
I expect the BOS data center to go offline in the very near future. If you still have critical data or processing on AARCH in BOS, please act immediately.
—Fosshost (@fosshostorg) December 2, 2022
The vague review and tweet generated a lot of confusion among community members who couldn’t figure out the real reason for Fosshost’s shutdown.
“We are unable to afford colocation fees, and that is why our servers will be offline because[ThomasMarkeyourCEOisunreachable”saida[ThomasMarkeyourCEOisunreachable”a[ThomasMarkeynotrePDGestinaccessible”adéclaréun[ThomasMarkeyourCEOisunreachable”aalleged A Fosshost volunteer comments on a YCombinator Hacker News article.
The commenter suggests that Markey, who has not responded for the past six months, is the only person with access to bank accounts with the funds needed to run Fosshost.
It should be noted that Fosshost is officially a Community Interest Company (SIC) registered with Companies House, England. As such, its management is still responsible for filing annual regulatory documents. Failing this, Fosshost, like any other incorporated organization, could be deregistered from the company register with additional penalties incurred for directors.
BleepingComputer contacted Fosshost and Markey in advance for comment.
Fosshost suffered from a single point of failure
What started in 2020 as a passion project from its CEO Thomas Markey quickly evolved into a cloud computing platform embraced by the open-source community due to its reliability, scalability, and provision of global hosting infrastructure.
As of December 2021, Fosshost had up to 250 open source projects using the service to develop, build, test and compile software.
But its increased and continued reliance on the CEO meant that Fosshost inadvertently suffered from a single point of failure.
Granted, Fosshost volunteers may have finally been forced to throw in the towel, as the first warning signs of Fosshost’s internal management chaos began to appear this year.
In August, Fosshost had achieved “an untenable situation with its current vendor commitments and obligations” requiring it to phase out its AArch64 as a service offering before the end of the month.
In the same announcement, Fosshost said its current management, governance and leadership team was “under review”.
In September, Fosshost had suspended his requests citing scalability issues.
In November, maintainers hit a stalemate trying to exploit a Chicago node that was no longer accessible, bootable, or recoverable.
“Unfortunately the current situation with the node is that we cannot restart it because our CEO has not given anyone access to do anything with the DC,” a maintainer said. wrote at the time.
Users were then asked to explore alternative hosting arrangements or attempt to contact Markey who was “the only one able to resolve the issue”.
With hundreds of large-scale IT projects entrusting Fosshost with critical data, the project has certainly peaked in its lifetime. But its single point of failure and lack of funding are likely factors that ultimately led to Fosshost’s demise.
On the bright side, former Fosshost volunteers and free software enthusiasts have started creating alternatives with The Radix Project being “one of those initiatives” that is free, its founders including one of Fosshost’s original architects.