(if you’re a curator at the Computer History Museum and want to adopt zelazny.freenode.net, email me at [email protected])
In October 2018 I was at a surplus sale at Oregon State University, a bi-weekly event I often attended when I lived in the area. One day they added a pallet of servers for sale, all e-waste, but among them one stood out: a single HP DL140. Like the rest, it had a hostname sticker on it, but this one was different. Rather than the typical hostnames like “yin”, “yang”, “beaversource” and the like, this one was recognizable: in its past life it was “zelazny.freenode.net”. It had been part of one of the most well known IRC networks in history.
And of course, because it was all e-waste I passed on it.
One week later, the price lowered and an HP DL360P G8 was added to the lot (an actually relevant server for homelabs at the time!). So, for $90 I bought the G8 (the server you’re reading this page from, as of Feb. 2023!) and the Freenode server, and the rest was recycled.
Zelazny’s Life at Freenode
Zelazny was deployed at Oregon State University’s Open Source Lab (OSL) sometime around OSL’s October 6th, 2003 launch - The Wayback Machine suggests it was added to the Freenode network between August 12th and October 8th, 2003, making it one of the first servers in the OSU Open Source Lab.
Zelazny was named after author Roger Zelazny, following Freenode’s typical naming based on famous authors.
It shipped from HP with 2x 2.4GHz Intel Xeon single-core processors and either 1GB or 2GB of memory. One of the memory modules is branded by IBM and appears to have been added after the fact or was replaced due to module failure.
Zelazny was featured in the manpages for GNU Emacs’ rcirc as an example server for many years until it was removed after the downfall of Freenode in 2021.
Thanks to @Ziginox, I have the original server-specific MOTD for Zelazny:
- zelazny.freenode.net Message of the Day -
- Welcome to zelazny.freenode.net in Corvallis, Oregon, US.
- Our thanks to Oregon State University for sponsoring this
- ZELAZNY, ROGER JOSEPH [1937-1995]. Roger Zelazny was a
- leading light in the New Wave of science fiction. He began
- writing in 1962. Known for such works as ▼This Immortal▼,
- ▼Lord of Light▼, ▼The Dream Master▼ and the ▼Amber▼ books,
- Zelazny is best known for his idiomatic American
- protagonists, embodying the mythological figures of the
- Trickster and the Hero of a Thousand Faces.
- Welcome to freenode - supporting the free and open source
- software communities since 1998.
The circumstances of Zelazny’s retirement are murky, so this part is speculation:
In May 2013, Freenode was under a DDoS attack, which was "…significant enough for some of our sponsors to pull the plug…" (‘The good, the bad, and the ugly…’, Freenode staffblog). None of the sponsors that dropped from the project were ever publicly disclosed, but both “niven” and “zelazny” were among the casualties. As of June 1st, 2013 there were no more servers in Corvallis, OR listed on Freenode’s server list and none were ever redeployed, which leads me to believe that OSL was one of these dropped sponsors.
OSL never made a public statement on their apparent discontinuation of service to Freenode.
OSL’s other Freenode servers
OSL hosted a total of three servers for the Freenode IRC network.
That’s this article.
It’s on display in my basement.
The name was reused for a server hosted by Linode in the United Kingdom.
The fate of the original server from OSL is unknown.
This server was never mentioned on Freenode’s site at any point in time. I have been unable to find references to it anywhere except for a Facebook post (screenshot) by OSL of their collection of Freenode servers in August 2011. It is possible that this was a backup or other utility server.
The fate of this server is unknown.