[RFC] Free Server for Students Project

Free Server for Students

The idea for the project comes from the forum post which was further separated to this.

The problem statement

As a student, its very hard for someone to get a VPS or server to give a try or learn how to self host and basically tinker with a remote machine. No student at this age has their own credit card or even if they have it (debit card) they don’t really have money on it in most cases. I personally had a hard time convincing my dad to enable international transaction for buying my mangesh.xyz domain itself.

Alternate Projects

  • SadServers.com: Was majorly created for troubleshooting stuff on a virtual environment. So, it provides a server for a particular period of time and after that the machine is automatically destroyed.
  • tilde.team: Provides very low hardware machine which barely helps for running heavier projects
  • Swiftwave.org: Initially, I had no idea about this project but @rushabh mentioned this to me recently. The pee-requisities for this project is that you need to have a VPS prior of your own. Swiftwave provides ease at hosting and deploying stuff due to its mesh structure and with the help of “swiftwave” command line tool.

Please mention more, if you know any.

What can we provide in this ?

  • All the other programs including tilde.team, SadServers.com provide either a low end system (which gets stuck usually), or a system which is assigned for a particular time (which gets automatically destroyed after the time finishes). So, we can give a good system with 2 core and 2gb ram for them to run stuff properly. (This is subject to discussion, as it needs cost discussion)
  • A subdomain attached with the machine, so that once they get a user they will have a temporary site ready, they just have to dump their sites static files in the directory to host it.
  • Direct SSH Access - I thought of containers but what when someone wants to run application in a container. So, container inside a container doesn’t really make sense.
  • Promoting the Hacker culture - Hosting a IRC Chat, learning about protocols (gemini, gopher) and webrings. Also open for suggestions from everyone.
  • Not many students or engineers these days know indepth about servers. We can somehow figure out and integrate Mon.school in this project with a course and real tasks to be done. (tentatively unsure)
  • We can also have a open donations page for this project.

We can put me through a one or two month of test period and judge on the basis of the progress I make in this one month (which is usually figuring out the concepts like building an architecture or infrastructure) and the decision lies to the team.

There are folks in our community who are ready to help me with making this project real. So, I do have helping hands for me.

Initial Stage

Initially, I am planning to test build stuff on my old laptop (Intel i3 5th gen, 8gb ram, 256SSD) so that it won’t be unnecessary expenditure for FOSS United. Also, For the web portal stuff, I simply want to go with a subdomain on the same fossunited.org domain.

It will include

  • A web Portal for users (students) to sign in
  • A PRD (Product required Document) - to verify if the person is really a student or not.
  • 7 days of duration for me to sit, verify, and approve. Also ensuring that the verification document will be destroyed as soon as the verification is done
  • And then, automating the process of creating the machine.

Budget breakdown

Deciding if it will be a physical server or paying some service with whome we can automate the process of creating VM’s.

Picking up a physical device:

  1. A good advantage is that we will have control of all the things. The downtime will be our own and not some service which messes up while updating their service.
  2. Biggest problem would be the network down time in office or in the place wherever this server will be kept.
  3. Generally it might be very chaotic to manage a server. As I’m not sure where I will be after my diploma. So, managing the server remotely from my location to the office location is hard.
  4. CPU Management is concerning

Picking up a service to create vm’s (contabo, hetzner etc):

  1. The biggest downside would be the cost management.
  2. Downtime s from the actual service.
  3. Won’t be cheap I feel (in the longer run).

Target audience

  1. Till date I was feeling that students would be my ideal target. But only after talking with @ansh I felt that students can’t be really my target as there are very less students these days who make and want to host ambitious projects.
  2. NGO’s - but the costs for us might increase a lot.

This thread is subject to receiving Feedback on the project and the idea in general to discuss.


From what I understand you want to offer low-cost VMs to students to build.

First objection that comes to mind is that students have their own machines. Why do they need a public VM?

Second objection - if they want to host a service, it has to be useful to some users. Maybe we can give a hosting grant to those who want to host publicly useful services. That might be better than just giving “free server” for play (?)


@mangesh_x0 namaskaram

we purchased bare metal server hosting service from contabo, while hosting in india with hardware from grants is cost effective in 2-3 yrs time

we did it to host security solutions as lab for students

later we will also host opensource coding like googleidx for students to learn coding

we are in baby steps to help students ubderstand open cloudstack

we are separating 2 roles

  • infra or tools as lab
  • training or practice ground or internship
  • we hope kids will later contribute to FOSS ecosystem later and bring good cost vs value to end customers

is foss restricted to only coding which are being monetised later (like frappe or others) or are you open at OS, hypervisor, it admin tools, security tools, collaboration tools

There are many usecases if we are open to.help students or NGOs or social impact firms


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tilde.team is a pubnix. One is not supposed to run “heavier” projects on it anyway, as the idea is more about the social aspect of Unix and users forming a community around the server.

If we want to promote “hacker culture”, I propose a FOSSUnited Pubnix with a sign-up form (like tilde.team and other Pubnixes), and within that pubnix we can encourage users to build software for the community that can then be set up by the admins for wider usage.

It’s a win because the least we can do is provide a public_html directory to each user for hosting their homepage.


Yes, the whole point behind this project proposal is that one should get a good enough system to run stuff. I haven’t used tilde since the last 2 years, but back then it used to lag terribly.

Very true

I’m trying to find out a way wherein this project would be really helpful, because looking at @rushabh objections above (especially the second one) as considering the second one, the whole idea won’t be of much use.

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