sdf, public Unix shell access

I have mentioned it several times before, but I have been told it deserves an entry on its own.
The Super Dimension Fortress (known also as freeshell) is a public Unix system: that is a Unix system (actually Netbsd running on an Alpha-64) to which everyone (each person in the world having a network connection) can log in and which anyone can use.

From its main page:

Our mission is to provide remotely accessible computing facilities for
the advancement of public education, cultural enrichment, scientific
research and recreation. Members can interact electronically with each
other regardless of their location using passive or interactive forums.
Further purposes include the recreational exchange of information
concerning the Liberal and Fine Arts.

There are several ways to participate:

  • FREE: including fully-functional shell, mail, ftp…, up to 20MB quota for files, 20MB for mail, 20MB for web space and more.
  • ARPA: one-time payment membership (for just 36USD), giving you a lot of utilities, development (gcc, g++, f77, Perl, Python…), irc, ssh.
  • MetaARPA: (this is my present membership) with cron jobs, user/group setup, ssh tunnel/forwarding, dynamic domain nameservice, screen… For just $36/year. I, for example, keep a subversion repository there for some of my software projects.
  • If you are ARPA, you can opt for many other services for a small monthly/yearly pay, such as DBA, which lets you access MySQL, use php+cgi, or SERVER for $20/month, with which you can run a server, background processes, cron jobs; there is also a VPN membership (this may only be for Meta members, though), letting you connect to the Internet through sdf’s virtual network…
  • [many others]

Notice that for European users, the server is but otherwise services are the same as for American users.

I suggest your visiting Freeshell‘s site, or telneting

$ telnet

typing ‘new’ at the login prompt.
By the way, sdf works also as an ISP in the USA and Canada, so that you can get DIALUP access from there, for a tiny price ($10/month with discounts up to paying $84/year…), in case you are either away from home or cannot afford a DSL line.

The sdf system has been invaluable to me for learning, getting help and solving computer related issues. Its bboard is one of the most helpful and interesting IT communities I know out there.

I just want to point out that Stephen Jones (smj on the system) is by far the best system administrator I have known. Proof of this is the requests bboard, where members ask for software to be added/removed/updated/modified, and where requests are answered (and most of the time granted) almost by the hour.

I hope you like the system and join us there.


  • On 01.30.09 Rick Umali said:

    I wanted to chime in as a user of Freeshell (the SDF). I like it a lot.

  • On 01.31.09 Jim said:

    sdf and sdf-eu are brilliant communities. Another thing you can do there is host a gopher site. Just for the lulz.

  • On 02.03.09 cservant said:

    Just another user from SDF saying hello.

    If you are using some sort terminal emulator with file transfer capabilities(not putty) or HAVE file transfer capabilities, play with kermit =).

  • On 02.03.09 Pedro said:

    Great to know you are lurking around.


  • On 02.07.09 rafacas said:

    As Pedro said, it’s great to know you are lurking around.
    @cservant, I will have to play with kermit ;)

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