Nyx History: Part II, Nyx is Incorporated
Nyx Net is Incorporated
With Andrew Burt leaving the University of Denver with a shiny new Phd and a new department chairman coming in, the University decided that it was time for Nyx to go. In April 1997, Andrew Burt formed the non-profit corporation "Nyx Net" to take over the operation of Nyx. Initially, Andrew Burt himself was to head the corporation with Marshall Barry also on the Board of Directors. However, after a spat that broke out on nyx.misc, Andrew Burt (as the Incorporator) fired the Board of Directors (who had never met), appointed new Board consisting of Trygve Lode (President) , Mike Beaty (Secretary) and Darlene Cypser (Treasurer), and then resigned as system administrator of Nyx.
The new Board struggled over the summer of 1997 with negotiating with DU, writing bylaws for the new corporation, preparing a new site for Nyx (including getting all the phone lines in), appointing new administrators and asundry crises.
In late September 1997 the dam finally broke and Nyx Net and DU signed an agreement to transfer Nyx to the non-profit corporation. The agreement transfered the hardware, the name "Nyx" and associated goodwill, and the Nyx operating account to the non-profit corporation, Nyx Net.
Nyx Moves for the First Time
On September 27, 1997, the network was physically moved from the University of Denver to a site in downtown Denver. A team of Nyx volunteers made this move fast and efficient. The Internet connection was provided under contract by Dimensional, a local isp. With the help of two Nyx volunteers, Alex Hsia and Rick Saltzman (with much system administration experience between them) Nyx was actually set up, reconfigured and back on the Internet in 36 hours.
Nyx at the Crossroads
The new administration team of Paul Gregg (System Administrator), Elie Rosenblum (Mail Administrator) and Terry Knab (News Adminstrator) worked hard throughout the fall 1997 and winter 1998 to upgrade Nyx's ancient software. While Trygve struggled to get in some new hardware. In November 1998 Nyx's upstream provider, Dimensional Communications, moved to a new building requiring Nyx to use its own router (borrowed from Dimensional) and a frame relay circuit to reach Dimensional. This required some innovative rewiring by Trygve and Dave Denney of Dimensional. We also received permission from Sun Microsystems to upgrade the OS on the Suns to SunOS 4.1.3 and Alex Hsia began that process. Trygve Lode installed remote rebooting hardware so that someone would not have to run down to downtown Denver every time one of the machines went down.
Since Noc was straining under the ever-increasing load of news, the newsfeed was cut back till we purchased a new news machine (Iris) in January 1998. Iris is a 586 running Debian Linux. The administrators decided in the spring of 1998 to "suck" news from Dimensional rather than storing all the news locally. This required a major reworking of the news system and recompiling of all the news readers. This change has greatly improved the news service and allowed us much longer expiration times.
Moving to Boulder
Not long after Nyx Net moved into the Women's Bank Building on 17th Street in Denver, the building was purchased by the owners of the bank on the first floor. The new owners of the building decided that they wanted the entire 8th floor for their own use. That happened to be the floor Nyx was on. The officers of Nyx Net began to look for other space while Mike Beaty and Darlene Cypser negotiated with the current landlord. Small office space for a reasonable price seemed scarce in the Denver area. The search was expanded to outlying areas till finally a spot was found in Boulder in late January 1998. An agreement was reached with the owners of the Women's Bank Building to give up the lease on the space there and move out by the end of March in exchange for: $2000 cash for moving expenses and waiver of the March rent.
Then there followed the usual battles with ICG and USWEST to get the phone lines and frame relay T1 installed before the move. Trygve found a Wellfleet router but had some difficulty locating a DSU. The first DSU purchased (a Verilink) turned out to be incompatible with the frame relay circuit. Volunteers Ben Goble, Chris Cypser and Paul Gilmartin moved some of the hardware in early March in hopes of setting up the frame relay early. Unfortunately, this did not work out.
On the last weekend of March the rest of the hardware was moved up to Boulder. Volunteers carried each piece up the stairs at the Boulder location, set up furniture and plugged things back in. Ron Carter got the network working again but we were unable to reach Dimensional through the frame relay circuit. At first we thought the problem was with the Wellfleet router and in trying to tweek it we accidentally corrupted the flash memory. Fortunately, Rolf Birkland, an employee of Bay Networks volunteered to meet Alex Hsia and reload the flash memory and configure the router. Discussions with technicians at Verilink revealed that that DSU would not serve our purposes and then Ron Carter spotted an advertisment for a Tylink DSU for sale in Boulder. Mike Beaty ran out and bought that one but could not get it working. Darlene Cypser came in late that night and started a marathon phone conversation with the technicians at !nterprize Solutions (USWEST) in Minnesota who monitor the frame relay. After some tweeking at their end, "sendmails" started arriving and she knew Nyx was reaching Dimensional.
A month earlier Paul Gregg had arranged with Livingston to donate a Portmaster 2E to Nyx that was to replace the older annexes. However, Paul was the only one who knew how to configure it and he was in Northern Ireland so the configuration had to be done over the Internet. The Portmaster was plugged into the modems and the network when the frame relay came up. Paul saw the network up the next morning and ran his own marathon configuring the Portmaster before dawn broke over Colorado.
Another 586 running Debian Linux was also added to the network shortly after the move. This machine, Erebus, performs administrative tasks, monitors the other machines and drives the Exabyte tape drives.
With Iris now doing news, Noc was reconfigured to do mail routing. (Noc also had the software used to talk to the router.)
Funding, Associations, etc.
In March 1998 Nyx Net received its confirmation letter from that IRS that it was a 501(c)(3) charitable organization retroactive to its founding in April 1997. This makes donations to Nyx Net tax deductible, makes Nyx Net eligible for matching grants from employers and many other forms of funding. The officers have been exploring ways to diversify Nyx's funding.
In April 1998 Nyx Net held its first elections for the Board of Directors. Mike Beaty decided not to run. Trygve Lode and Darlene Cypser ran along with a handful of new candidates including Terry Knab and Ron Carter. Trygve and Darlene were re-elected and Terry took the third Director position. The new Board met near the end of May 1998. The Directors decided that Darlene would take on the office of Secretary as well as Treasurer since Terry's location in Nebraska made administration somewhat awkward. Trygve continued as President. In the summer of 1998 Sonia Mayrath was appointed Assistant Secretary to help with some of the paperwork and data entry involved with running Nyx.
1998, the Great Revalidation
At the board meeting in May 1998, the Board of Directors of Nyx Net decided that it was time to take on the onerous task of updating the user files. The first Board had realized that this would be necessary but had been busy with crisis after crisis. There were several reasons that this was necessary: 1) most of the old forms were out of order; 2) many old forms were lost; 3) users had moved; 4) some users were using accounts created by others; and 4) the new form was an agreement with Nyx Net rather than DU. All users were asked to submit new validation forms between July and October 1998. This was not without controversy and the Board was glad when it was completed.
Nyx Public Outreach Program
The Board of Directors also decided to start a public outreach program to collect used pc hardware, make it "Nyx-ready" and distribute it to people who could not otherwise afford Internet access. Norwest donated some computers and other PCs and components have been donated by individuals upgrading their own machines.
Three new administrators were added in the spring of 1998. Paul Rubin and Dave Washburn shared the "Web Administrator" position and Alex Hsia had the title of "Local System Administrator."
Darlene set up a donated 486 (Artume) in Nyx headquarters over the summer into which she and Sonia Mayrath entered validation, accounting and donation records.
Upgrading and Improving
Trygve purchased several new SCSI harddrives which have been added to Iris and Arachne. The new drive on Arachne greatly increased webspace available to users. Nyx10 also received new drives to increase user home directory space.
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