Project History

I am one of those slightly strange individuals who enjoys UNIX system administration as a hobby. It got started with a Linux server running a 2.0 kernel we called Yoda in Shasta Hall of the Cal Poly dorms during the 1997-98 academic year. The machine was probably down as much as it was up (it turns out it actually IS a good idea to compile support for your root filesystem into the kernel). All said, it was a truly excellent learning experience -- even if my friends got sick of not being able to receive mail on a reliable basis. I continued to do recreational sysadmin throughout my undergrad career, which usually consisted of little more than maintaining the UNIX box that did NAT in whatever place I was living in at the time.

After all my CS friends from Poly had graduated, my friend Mike D'Agosta had the wonderful idea to start a bandwidth co-op. He brought a business-grade DSL line with static IP addresses into his San Luis Obispo condo in the fall of 2000. This allowed our group of friends to house a moderately impressive collection of machines on his kitchen floor. A few months later, Mike (not one to ever be satisfied with the status quo) suggested that the group chip in and build one central system to reduce the administrative overhead and duplicated effort. We pooled our funds and built two machines: a burly FreeBSD server known as Vitruvian and an OpenBSD firewall we called Solitude. We had now upgraded our bandwidth co-op to a server co-op, sharing the costs of both the hardware and bandwidth.

It soon became clear that housing the machines in Mike's kitchen wasn't an ideal situation. The next home for our systems was Tolosa Technologies, a company located in San Luis Obispo that Mike was doing contract work for. Mike talked to them and they were generous enough to let us share their bandwidth. In the fall of 2002 we decided to move into a more "formal" environment. After some intense hunting (and refactoring our two machines into one 2U rackmount case) we ended up hosting our machine with the Community Colocation Project. Community Colo is located at Hurricane Electric's Fremont data center. We really couldn't be any happier with our arrangment. Both Community Colo and Hurricane Electric are truly-world class operations. (Side note: Several Community Colo operations have been started across North America. There are now projects in San Diego, Seattle, Toronto, Washingon DC, and I'm helping start one in Chicago).

In early summer of 2003 I was starting to get overwhelmed by my sysadmin commitments. Between helping admin our server in California and doing sysadmin favors friends all across the country, I realized I was partly responsible for five or so systems. Keeping up on regular maintenance (checking logs, running Tripwire, updating the OS, etc.) started to become a significant time commitment. When you're in grad school, every minute counts. As a result, these commitments were taking time away from my coursework. During the summer of 2003, out of pure self-preservation I put together an admittedly ugly collection of Perl scripts to help me bring those tasks under control. These scripts were the ancestors of FICC.

When I explained the system to friends they encouraged me to expand the scripts into a full-blown open source project that others could benefit from. I spent a significant amount of time cleaning things up so that I wasn't embarassed by others seeing the code. I was able to release version 1.0 of FICC in July 2003.

I run FICC from a secure bastion host to monitor filesytem integrity of several systems around the country. One of those systems is the colocated server mentioned above that hosts this website.

Copyright © 2003-2009, Terry D. Ott
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