I’ve decided to try my hand at creating a Virtual Network service.
The idea is to have a simple web interface where I can add/remove/edit user accounts, Generate Certificates for endpoints and check users usage.
RADIUS is a fantastic AAA (Accounting Authentication And Authorization) protocol, which is used for almost everything ISP related (dial-up, dsl, wimax, wifi hotspots), so it seems only fitting that I use it for this application. It also means I can integrate other things into it, without serious modification (since its a standard). I may even start using it for building my own Hotspot controller for Mikrotik RouterOS based hotspots.
As IP Networking is one of my interests (infact, its my main passion, and now my job), Jawug was the perfect platform to learn.
Its one thing learning about the theory, and having a little lab with a few switches and routers sitting on your workbench to learn. Its another thing entirely having an ISP sized network that covers an entire city to play on.
Ofcourse, it wasn’t always that big. It started off with only 2 guys, an idea, and some second hand equipment.
Sadly, it didn’t work with just the 2 of us, so we grew it to a 3rd member, and then a 4th.
After a little while, and alot of interest from outsiders, we decided that we need to make it bigger.
I’d been watching the developments of SeattleWireless, and we decided that we would open our network.
We’d make it completely open to any who would want to join. The only condition was, they let us know who they were.
Our intention was never to provide access to the Internet. Its not an ISP. Its just a network of people interested in creating an even bigger network. Its almost like Amateur Radio, only we’re doing it with Data.
We put up a website, which was a Wiki, making it editable by all so we could share information freely.
We made a few posts on Forums, such as MyADSL
Slowly the interest started trickling in.
I was even contacted by the Financial Mail in 2004 for an interview.
We got tons of feedback from readers, asking how they could become involved, and how they could join.
Roelf from Neology even did a presentation on community networks at the first MyADSL Conference.
And now, I’m amazed at how large it’s grown.
The Network has actually outgrown most of the tools that were used to design it in its early stages.
NodeDB was a great tool, but it became too cluttered to use, so Xarion wrote our own version of it.
There are now Community Networks spotted all over South Africa, so Xarion also created a central site to bring all of these “Wugs” together. Wug.Za.Net was born to bring all of them together.
It really has become a community now, with friendships being formed, and regular “meetings” (Called “Koek en Tee”, but its really more of a Beer and Braai).
Its taken a while to get here. It took loads of hard work.
So Jawug… here’s to the next 5 years, and beyond.