[buug] FWD: CoffeeNet to Close Today (fwd)

Christopher Sullivan feedle at feedle.net
Sun Jan 30 09:50:33 PST 2000

This came my way through the BALUG and Bay Area Debian list.

CoffeeNet was one of two sources of Internet access when I moved up here
eight months ago looking for work, and was (essentially) a transient.
CoffeeNet was a unique place, and it will be sorely missed.

Wish I would have recieved this earlier: it would have been nice to stop
by for old times sake.  I hope they get a new location soon...


----- Forwarded message from "Rick Moen (temporary address)" <rick at deirdre.org> -----

Date: Fri, 28 Jan 2000 11:40:33 -0800
From: "Rick Moen (temporary address)" <rick at deirdre.org>
To: balug-talk at balug.org
Subject: CoffeeNet to Close Today
X-Mailer: Mutt 0.95.4i

For the past three-odd years, WAN/LAN consultant Richard Couture has
operated the CoffeeNet, a 100% Linux-based Internet cafe, at 744
Harrison near Third Street, San Francisco.  Today is its last day of
operation at the current location.  (If you want to visit, do so before
today's 2 PM closing time.)

In 1996, when Richard decided to build The CoffeeNet, he made a number
of choices that seemed bold by prevailing standards:  It was based on
a custom Linux distribution developed by Richard and his friend Michael
Nelson, coordinated via NFS and NIS+, running on commodity Pentium X
workstations.  The business was entirely self-funded with no outside

Unlike several would-be competitors -- some venture-capital funded, such
as the now-bankrupt Cyberworld cafe -- Richard's operation has not
attempted to sell Internet access:  The business model has been to offer
a pleasant restaurant experience, where Internet access is an amenity,
rather than the core of the business.  Basing that amenity on Richard
and Michael's rock-solid but average-user-friendly Linux distribution
has meant no need for technical staff and no machine downtime:  The
systems run themselves.

Cyberworld's owners, when Richard paid them a courtesy call in 1998,
clearly felt that Richard was an amateur whom they were going to bury,
receiving him with barely-concealed contempt:  After all, they felt,
he wasn't smart enough to base his operation around MS Windows NT,
to charge an hourly rate, or keep staff on-hand to rebuild and debug

Within a year, Cyberworld lost several million dollars and went out
of business.  One of their last acts was to ask if Richard could
accomodate some of their customers who had rented Cyberworld for
parties.  Richard, always gracious, said "Of course."

Over the last five years at 744 Harrison, Richard's building has been
an incubator and home for a significant portion of the Bay Area's Linux
and free-software community.  Windows Refund Day and the Silicon Valley
Tea Party were planned there.  CABAL, Bay Area Debian, BayLinuxChix, the
Python group BayPIGgies, SFpcUG Linux SIG, and City College of San
Francisco LUG have met there.  The open-source publicity firm Electric
Lichen, LLC (now part of VA Linux Systems) was based there.  The
Internet hosting operation LinuxCabal is there.  And Linux community
activist and one-time WAN/LAN consultant Rick Moen lives there (as does
Richard, himself).

Richard Stallman has spoken there.  Dale Sheetz and Joey Hess of the
Debian project, Python author Guido van Rossum, and Marc Ewing of Red
Hat Software, Inc., ditto.  Two local ISPs and a number of other local
businesses hold regular meetings and events, there.

And, throughout all of those events, members of the general public
find to their surprise that they're using Linux, and liking it.  The
CoffeeNet has always been Exhibit A used to refute FUD assertions that
Linux is too difficult for "average users":  Hundreds of regular people
off the street come in every day, and use the public machines with no
problems and no training whatsoever.

The CoffeeNet is closing today because Richard is preparing to find and
move to a new building, elsewhere in San Francisco.  It's very likely
that he will reopen The CoffeeNet in some form at the new location,
because he enjoys giving Internet access to the public, and support to
the free-software community.

Ordinarily, you could check out The CoffeeNet's on-line presence at
http://www.coffeenet.net/ .  Since Thursday at 6 PM, however, one of the
two sDSL lines serving 744 Harrison has been cut (thank you, PacBell!),
cutting off numerous Internet hosts, including Richard's, The
CoffeeNet's, and mine.  (I'm posting from a temporary address, and
have not moved from rick at linuxmafia.com, long-term.)  Some hosts on
the other sDSL line are also difficult to reach, because of
dependencies on the unreachable hosts' DNS.  There is not yet an
estimated time for restored service, as the breakage hasn't yet been

-- Rick M.

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see shy jo

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