[aprssig] APRS-IS core Servers

Steve Dimse steve at dimse.com
Thu Aug 16 17:32:53 EDT 2018

> Could someone tell me what the APRS core servers are needed for?
> On the websites of some core servers I saw that some people connect to them instead of connecting there stations
> to Tier2 servers. But I think they could switch to Tier2 servers easily.
This question will open old wounds and probably start a few arguments, but here we go.

The question you should ask is "Why Tier 2?" 

When I created the APRS-IS, the idea was only as many linked servers as needed to provide the service plus adequate redundancy, which I figured as between two and three times peak load. The machines were top quality in professional data centers, usually run by IT professionals, carefully monitored for security and efficiency. This would come to be called the core after T2 started.

But there were some hams who wanted to play and felt a system aimed only at providing reliable service was not appropriate, that the ham way was everyone should be able to play regardless of ability and assets (some people with dial-ups wanted to be hubs), and began advertising T2 servers. 

At one point the T2 guys declared they were essential to the APRS-IS and the core could not survive without them. The core disagreed, there were arguments and name calling here and (yes, this really happened) Tier 2 went on strike to prove the core would crash without them. Many T2 supporters opened extra core streams to try to hasten it. The core didn't blink, it handled the load without problem. Since then the Tier 2 people have concentrated on public relations, getting as many people as possible to see them as the real APRS IS. Your question is living proof of their success. Myself and many of the other core operators lost interest in the fight as the quality of the average T2 site went up, particularly after Tier 2 closed their list to people who weren't of adequate assets and skills (just as they had once berated the core for).

Twenty years ago good hosting sites were much harder to find, good hardware was much more expensive, and internet routing problems were much more common, so the core had a bigger edge. Today the APRS-IS software and the internet have improved to the point that it really doesn't matter what server you connect to.

Steve K4HG

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