I knew about SDF for years, a community coming from the early 90s, from the early BBS era –it started on a Apple IIe microcomputer– where you can have a free “UNIX Shell Account” (it is running NetBSD, so the “UNIX” part is true).
I even have vague memories of my own SDF account at some point, but the thing is that since the late 90s I’ve been using Linux, so having a shell account kind of lost the mystery at some point for me.
As part of my short trips around Gemini, I’ve ended in a couple of git hosting services I didn’t know about, like Sourcehut and tildegit. “tildegit” makes reference to the tildeverse.
“Tildeverse?” you may ask. Well, there’s a website for that:
we’re a loose association of like-minded tilde communities. if you’re interested in learning about *nix (linux, unix, bsd, etc) come check out our member tildes and sign up!
tildes are pubnixes in the spirit of tilde.club, which was created in 2014 by paul ford.
And that’s why I started mentioning SDF, because it looks pretty similar.
It is worth reading this post by Paul Ford where he explains how his tilde.club came about. Although there are a few references here and there about it being “not a social network”, for me, it’s all down to this quote form the post:
Tilde.club is one cheap, unmodified Unix computer on the Internet.
It reminds me very much of my own experiences early 2000s when I was involved in Free Software advocacy, as part of all the Linux User Group movement. A few of those groups, spawning sometimes from public newsgroups, formed large communities of self-hosted services with shared accounts.
My local group had an interesting twist on this, because we also formed a non-profit metropolitan area wireless network.
I guess everybody can have a Linux shell on a Raspberry Pi, but there’s something exciting about having an account on a public UNIX system, isn’t it? It is the community.
So tilde.club may be a social network after all.
PS: my sysadmin senses are constantly tingling when learning about these services. The old Linux User Groups systems relied heavily on trust, and I don’t know how these new communities deal with security, but it must be interesting for sure!