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Fire devastates Dutch Internet hub

Debian's security archive turned to digital ashes

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Updated A fire at the University of Twente in the Netherlands today has destroyed one of the fastest computer networks in Europe.

The fire, the cause of which is currently unknown, has gutted a building housing the vast majority of the University's computer servers and networking equipment. While the fire is still burning, fire crews attending the scene have brought the conflagration under control.

Staff at the University told us damage from the fire could cost the University €10 million or above. Although the university's network is (obviously) down, technicians at the University expressed optimism that the network could be restored in a matter of days rather than weeks.

Twente University is known to have one of the fastest networks and internet gateways of Europe. It runs on a 9.6 Gbps backbone.

Sadly the network infrastructure will not be the only asset lost, Dutch reader Kaj Leers (who tipped us off about the fire) told us.

With the fire "about the largest stock of hardcore pornography, illegally downloaded CD's, movies and hacked / cracked software (applications and games) will also be turned into, er, 'digital ashes'", he notes.

Many of you dispute this, saying that the pron collection are all on students' PCs and will become accessible again once the network is restored.

Twente's high-speed network was originally constructed to provide students with access to high-speed Internet access for their studies. It soon became one of the major hubs for peer-to-peer exchange programs like KaZaA.

This perceived misuse of Internet resources caused former Dutch education minister Loek Hermans to comment: "It would be nice if the students at Twente University would use their fast connections for information and education purposes, instead of downloading huge amounts of porn." ®

Update

Among the main casualties of the fire was one of Debian's machines - satie.debian.org, which hosted (among other things) Debian's security archive. It was the main site for non-US archives.

An announcement on the Debian mailing list summarises the situation.

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