Improving the world bit by expensive bit

October 6th, 2021 by

We’re delighted to announce our sponsorship of Organic Maps. Organic Maps is a simple, user-friendly application that downloads complete Open Street Map data to your phone, allowing you to use their mapping application offline complete with route planning from the on-device database.

This is a wonderful application. It doesn’t track you, advertise at you or flood you with non-notifications, and it works without mobile data and conserves battery life. So if you’ve ever been lost without signal or somewhere where roaming data is prohibitively expensive, or to a very busy location where the mobile networks were overloaded this application is genuinely better than the alternatives.

While the app avoids the need for mobile data, this comes at the cost of a significant up-front download of all the mapping data that you may or may not use offline. This won’t trouble typical home broadband, but for the servers at the other end it adds up quickly. We’ve stepped in and offered two 4GB virtual servers with 400TB/month of free bandwidth to Organic Maps, split between our London and Amsterdam zones, reducing the reliance on a traditional and bankruptcy-inducing large cloud provider.

Quote from unspecified cloud provider of $24,452 per month

“Use the cloud, it’s cheap,” people often say, incorrectly.

Quote from unspecified cloud provider of $20,591 per month

A competing quote from a slightly cheaper large cloud provider


At our list prices this would be somewhat cheaper:

Qty Item Item price Price
2 VPS4 virtual servers (4TB/mo bandwidth) £32.14 £64.28
396 Additional bandwidth (per TB) £5 £1,980.00
Total £2,044.28

Being 90% better value is achieved in part by not having to fund our own space programme.

Flatpak: pre-assembled furniture applications for Linux

February 23rd, 2018 by

Flatpack is furniture you build yourself. Flatpak is preassembled applications for Linux. This is apparently not at all confusing. (image thanks to

Flatpak provides Linux desktop applications in a secure sandbox which can be installed and run independently of the underlying Linux distribution. Application developers can produce one Flatpak and select the versions of libraries that their application is built, tested and run with so it’s easy for users on any Linux OS to get whatever was intended by the application developer.

Flathub is a distribution service to make sure that Flatpaks are available for popular Linux desktop applications, and at its heart is a private cloud running BuiltBot which builds popular Linux and free/open source desktop apps in Flatpak format. This lives in Mythic Beasts’ Cambridge data centre.

At Mythic Beasts we like this idea so much we offered them lots of free bandwidth (100TB) to help get them started. We’ve now upgraded this with a pair of virtual machines in our core Docklands sites to provide redundancy and more grunt for traffic serving.

Some of their users noticed and were appreciative immediately:

2017-02-23 16:30:00irc wow! Flathub is *so* much faster i’m getting like 10 MB/s compared to less than 1 this morning … and the search is now instant
2017-02-26 11:35PersiFlathub is _really_ fast now, great job to whoever is responsible