[Bloat] closing up my make-wifi-fast lab

Dave Taht dave.taht at gmail.com
Fri Aug 24 16:10:52 EDT 2018


It is with some regret that I am announcing the closing of my
make-wifi-fast lab at the end of this month.

Over the years we have relied on the donation of lab space from
ISC.org, georgia tech, the LINCs, and the University of Karstadt and
elsewhere - but my main base of operation has always been the
"yurtlab", in a campground deep in the los gatos hills where I could
both experiment and deploy wifi fixes[0] at scale. CeroWrt, in
particular, was made here.

During the peak of the make-wifi-fast effort I rented additional space
on the same site, which at peak had over 30 routers in a crowded
space, competing. Which I (foolishly) kept, despite the additional
expense. Having heat in the winter and aircond in the summer was

With ongoing donations running at $90/month[1] - which doesn't even
cover bufferbloat.net's servers in the cloud - my biggest expense has
been keeping the lab at lupin open at $1800/mo.

I kept the lab going through the sch_cake and openwrt 18.06 release
process, and I'm now several months behind on rent[3], and given how
things have gone for the past 2 years I don't see much use for it in
the future. Keeping it open, heated and dry in the winter has always
been a problem also. I'm also aware of a few larger, much better
equipped wifi labs that have thoroughly tested our "fq_codel for
wifi"[4] work that finally ends the "wifi performance anomaly". it's
in multiple commercial products now, we're seeing airtime fairness
being actually *marketed* as a wifi feature, and I kind of expect
deployment be universal across all mediatek mt76, and qualcomm ath9k
and ath10k based products in the next year or two. We won, big, on
wifi. Knocked it out of the park. Thanks all!

Despite identifying all kinds of other work[5] that can be done to
make wifi better, no major (or even minor) direct sponsor has ever
emerged[2] for the make-wifi-fast project. We had a small grant from
comcast, a bit of support from nlnet also, I subsidized what I did
here from other work sources, toke had his PHD support, and all the
wonderful volunteers here... and that's it.

Without me being able, also, to hire someone to keep the lab going, as
I freely admit to burnout and PTSD on perpetually reflashing and
reconfiguring routers...

I'm closing up shop here to gather enough energy, finances, and time
for the next project, whatever it is.

The make-wifi-fast mailing list and project will continue, efforts to
make more generic the new API also, and hopefully there's enough users
out there to
keep it all going forward without the kind of comprehensive testing I
used to do here.

If anyone feels like reflashing, oh, 30 bricked routers of 8 different
models, from serial ports (in multiple cases, like the 6 uap-ac-lites,
via soldiering on headers), I'll gladly toss all the extra equipment
in the lab in a big box and ship them to you. Suggestions for a
suitable donation target are also of interest.

The yurtlab has been an amazing, totally unique, unusual (and
sometimes embarrassing [6]) place to work and think, but it's time to

Perhaps I'll convince my amazingly supportive landlord to let me leave
behind a plaque:

"On this spot bufferbloat on the internet and in WiFi was fixed, 2011-2018".

Dave Taht

[0] https://lwn.net/Articles/705884/ "How we made wifi fast again"
[1] https://www.patreon.com/dtaht
[2] Like adrian chadd's infamous flameout - I too, give up on wifi.
There's gotta be some other tech worth working on. What we shipped is
"good enough" to carry a few years though.
[3] This is not a passive-aggressive request for help making rent next
month, given all the other problems I have, it's best to close up shop
while I look for a new gig.
[4] https://arxiv.org/pdf/1703.00064.pdf "ending the wifi anomaly"
[5] https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Se36svYE1Uzpppe1HWnEyat_sAGghB3kE285LElJBW4/edit#
[6] https://www.cringely.com/2012/10/01/clothing-may-be-optional-but-bufferbloat-isnt/

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