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Revision 26 as of 2007-10-25 15:54:30


MemberManual / GettingStarted / NewMember

OK, so it looks like you'll be joining us! In the descriptions below, we'll assume you've already been approved to join. If you haven't yet received an explicit e-mail saying that your application has been approved, then "you've been approved to join" does not apply to you!

Here's what you need to know about the process from here in. It will definitely make life easier for our volunteer administrators if you read all of this document before doing anything else with your new account, including sending a payment.


To complete the joining process...

Terms of Service

When you applied for an account, you were asked to review and agree to HCoop's [http://hcoop.net/tos.html Terms of Service]. If you have not done so already, please read and familiarize yourself with them.


Each hcoop member has a balance, keeping track of unspent money that member has sent to the co-op. Most members prepay about a year's worth of estimated charges at a time and send new payments when they see their balances going low. Our policy is that every member must make a refundable "deposit" of $10 on joining. This is equivalent to requiring that your balance stay above that amount.

Before we give you an account on our servers, we need an initial payment from you. This should include the deposit amount and some additional amount, as determined by you. Like we said, prepaying an estimated year's costs is popular. If your balance goes below the deposit amount for too long a period, we'll be forced to cancel your membership, unless there are very extenuating circumstances. This means that paying the minimum amount will require that you remember to make frequent payments.

You can pay electronically using [http://www.paypal.com/ PayPal] or [http://checkout.google.com/ Google Checkout] on [http://deleuze.hcoop.net/pay.html the new member payment page]. In the comment field, write that the payment is for "Initial payment for yournamehere," where "yournamehere" is the UNIX username you asked for when you applied. Google doesn't support comment fields! What to do?

You can use any other reasonable payment method you want, as long as it involves United States dollars reaching our treasurer. However, please e-mail payment@hcoop.net about any method of payment not found on the payment page before using it, and wait for approval before going ahead.

Keep in mind the service fees associated with each method. For example, PayPal's fees are such that you save money by sending as much money at once as possible. Google Checkout will have such fees once their no-fees promotion ends in January 2008.

The absolute spiffiest thing that you could do is include in your PayPal payment comment a URL to your SSH public key, so that we have pretty good reason to believe that it's genuine. See the next section for more information. Your payment will be rejected if it isn't sent in accordance with the below "getting started" instructions.

MemberDues contains more information on payment policies.

Getting started

Once you've paid, we can get started setting up your account. The big issue here is getting your initial password set. We don't want any unauthorized people to get ahold of your password and gain access to your account. Any unencrypted password sent over the Internet, including through e-mail, is vulnerable to interception by many people. Our two main approaches to this are:


If you create an ssh public key and give a URL or other reference to it in your payment comment, we can create your account with your key pre-installed.

After we set up your account, you'll be able to connect without needing to know a new password. We'll send you instructions on how to set your password from that point, since you do need to use a password for some services.

SshConfiguration contains a tutorial on how you can set up ssh public-key encryption. Follow it only up to the part about generating the keys and ignore the bit about transferring them to HCoop's server. We're open to other crypto-based bootstrapping methods if you prefer them.

Please note that the entire point of this scheme is compromised if you send your key information separately from your PayPal payment; with unencrypted e-mail, anyone could be impersonating you, but with the PayPal method we can at least verify that the same person is paying and naming the key. If you ignore this request and e-mail key information separately, we reserve the right to require that you instead indicate your key in some way that can be tied securely to your PayPal account.

The quick-change

If cryptography scares you, then we can try to minimize the time from when we send you your random password in cleartext and when you log in to our server and change it over an encrypted connection.

This works best with a short meeting with an admin over IRC or an instant messaging service. Unencrypted e-mail is absolutely not acceptable, since there may be too long of a period when a password that has been sent in cleartext is still valid. Make sure you have an ssh client on hand, as you will be asked to ssh to hcoop.net within a minute or so to set your new password.

But, really, why not just use crypto? This is the 21st century, after all!

If you want to use this technique, we ask that you please e-mail admins@hcoop.net to inform us of your intentions. It would also be good if you'd let us know why you're not using the crypto option. You are making life harder for our volunteer admins by requesting to do things this way, since it requires that they orient their schedules around your availability, so we'd like to understand what prevented you from picking the easier option. You must send this e-mail before sending your payment, or we will assume that you have not read these instructions and e-mail you asking for another payment that includes a public key.


You should have chosen your e-mail preferences when you applied. What we're referring to is whether you want e-mail to your account to be stored on our servers (and accessed via IMAP or POP3) or forwarded to an existing e-mail address. If you don't choose to forward it away, please be sure to check your HCoop e-mail box as often as any other personal mailbox! We may need to contact all members with some time-critical announcements.

While there was a one-time way to set this preference when you applied, you can change it after joining by editing/deleting your ~/.forward file in usual UNIX fashion.

Mailing lists

We'll send important announcements through the hcoop-announce mailing list. Every member is subscribed to this on joining. This is for on-topic announcements about the co-op and the services we provide. It's moderated, and we don't allow discussion or anything else high volume enough to encourage members to start ignoring the list.

Since we currently run based entirely on volunteer labor, we're unable to guarantee any uptime for your services if you don't read every message sent to the announcements list in a prompt manner! Sometimes we will need your help to keep your stuff going.

For less time-sensitive traffic, we have the hcoop-discuss list. It's meant for on-topic discussion. There's also hcoop-misc, for anything at all that you think might be of interest to hcoop members. Finally, hcoop-sysadmin is where our volunteers discuss all day-to-day decision-making and implementation; this list is also open to any member who wants to help out. Subscription to any of these lists is voluntary. You can also set preferences for them after subscribing, including switching them to digest mode. This means that you receive at most one message a day, containing everything sent to the list that day. This increases the average delay to receive a message but decreases volume, in terms of number of messages sent to you.

See the section on preferences below for information on setting your subscriptions. Note that it is expected that you will get an error e-mail if you try to post to a mailing list with a From address besides you@hcoop.net. This is no big deal. Just wait for a moderator to see that your message is legit and add the From address that you're using to our whitelist.

And for all the rest...

See our MemberManual.