The hardware / software
Vervainglobal.com is hosted on a private webserver hidden away in Suffolk, England. The web page serving duties are managed by the Apache open source webserver, which runs on a tiny "Raspberry Pi" computer. This little machine uses a mobile phone processor as its brain and is no larger than a deck of cards. Using just 4 watts, it costs virtually nothing to run and tucks away easily in a corner.
The concept of this site was born in March 2012, while I was spending a month living in the Philippines. I saw for the first time how the Internet was so important for the health and communications of these regions. The flexibility and potential of the Internet facsinated me, and I desired to learn more. At about the same time, I learned of the Raspberry Pi and its recent release back in the UK. I placed an order for one, seeing it as a great way to tinker without risking the destruction or security of my main computer.
Months later, the long awaited Raspberry Pi finally turned up at my door. I quickly pressed it into use running various pieces of software. A few weeks later, the small box was running the Apache web server, and port 80 was opened for all of the Internet to see. At this time it was a somewhat slow device, running a ported version of Debian squeeze. From about July onwards, it remained running 24/7 as a web server, and the domain name was purchased and pointing to it. During this time it was mainly used as a way to share files with friends. Finally in January 2013, I decided to build a website for the general public to access.
I began by removing the slow ported operating system and installing a lighter version containing software optimized for the RPi. By March 2013, the first article "Premier Bedside hospital hack" was completed and published for the world's viewing pleasure. In July, the server had spent its first year up and running, and four articles were available. Vervainglobal has continued to grow steadily, expanding gradually as more articles and information is added.
The server now runs the lightweight offering of the Raspbian OS, and as of January 2017 is supported by a home built battery backup system (UPS). This keeps the server and Internet connection running during power failures and as a result, uptime is a near perfect 100%. The server has also become host to other sites, with web space available for small sites that require exceptional uptime but do not need the large dedicated machines that typically command such reliability.
To find out more about the Raspberry Pi computer, please visit www.raspberrypi.org