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NPM needs our help, and why you should donate

By Hongli Lai on November 27th, 2013

NPM must be one of the most invaluable tools for Node.js users. It’s used by tons of users all around the world every second. But there have been various issues with the NPM registry lately. One thing is clear: running the NPM registry is not easy and requires a lot of administration time, effort and money. It is for this reason that Nodejitsu, the party who runs the NPM registry, has launched a funding campaign to improve the NPM registry infrastructure.

As active participants in the open source community, we fully understand how difficult it is to run such a service. The sheer amount of resources needed to properly run and maintain something like this, is easily underestimated by a lot of people. The hardware, the bandwidth, shouldn’t cost that much, should they? Once they’re in place, just configure a few things and the thing runs, right?

But setting up a reliable infrastructure and keeping it healthy is by no means a small task. Properly configuring a high-traffic cluster requires a lot of time and expertise. And there will always be unexpected problems. What happens if there’s a network problem? What happens if an OS upgrade broke things? What happens if there’s a disk failure? Even with all the automatic failover you configure, Murphey’s law will always find you. And when it does, you better be prepared and have the man power to solve the issues. Man power costs time and money.

One might think that Nodejitsu, being a commercial, VC-funded company can easily pay for this themselves. So why should anybody donate? explains this: their investors want their money to be used for making more money, not for providing free community services. All donations go toward running the NPM registry.

We all rely on NPM a lot. Even though NPM is open source, it is important not to equate open source with free. It is not free for the party that has to run and maintain it. So we believe it’s time to give something back as well, which is why we have donated. You may want to consider donating as well.