This 10yo interview with one of the founders (Rop Gonggrijp) is fantastic and covers their fight against Scientology, lock picking, privacy, governments using terrorism as a pretext for power grabs, etc. (in Dutch)
End of an era.
(Anecdote of what I personally greatly admired: they used to run a hybrid SSH server on their main website, "xs4all.nl", on port 80. the SSH protocol is a "server-first" one, but HTTP is "client-first", so if you pause the SSH banner for a few seconds, you can basically host both on the same port. this allowed me to defeat many a draconian proxy back in the day; nobody would block a huge ISP like xs4all.nl on port 80. Truly unique.)
In the interest of accuracy, the condition we are looking for is that there is at most one "server-first" protocol in the set you want to multiplex between on a single port, right? Because realistically, any numer of client-first protocols can be distinguished with some heuristics?
- Use your own hardware, no crappy ISP router required
- They host a Netflix cache server, in contrast to ISPs actively limiting bandwidth
- They launched https://mirror.init7.net/ after Switch announced they would stop running https://mirror.switch.ch/
* they actively promote network neutrality
* their fiber offering is just plain ethernet, so if you have a switch with an SFP slot, that's all you need (well aside of whatever you use as a router - but in my case, that's a VM running PFSense - you're totally free to chose whatever you want). Fewer moving parts means fewer issues.
* they hand out native IPv6 addresses and if you ask them, even a static prefix (for free)
* if you get a static prefix, they even delegate the ip6.arpa zone for reverse lookups
* total soft-factor: their support people use Dovecot Mail under Linux and their press releases are written in Libre Office
Disclaimer I have no relationship with them aside of being a very, very happy customer and I once brought them two bottles of whisky as a thanks for being really quick to set it up for me after I waited a long time for the electrician to put the fiber in my apartment.
And XS4ALL is also fine with you using your own hardware, but so are all German ISPs by law so that's not super special.
Wow, I didn't know that. Unfortunately, this doesn't seem to be the case in Switzerland where almost all ISPs force you to use their crap.
Some Americans can only get broadband internet access from a single company, so they don't have the option to move ISPs when their Netflix access is degraded.
This has been true of every American ISP I've ever used.
I'm even currently running OpenWRT on my home router.
On another occasion I was having problems with my own equipment and they were able to help diagnose it and loan out SFPs to see if they helped. The equipment's manufacturer was not so generous (buy more stuff or fuck off).
It's still a magical feeling for me to have a stable 0.8ms latency to 188.8.131.52 (0.7ms if I plug in directly to my media converter without any switching equipment in the way).
Init7 is covered by Switzerland's braindead data-retention bill due to being an ISP so it's out, leaving Google the best acceptable performer for me.
It's also the ISP I definitely have the best support experience with, always happy to help, even with personal projects. It's tragic to see a brand like KPN (which is generally considered quite bad) kill XS4ALL which is generally seen as a quality provider. KPN says nothing will change for existing customers, but I don't believe in that.
Sadly the alternatives are very limited. In the area I currently live in I seem to have two other choices, one of which is KPN. Neither come close to what XS4ALL _was_. These alternatives don't properly support IPv6, they force you to use some obscure and locked down router, etcetera.
I hope some hardcore XS4ALL workers will fork the company to set up a new ISP to provide similar activities.
I wonder whether numbers are related - admittedly when faced with the choice for a new telco I ended up not choosing XS4ALL simply because they're more expensive than other offerings. Maybe they just gradually shrunk, year after year? That'd be an acceptable reason to shut down, despite how great the company is on other dimensions.
I and most other tech-minded people I know switched to Ziggo (the largest/only cable provider) because they could provide 5-10x faster internet at around the same price. XS4All became even harder to justify than when it was just a slightly more expensive DSL ISP.
58,50 EUR a month for 200/20 mbit (if you can get that speed over VDSL2, that is)
54 EUR EUR a month for 200/20 mbit (provided they deliver at your premises)
Where Xs4all is more expensive, is TV, which is actually KPN's.
Previously I had the choice between good quality VDSL2 from Xs4all (or KPN etc) and slightly cheaper Ziggo. That's before they merged with UPC. I consciously picked Xs4all because they deliver a far better service.
YMMV depending on the copper quality of your neighborhood and distance to the neighbourhood connection point (I don't know how to translate "wijkkast").
I have little experience with VDSL2, but in my experience xDSL delivers a lot less than the theoretical max and has a lot more variance than DOCSIS.
People aren’t going to pay extra for a reskinned KPN service.
KPN meanwhile majorly improved their service with extensive free installation service while XS4ALL remained with the useless Gideon offering.
The problem is that the market of tech enthusiasts is very small. At the KPN-scale, it is financially probably more attractive to streamline operations and to lose a few tech enthusiast subscribers than to keep several separate operations.
That said, Xs4all gave KPN the moral higher ground, plus testing grounds for new technology.
Where I live there's no ISP-side firewall on any ISP, so that would not be an advantage at all.
Why would we care if it's only historic events? We'd have moved to another isp and not bothered with a petition.
Note that The Netherlands had another (tiny) provider with a similarly long history and hacker ethic, DDS:
Ten years ago or so, I was a DDS subscriber. I once send an e-mail to support and was answered by a technically competent sysadmin. If KPN destroys XS4ALL, I might move to DDS again (if they offer fiber in my area).
Who knows, maybe the XS4ALL staff and customers can find refuge with DDS then.
They're great. Their helpdesk is widely known to be the best. I've got my digital TV through them, and when I called their helpdesk because it failed to record an episode of Doctor Who, their helpdesk could point me to a website where I could watch it legally. They're geeks like me. In fact, I've known quite a number of people who work/worked there.
I'd be really sad to see them go, and I agree with the article: it sounds unlikely that KPN will fight for digital rights the way XS4all has done.
Wait, what is this going to mean for my email address? I hope they'll keep xs4all.nl email addresses active, or this is going to cause a lot of problems for me.
I had the same issue when I moved to the UK; no equivalent ISP that I could find. Very disappointing :-(
The entire thing reminds me of the Laurus debacle; KPN wants to be a "consistent" brand, but in doing so they are alienating a small yet sizeable and incredibly loyal customer base. I was an XS4ALL customer for almost 15 years: from the moment I got my first apartment until I left the country. I never considered switching.
: https://www.npostart.nl/andere-tijden/26-05-2018/VPWON_12836... (Dutch)
IMHO they’re the closest equivalent to this today (and have been for some time).
Also not the cheapest, and I must confess I don’t actually use them myself, but several friends and coworkers swear by them.
They're not the cheapest in the market, but their market positioning is pro-privacy, anti-censorship, high customer service for expert users.
My connection with them has proved very reliable. I haven't had much cause to use their support, but when I have they've been helpful and communicative.
In the past when I've looked they've appeared to be amongst the most expensive.
For five years I was the only person there who had ADSL.
In The Netherlands I've been a loyal customer of xs4all for 12 years now but with this move I've signed up to Ziggo. Got to hit KPN where it hurts.
But with Ziggo offering 500/50 lines for the same price as xs4all's ADSL and this move..
It's sad that we're going into the dark ages over the internet :(
So thanks for all the help, discussions and service. It was fun while it lasted.
Well, they did once force a Fritz!OS upgrade when I wasn't ready for it, even though I disabled the option that allowed them to do that. So they did have a kind of back door on that router at that time. Still a great deal though.
Makes sense though as many phishing attacks went through that avenue. A pity that when one as a vendor gives the ability of lowlevel access to appliances installed in homes, evil people will exploit it in a heartbeat...
What I've noticed the past few days is that quite a few people who bemoan XS4ALL going away, actually chose different providers to get lower prices. Seems hypocritical to me, but also in line with what most people seem to prioritize.
> XS4ALL hosts the the European copy of the Internet Archive since 2004. When I was in their datacenter I saw the box (it has a nice Internet Archive label), but did not realize that it was a complete copy.
Is this still true? No way does the IA fit in "a box" today. A building maybe, but not a box.
Still, not sure this still exists or what scope it has - I thought establishing a full secondary mirror was something the IA wanted to have, but didn't achieve yet.
I've also been to the library of Alexandria in Egypt where the IA has much more racks IIRC.
I can in some way understand KPN needs to slim down their offering in order to better compete with Ziggo, but this will likely bite them in the but. Another brand Telfort is also being shuttered: it's their no-support, cheap brand. Generally services sold under KPN's brand are one of the most expensive.
I have FTTH from XS4All. FTTH has unfortunately not been rolled out enough. One of the advantage is I can take just the internet line and not have to pay for a phone line or TV service I don't use. There's other ISPs that I could choose from, but Xs4all have a good package, not outrageously expensive.
Much of the effort driving the rollout of fiber was done by a company called ReggeFiber. KPN saw it as a threat, bought a majority stake in ReggeFiber and killed most fiber investments. It's classic monopolistic behavior by an incumbent and it's a major failure of telecom regulators that they allowed KPN to buy ReggeFiber.
It's also extremely short sighted given how KPN is totally losing the speed battle against cable. It's like they want to go to shit.
EDIT: just found read comment (from an account created to write that single comment‽): https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=18920213 - looks like someone at KPN had a change of heart.
Doesn't strike me as odd, here in Spain most major ISPs had a stake in the national IRC network, back when latency mattered and IRC was a selling point.
>They were bought in '98 by the former state-owned KPN
As if they couldn't avoid it. The owners of XS4ALL sold the business to KPN. They knew what KPN was going to do with it (dismantle all the "cool" stuff) and didn't care, they just wanted their cash.
I really don't understand how you can call anyone a sellout with a spectacular outcome like that. Most acquisitions go like "nothing will change, pinky promise!" and then 6 weeks later "oh btw we're discontinuing $WHY_YOU_LOVED_US".
To me it looked like overzealous, self-righteous Internet policing, but OK.
I do not remember if they warned us that they will cut it off, perhaps they did.
Proving that the computer was reinstalled and virus free proved to be quite tedious. In the end I ended up cancelling them.
But isn't that the right step to do? From the ISPs point of view they had an intruder into their network, so they have to deal with it somehow.
Though, if you have a SFP module you should be able to acquire the login details (through some googling, or https://community.t-mobile.nl/t-mobile-thuis-algemeen-490/gl...) and place the module in any SFP capable device of your choosing.
It sucks however for non-techies that this option is hard to recreate at home.
> A free spy device from China
What evidence is there for spying by Huawei?
I was sad to leave them, I'm even sadder they are shutting down.