Discussion on online services which GNOME doesn't maintain
This is in the context of Mozilla losing interest in the Mozilla Location Service (MLS), which gets used by Geoclue, GNOME's geolocation framework. Relevant parts of Zeeshan Ali's mail on this topic:
Mozilla lost its own interest in this service when they dropped their mobile plans some years ago. They've been keeping their service instance running and that's very nice of them but the code and service are unmaintained. I've spoken and written a few times over the years about the threat to our platform from this but things have mostly been working fine until very recently. A lot of users are reporting that MLS is blocking them due to some limit being reached for "geoclue" API key. This issue was reported on the MLS list but no one from Mozilla seems to be available to comment. Unfortunately, this only reveals one of the many issues we could be facing in the future, with the service going down being the worst and not-so-unlikely one. [...]
- The MLS service code itself being unmaintained for years. This one needs a developer but it doesn't have to be a full-time person. The service code is not very complex and just maintainance (no new development) would require 1 day/week of 1 developer at most (probably even less) once the person involved gets completely familiar with the code. I'd guestimate code familiarity to take 2 weeks max for an experienced developer.
- Running the service instance itself. This is all about infra but I've no idea about the volume of requests the service will receive. Mozilla folks should be able to provide such data.
- Service is nothing without data. Mozilla folks made use of their large userbase across the globe to collect WiFi data for them and they've a pretty huge amount of data. If Mozilla could be convinced to hand over their data (assuming that's legally possible), that would be a huge help. However, we'll still need a way to gather data once our service is up since people move around and take their routers with them so the existing data expires rather quickly. Mozilla's android app (MozStumbler) could be reused I hope and if we could convince Mozilla, the app could simply submit data to our instance instead from now on. This should be a trivial change to the app I think.
Summary: GNOME libraries use an external service; external service is moribund; should we ask to take over the code and data and host it ourselves.
This is somewhat related to what has happened in the past, for example with the tile providers for gnome-maps. In the board meeting, Carlos mentioned that we pay Mapbox for access to their tile service from gnome-maps.
I guess the action for this issue is twofold:
Figure out what to do about the Mozilla Location Service and Geoclue.
Figure out if we need a general course of action for external services.