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Getting Started

The Quick Start Guide

There’s a lot to take in – and this page is only a summary! So if you’re intrigued but confused and you’re not quite sure what to do next – get in touch.

And one thing is really simple – if you would like to get involved – you are exactly the sort of person we want as our newest community member!

What is RIPE?

Réseaux IP Européens (RIPE) started in 1989 when a small group of IP network operators in Europe started to share information and ideas, discuss common practices, and carry out technical coordination work. And as the Internet took off, so did we. RIPE has grown from a handful of individuals back then to a large and diverse community with almost a thousand attendees at our meetings, and with thousands more subscribed to our mailing lists.

You can probably best think of RIPE in terms of:

  1. Coordination: the community is a global hub that brings network operators and other interested people together to network, share ideas, coordinate activities, discuss peering, and conduct other business.
  2. Policy development: the community itself sets the policies that govern the system of Internet number resources within our region. This covers things like how networks can request IP addresses and AS Numbers, what information is published in the RIPE Database, and so on. It’s important to be clear that we say the community develops the policies, we mean this quite literally – and to the extent that you participate in these discussions – you are helping to shape the policies in our region!

The “RIPE region” covers Europe, the Middle East and parts of Central Asia. However, given the global nature of the Internet, many active community members come from outside our region as well.

Getting started: The RIPE Discussion List ([email protected]) is the general mailing list for the community. A good first step is to subscribe here and start following the discussions. Look through the archives to see what has been discussed in the past.  

RIPE is an open community

At our meetings and on our mailing lists, you’ll find that many people already know one another, and some have been active in the community for decades. Don’t let that put you off! You’re a newcomer – not an outsider. As such, you have every right to speak up, to ask questions, share concerns, propose ideas, and so on.

Everyone was new to RIPE once. They had to find the courage to make their first comment at the microphones during a meeting or share their opinion on a mailing list for the first time. And you might be surprised at how welcoming the community can be once you stop watching from the sidelines and get involved. No matter what your background is or where you come from, you are welcome here!

Read this:

The Pieces of RIPE

RIPE is basically a collection of individuals who share an interest in IP networking. But if you stick a few hundred passionate network engineers in a room together, you might not get an optimal outcome in terms of coordination or policy development. Such a group would probably develop some basic structure and defined terms to keep their work organised.

When looking at RIPE, the community has a few different parts that help get actual coordination and policy work done:

  • Working Groups (WGs)
  • The RIPE Policy Development Process (PDP)
  • RIPE Task Forces (TFs)
  • RIPE Meetings
  • Birds of a Feather sessions (BoFs)
  • Plenary sessions and the RIPE Programme Committee (PC)
  • The RIPE Chair (Team)

What is the RIPE NCC? And how is it different from RIPE?

It wasn’t long after RIPE started that we saw the need for a separate legal entity that could perform certain technical and secretariat functions for us. This led to the creation of the RIPE Network Coordination Centre (RIPE NCC) in 1992 and we’ve been working together ever since.

RIPE and the RIPE NCC are separate but highly interdependent entities. Exactly where one ends and the other begins is probably what confuses newcomers and outside observers the most.

  • RIPE is really just a group of individuals who come together to discuss matters related to Internet coordination. There are no hard criteria that determine who is or isn’t a community member. It is probably fair to say that you’re a part of the RIPE community to the extent that see yourself as such and to the extent that you participate.
  • The RIPE NCC is more formal. It’s a not-for-profit membership organisation with a board, staff, budget, offices, etc. The RIPE NCC is one of five Regional Internet Registries that collectively manage the global system of IP resources. It has around 20,000 members who join to access IP addresses and AS Numbers for their networks. RIPE NCC members must sign an agreement to join and pay a yearly membership contribution.

The RIPE NCC is also the secretariat for the RIPE community. This is a support role that includes things like organising our meetings, hosting our mailing lists, publishing and archiving our RIPE Documents, supporting the RIPE Policy Development Process (PDP), and generally just helping out where it can.

The RIPE Chair Team

The RIPE Chair ensures that the RIPE community functions well. 

This is a deliberately loose description because the community might need the RIPE Chair to work on different issues as and when needed. Some common tasks that fall to the RIPE Chair are:

  • Setting the agenda for the RIPE Meetings and chairing the meetings.
  • Determining the location of the RIPE Meetings.
  • Establishing consensus about how RIPE operates, particularly about formal procedures.
  • Ensuring that useful Working Groups and task forces are properly created, chartered and disbanded.
  • Ensuring that Working Group chairs are properly selected.
  • Chairing and supporting the Working Group chair collective as necessary.
  • Monitoring the work of RIPE and intervening where necessary.
  • Ensuring that the results of RIPE work are communicated to other parties, such as the RIPE NCC, other organisations and government bodies.

The RIPE Chair role is currently held by Mirjam Kühne, and she is supported by a Vice Chair, Niall O’Reilly.


The role of the RIPE ChairThe RIPE Chair Team