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Roy Schestowitz's blog

Fifteenth Anniversary of Tux Machines Coming Soon

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Site News

NOT many Internet enterprises or even protocols outlast the Web. IRC is under attack, E-mail is being hijacked by large corporations (the business model of spying), and copyright monopolies compel ISPs to disconnect from USENET. Even without the Web there's a similar problem; not many sites last a decade; some last a few years until interest is lost or life-changing events cause stagnation and ultimately shutdown (it's not cheap to keep a domain registered and it can be technically difficult to keep a host going). Some sites or blogs remain active only for days, weeks, months. Not many sites have lasted 2 decades. Some become dormant and shelved. Some suffer the "Google Plus effect" (host decides it's not viable to carry on hosting, mostly for selfish "business reasons").

Tux Machines domainTux Machines remains very active. Every day, almost every hour. Even when we're on holiday (or abroad) we still log in and post the more crucial news. We never wink or lose a heartbeat. Dedication like this becomes almost addictive.

In less than a couple of months the site will turn 15. We're planning to celebrate locally somehow (a little party), knowing that it's a rare event and seeing how the Web becomes just "apps" and "social media" it's hard to guarantee we'll reach 20 (we sure hope so). Over the years we've considered modernising the site (CMS overhaul), but such novelty may entail bloat, speed losses, 'UX' erosion, and a lack of 'traditional' feel, maybe even issues associated with navigation, user familiarity, backward compatibility of URLs (we still use node numbers!) and so on.

Slack: It Used to Be a GNU/Linux Distro, Now It's Surveillance Capitalism

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Just talk

I like "Freedo" (a symbol for freedom) better

Freedo

THE meaning of words can change over time, along with connotations that accompany these words. A little cat, for example, we can no longer call "pussy" and the word "gay" rarely means happy (colloquially). What about "Slack"?

Once upon a time I knew Slack as a solid, freedom-respecting distribution (GNU/Linux distro), whereas nowadays it is something to be stubbornly avoided as it threatens my freedom. It's technically spyware. It is a threat to everybody's freedom because of the network effect. When we use it we participate in a viral campaign of unwanted societal dependency. We help it spread exponentially. Like disease amongst anti-vaxxers. Richard Stallman had spoken about it in the context of Skype long before Microsoft entered the fray/picture. That's just common sense. The requirement of opening a Slack account to interact with other people is like the equivalent of an employer demanding the applicant has a Facebook account (despite all that is known about Facebook's incredible abuses). It can harm our neighbours, colleagues, family and friends as much as it harms ourselves.

As a little bit of background/context/polite remarks on this, I had been writing about Slack (the spyware, not the distro) for several years -- years before the prospects of actually using it. I never ever used it, but I know about it technically, from various angles (not just the shallow, user-centric end). Slack is proprietary at the front end and the back end. Only Slack employees know for sure what it does (and may do in the foreseeable future, as per secret roadmaps). They cannot speak out about it, for fear of retribution (so they're inherently gagged by fear over mortgage etc. or self-restraint that defies logic/ethics). Stallman has long warned about the morality of such circumstances and the ideology they breed. It was recently discovered that Facebook had targeted its critics (a huge number of them), subjecting them to Stasi-like treatment not for any government but for a private corporation, namely Facebook. It had been 'hunting' people using dubious and shallow justifications/pretexts. Nobody has yet been held accountable. Negative press has been the only cost/toll, so they got away with it with barely even a slap on the wrist. Others may imitate them, seeing that there are no fines, no arrests, no sanctions.

A colleague told me several months ago that someone at our company wanted to experiment with Slack; there was no final decision about it, so I assumed it was like our RT/OTRS 'dance' (choice of ticketing system half a decade ago). Sometimes we explore FOSS options/alternatives, which is a good thing! He sent me an invite, but he wasn't assertive about me joining as it was still an experimental thing (as I understood it back then, based on what I was told; I'll come to that in a moment). I thought we would, if it got adopted, still have options (duality). One colleague (at least) wasn't even sent an invite, so I took that as a sign of the adoption's semi-hearted nature (at the time). My colleagues never mentioned it since, except one person (who apparently liked Slack). Another colleague wondered why nobody had told her about it; as if she was left out, but she's happily using Kopete on KDE, so on she went with Jabber.

I've long been writing about Slack, maybe about 15 years (even when the name referred to a Live GNU/Linux distro, well before the name got 'hijacked'; it's Debian-based, it still has regular releases a few months apart, not the same as Slackware despite the names' similarity; BoycottNovell made a Slack-based distro called SUEME Linux 12 years ago); Tux Machines publishes announcements of Slack releases several times a year, but it's always about the distro. It's a European distro with pedigree; but I digress..

Nowadays "Slack" means something different; in a technical context, people no longer recognise it as the distro's name; Slack is now the darling of corporate media; myself and others could never quite explain why (we were rather baffled as it did not seem particularly innovative and we thus attributed most/all the press coverage to good marketing/PR); the name collision also raised legal questions because Slack is a well-known distro and the name is strictly used in the domain of software; it has been used for decades. Now the distro's development team needs to explain to people what came first and how this confusion came about.

OK, so now Slack is enjoying a valuation at $billions (as per very recent news headlines), with IPO rumours floated as well (making it easier to buy/subvert). Slack is relatively new a player/contender; it goes about 3-4 years back (in the mainstream), around the time we were in Alton Towers. I still remember that based on other events. Privacy activists had been warning about it and recently I kept seeing (also publicly writing about) more red flags. Slack, the company, is getting more invasive over time. It's like Facebook. Facebook for business. LinkedIn got picked by Microsoft, along with all that data (NSA PRISM comes to mind). Personal messages, passwords, social graphs, employment records and so on. Even location (picked every 60 seconds or so from one's phone through the 'app'). Same for Skype, which Microsoft added to PRISM just months after buying it (Microsoft was first in PRISM, based on Snowden's leaks -- it was one among the first stories to come out/emanate). Far less opinionated people than myself have blasted Slack for a variety of reasons. Some tweets of mine about it go ~3 years back (warning for 'opinionatedness'... I don't mince words much).

I still remember having to install Skype on an old phone for one company meeting. Back then the mere installation (for one hour, then deleted) meant sending Microsoft entire address books, entire call history and more. This phone of my wife is 7+ years old, so that's a lot of data, going a long way back. That's their business model. I'm usually apprehensive because some of my sources, e.g. for exclusive articles in Techrights (I published my 25,000th article last week in Techrights!), are named in files on my system. I'm no Free software 'purist' per se (I use proprietary drivers sometimes), but "Slack would be the surveillance capitalism competitor to Jabber," to quote something I read yesterday. They digest information, including corporate communications. There's a certain risk associated with this, including competitive risk. As a Free software-based company I think it's important to demonstrate that every piece of proprietary framework can be swapped with FOSS. There are quite a few Slack equivalents that are FOSS; a colleague told me that another colleague had brought some of these up. We might examine these soon, maybe test and adopt these. Time will tell. Maybe I'll write about some of these.

I am also reading about bridges between protocols that enable access to Slack, but yesterday when researching it I found that Slack is gradually burning these bridges/gateways. Not entirely surprising, as once they get to a certain point/market share they up/boost the lockin. Naturally. More so if they have obligations to shareholders. Twitter did this last August, shutting out all third-party apps/APIs for the first time ever (in the company's entire existence). Many of us were devastated because we had built interaction tools, custom-made around these APIs). So, basically, whatever a centralised platform gets adopted, we can always lose control as they can change everything they want at any time. Even, at worst, some company can just buy them for the data; they can start charging a lot, they can shut down, change ToS etc.

The bottom line is, Slack ought to be avoided. It's worse than proprietary because it's all centralised, even the data. There's no concept such as "private" or "privacy". These are only illusions.

Real-time Tux Machines Chat Over IRC (Internet Relay Chat)

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Site News

The first IRC server
"The first IRC server, tolsun.oulu.fi, a Sun-3 server on display near the University of Oulu computer centre." Credit/licence: CC BY 2.5, Urpo Lankinen

TUX MACHINES reached all-time record traffic in the past couple of weeks. This (raw) traffic now stands at about 4 million hits/week, with 3,970,777 hits in the past 6 days and 4,289,540 hits last week (predating these 6 days). It's just a shame that interaction with readers became hard; the forums had a severe spam issue, as did comments and submissions (by new registrants, always, more so at a later stage) -- to the point where it became impractical to allow any new registrations (except adding people manually upon request). The open/incognito registrants would overrun the site within minutes (we tried several times over the years and saw the effect immediately).

So we've decided to try IRC and have added "IRC" to the menu at the top with an applet (JavaScript) to make life easier for those who aren't familiar with IRC clients.

Here's how to join us. This is still experimental. Real-time updates with posts (as they are posted) will in due course be shown in the channel and we can all casually chat in real-time, too. We are also still working on our Android app these days.

Testers Wanted: Android App for Tux Machines Site

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Site News

APK icon

Diaspora logo Mastodon logo Pleroma logo

Tux Machines is turning 15 this summer and as we noted over the weekend, many people now access the site using mobile devices, for which the site provides a subpar experience due to legacy. RSS feeds are therefore recommended. There's our RSS feed for news, RSS feed for Tux Machines Blogs and another for Techrights, where I write my original articles.

Most readers, however, do not use RSS feeds. Consider the 700 followers of our Twitter account, the 2,365 followers of our Diaspora account, 1,080 followers of our Mastodon account, and 63 followers of our Pleroma account (so about 4,000 in total). Those are dependent on third parties (we do not self-host these platforms). Even if "apps" are used for access to these social media platforms/sites, the links would lead to Tux Machines Web pages, which don't render particularly well on small screens (phones). So we've made this simple "app" for the site, but we're still testing it. If anyone out there can try it on an Android device and report back to us, we'll appreciate it greatly and use the feedback to improve it.

Screenshot Tux Machines app

Mobile Interfaces, Internet, Devices and UX

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Site News

A mobile phone

Summary: Visitors who use mobile phones get a subpar experience, but that's an issue that boils down to preservation versus novelty

TUX MACHINES is turning 15 later this year. Longtime readers may very well know that the appearance or the layout of this site barely changed over the years. The key components have been in place since the very start. We still use node IDs as URLs (not ideal, but that works), mobile devices are barely supported (they were barely used on the Net at the time the site started), and due to SPAM we can no longer allow new user registrations (they overwhelm the site with a flood of SPAM submissions, i.e. noise such as pornographic comments, abusive blog posts etc.) within hours. We know because we tried opening up these registrations several times in the past. Any loosening of these restriction means a complete and utter mess.

"Mobile users who struggle with the site contact me routinely and my best suggestion for them is an RSS reader (many exist for mobile devices), which overcomes these issues and bypasses all the 'cruft'."

So-called 'UX' (buzzword for user interfaces/experience) in Tux Machines is far from ideal, especially for those who use a phone. We are aware of it, but the overhaul required to change that would be truly massive because of the number of pages, images, and the underlying framework, which was heavily modified and tailored for the existing user experience. I spent a lot of time making things work as they do. Susan had also invested a great deal of effort.

Mobile users who struggle with the site contact me routinely and my best suggestion for them is an RSS reader (many exist for mobile devices), which overcomes these issues and bypasses all the 'cruft'. Taking all the implications into account (endless work associated with a change), we don't plan a site redesign/overhaul. Maybe in the distant future, but not any time soon. The RSS feed is already used by a lot of people, even desktop/laptop users. We have no ads and no surveillance in this site, so RSS feeds don't impact some "business model" or whatever. In fact, it helps lower the strain on the server.

Come and Join Tux Machines in Pleroma, Part of the Fediverse

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Site News

Pleroma logo

Summary: Tux Machines is on Pleroma.site, a lesser-known part of the Fediverse

Tux Machines has been on the Fediverse for quite some time (our Mastodon account), but months ago we also joined Pleroma, which is an exciting new alternative written in Elixir.

Just a few weeks ago somebody published this "Guide for GPlus [Google Plus] refugees to choose a new social network in the Fediverse" because "G+ will close on April 2nd. So to help people that haven’t decided yet where to go in the Fediverse I made some pointers. I divided this guide in a number of sections. Each section describes a certain use of social networks and which networks are most suitable for this specific use. Combine this with your preferred use of a social network and you should be able make a decision."

Pleroma too is part of the Fediverse and Pleroma.site, one large instance of Pleroma, recently completed hardware upgrades. GNU/Linux aficionados can follow us there.

The Bash Fingertips: Making Your Own 'Information Centre'

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Howtos

Information Centre

FORGET bloated Web browsers. Forget so-called 'social' media (I call it social control media). They're not efficient, they eat up a lot of memory and CPU cycles, and the interfaces are not consistent (across sites). They're sufficiently distracting and they have ads. They erode privacy. They don't scale well; neither for an aging system (my laptop turns 10 in a few months) nor for users. GUIs are good in particular scenarios, but when the same things are repeated over and over again one might as well set up scripts, automating things and tailoring one's own interfaces, which is easy to achieve (relatively fast and simple) in the command line. It's also more accessible, e.g. over SSH. The pertinent tools are already out there (available for download/installation from repositories), they just need to be put together and programming skills aren't required, just batching in a bash file.

Some years ago I 'developed' a little script (I've been scripting since I was about 12). I called it getswap-sorted.sh and it just ran another script that helped me see what applications use the swap (and how much of it). For the sake of speed I like to restart applications that heavily use swap (i.e. depend on magnetic disk operations). I don't have much RAM. I never had more than 2 GB. getswap-sorted.sh just called out ./getswap.sh | sort -n -k 5 and getswap.sh comes from Erik Ljungstrom. Here it is:

#!/bin/bash
# Get current swap usage for all running processes
# Erik Ljungstrom 27/05/2011
SUM=0
OVERALL=0
for DIR in `find /proc/ -maxdepth 1 -type d | egrep "^/proc/[0-9]"` ; do
PID=`echo $DIR | cut -d / -f 3`
PROGNAME=`ps -p $PID -o comm --no-headers`
for SWAP in `grep Swap $DIR/smaps 2>/dev/null| awk '{ print $2 }'`
do
let SUM=$SUM+$SWAP
done
echo "PID=$PID - Swap used: $SUM - ($PROGNAME )"
let OVERALL=$OVERALL+$SUM
SUM=0

done

The output of getswap-sorted.sh would be something like this:


PID=1559 - Swap used: 16472 - (x-terminal-emul )
PID=21980 - Swap used: 16648 - (kwalletd5 )
PID=25548 - Swap used: 16704 - (konversation )
PID=631 - Swap used: 19336 - (kded5 )
PID=23817 - Swap used: 50048 - (pidgin )
PID=23923 - Swap used: 180312 - (thunderbird )


This helps me see which application/process number uses swap and to what degree. It's sorted by the amount of swap taken and the PID helps when I just want to kill a process from the command line (some are small and obsolete anyway).

My script, however, grew bigger over time. I added more things to it, eventually binding it to a special (fifth) mouse key, using xbindkeys -- an immensely valuable and powerful program I've used since around 2004. Extra mouse buttons always seemed worthless (anything more than three), but that's just because there was no program I needed to open or action I needed to invoke often enough. Over time I found that keeping a new terminal one click away (fourth button) and another special terminal also a click away improved my workflow/productivity. I just needed to invest some time in tailoring it. I ended up opening, temporarily, a terminal window with important information displayed, such as weather, disk space (I'm always near the limits), swap usage (I have only 2GB of RAM), uptime, real-time football scores etc. Change of wallpapers was lumped in too, for good measure...

For football tables/scores use one of the following 1) livescore-cli 2) soccer-cli and 3) football-cli.

Sadly, the above CLI football scores' tools got 'stolen' by Microsoft and need to isolate themselves GitHub, in due cource/time. I use the first of the three as it suits my needs best and does not require an API key.

The output looks like this:

 ... Fetching information from www.livescore.com ... 
Displaying Table for Barclay's Premier League
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
                                Barclay's Premier League TABLE
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
 LP     Team Name               GP      W       D       L       GF      GA      GD      Pts
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 1      Liverpool               24      19      4       1       55      14      41      61
 2      Tottenham Hotspur       25      19      0       6       51      24      27      57
 3      Manchester City         24      18      2       4       63      19      44      56
 4      Chelsea                 25      15      5       5       45      23      22      50
 5      Arsenal                 24      14      5       5       50      33      17      47
 6      Manchester United       24      13      6       5       48      35      13      45
 7      Wolverhampton Wanderers 25      11      5       9       33      32      1       38
 8      Watford                 25      9       7       9       33      34      -1      34
 9      Everton                 25      9       6       10      36      36      0       33
 10     AFC Bournemouth         25      10      3       12      37      44      -7      33
 11     Leicester City          24      9       5       10      30      30      0       32
 12     West Ham United         24      9       4       11      30      37      -7      31
 13     Brighton & Hove Albion  25      7       6       12      27      36      -9      27
 14     Crystal Palace          25      7       5       13      26      33      -7      26
 15     Newcastle United        25      6       6       13      21      33      -12     24
 16     Southampton             25      5       9       11      27      42      -15     24
 17     Burnley                 25      6       6       13      26      46      -20     24
 18     Cardiff City            25      6       4       15      22      46      -24     22
 19     Fulham                  25      4       5       16      25      55      -30     17
 20     Huddersfield Town       25      2       5       18      13      46      -33     11
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
 LP = League Position   GP = Games Played       W = Wins        D = Draws       L = Lose 
 GF = Goals For         GA = Goal Against       GD = Goal Differences
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 Champions League       Champions League qualification  Europa League
 Europa League qualification    Relegation
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Real-time scores (when matches are on):

 ... Fetching information from www.livescore.com ... 
Displaying Scores for Barclay's Premier League
----------------------------------------------------------------------------
                 Barclay's Premier League SCORES 
----------------------------------------------------------------------------
 January 29  FT     Arsenal                  2 - 1  Cardiff City           
 January 29  FT     Fulham                   4 - 2  Brighton & Hove Albion 
 January 29  FT     Huddersfield Town        0 - 1  Everton                
 January 29  FT     Wolverhampton Wanderers  3 - 0  West Ham United        
 January 29  FT     Manchester United        2 - 2  Burnley                
 January 29  FT     Newcastle United         2 - 1  Manchester City        
 January 30  FT     AFC Bournemouth          4 - 0  Chelsea                
 January 30  FT     Southampton              1 - 1  Crystal Palace         
 January 30  FT     Liverpool                1 - 1  Leicester City         
 January 30  FT     Tottenham Hotspur        2 - 1  Watford                
 February 2  FT     Tottenham Hotspur        1 - 0  Newcastle United       
 February 2  FT     Brighton & Hove Albion   0 - 0  Watford                
 February 2  FT     Burnley                  1 - 1  Southampton            
 February 2  FT     Chelsea                  5 - 0  Huddersfield Town      
 February 2  FT     Crystal Palace           2 - 0  Fulham                 
 February 2  FT     Everton                  1 - 3  Wolverhampton Wanderers
 February 2  FT     Cardiff City             2 - 0  AFC Bournemouth        
 February 3  15:05  Leicester City           ? - ?  Manchester United      
 February 3  17:30  Manchester City          ? - ?  Arsenal                
 February 4  21:00  West Ham United          ? - ?  Liverpool              
----------------------------------------------------------------------------
---------------------------------------

Now putting it all together:


feh --bg-fill --randomize /media/roy/c3fd5b6e-794f-4f24-b3e7-b4ead3722f11/home/roy/Main/Graphics/Wallpapers/Single\ Head/natgeo/* &

livescore -t bpl 

./getswap.sh | sort -n -k 5
 curl -4 http://wttr.in/Manchester
 swapon --summary | grep sda2
 df | grep sda1
uptime

sleep 10

livescore -s bpl 

sleep 40

The first line is feh choosing a wallpaper at random from a collection of award-winning National Geographic photographs. The options and the underlying parameters are self-explanatory.

The football league's table is then shown.

Next, after about 10 seconds of processing, a list of processes will show up based on swap usage (as described above)

The weather at home (Manchester) will then be shown, with colour. Right now I get:

Weather report: Manchester

     \   /     Sunny
      .-.      -5--2 °C       
   ― (   ) ―   ↑ 9 km/h       
      `-’      10 km          
     /   \     0.0 mm         
                                                       ┌─────────────┐                                                       
┌──────────────────────────────┬───────────────────────┤  Sun 03 Feb ├───────────────────────┬──────────────────────────────┐
│            Morning           │             Noon      └──────┬──────┘     Evening           │             Night            │
├──────────────────────────────┼──────────────────────────────┼──────────────────────────────┼──────────────────────────────┤
│    \  /       Partly cloudy  │      .-.      Light drizzle  │  _`/"".-.     Light rain sho…│               Mist           │
│  _ /"".-.     -4-0 °C        │     (   ).    -2-3 °C        │   ,\_(   ).   1-3 °C         │  _ - _ - _ -  0-3 °C         │
│    \_(   ).   ↑ 12-20 km/h   │    (___(__)   ↑ 17-26 km/h   │    /(___(__)  ↗ 7-14 km/h    │   _ - _ - _   ↑ 9-17 km/h    │
│    /(___(__)  20 km          │     ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘   20 km          │      ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘  16 km          │  _ - _ - _ -  13 km          │
│               0.0 mm | 0%    │    ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘    0.4 mm | 83%   │     ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘   0.4 mm | 65%   │               0.0 mm | 0%    │
└──────────────────────────────┴──────────────────────────────┴──────────────────────────────┴──────────────────────────────┘
                                                       ┌─────────────┐                                                       
┌──────────────────────────────┬───────────────────────┤  Mon 04 Feb ├───────────────────────┬──────────────────────────────┐
│            Morning           │             Noon      └──────┬──────┘     Evening           │             Night            │
├──────────────────────────────┼──────────────────────────────┼──────────────────────────────┼──────────────────────────────┤
│      .-.      Light drizzle  │  _`/"".-.     Patchy rain po…│               Cloudy         │               Cloudy         │
│     (   ).    2-6 °C         │   ,\_(   ).   3-7 °C         │      .--.     1-4 °C         │      .--.     -2 °C          │
│    (___(__)   → 16-26 km/h   │    /(___(__)  → 20-27 km/h   │   .-(    ).   → 13-23 km/h   │   .-(    ).   ↗ 9-16 km/h    │
│     ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘   14 km          │      ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘  18 km          │  (___.__)__)  20 km          │  (___.__)__)  20 km          │
│    ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘    0.3 mm | 88%   │     ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘   0.3 mm | 88%   │               0.0 mm | 0%    │               0.0 mm | 0%    │
└──────────────────────────────┴──────────────────────────────┴──────────────────────────────┴──────────────────────────────┘
                                                       ┌─────────────┐                                                       
┌──────────────────────────────┬───────────────────────┤  Tue 05 Feb ├───────────────────────┬──────────────────────────────┐
│            Morning           │             Noon      └──────┬──────┘     Evening           │             Night            │
├──────────────────────────────┼──────────────────────────────┼──────────────────────────────┼──────────────────────────────┤
│    \  /       Partly cloudy  │               Overcast       │               Overcast       │      .-.      Light drizzle  │
│  _ /"".-.     -1-3 °C        │      .--.     2-6 °C         │      .--.     6 °C           │     (   ).    1 °C           │
│    \_(   ).   ↖ 19-31 km/h   │   .-(    ).   ↑ 23-33 km/h   │   .-(    ).   ↑ 24-40 km/h   │    (___(__)   ↑ 24-40 km/h   │
│    /(___(__)  20 km          │  (___.__)__)  19 km          │  (___.__)__)  8 km           │     ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘   9 km           │
│               0.0 mm | 0%    │               0.0 mm | 0%    │               0.0 mm | 0%    │    ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘    0.3 mm | 0%    │
└──────────────────────────────┴──────────────────────────────┴──────────────────────────────┴──────────────────────────────┘


After this I am shown general memory usage and disk usage (for a particular partition) along with uptime thusly:

/dev/sda2                               partition       2097148 381128  -1
/dev/sda1        84035088   77299588   2443660  97% /
 08:03:28 up 116 days, 12:36,  7 users,  load average: 1.70, 1.40, 1.26

It will close on its own after I see what needs seeing, owing to the sleep command. It saves me the clicking (required to then close the window); it just fades away or 'expires', so to speak (until the next time the mouse button gets pressed).

Find Us and Follow on Diaspora and Mastodon

Diaspora logo

Mastodon logo

For those who do not favour RSS feeds and are not using Twitter, the Free/Open Source federated social network services are also an option (and have been for quite some time). We're adding to buttons to the site now (they are also clickable above)

Tux Machines Turns 14

Filed under
Site News

Man's clap

IN JUNE 2004 Tux Machines was registered, which makes this site nearly a decade and a half old. Running this site is more than a full-time job; it's not just a hobby but more like a 24/7 duty, not even with holidays or weekends off. But as long as people find the site useful, it makes all the work worthwhile. RIanne and I will keep refreshing our RSS feeds and keep this site abreast of the news.

GitHub as the Latest Example of Microsoft Entryism in Free/Libre Software

Filed under
Just talk

"This is in effect the very same trick they did/pulled with Novell and SUSE (where Nat Friedman came from after his Microsoft internship) about a decade ago."

Postman

THE recent GitHub takeover, which has not formally been approved just yet (although there are no foreseen barriers to it), is definitely bad news; it is a lot of things to Microsoft however. It is good news only to Microsoft and GitHub shareholders, who basically sold out many developers without rewarding/compensating them for this unwanted (to them) takeover.

There are many aspects to it: First of all, it helps paint Microsoft as "open source" and it helps Microsoft gain leverage over developers, e.g. their choice process of framework/s and licence/s (Microsoft still dislikes copyleft); by leverage over platform they can suggest Azure, for example, or create bindings to it; they gain leverage over projects tied to governments, including some of our clients at work; Microsoft can vainly tell them, i.e. the governments and their developers: "look, you want FOSS? We're FOSS" (so they effectively become their own competitor!). In fact, there's so much more and I could easily name a couple dozen examples, but I know people pursue/need concision here. For an analogy, in politics this concept or strategy is known as "entrism" or "entryism".

Microsoft also uses patents to blackmail FOSS; there's that element too, albeit many people conveniently choose to forget it. Microsoft is sending patents to patent trolls, then offers "Azure IP Advantage". This is in effect the very same trick they did/pulled with Novell and SUSE (where Nat Friedman came from after his Microsoft internship) about a decade ago.

There are many other angles to it, including programming languages, frameworks (e.g. proprietary IDEs like MSVS), code editors and not just bindings to Microsoft as a host and API provider. People, especially developers of software, generally know how E.E.E. works; the basic precondition/premise is that you gain controls/leverage over that which threatens you (Nokia: Elop, Novell: Mono and lots more examples). So that's kind of a way of getting inside, gradually forming a partnership and then shutting down or sidelining whatever threatens you. Like Xamarin did to RoboVM, in effect killing it under Friedman's leadership. Friedman is going to be the chief of GitHub.

Microsoft can direct the opposition's decisions and its fate. Sadly, they already do this inside the Linux Foundation, where Microsoft staff already has chairs in the Board.

From what I can gather, developers ditching GitHub is becoming a fairy common thing this month. I already see the 1) active 2) large 3) non-Windows ones leaving, but it can take time; some told me they still rely on open bug reports and other 'vendor lockin'; that needs some work before they can migrate; the real alternative is self-hosted git.

"Sadly, they already do this inside the Linux Foundation, where Microsoft staff already has chairs in the Board."

In Memoriam: Robin "Roblimo" Miller, a Videographer and Free Software Champion

Filed under
Just talk

Videographer Robin Roblimo Miller

Robin "Roblimo" Miller was a clever, friendly, and very amicable individual who everyone I know has plenty of positive things to say about. I had the pleasure of speaking to him for several hours about anything from personal life and professional views. Miller was a very knowledgeable person whose trade as a journalist and video producer I often envied. I have seen him facing his critics in his capacity as a journalist over a decade ago when he arranged a debate about OOXML (on live radio). Miller, to me, will always be remembered as a strong-minded and investigative journalist who "did the right thing" as the cliché goes, irrespective of financial gain -- something which can sometimes be detrimental to one's longterm health. Miller sacrificed many of his later years to a cause worth fighting for. This is what we ought to remember him for. Miller was - and always will be - a FOSS hero.

May everything you fought for be fulfilled, Mr. Miller. I already miss you.

Tux Machines Privacy Statement

Filed under
Site News

Summary: Today, May 25th, the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) goes into full effect; we hereby make a statement on privacy

AS a matter of strict principle, this site never has and never will accumulate data on visitors (e.g. access logs) for longer than 28 days. The servers are configured to permanently delete all access data after this period of time. No 'offline' copies are being made. Temporary logging is only required in case of DDOS attacks and cracking attempts -- the sole purpose of such access. Additionally, we never have and never will sell any data pertaining to anything. We never received demands for such data from authorities; even if we had, we would openly declare this (publicly, a la Canary) and decline to comply. Privacy is extremely important to us, which is why pages contain little or no cross-site channels (such as Google Analytics, 'interactive' buttons for 'social' media etc.) and won't be adding any. Google may be able to 'see' what pages people visit because of Google Translate (top left of every page), but that is not much worse than one's ISP 'seeing' the same thing. We are aware of this caveat.

Shall readers have any further questions on such matters, do not hesitate to contact us.

Tux Machines is Now on Mastodon

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Site News

Tux Machines on Mastodon

Summary: We can now be found in Mastodon too

A FOSS and decentralised Twitter alternative has received plenty of media attention/traction lately, so Tux Machines belatedly joins in and we invite readers to follow us there if they wish to create an account. The popularity of the platform exploded (number of users quadrupled so far this month).

We've Made It! 100,000 Nodes

Filed under
Site News

A thousand dollars

Summary: Another milestone for Tux Machines, which will turn 15 in a couple of years

100,000 nodes in Tux Machines will have been published later tonight. This one will be assigned node ID/#99995. Earlier today someone anonymous told us, "I just wanted to say thank you for all the work you've done and new information updates at tuxmachines.org."

That's what we are here for -- to help spread information. We don't profit or gain anything from this site, but it's our way of giving back to the Free/Open Source software community.

On to 200,000 (this may take another decade or more).

Translation of the Latest 'Microsoft Loves Linux' Charm Offensive

Filed under
Linux

QUITE a few additional articles -- mostly puff pieces (below is a complete/exhaustive list) -- have been published since yesterday's blog post, which was followed by a short article from Techrights. There is a lot of Microsoft PR inside the news/media right now (more and more by the hour) and it's coordinated (sometimes in advance, based on what we learned yesterday) by Microsoft. Here is a quick rebuttal to the 4 strands of news:

  1. The Linux Foundation joins Microsoft (not a slip): Microsoft paid half a million dollars for over a hundred puff pieces (in English alone) and lots of leverage over Linux, including a distraction from the patent wars it wages.
  2. The GNU/Linux crowd gets a proprietary software database it neither wants nor needs: This might be useful when Microsoft tries to infiltrate GNU/Linux deployments like the one in Munich, later boasting better integration with Windows than with GNU/Linux (same for running Bash/Ubuntu under Windows 10).
  3. Google and .NET: Microsoft accepts that it lost the mobile wars and also lost developers, so it tries ever more desperately to spread .NET and/or Mono.
  4. Tizen/Samsung and .NET: As above.

That's about all it means. Below is the raw PR, which is intended to sometimes (it doesn't always work) mislead the reader, having misled the writers/journalists.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Microsoft demonstrates its commitment to open source by joining Linux Foundation [Ed: Microsoft advocacy sites (often paid-for nonsense) like to pretend to themselves that Microsoft is now a good citizen, not racketeer. iophk: “You’ve probably seen links about LF joining Microsoft so I won’t add them. It would have been news if Microsoft joined OIN.”]
  2. Microsoft joins The Linux Foundation as a Platinum member [Ed: How MS advocacy sites put it; the larger payment (like political 'donation') was inevitable. To quote Benjamin Henrion, "Microsoft depends so much on taxing Linux via its dubious software patents that they have decided to join the Linux Foundation #corruption"]
  3. Microsoft now a Platinum Member at Linux Foundation and .NET foundation has Google onboard
  4. Microsoft joins the Linux foundation and blows everyone’s mind
  5. Microsoft And Linux Working On Advance Open Source Project Development, SQL Server And Azure App Service
  6. Microsoft and Linux Collaborates For Open-Source Game; As Rivals Unite, How Could Linux Benefit From This?
  7. Microsoft joins Linux Foundation as it continues to embrace open source
  8. Microsoft join hands with Linux Foundation as platinum member
  9. Microsoft joins the Linux Foundation as a Platinum member
  10. Microsoft Becomes a Member of The Linux Foundation
  11. Is Google crashing the Microsoft open source party?
  12. Microsoft: SQL Server for Linux is the real deal
  13. Microsoft doubles down on Linux love, joins foundation
  14. Microsoft joins the Linux Foundation, launches test build of Visual Studio for Mac
  15. Microsoft makes open source commitment with new partnerships involving Google, Linux, Samsung
  16. Microsoft joins Linux Foundation as a Platinum Member
  17. Microsoft joins Linux Foundation, Open-Source development to get major boost
  18. Microsoft joins Linux Foundation at Platinum Partner
  19. After OpenAI Partnership, Microsoft Joins The Linux Foundation To Dive Deeper Into Open-Source Code
  20. Microsoft is joining the Linux Foundation
  21. Microsoft Joins Linux Foundation, Bets on Open Cloud Computing
  22. Microsoft Shows Linux Love by Joining the Linux Foundation
  23. Loves spreads, new Microsoft SQL Server now previewed on Ubuntu
  24. Microsoft joins the Linux Foundation, no really
  25. Linux Academy Partners with Microsoft Visual Studio Dev Essentials Program
  26. Microsoft Becomes Linux Foundation Platinum Member, The Last Leaf has Fallen
  27. Microsoft joins the Linux Foundation, confirms commitment to open source development
  28. Microsoft has joined the Linux foundation
  29. Microsoft Joins Linux Foundation, After Calling Linux a 'Cancer'
  30. Microsoft Drops Tech Bombshell As It Joins Linux Foundation
  31. Microsoft partners with the Linux Foundation
  32. Microsoft and Google bury the hatchet in one small way
  33. Microsoft Joins the Linux Foundation As Everyone Now Loves Open Source
  34. Microsoft is the Platinum member of Linux Foundation
  35. Linux Foundation Gets a Surprising New Member: Microsoft
  36. SQL Server joins the Linux party, new preview comes to Linux and Docker
  37. Microsoft joins the Linux Foundation as a Platinum member, Google joins .Net community
  38. Microsoft joins Linux Foundation that promotes open-source technology
  39. Microsoft SQL Server Supports Linux
  40. Cricket Australia to adopt Microsoft’s team and player performance platform
  41. Microsoft announces association with Linux Foundation with Platinum membership
  42. Microsoft joins The Linux Foundation at highest membership tier
  43. Microsoft Joins Linux Foundation As Platinum Member And Releases Ports
  44. Microsoft Embraces Open Source, Joins Linux Foundation
  45. As Microsoft joins Linux, Google shakes hands with the .NET Foundation
  46. Microsoft joined the Linux foundation as a platinum member because of Cloud Services
  47. Microsoft, Google, and Samsung Bury the Hatchet with New Partnerships
  48. Microsoft, Google, Samsung Team Up In Open Source Development
  49. Microsoft surprises by joining Linux, 15 years after calling it a ‘cancer’
  50. Microsoft joins Linux Foundation in another nod to open-source code
  51. Microsoft officially joins the Linux league of open source contributors
  52. After Microsoft joins Linux, Google Cloud joins .NET Foundation
  53. Google signs on to the .NET Foundation
  54. Microsoft Joins Linux Foundation
  55. Microsoft’s .NET Foundation Now Includes Google
  56. Microsoft Joins The Linux Foundation In Latest Open Source Commitment
  57. Microsoft joins The Linux Foundation; takes on Oracle
  58. Microsoft Joins The Linux Foundation to Boost Open Source Software Ecosystem
  59. Microsoft has officially joined the Linux Foundation

Linux Foundation Commits Suicide as Microsoft E.E.E. Takes a Leap Forward

Filed under
Linux

I have covered Microsoft's interference with FOSS for over a decade and carefully studied even pertinent antitrust documents. I know the company's way of thinking when it comes to undermining their competition, based on internal communications and strategy papers. Even days ago we got this in the news.

The pattern of embrace and extend (to extinguish) -- all this while leveraging software patents to make Linux a Microsoft cash cow or compel OEMs to preinstall privacy-hostile Microsoft software/apps with proprietary formats (lockin) -- never ended. What I see in the Linux Foundation right now is what I saw in Nokia 5 years ago and in Novell 10 years ago -- the very thing that motivated me to start Boycott Novell, a site that has just turned 10 with nearly 22,000 blog posts.

It is a saddening day because it's a culmination, after years of Microsoft 'micro' payments to the Linux Foundation (e.g. event sponsorship in exchange for keynote positions), which will have Microsoft shoved down the throats of GNU/Linux proponents and give an illusion of peace when there is none, not just on the patent front but also other fronts (see what Microsoft's partner Accenture is doing in Munich right now). The links below are a complete list of the bad (in my view very bad) news.

"We need to slaughter Novell before they get stronger….If you’re going to kill someone, there isn’t much reason to get all worked up about it and angry. You just pull the trigger. Any discussions beforehand are a waste of time. We need to smile at Novell while we pull the trigger."

--Jim Allchin, Microsoft's Platform Group Vice President

In the news today:

Record-Breaking Traffic

Filed under
Site News

Summary: Quick report about site traffic

Tux Machines has been enjoying growth in recent weeks, though it's hard to attribute it to anything in particular. The following are the past 4 weeks' logs (we delete all logs after 4 weeks, for privacy reasons, assuring no long-term retention).

-rw-r--r--.  1 root root 389699117 Oct  9 04:40 access.log-20161009
-rw-r--r--.  1 root root 454715290 Oct 16 03:46 access.log-20161016
-rw-r--r--.  1 root root 478747167 Oct 23 03:12 access.log-20161023
-rw-r--r--.  1 root root 499911551 Oct 30 03:40 access.log-20161030

We recently quadrupled the servers' CPU capacity.

The above is not the complete picture. That's omitting all the Varnish activity, which handles the majority of the traffic but simply cannot cache all pages. We are still trying to reduce the frequency of spam incidents (some of the spamy submissions manage to inject JavaScript very briefly).

We'll soon reach the 100,000-node milestone of this Drupal site.

GNOME Release Party Manchester

Filed under
Just talk

GNOME Release Party Manchester

Summary: Today's party celebrating the release of GNOME 3.22

RIANNE AND I both attended today's GNOME release party in Manchester. It was a good opportunity to meet some geeky people, including a few from Codethink, which organised this event.

Web Site Traffic Growing

Filed under
Site News

The Linux Foundation recently added the Platform for Network Data Analytics (PNDA)

Panda

Panda

Summary: Network/traffic analytics for Tux Machines

ULTIMATELY, here in Tux Machines we strive to include every bit of relevant news (standalone pages for more important news, clusters of links for the rest, grouped by topic). We rarely blog although sometimes we add an opinion (marked "Ed", shorthand for "Editor").

It has been a long time since we last wrote about statistics. As readers may know by now, we only retain logs for up to 4 weeks (security/diagnostics purposes), then these get deleted for good so as to maintain privacy (we cannot be compelled to hand over data). Those logs show only direct hits, they don't include pages served through the cache* (Varnish) and here is the latest, where the date stands for "week ending":

-rw-r--r--.  1 root root 224439408 Aug  7 03:17 access.log-20160807
-rw-r--r--.  1 root root 310050330 Aug 14 03:22 access.log-20160814
-rw-r--r--.  1 root root 343901488 Aug 21 03:17 access.log-20160821
-rw-r--r--.  1 root root 344256886 Aug 28 03:15 access.log-20160828

The above indicates that, judging by the back end (not cache), traffic continues to increase. Over the past week the site was sometimes unbearably slow if not inaccessible. In the worse case we'll upgrade the server for extra capacity, assuring decent speed. Worth noting is that in the latest log (ending August 28th) less than 1,000 hits came from Edge, so very few among our visitors use the latest and 'greatest' from Microsoft.
____
* The cache server services several domains, notably Tux Machines and Techrights, and it averages at around 1.5 GB of traffic per hour.

Tux Machines Turns 12

Filed under
Site News

THE past few weeks were exceptionally busy for the site as readership grew considerably and the site turned 12. Originally, the site did not share Linux news but had various other sections. Years later Susan Linton made it the success story it is today and in 2013-2014 we only modernised the theme and kept the old tradition, format, etc. We hope this pleases longtime readers of the site. Comments on how the site is run are always taken into account.

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