Language Selection

English French German Italian Portuguese Spanish

Roy Schestowitz's blog

Life Goes On

Filed under
Just talk

Manchester

TUX MACHINES HAS BEEN under attack for nearly two weeks now. We need not really comment on our technical means of defence and how we mostly overcome these attacks (we are not giving too many clues to the attackers, who are mostly deflected with blacklists and redirects for the time being), but for the most part the Web site continues to run and to serve visitors. That's what is important. We work hard to keep posting the latest news and not let distraction, aggravation or sabotage get in the way. It is hard to imagine who would want to attack a site like this. This site is not even political or controversial.

In more general news, Manchester has had a nice and warm September. It continues into October (so far). Today we started seeing some hybrid (partly electric) double-decker buses and today we also found out that the health club we always go to has been voted best in the north west and third-best in the UK for the second year in a row. We still post some news whilst out of the house (if a wireless connection becomes available) and this morning the weather was so fine that we managed to play some badminton outdoors.

Life goes on and no level of attacks on the site is going to stop it. There are many ways to combat DDOS attacks, so they are merely a nuisance. The attackers should know that they are only wasting their time; there are much better things to do in life. Those commandeering Microsoft Windows botnets would be better off targeting the KKK or something, not a GNU and Linux news site.

Windows-Shocked

Filed under
Site News

There are rogue bots hammering on this site all day long. It has gone on for quite a few days and it is getting worse. The bots are getting harder to block. Strategies are changing. They are all acting like zombies/botnet and they all have a "Microsoft Windows" in their HTTP header.

The corporate media seems preoccupied with a bug in GNU Bash. It predicts gloom and doom, just as it did when there was a bug in OpenSSL that Microsoft partners dubbed "heartbleed" (although not so much actually happened in terms of damages).

Perhaps it is time to remind that media that Microsoft, with its back doors, is causing turbulence on the Web. Among the outcomes there are GNU/Linux Web sites that are brought down, with administrators who work around the clock trying to block Windows-running PCs from trying to take down their sites.

Rogue Bots

Filed under
Site News

Aggregators in Tux Machines have been universally disabled (temporarily we hope) after a week or so of heavy load that took the site down (well, over capacity and hence not accessible). The culprit seems to be mostly -- although not exclusively -- a bunch of bots that hammer on the aggregators with spammy requests. It's sad that so many hours need to be spent just keeping script kiddies out of the site, resulting in fewer bits of output, slower pageloads (performance degradation), and restlessness (monitoring alerts all day long), not to mention crafting of rules that merely keep the site running. Running Tux Machines is not quite as peaceful and trivial/simple as it may seem from the outside. It's like a full-time job, or at least it feels like it, especially whenever the site gets flooded by rogue bots, necessitating special attention 24/7.

Recent Changes in Tux Machines

Filed under
Site News

Work

TODAY we have taken a bit of a break. It's Sunday after all. But here is a bit of a site status update.

The site's design has evolved a bit and it hopefully makes navigation a little better. SPAM is still a problem, but we do our best to keep it out of the sight of visitors. It's the result of a permissive policy that lets everyone publish a story, blog post, etc.

In terms of server load, we are still coping most of the time, but sometimes there's a flood of SPAM/rogue traffic that renders the server virtually unreachable. We use some ad hoc filters for to address this nuisance, but if we are away, then the site can be paralysed for a long time. We still need to find better solutions to that.

Thanks in advance for any feedback you may have and thanks for reading Tux Machines.

It's Summer Again

Filed under
Site News

THE WEATHER has been getting more pleasant and the news too is pleasant these days. Software patents are in a state of perpetual demise, Microsoft is dealing with its large-scale demise (layoffs also), FOSS is being adopted by very large nations (Russia and China are among them), the UK has adopted OpenDocument Format as the standard, and our family benefits from government migrations to FOSS (Rianne and I work through a FOSS specialist).

While it may seem like the FOSS world is quiet (judging by the volume of news), the truth of the matter is that FOSS professionals are busy migrating many systems from proprietary to FOSS. These people are committed to the cause not just with words but also with actions.

Tux Machines, realising that games for GNU/Linux are now a dozen a week (not literally), lumps together gaming news. Android, being a Linux-based platform with huge worldwide impact, receives frequent mentions. If anyone wishes to suggest other editorial priorities, please share with us in the comments.

July's Record

Filed under
Site News

TODAY was the last day of the log rotation. The uncached requests to Apache (bypassing Varnish proxy) exceeded the record by a huge gap (around 20%) and nearly reached 300 megabytes.

It is reassuring and gratifying to know that our readers base is expanding each week and we welcome submissions (news, blogs, etc.), which can be automatically pushed to the front page by any subscriber.

Logo Concepts

Filed under
Just talk

More below...

TuxMachines Record Traffic

Filed under
Site News

FIVE days ago TuxMachines turned 10 years old. Rianne and I were on holiday in Scotland at the time, but were still able to keep the site up to date, owing to a Wi-Fi connection which we had to work exceptionally hard for (an open Wi-Fi connection is hard to find in the UK, especially one that enables anonymous use).

Running the site requires a lot of dedication because in order to stay up-to-the-minute TuxMachines requires non-ending research/survey of news. It's truly life-changing, potentially affecting the first hours of the morning and the little hours of the night. Sometimes it affects holidays and every couple of days I browse through news and post links in-between sets at the gym. Both Rianne and I are very dedicated to the site.

Since this site keeps growing in size and in traffic (the past week saw traffic climbing 20% above the previous record) it's all worthwhile at the end, and we have no intention of slowing down. What's more, seeing how Linux expands in use (and clout) around the world assures us that efforts to popularise GNU/Linux are succeeding.

'Free' Wi-Fi Usually Not Free Anymore

Filed under
Site News

Trafford Centre

SEVERAL days ago we visited Trafford Centre, which is a large shopping mall in Greater Manchester. The place is quite nice as it embodies very modern (yet classic) ornamental features, encompassing the best of outdoor and indoor decorations. It's all geared up towards consumerism, but there is also a nice cinema there. Now, here's the deal. Upon entering the mall one cannot help noticing that there is strong, universal Wi-Fi signal. Let's leave aside health implications. It's the same in other malls, such as the Arndale Centre near our house. It is also the same at airports, but if there is no payment needed for the Wi-Fi, then the user's identity is requested (if a payment is made, then the payment itself exposes the user's identity).

Trafford CentreFollowing basic principles and common sense, I gave some fake details so that I can use the 'free' Wi-Fi anonymously and log into Tux Machines (checking the latest), but I not help wondering, still. Given what we know about NSA- and GCHQ-centric plans for surveillance on in-flight Wi-Fi, what are the chances that users' identities are being requested not just for marketing purposes but also for surveillance? It is becoming very hard to access the Net anonymously now. The UK is cracking down on 'free' Wi-Fi, saying that it facilitates copyright infringement and our home hub, which is open for all to use (no password needed), keeps warning us that it is "not secure" (because it facilitates sharing). This is actively being discouraged if not forbidden. In all sorts of beverage-serving places (hot or cold, or alcoholic) and restaurants it is getting hard to gain anonymous Wi-FI access and the only way I've found (out of curiosity) to attain anonymous Wi-Fi use is First Class in high-speed British rail, provided one purchases the train ticket with cash. Similarly, it is getting harder to purchase groceries with cash here, at least without being penalised (not receiving a discount in exchange for identifying cards like Nectar). It sure seems like the very idea of anonymity here is becoming synonymous with crime. For experimental reasons I researched which shops in the UK still enable people to purchase a mobile phone anonymously. It's not easy, but it is still possible. Maybe it's no longer possible because I haven't surveyed the shops in almost 3 years.

We are entering a new unprecedented norm as those in power gradually phase in scary forms of governance in society, where the assumption is that anonymity deserves to be maligned and people should always identify themselves everywhere (also enable tracking of themselves by carrying a mobile phone) so as to avoid looking "suspicious". That's the mentality of mass surveillance that people have become accustomed to (and rather apathetic towards) in the UK.

It's stuff like this that made me exceptionally stubborn about deleting server logs in Tux Machines and not connecting to any third-party entity (e.g. with interactive social buttons, cookies), unlike most other GNU/Linux/FOSS sites.

Tux Machines Turns 10 in Exactly One Month

Filed under
Site News

A drunken penguin

THIS past week was not a bad week at all. There was lots to cover (without compromising focus and s/n ratio) and it was our biggest week ever (since we carried on from Susan) in terms of traffic, with as many visitors in 5.5 days as in the previous record for a week (7 days). Based on whois, the Creation Date of Tux Machines is 2004-06-10 05:40:40, so we are exactly a month away from an important anniversary.

We don't track visitors, we just look at the size of uncached traffic logs (no unique IPs, only one IP -- that of the Varnish server -- is shown for everyone) before they are deleted for good, which would be every 4-5 weeks (logrotate). Privacy preservation is a conscious decision for us.

Thanks to everyone for choosing us for news. We enjoy running the site and we hope you enjoy following it. Running the site requires a lot of dedication, including posting while out of the house (wirelessly) or staying up late at night to catch up with the latest headlines. Rianne sometimes stays awake until 3 AM because she wants to ensure readers are being informed.

Secret Back Doors in Android

Filed under
Just talk

I am everything but a Google basher and I spent a lot of my life descending deep into research of Google foes, Google smear campaigns, lawsuits by proxy, and antitrust actions by proxy. I also advocate Android, but in recent years I have been increasingly concerned about the direction it is taking. I wish to share my latest concern. It relates to what the media characterises as "anti-theft" but is actually a facility to kill phones in a protest or convert them into hostile listening devices. Technology impacts human rights and those who control technology can be tempted to control humans.

Google habitually updates my tablet. It is a Nexus 7 tablet which Google invites itself to update remotely (shame on me for not installing Replicant, but this device does not support it yet). It is not a 3G tablet and it does not have two operation systems (unlike mobile phones) or even a carrier tracking its location all the time. It's a purely Android device with no network tying. It is network-agnostic. I only bought it because in order to replace my PDA (for over a decade) I wanted a device that is not a tracking device. Phones were out of the question.

Networks don't track the tablet. Google, however, is always out there, fully able to identify the connected user (latched onto a Gmail address because of Play), modifying the software without even the user's consent (the user is sometimes prompted to boot, without being able to opt out of the core update itself).

The update in itself is not a problem. What's problematic is its effect.

Following the latest Google update (which I was given no option to reject) I noticed that Google had added a remote kill switch as an opition. It was enabed by default. "Allow remote lock and erase" is what Google calls it and it is essentially working like a back door. Google and its partners in government are gaining a lot of power not over a smartphone but over a tablet.

The significance of this is that not only phones should be assumed to be remotely accessible for modification, including for example additional back doors. What's more, some devices that were sold without this functionality silently have it added. According to the corporate press, the FBI remotely turns Android devices into listening devices and it is getting simpler to see how.

NSA and PRISM destroy our computing. We definitely need to demand Free software, but we should go further by asking for audits, rejecting user-hostile 'features' like DRM, 'secure' boot, and kill switches. I gradually lose any remaining trust that I had in Google and even Free software such as Android.

Tux Machines This Month

Filed under
Site News

Tux Machines

THE Web site is still experiencing a resurgence/growth while bits and pieces are being modernised to take advantage of CSS3. This site's Netcraft ranking climbed sharply to 8479th and this month alone traffic climbed by about 25%. Thanks to all those who choose Tux Machines as their source of news.

MakuluLinux 6 Codename "Imperium" MATE 1.8 Edition Released Tomorrow

Filed under
News

MakuluLinux

LAST night I received a timely recommendation of the Debian-based MakuluLinux. For more details and background see the main page of MakuluLinux, this recent video review, and a very brief announcement of an upcoming release with MATE, which is described in this old post.

There is a lot more information out there about MakuluLinux Mate Edition, whose 1.8 version is being planned/finalised/slated for release this Monday. There isn't yet an official site announcement, but the links to the Preview Edition will hopefully help those who want to try out the distro. It is a "true" community distro of GNU/Linux.

Tux Machines Turns 10 in a Couple of Months

Filed under
Site News

Ten

THERE HAS always been something different in Tux Machines. Rather than strictly follow what corporate media said was the "big" story, Tux Machines paid attention to blogs large and small, trying to extract the signal out of the noise and the hype (stories that 'sell' better, such as vulgar language from Mr. Torvalds). Tux Machines was the first site to visit (back when I was merely a visitor) to look for news in. If there is a blog, site, mailing list etc. that you think we should follow (syndicate), please let us know because we are always looking for more diverse sources, especially ones that offer original stories, not repetition.

There will soon be an important anniversary for this site, which is still growing not only in terms of size but also in terms of readership. We stay committed to the scope as explained yesterday in the update to this page and we are hoping to keep serving for another 10 (or tens of) years to come. Today we added a "view as PDF" functionality. Any ideas for improving the site (in terms of functionality, layout, stories selection) would be much appreciated.

Manchester and Computing

Filed under
Just talk

Manchester's role in the history of computing is not widely recognised. I spent several years working in Manchester Computing and I studied where the first programmable computer was built (by Kilburn, whom the building was later named after). One of my colleagues at Manchester Computing (MCC) was the person who was first to build and distribute a GNU/Linux distribution (combining both GNU and Linux) and yesterday I met and spoke to one of the earlier PC distributors from across the road (supplier for Manchester Computing). Right here at the centre of Manchester a lot of the early milestones of computing took place (Turing also), but Manchester became better known for the splitting of atoms, the football teams, famous bands like Oasis, and the industrial revolution. A few days ago Rianne and I visited the local museum which demonstrates the industrial revolution (photo above from this album); what we really need here, however, are more museums documenting Manchester's role in modern computing. This city deserves more credit.

Signal-to-Noise Ratio

Filed under
Site News

Non-cached site traffic still increasing

Stats chart for Tux Machines

Tux Machines has been my favourite GNU/Linux news site since I first discovered it around 2005. I publicly recommended Tux Machines for several years. Susan knew how to select important stories and she contributed objective articles of her own.

Running Tux Machines

Filed under
Site News

Roy Schestowitz

TUX Machines has become an integral part of our life right here in this humble home. It's a rewarding experience but also a demanding experience. I personally write my articles in the lounge (which is no 'press room') and it requires many hours of digging and researching news. In Tux Machines, unlike in Techrights for example, it's mostly about finding news of high relevance and importance, and finding them fast! Timing counts. We don't want readers to waste their time wading/going through irrelevant, unimportant and out-of-date reports.

24/7 coverage of news is easy for us. Rianne works mostly at daytime, whereas I usually work at nights (customers are mostly government/public sector and they require 24/7 coverage). When Rianne is working I take over the responsibilities at Tux Machines and vice versa. We swap responsibilities like this when it comes to housework as well; we work out together when we are out of the house (also separately in terms of gym sections, e.g. cardiovascular/weights). This week we go to yoga classes as much as 5 times, but we usually just to Town for other facilities like pool, table tennis, sauna (men and women separately), gym, etc. This is our main escape from Tux Machines; given Wi-Fi (scarce coverage but definitely existent in Manchester City Centre), we sometimes update Tux Machines while out of the house as well.

The site forums are now open for participation and every registered member can add blog posts and push them to the front page (now that we've got the spam epidemic under control). Please do consider participating. This week, as in previous weeks, we are seeing a ~10% growth in traffic (week-to-week), perhaps owing to the slight redesign, loading speeds (Varnish cache), and very frequent updates. We check for news once in a few hours in order to keep abreast of breaking events.

Running Tux Machines will hopefully become more of a community effort over time. Anyone who is logged in can now submit stories. Unless this gets abused by spammers, we will keep it that way.

Mollom Works

Filed under
Site News

Drupal's very own Mollom is a Free/Open Source (collaboratively-developed and freely-shared) software for battling script kiddies and fighting against SPAM. The past 2 weeks were difficult because spammers exploited the fact that we had opened up the site for registration/subscription (to leave comments). After exploring some options for dealing with the problem (spam making it to the front page even!) we found that Mollom was good enough to eliminate almost 100% of all of spam (so far). Hence, for the time being, it seems safe to say now that we beat the script kiddies. Thanks, Mollom!

Mollom

First Month on the New Server (Updated)

Filed under
Site News

Tux Machines behind Varnish cache proxy

Chart for Tux Machines

Summary: Tux Machines growth and a note regarding SPAM prevention after a week or so of experiments

Here are the first four weeks' log sizes, plotted with LibreOffice and demonstrating week-to-week growth since the site's nameservers changed and the server moved to CoPilotCo. After 4 weeks all logs get deleted (logrotate) to ensure privacy through lack of data retention (except short term in case of DDOS).

Opening Up Communications (Updatedx5)

Filed under
Site News

Script kiddies can't get their way

Diversity

Summary: Script kiddies made it impractical to manage comments and forum posts; we are trying to tackle this issue today

IN ANOTHER attempt to restore user registrations, this time on the new server which has just been configured for mail, we are enabling anyone to quickly self-register (takes less than a minute and requires no verification), then immediately post comments, forum posts, etc.

Syndicate content

More in Tux Machines

Android Leftovers

Linux on the mainframe: Then and now

Last week, I introduced you to the origins of the mainframe's origins from a community perspective. Let's continue our journey, picking up at the end of 1999, which is when IBM got onboard with Linux on the mainframe (IBM Z). These patches weren't part of the mainline Linux kernel yet, but they did get Linux running on z/VM (Virtual Machine for IBM Z), for anyone who was interested. Several efforts followed, including the first Linux distro—put together out of Marist College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., and Think Blue Linux by Millenux in Germany. The first real commercial distribution came from SUSE on October 31, 2000; this is notable in SUSE history because the first edition of what is now known as SUSE Enterprise Linux (SLES) is that S/390 port. Drawing again from Wikipedia, the SUSE Enterprise Linux page explains: Read more

OSS: Cisco Openwashing, GitLab Funding, Amazon Openwashing, Chrome OS Talk and More Talks

  • Why Open Source continues to be the foundation for modern IT

    Open source technology is no longer an outlier in the modern world, it's the foundation for development and collaboration. Sitting at the base of the open source movement is the Linux Foundation, which despite having the name Linux in its title, is about much more than just Linux and today is comprised of multiple foundations, each seeking to advance open source technology and development processes. At the recent Open Source Summit North America event held in San Diego, the width and breadth of open source was discussed ranging from gaming to networking, to the movie business ,to initiatives that can literally help save humanity. "The cool thing is that no matter whether it's networking, Linux kernel projects, the Cloud Native Computing Foundation projects like Kubernetes, or the film industry with the Academy Software Foundation (ASWF), you know open source is really pushing innovation beyond software and into all sorts of different areas," Jim Zemlin, executive director of the Linux Foundation said during his keynote address.

  • GitLab Inhales $268M Series E, Valuation Hits $2.75B

    GitLab raised a substantial $268 million in a Series E funding round that was more than doubled what the firm had raised across all of its previous funding rounds and pushed its valuation to $2.75 billion. It also bolsters the company’s coffers as it battles in an increasingly competitive DevOps space. GitLab CEO Sid Sijbrandij said in an email to SDxCentral that the new Series E funds will help the company continue to move on its goal of providing a single application to support quicker delivery of software. It claims more than 100,000 organizations use its platform. “These funds will help us to keep up with that pace and add to that with our company engineers,” Sijbrandij explained. “We need to make sure every part of GitLab is great and that CIOs and CTOs who supply the tools for their teams know that if they bet on GitLab that we’ll stand up to their expectations.”

  • Amazon open-sources its Topical Chat data set of over 4.7 million words [Ed: openwashing of listening devices without even releasing any code]
  • How Chrome OS works upstream

    Google has a long and interesting history contributing to the upstream Linux kernel. With Chrome OS, Google has tried to learn from some of the mistakes of its past and is now working with the upstream Linux kernel as much as it can. In a session at the 2019 Open Source Summit North America, Google software engineer Doug Anderson detailed how and why Chrome OS developers work upstream. It is an effort intended to help the Linux community as well as Google. The Chrome OS kernel is at the core of Google's Chromebook devices, and is based on a Linux long-term support (LTS) kernel. Anderson explained that Google picks an LTS kernel every year and all devices produced in that year will use the selected kernel. At least once during a device's lifetime, Google expects to be able to "uprev" (switch to a newer kernel version). Anderson emphasized that if Google didn't upstream its own patches from the Chrome OS kernel, it would make the uprev process substantially more difficult. Simply saying that you'll work upstream and actually working upstream can be two different things. The process by which Chrome OS developers get their patches upstream is similar to how any other patches land in the mainline Linux kernel. What is a bit interesting is the organizational structure and process of how Google has tasked Chrome OS developers to work with upstream. Anderson explained that developers need to submit patches to the kernel mailing list and then be a little patient, giving some time for upstream to respond. A key challenge, however, is when there is no response from upstream. "When developing an upstream-first culture, the biggest problem anyone can face is silence," Anderson said. Anderson emphasized that when submitting a patch to the mailing list, what a developer is looking for is some kind of feedback; whether it's good or bad doesn't matter, but it does matter that someone cares enough to review it. What the Chrome OS team does in the event that there is no community review is it will have other Chrome OS engineers publicly review the patch. The risk and worry of having Chrome OS engineers comment on Chrome OS patches is that the whole process might look a little scripted and there could be the perception of some bias as well. Anderson noted that it is important that only honest feedback and review is given for a patch.

  • Open Source Builds Trust & Credibility | Karyl Fowler

    Karyl Fowler is co-founder and CEO of Transmute, a company that’s building open source and decentralized identity management. We sat down with Fowler at the Oracle OpenWorld conference to talk about the work Transmute is doing.

  • What Is Infrastructure As Code?

    Rob Hirschfeld, Founder, and CEO of RackN breaks Infrastructure As Code (IaC) into six core concepts so users have a better understanding of it.

  • Everything You Need To Know About Redis Labs

    At the Oracle OpenWorld conference, we sat down with Kyle Davis – Head of Developer Advocacy at Redis Labs – to better understand what the company does.

Programming: Java, Python, and Perl

  • Oracle Releases Java 13 with Remarkable New Features

    Oracle – the software giant has released Java SE and JDK 13 along with the promise to introduce more new features in the future within the six-month cycle. The Java 13’s binaries are now available for download with improvements in security, performance, stability, and two new additional preview features ‘Switch Expressions’ and ‘Text Blocks’, specifically designed to boost developers’ productivity level. This gives the hope that the battle of Java vs Python will be won by the former. Remarking on the new release, Oracle said: “Oracle JDK 13 increases developer productivity by improving the performance, stability and security of the Java SE Platform and the JDK,”. [...] Speaking of the Java 13 release, it is licensed under the GNU General Public License v2 along with the Classpath Exception (GPLv2+CPE). The director of Oracle’s Java SE Product Management, Sharat Chander stated “Oracle offers Java 13 for enterprises and developers. JDK 13 will receive a minimum of two updates, per the Oracle CPU schedule, before being followed by Oracle JDK 14, which is due out in March 2020, with early access builds already available.” Let’s look into the new features that JDK 13 comes packed with.

  • 8 Python GUI Frameworks For Developers

    Graphical User Interfaces make human-machine interactions easier as well as intuitive. It plays a crucial role as the world is shifting.

  • What's In A Name? Tales Of Python, Perl, And The GIMP

    In the older days of open source software, major projects tended to have their Benevolent Dictators For Life who made all the final decisions, and some mature projects still operate that way. Guido van Rossum famously called his language “Python” because he liked the British comics of the same name. That’s the sort of thing that only a single developer can get away with. However, in these modern times of GitHub, GitLab, and other collaboration platforms, community-driven decision making has become a more and more common phenomenon, shifting software development towards democracy. People begin to think of themselves as “Python programmers” or “GIMP users” and the name of the project fuses irrevocably with their identity. What happens when software projects fork, develop apart, or otherwise change significantly? Obviously, to prevent confusion, they get a new name, and all of those “Perl Monks” need to become “Raku Monks”. Needless to say, what should be a trivial detail — what we’ve all decided to call this pile of ones and zeros or language constructs — can become a big deal. Don’t believe us? Here are the stories of renaming Python, Perl, and the GIMP.

  • How to teach (yourself) computer programming

    Many fellow students are likely in the same boat, the only difference being that the vast majority not only that don’t list computer science as one of their passions (but more as one of their reasons for not wanting to live anymore), but they get a very distorted view of what computer science and programming actually is.

    Said CS classes tend to be kind of a joke, not only because of the curriculum. The main reason why they are bad and boring is the way they are taught. I am going to address my main frustrations on this matter together with proposed solutions and a guide for those who want to start learning alone.

  • [Old] Perl Is Still The Goddess For Text Manipulation

    You heard me. Freedom is the word here with Perl.

    When I’m coding freely at home on my fun data science project, I rely on it to clean up my data.

    In the real world, data is often collected with loads of variations. Unless you are using someone’s “clean” dataset, you better learn to clean that data real fast.

    Yes, Perl is fast. It’s lightening fast.