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Monitoring Tux Machines With Apachetop, Nmon and Htop

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Site News

Monitoring Tux Machines

Summary: A little glimpse at how we monitor this site for DDOS attacks and general performance, especially now that DDOS attacks have already become pervasive and routine (Apachetop helps identity attack patterns and visual, colourful alerts are triggered in Nmon and Htop)

Malicious Bots

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Site News

Choking on bots, cannot cope

TUX MACHINES may seem to have become rather slow if not unreachable at times. Over the past few months we've had issues with bots that request as many as 10,000 files per minute from the site's server, which is obviously unable to cope with the load/bandwidth and actually deliver what's requested. Sometimes it even resets Apache in order to regain order. At the moment we lack a permanent solution, but we have some mitigations in place.

More than 5 years ago we had to stop new account sign-ups due to spammers setting up loads of dummy accounts (hundreds per day), then directing these to vandalise the site. This inevitably led to tighter control from an editorial perspective and it reduced the number of comments.

Running a site is no picnic; it's a 24/7 responsibility. We do the best we can to maintain a reliable service whilst at the same time also pursuing the latest news stories of interest. This takes a huge amount of time and dedication.

If it is difficult to reach the site or if the site feels very slow, it's almost definitely due to those bots. The server's uptime is now 160 days.

Microsoft Loves Painting Apple (or "GAFA") as the Problem

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Just talk

Mask Me No Questions: The 'new' Microsoft; Mask Me No Questions

Summary: The latest twist in Microsoft's PR strategy is, divert attention and blame to other companies [1,2], even if their alleged abuses are in fact a copy of Microsoft's own

  • Microsoft Backs Epic’s Apple Battle on Game Technology Access

    The graphics technology, known as Unreal Engine, is a suite of software used by millions of developers to build 3-D games and other products. Cutting off Epic from Apple’s iOS and Mac developer tools would mean the gaming company can no longer distribute Unreal Engine to other developers, Epic said in its legal filing. Microsoft, which makes the Xbox, uses the technology for games developed for consoles, PCs and mobile devices.

  • Microsoft Supports Epic Games, Says Apple Blocking Access to Unreal Engine Would Harm Game Creators

    In a declaration in support of Epic Games [PDF], Microsoft gaming executive Kevin Gammill wrote that "Apple's discontinuation of Epic's ability to develop and support Unreal Engine for iOS or macOS will harm game creators and gamers." Specifically, Gammill said that games utilizing Unreal Engine will be put at a "substantial disadvantage," citing Microsoft's own racing game Forza Street for iPhone and iPad as an example.

Kangaroo on protest

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Humor

140,000 Reached

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Site News

Clock

THIS may be hard to believe, but after more than 16 years we've managed to put together 140,000 Drupal nodes (this one is the 140,000th). Most of these are news clippings and clusters of links. The rest are pages, blog posts and forum threads.

The next meaningful milestone will be the 150,000th node and our 20th anniversary (some time in 2024). We're quite certain we'll get there, along with 200,000 nodes, as this past week we've been in the region of all-time record traffic.

Susan is still involved sometimes, albeit behind the scenes. We thank her enormously for all the work she did.

3 Months From Home

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Site News

TM setup portrait


TUX MACHINES has been run from one single place over the past 3 months because of the COVID-19-induced lock-downs. We no longer travel far from home (it's impractical)... and we both work from home anyway.

The prolonged shut-down of businesses (they only reopened a fortnight ago) resulted in lack of access to some digital necessities, but that almost always meant more free time to rethink and reassess the workflow and the workspace with existing hardware (reshuffling what we already have, both new and old).

Last month I showed how the screens on my desk were split to handle multi-tasking. Last week I shuffled to portrait mode (as shown above). Rianne too uses 2 or 3 screens, but her setup is somewhat simpler. We basically both use a combination of RSS readers. I mostly use QuiteRSS and she uses Thunderbird and QuiteRSS in conjunction (best of both worlds). We're still hoping that an intern based in Africa will start participating soon. The pandemic has made access to the Internet a lot harder for him. He wants to cover programming and Web-related topics for us.

Message From the Editors

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Site News

Roy and Rianne

Summary: We're still running the site 24/7 every day/week of the year; we're managing to cope with slower news cycles

WE RECENTLY passed the sixteenth anniversary of this site, which is peaking in terms of traffic (record levels and all-time highs for several consecutive weeks). This weekend is very, very slow for news. Very.

We're typically managing to cope with the decline of journalism by digging deeper, finding lesser known sites such as blogs. We're hoping to reach the twentieth anniversary of the site. That's 2024.

Star Trek Thanksgiving: Did I tell you the joke about the flightless bird? Oh, don't get started, Worf... turned out it was a machine

For those who don't follow over RSS feeds (default and recommended as there are no middlemen; access is direct) there are also Twitter (proprietary) and the following accounts in Free software-based networks. Diaspora:

Diaspora logo

Mastodon:

Mastodon logo

Pleroma (Fediverse like Mastodon):

Pleroma logo

Thanks for choosing Tux Machines for news.

Sweet Sixteen

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Site News

Exuberant dog

TUX MACHINES is turning 16 today. Yes, 16. Not many sites last this long.

The interesting thing is, this past week we had an all-time traffic record and the same is true for the week prior. So for two weeks in a row, despite relatively slow news, we broke a record.

We aren't celebrating the birthday this year (we're still restricted in what can be done here, due to the virus), but maybe next year we'll do something and even share some photos.

Variscite Rises to Platinum Member of NXP Partner Program

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News

Variscite and NXP are taking their partnership to the next level with the promotion of Variscite to become a Platinum Member of NXP’s Partner Program.

Official Launch of Variscite’s i.MX8X System on Module

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News

Variscite has re-launched its VAR-SOM-MX8X System on Module, based on the i.MX8X processor with the latest NXP’s qualified silicon for full production. The SoM expands Variscite’s VAR-SOM Pin2Pin product family and offers built-in safety features, highly integrated multimedia support, and efficient power/performance architecture.

Peaking Again

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Site News

Summary: In terms of number of daily nodes, we're at the pinnacle still (despite slow news at times of lock-downs)

Tux Machines is turning 16 exactly one month from now. We've decided to plot activity over time, as measured by number of posts/nodes. It's not the most important measure (e.g. original articles), but it's something that's not too hard to plot.

Attached to this post is tux-posts.txt, which can be converted into tux-numbers.txt as follows:

sed 's/[\t ][\t ]*/ /g' < tux-posts.txt | cut -d' ' -f3,5 >tux-numbers.txt

We can then plot it:

gnuplot -p -e 'plot "./tux-numbers.txt" with linespoints linetype 1 pointtype 2 linecolor 10'

And voila!

Plot tuxmachines posts

In a month from now we might buy a cake.

Running Tux Machines

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Site News

Roy's deskop

Roy's deskop and laptop

Roy's deskop and laptop with text

Running Tux Machines with my wife (the lead editor, I mostly sweep up and cluster related stories) is a hobby but it feels like a full-time job, a 24/7 job that involves picking and sorting news as quickly as possible, almost non-stop around the clock. My own workflow -- not speaking about Rianne's -- can be shown in this annotated photo, which I took a couple of hours ago. Readers might find it interesting, knowing roughly how the site is run from my side (not Rianne's). The office is at home of course, as we're both remote workers in the area of computing. We're like sysadmins for a living and maintaining Tux Machines helps keep us abreast of the latest technologies.

Turning 16 This Summer

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Site News

No crisis for the "tuxmachiners"

tuxmachines at whois

AS keen observers may be aware, bearing in mind last year's anniversary party (when such parties were still permitted), we're soon turning 16. There won't be a party or anything; not even online (it's pointless).

This past year has been our strongest and for whatever reason since the pandemic began (epidemic escalated and declared "pandemic"), then soon thereafter lock-downs were enforced, we saw another uptick in traffic. We don't spy on visitors, but we merely observe the size of Apache logs, which are then wiped for privacy reasons.

When Rianne and I took over the site in 2013 it had already flourished, thanks to the love of care of Susan. We continue curating the news, clustering together related reports. The list of blogs we syndicate continues to grow because the mainstream media perishes, leaving a vacuum for people who are eager to find timely information, such as distro reviews and howtos.

If you run a GNU/Linux-oriented blog in the English language that we do not link to (most likely because we're not aware of its existence), let us know in the comments, in IRC, or other contact means. We soon turn 16 and we're quite confident that we'll make it to 20 as well. At the moment, as of this month, we also do server upgrades and we hope to add SSL soon. We've already moved one of this site's databases to a separate container in Alpine Linux. We make improvements while maintaining the site's spirit and long tradition.

Stay home. Save lives.

100,000 Tweets

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Site News

@tuxmachines in Twitter
The @tuxmachines account in Twitter as of this morning

We have been on Twitter for nearly a decade. It's proprietary and centralised, but some of our audience comes from there. In the start of March we'll have posted our 100,000th tweet in Twitter. A milestone? Maybe for Twitter. We try to focus on our presence in Free/libre networks, such as Mastodon, Pleroma and Diaspora. We joined Pleroma a year ago and have more followers there than we have in Twitter. Spring is fast approaching, which means we soon turn 16.

In the face of an Orangutan

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Just talk

Orangutan

Mother of two species.

The camels' outcry

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Just talk

Camel

When a human doesn't know what to do and people don't know how to tackle the real issue, the animals are becoming the sacrifice. Billion of animals were lost to bushfires alone and millions are slaughtered every day, yet the audacity to kill the camels is astonishing. I wonder what would be the humans' reaction if the animals called for human culling. Think about it.

Why Tux Machines Occasionally Adds Editorial Comments

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Just talk

Editorials

Summary: Editorial remarks (or Editor's comments, "Ed" for short) play a role in highlighting potential inaccuracies -- and manipulations of the mind -- when those aren't so shallow and aren't abundantly obvious

Recently, and as lately as a few hours ago, Richard Stallman exchanged some messages and we might meet again in a few months (he is traveling to the UK). Stallman and I share a concern about neglect of truth and history; for instance, many GNU programs are nowadays dubbed "LINUX COMMANDS" (I saw one example of that just 2 hours ago) and people sometimes lose sight of the important goals, focusing on brands instead of philosophy, political aspects and so on.

"Sometimes we link to something which isn't entirely accurate or can be misleading."

I would like to take this moment, on the last day of this year, to explain where we stand on issues pertaining to software freedom. A few times in the past one reader bemoaned my editorial comments (marked "Ed"), which typically bemoan something about the cited article/s. Sometimes we link to something which isn't entirely accurate or can be misleading. One example of that is openwashing. Another rather common and increasingly ubiquitous example concerns Microsoft "loving" Linux (it actually loves Windows).

We live in a world with Public Relations and marketing agencies. They exist to mislead; they shape perceptions -- that's their business model! To blindly link to just anything online without commentary or curation would likely lead us astray. Truth does matter. Facts need to be checked. This is what Tux Machines strives to achieve; throwing the word "LINUX" into something like Google News would expose one to loads of cruft, irrelevant stuff, plagiarism, pure spam and sometimes intentional lies. With no human operator or editor just about anything can be dunked into search results, owing to SEO manipulation and mishandling of indexes. I've seen that for well over a decade. Automation just doesn't work; someone who understands the problem domain needs to assess things for quality and accuracy.

"To be fair, comments are open, so readers can respond."

My adult life (since age 18 or so when I became a GNU/Linux user) involved very hard work and lifelong activism for software freedom. Not everyone agrees with me and if sometimes I may say something readers disagree with (e.g. in editorial comments), then it's likely because I try to be realistic, not jingoistic. Moreover, no two individuals will agree on everything 100% of the time. That's inevitable. So some readers might dislike these editorial comments. To be fair, comments are open, so readers can respond.

At the moment, the way I personally see it, Free software is under a number of attacks. There are different types of attacks. I think Free software will endure regardless. On a more positive note, Free software is nowadays used everywhere, it's just not being called that ("Open Source" is the term corporate media prefers) and it has been leveraged as a low-cost 'cushion' for DRM, surveillance, militarism etc. Think of companies like Facebook and Netflix (GNU and Linux at their back ends). Is this what we strive for? Closed systems that are merely built upon Freedom-respecting stacks?

"At the moment, the way I personally see it, Free software is under a number of attacks."

Software freedom is a huge objective in a world where almost everything becomes digital (only more so over time). I think it's up to us to somehow guide the world's software towards ethical uses, without necessarily imposing how it's used, and that is perhaps a future challenge for the Free Software Movement. It's a monumental challenge because politics can be a massive terrain to navigate. Over at Techrights I mostly focus on issues such as patents (laws), with emphasis on the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), the European Patent Office (EPO) granting software patents in Europe and so on. Patents on algorithms are one kind of barrier (among many) impeding Free software adoption.

The End of Tux Machines' Strongest Year

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Site News

Tux Machines 2020

TODAY is the last day of the last month of this year if not decade. We're pleased to close this year with record traffic levels. In 2019 we increased our coverage of programming-centric matters, especially when the underlying frameworks/languages were Free/libre software.

Earlier this year we also celebrated our 15th anniversary. There are three of us working behind the scenes to make the site up to date and keep it up (online). We're all passionate users of GNU/Linux who want to spread the word and encourage more people to use the platform.

In 2019 not only did we see record traffic levels; we also saw an unprecedented level of success for GNU/Linux in the adoption sense. Rianne is responsible for "Android leftovers" and remember that each Android device has Linux (or "Tux") in it. Google explored alternatives, but we haven't heard of these for months. It's nowadays very difficult to run a company or start a company without Linux -- no matter if in the server or device space. Let's hope Tux Machines will be around -- and online -- for many years to come. Happy new year.

Moving Into 'Christmas Mode'

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Site News

Slow news day

Summary: Fewer news items in days to come and potentially some planned downtime as well

AS ONE can expect, we won't be able to find much news over the next few days, and perhaps be 'low volume' for as long as a week or more to come (a problem to news addicts or neophiles). We'll try to also upgrade/migrate the site if all goes according to plan. In that case, there might be limited downtime (scheduled, altogether expected, no need to panic).

Merry Christmas to those who celebrate it.

Keep the Bees Going

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Site News

Bee

MANCHESTER is known as the city of "working bees" because of the work ethics or its hard-working people. Working bees are the symbol of Manchester, where my wife and I are based and spend each day -- morning, afternoon, evening and sometimes night -- posting updates here in Tux Machines.

The end of the year is fast approaching. Literally 22 days left, i.e. 3 weeks and a day. We wish to thank those who tipped up yesterday to keep us going. We accept donations through PayPal and we're grateful for any contribution readers can make, even if as meager as a cup of coffee's worth. It gives my wife and I motivation to continue and circulate updates as soon as we find them. Thank you! Smile

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'This was bigger than GNOME and bigger than just this case.' GNOME Foundation exec director talks patent trolls and much, much more

Patent assertion entities: do not pick a fight with open source. It won't end well for you. This is the message from GNOME Foundation executive director Neil McGovern, who will speak on the subject at the Open Source Summit Europe next week. McGovern talked to The Register ahead of the event on patents, Microsoft, and more. The open-source outfit develops the default desktop environment on major Linux distributions including Ubuntu and Red Hat. In late August 2019, Rothschild Patent Imaging filed a lawsuit against the GNOME foundation claiming that GNOME Shotwell, a photo manager, infringed one of its patents. “We didn't receive a letter before the court documents were filed or any sort of warning, it was just filed and then within a week there was a settlement request for $75,000,” McGovern told us. Read more

Debian Janitor: Hosters used by Debian packages

The Debian Janitor is an automated system that commits fixes for (minor) issues in Debian packages that can be fixed by software. It gradually started proposing merges in early December. The first set of changes sent out ran lintian-brush on sid packages maintained in Git. This post is part of a series about the progress of the Janitor. The Janitor knows how to talk to different hosting platforms. For each hosting platform, it needs to support the platform- specific API for creating and managing merge proposals. For each hoster it also needs to have credentials. At the moment, it supports the GitHub API, Launchpad API and GitLab API. Both GitHub and Launchpad have only a single instance; the GitLab instances it supports are gitlab.com and salsa.debian.org. This provides coverage for the vast majority of Debian packages that can be accessed using Git. More than 75% of all packages are available on salsa - although in some cases, the Vcs-Git header has not yet been updated. Of the other 25%, the majority either does not declare where it is hosted using a Vcs-* header (10.5%), or have not yet migrated from alioth to another hosting platform (9.7%). A further 2.3% are hosted somewhere on GitHub (2%), Launchpad (0.18%) or GitLab.com (0.15%), in many cases in the same repository as the upstream code. Read more Also: Multiple git configurations depending on the repository path

Benchmarks and Graphics Leftovers: x86, Zink, and Navi

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    For the Intel Tiger Lake Linux benchmarking thus far with the Core i7 1165G7 on the Dell XPS 13 9310 it's primarily been compared against the Ryzen 5 4500U and Ryzen 7 4700U on the AMD side since those are the only Renoir units within my possession. But a Phoronix reader recently provided me with remote access to his Lenovo ThinkPad X13 with Ryzen 7 PRO 4750U (8 cores / 16 threads) for seeing how the Tiger Lake performance compares against that higher-end SKU. Phoronix reader Tomas kindly provided SSH access to his ThinkPad X13 with Ryzen 7 PRO 4750U and 16GB of RAM. The Ryzen 7 PRO 4750U is quite close to the Ryzen 7 4800U with 8 cores / 16 threads but graphics capabilities in line with the 4700U. He's been quite happy with the ThinkPad X13 as a replacement to the Dell XPS 13 for business usage and has been running it with Ubuntu 18.04 LTS on the Linux 5.8 kernel.

  • Mike Blumenkrantz: Catching Up

    A rare Saturday post because I spent so much time this week intending to blog and then somehow not getting around to it. Let’s get to the status updates, and then I’m going to dive into the more interesting of the things I worked on over the past few days. Zink has just hit another big milestone that I’ve just invented: as of now, my branch is passing 97% of piglit tests up through GL 4.6 and ES 3.2, and it’s a huge improvement from earlier in the week when I was only at around 92%. That’s just over 1000 failure cases remaining out of ~41,000 tests. For perspective, a table.

  • AMD 'Big Navi' 3DMark Firestrike results shared by HW testing firm

    The Linux specialists over at Phoronix have noticed that the AMD Linux driver has been tweaked to add support for a new graphics card dubbed the "navi10 blockchain SKU". It comments that the only visible difference in support for this card vs existing Navi 1X support, from the driver perspective, is that the patches disable the Display Core Next (DCN) and Video Core Next (VCN) support - basically creating a 'headless' Navi 1X graphics card. Cryprocurrency is showing signs of a resurgence in popularity and values, and some are worried that the latest and greatest GPUs from both Nvidia and AMD will be plucked from retailers even faster if they are viable mining platforms. It has been reported that AMD is trying to make sure retailers follow certain distribution practices with its upcoming Radeon RX 6000 series products, to make sure they are distributed to gamers and enthusiasts rather than scalpers and such like. An initiative like creating appealing crypto-specific Navi 1X products might help everyday consumers get their hands on a new Navi 2X graphics card too.

Does the Snap Store Use Too Much Memory?

This week I noticed that the Snap Store app on my Ubuntu 20.10 laptop uses a tonne of memory, even when it’s not running — we’re talking more memory than the main GNOME Shell process uses, and that is always running! Naturally I assumed something in my config was to blame. I do make heavy use of Snap apps — don’t worry I use plenty of Flatpak and PPAs too. I’m pretty polyamorous when it comes to packaging formats and I did install using an Ubuntu 20.10 daily build. Therein lay bugs. I know the caveats. All good. Don’t mind. Whatever. Read more