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Malicious Spam

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FOR those who may be wondering, we didn't get compromised or anything. We never had any such incidents. What happened earlier is that some spammer, who had created an account before we limited account creation (due to spam), made the spam expandable to the whole screen, covering many of the pages with that spam (overlay). We are working on code to help prevent such spamming so that legitimate users can post comments etc. without spammers ruining the experience for everyone else.

Baidu Stages De Facto DDOS Attacks (Updated)

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Summary: A 2-hour investigation reveals that Tux Machines is now the victim of an arrogant, out-of-control Baidu

TUX MACHINES has been mostly offline later this morning. It has evidently become the victim of Baidu's lawlessness, having fallen under huge dumps of requests from IP addresses which can be traced back to Baidu and whose requests say Baidu as well (we tried blocking these, but it's not easy to do by IP because they have so many). They don't obey robots.txt rules; not even close! It turns out that others suffer from this as well. These A-holes have been causing a lot of problems to the site as of late (slowdowns was one of those problems), including damage to the underlying framework. Should we report them? To who exactly? Looking around the Web, there are no contact details (in English anyway) by which to reach them.

Baidu can be very evil towards Web sites. Evil. Just remember that.

Update: 3 major DDOS attacks (so far today) led to a lot of problems and they also revealed that not Baidu was at fault but botmasters who used "Baidu" to masquerade themselves, hiding among some real and legitimate requests from Baidu (with Baidu-owned IP addresses). We have changed our firewall accordingly. We don't know who's behind these attacks and what the motivations may be.

Record Week

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Encounter with a penguin

QUIETLY but surely, last week marked an important milestone, with traffic at the back end (not the cache layer*) exceeding 1.8 million hits, thus establishing a new record. So far this week it looks as though we are going to break this record again. We hope that the new format, which places emphasis on high importance links (as standalone nodes) and puts less important links in topical groups (grouping like games or howtos), makes reading the site more convenient and makes keeping abreast of the news easier, without getting overloaded in a way that is not somewhat manageable (links inside groups are typically less important, as intended). We're open to any suggestions readers may have to ensure we remain a leading syndicator of GNU/Linux and Free/Open Source software news. Any feedback can improve the site.

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* It is difficult to measure what happens at the Varnish layer as it's shared among several domains, including Techrights.

Back to Normal Next Week

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IN CASE it's not already obvious, we have been posting fewer links since the 14th of this month because we are both away and we catch up with some news only when time permits. Today's hot day (38 degrees) will probably allow us to stay indoors more time than usual and therefore post some more links (from Rianne's laptop), but a week for now is when we'll properly catch up with everything that was missed and gradually get back to normal, hopefully for a long time to come.

Please bear with us while we enjoy our last chance to have a summer vacation. It's already cold back home in Manchester.

Operating Systems in Tux Machines

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Summary: Some numbers to show what goes on in sites that do not share information about their visitors (unlike Windows-centric sites which target non-technical audiences)

THE common perception of GNU/Linux is that it is scarcely used, based on statistics gathered from privacy-hostile Web sites that share (or sell) access log data, embed spyware in all of their pages, and so on. Our sites are inherently different because of a reasonable -- if not sometimes fanatic -- appreciation of privacy at both ends (server and client). People who read technical sites know how to block ads, impede spurious scripts etc. These sites also actively avoid anything which is privacy-infringing, such as interactive 'social' media buttons (these let third parties spy on all visitors in all pages).

Techrights and Tux Machines attract the lion's share our traffic (and server capacity). They both have dedicated servers. These are truly popular and some of the leaders in their respective areas. Techrights deals with threats to software freedom, whereas Tux Machines is about real-time news discovery and organisation (pertaining to Free software and GNU/Linux).

The Varnish layer, which protects both of these large sites (nearly 100,000 pages in each, necessitating a very large cache pool), handles somewhere between a gigabyte to 2.5 gigabytes of data per hour (depending on the time of day, usually somewhere in the middle of this range, on average).

The Apache layer, which now boasts 32 GB of RAM and sports many CPU cores, handled 1,324,232 hits for Techrights (ranked 6636th for traffic in Netcraft) in this past week and 1,065,606 for Tux Machines (ranked 6214th for traffic in Netcraft).

Based on VISITORS Web Log Analyzer, this is what we've had in Techrights:

Windows: (36.2%)
Linux: (31.8%)
Unknown: (e.g. bots/spiders): (23.0%)
Macintosh: (8.8%)
FreeBSD: (0.1%)

As a graph (charted with LibreOffice):

Techrights stats

Tux Machines reveals a somewhat different pattern. Based on grepping/filtering the of past month's log at the Apache back end (not Varnish, which would have been a more sensible but harder thing to do), presenting the top 3 only:

Tuxmachines stats

One month is as far as retention goes, so it's not possible to show long-term trends (as before, based on Susan's summary of data). Logs older than that are automatically deleted, as promised, for both sites -- forever! We just need a small tail of data (temporarily) for DDOS prevention.

Mollom Issues

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TUX MACHINES has been having some issues with the spam filter, so people who regularly submit material, including comments, may have struggled to do so over the past fortnight of so. If that's the case, please re-attempt and report any issue you encounter to us (feedback button on the right).

Spring in Tux Machines

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Tux Machines traffic

Tux Machines traffic has been increasing during spring. The DDOS attacks are behind us thankfully, the latest problem is just a lot of spam, which we are deleting as soon as we can.

Blog posts

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D

UE TO a growing SPAM problem (dozens per day making the front page), we have disabled -- temporarily at least -- the ability of random visitors to create new blog posts after registering for an account. We apologise in advance to any legitimate users this restriction may affect.

Catchup Mode

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IN the coming days we will prioritise very recent news and of course important news, but at the same time we shall be catching up with some older but important news that we missed. This means that some older items (one or two weeks old) may occasionally appear. In lieu with requests from readers we will also stop abbreviating long summaries of news, such as today's leftovers and howto roundups.

On Break

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KDE laptops

THIS COMING WEEK, starting Tuesday in particular, will be a lot less busy than usual because Rianne and I are flying away and will be absent for a couple of weeks. Depending on availability of Wi-Fi, we ought to be able to still post some links, just not the usual volume of links.

We kindly ask anyone who is interested and willing to submit links highlighting relevant news, as every registered user can do that. It will greatly help us run the site while we are very far away in east Asia.

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More in Tux Machines

Questions and answers: Ubuntu bq tablet

I will say this. So far I've used the Ubuntu tablet for over a week and prefer using it over any other tablet...even with its quirks. In fact, it's the first mobile device that has me comfortable being away from my trusty desktop environment. Having mobile versions of The GIMP and LibreOffice alone is worth the price of admission. It's not perfect (far from it), but it's a sleek, mobile version of Linux that works incredibly well, especially considering how young it is. Read more

Today and Yesterday in Techrights

LibreOffice 5.0.6 Open-Source Office Suite Is Now Available for Download

We were informed just a few minutes ago by The Document Foundation's Italo Vignoli about the immediate availability for download of the LibreOffice 5.0.6 "Still" open-source office suite. Read more

today's leftovers

  • M$ Kicks Second Most Loyal Users In The Teeth [Ed: context below]
  • Windows 10 updates are now ruining pro-gaming streams
    Forcing a gaming PC to update mid-game during a livestream to up to 130,000 followers isn’t best advert for the software
  • Containers Used on over Half of New Apps in Production
    Shippable, the Seattle-based producer of a continuous delivery platform for software developers, recently quizzed 300 coders in the U.S. and found that more than half of them (52 percent) are using Docker or other container technologies to deploy their new applications in production. Fourteen percent are using containers for development and testing purposes. Indicating that 2016 is the year that containers cement their hold on the enterprise, a whopping 89 percent of respondents told the startup that they were very or somewhat likely to increase their use of the DevOps-enabling technology within the next 12 months. Developers are turning to containers when speed is of the essence. Containers have helped a majority of developers (74 percent) ship new software at least 10 percent faster. Eight percent are enjoying a 50-percent boost.
  • Divide et Impera
    But for those committed long term to an on premise model, new tactics are required. In a market that is struggling with fragmentation, solutions must become less fragmented. In some cases this will mean traditional formal partnerships, but these can be difficult to sustain as they require time and capital resource investments from companies that are certain to be short on one if not both. History suggests, however, that informal aggregations can be equally successful: the Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP combination, as one example, achieved massive success – success that continues to this day.
  • gNewSense 4.0 released
    I hereby announce the release of gNewSense 4, codenamed Ucclia. It's based on a solid Debian, modified to respect the Free Software Foundation's and is available for 3 architectures: i386, amd64 and mipsel (Lemote Yeeloong).
  • IPFire 2.19 Core Update 102 Linux Firewall OS Lands More OpenSSL Security Fixes
    Yesterday we reported news on the release of the IPFire 2.19 Core Update 102 Linux kernel-based firewall distribution, which brought many security patches and improvements, along with updated components. Today, May 5, 2016, we're informing our readers about the immediate availability of IPFire 2.19 Core Update 102, a small maintenance build to the stable IPFire 2.19 distribution that updates the OpenSSL package to version 1.0.2h, fixing a total of six vulnerabilities discovered upstream.
  • Samsung’s Artik 10, starts shipping in the US for $150
    Samsung’s Artik development boards are finally reaching hands of consumers in the US. The Artik development boards which were unveiled back in May 2015 at the IoT World 2015 have taken quite a lot of time to become consumer ready and take over the likes of the new Raspberry Pi 3, Pine 64,etc which have revolutionized the DIY Maker community with the “PC ona board” concept. And now, the Artik 10- the most powerful board from the Artik series is all set to intensify the ongoing competition. Priced at $150, which is more than what one would pay for 4 $35 priced Raspberry Pis, Samsung will sure have to do a lot to of work to impress the buyers and build a community around it.
  • Security advisories for Wednesday
  • ​Why I Hate Security, Computers, and the Entire Modern Banking System
    I woke up yesterday to find that a string of mysterious credit card payments had wiped out my checking account. I spent the next few hours as a prisoner of the phone tree, being interrogated on the transactions that I wanted answers about. No, I did not have a Banana Republic credit card. I didn’t have a Capital One credit card either. And I had no idea who Michael was, or what he was doing with all my money. The woman on the other end of the phone flagged transaction after transaction. For each one, she read me a long, pre-written paragraph of instructions and disclaimers—verbatim, even if she had repeated the same words just before. “Okay, so,” I said, when she was finally done. “It looks like this person is paying off credit cards through the web. What… am I supposed to do about that? What information do they have that lets them do it?” “It looks like they have your routing number and account number,” she told me. “You should close this account and get a new one.” I thanked her and hung up. Then my head exploded.