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Tux Machines is Now on Mastodon

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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

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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).

Record-Breaking Traffic

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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.

Web Site Traffic Growing

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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.
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* 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

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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.

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.

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More in Tux Machines

Oracle: New VirtualBox 5.2 Beta, SPARC M8 Processors Launched

  • VirtualBox 5.2 to Let Users Enable or Disable Audio Input and Output On-the-Fly
    Oracle announced new updates for its popular, cross-platform and open-source virtualization software, the third Beta of the upcoming VirtualBox 5.2 major release and VirtualBox 5.1.28 stable maintenance update. We'll start with the stable update, VirtualBox 5.1.28, as it's more important for our readers using Oracle VM VirtualBox for all of their virtualization needs. The VirtualBox 5.1 maintenance release 28 is here to improve audio support by fixing various issues with both the ALSA and OSS backends, as well as an accidental crash with AC'97.
  • SPARC M8 Processors Launched
    While Oracle recently let go of some of their SPARC team, today marks the launch of the SPARC M8. The initial SPARC M8 line-up includes the T8-1, T8-2, T8-4. M8-8, and SuperCluster M8-8 servers.

Wikileaks Releases Spy Files Russia, CCleaner Infected, Equifax Has a Dirty Little Secret

  • Spy Files Russia
    This publication continues WikiLeaks' Spy Files series with releases about surveillance contractors in Russia. While the surveillance of communication traffic is a global phenomena, the legal and technological framework of its operation is different for each country. Russia's laws - especially the new Yarovaya Law - make literally no distinction between Lawful Interception and mass surveillance by state intelligence authorities (SIAs) without court orders. Russian communication providers are required by Russian law to install the so-called SORM ( Система Оперативно-Розыскных Мероприятий) components for surveillance provided by the FSB at their own expense. The SORM infrastructure is developed and deployed in Russia with close cooperation between the FSB, the Interior Ministry of Russia and Russian surveillance contractors.
  • Malware-Infected CCleaner Installer Distributed to Users Via Official Servers for a Month
    Hackers have managed to embed malware into the installer of CCleaner, a popular Windows system optimization tool with over 2 billion downloads to date. The rogue package was distributed through official channels for almost a month. CCleaner is a utilities program that is used to delete temporary internet files such as cookies, empty the Recycling Bin, correct problems with the Windows Registry, among other tasks. First released in 2003, it has become hugely popular; up to 20 million people download it per month. Users who downloaded and installed CCleaner or CCleaner Cloud between Aug. 15 and Sept. 12 should scan their computers for malware and update their apps. The 32-bit versions of CCleaner v5.33.6162 and CCleaner Cloud v1.07.3191 were affected.
  • Equifax Suffered a Hack [sic] Almost Five Months Earlier Than the Date It Disclosed
  • This is why you shouldn’t use texts for two-factor authentication

    For a long time, security experts have warned that text messages are vulnerable to hijacking — and this morning, they showed what it looks like in practice.

Amazon Changes Rental ('Cloud') Model on GNU/Linux

Devices/Hardware: Embedded/Boards, CODESYS, and EPYC Linux Performance

  • Linux friendly IoT gateway runs on 3.5-inch Bay Trail SBC
    While the MB-80580 SBC lists SATA II, the gateway indicates SATA III. Also, the gateway datasheet notes that the RS232 ports can all be redirected to RS232/422/485. Software includes Windows IoT Core and Server, as well as Yocto, Ubuntu Snappy Core, and CentOS Linux distributions.
  • Rugged panel PC scales up to a 19-inch touchscreen
    The fanless, IP65-rated WinSystems “PPC65B-1x” panel PC runs Linux or Win 10 on a quad-core Atom E3845, and offers 10.4 to 19-inch resistive touchscreens.
  • CODESYS announces CODESYS-compatible SoftPLC for open Linux device platforms
  • EPYC Linux performance from AMD
    Phoronix have been hard at work testing out AMD's new server chip, specifically the 2.2/2.7/3.2GHz EPYC 7601 with 32 physical cores.  The frequency numbers now have a third member which is the top frequency all 32 cores can hit simultaneously, for this processor that would be 2.7GHz.  Benchmarking server processors is somewhat different from testing consumer CPUs, gaming performance is not as important as dealing with specific productivity applications.   Phoronix started their testing of EPYC, in both NUMA and non-NUMA configurations, comparing against several Xeon models and the performance delta is quite impressive, sometimes leaving even a system with dual Xeon Gold 6138's in the dust.  They also followed up with a look at how EPYC compares to Opteron, AMD's last server offerings.  The evolution is something to behold.
  • Opteron vs. EPYC Benchmarks & Performance-Per-Watt: How AMD Server Performance Evolved Over 10 Years
    By now you have likely seen our initial AMD EPYC 7601 Linux benchmarks. If you haven't, check them out, EPYC does really deliver on being competitive with current Intel hardware in the highly threaded space. If you have been curious to see some power numbers on EPYC, here they are from the Tyan Transport SX TN70A-B8026 2U server. Making things more interesting are some comparison benchmarks showing how the AMD EPYC performance compares to AMD Opteron processors from about ten years ago.