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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

Qt/KDE: Qt5 in Debian and Slackware, QtCreator on Android, KDE Discover, and Plasma's 10th Anniversary

  • moving Qt 4 from Debian testing (aka Buster): some statistics, update II
    We started filing bugs around September 9. That means roughly 32 weeks which gives us around 5.65 packages fixed per week, aka 0.85 packages per day. Obviously not as good as we started (remaining bugs tend to be more complicated), but still quite good.
  • [Slackware] Plasma5 – April 18 edition for Slackware
    The KDE-5_18.04 release of ‘ktown‘ for Slackware-current offers the latest KDE Frameworks (5.45.0), Plasma (5.12.4) and Applications (18.04.0). The Qt5 was upgraded to 5.9.5. Read the README file for more details and for installation/upgrade instructions. Enjoy the latest Plasma 5 desktop environment.
  • Perfect Debugging Experience with QtCreator on Android
    While I was working on a yet-to-be-announced super secret and cool Qt on Android project, I had to do a lot of debugging. This way I found that debugging Qt apps on Android using QtCreator was ok, but it had some issues, which was kinda frustrating.
  • Discover – Easily Install Software on KDE Neon Desktop
    KDE Discover is an Open Source GUI app installer that comes packaged with KDE Neon. It was particularly built from the ground up to be compatible with other modern Linux distros with emphasis on beauty and convenience. KDE Discover was also designed to allow for an intuitive User Experience as it features a clean and clear layout with a high readability value which makes it easy to browse, search for, install, and uninstall applications.
  • Almost 10 years of Plasma-Desktop
    Last week I was at work and start to listen my boss said: “We need to show this to our director”. So I went to my coworker table to see what was happening. So they were using Gource to make a video about the git history of the project. Gource is a software version control visualization tool. So that triggered in my mind some memories about a friend talking about Python and showing how the project as grow in this past years, but I never discovered about the tool that made that amazing video. So well, I started to make some Gource videos, and because my love about KDE Community, why not make one about it?

GNOME: Getting Real GNOME Back in Ubuntu 18.04, Bug Fix for Memory Leak

  • Getting Real GNOME Back in Ubuntu 18.04 [Quick Tip]
    Ubuntu 18.04 uses a customized version of GNOME and GNOME users might not like those changes. This tutorial shows you how to install vanilla GNOME on Ubuntu 18.04. One of the main new features of Ubuntu 18.04 is the customized GNOME desktop. Ubuntu has done some tweaking on GNOME desktop to make it look similar to its Unity desktop. So you get minimize options in the windows control, a Unity like launcher on the left of the screen, app indicator support among some other changes.
  • The Infamous GNOME Shell Memory Leak
    at this point, I think it’s safe to assume that many of you already heard of a memory leak that was plaguing GNOME Shell. Well, as of yesterday, the two GitLab’s MRs that help fixing that issue were merged, and will be available in the next GNOME version. The fixes are being considered for backporting to GNOME 3.28 – after making sure they work as expected and don’t break your computer.
  • The Big GNOME Shell Memory Leak Has Been Plugged, Might Be Backported To 3.28
    The widely talked about "GNOME Shell memory leak" causing excessive memory usage after a while with recent versions of GNOME has now been fully corrected. The changes are currently staged in Git for what will become GNOME 3.30 but might also be backported to 3.28. Well known GNOME developer Georges Stavracas has provided an update on the matter and confirmed that the issue stems from GJS - the GNOME JavaScript component - with the garbage collection process not being fired off as it should.

Graphics: AMDVLK, XWayland and Vulkan

  • AMDVLK Vulkan Driver Stack Gets Updated With More Extensions, Optimizations & Fixes
    AMD developers maintaining their official Vulkan cross-platform driver code have pushed their end-of-week updates to their external source repositories for those wanting to build the AMDVLK driver on Linux from source. This latest AMDVLK push updates not only their PAL (Platform Abstraction Layer) and XGL (Vulkan API Layer) components but it also updates their fork of the LLVM code-base used for their shader compilation.
  • EGLStreams XWayland Code Revised Ahead Of X.Org Server 1.20
    It's still not clear if the EGLStreams XWayland support will be merged for xorg-server 1.20 but at least the patches were revised this week, making it possible to merge them into this next X.Org Server release for allowing the NVIDIA proprietary driver to work with XWayland.
  • Vulkan 1.1.74 Released With Minor Fixes & Clarifications
    Vulkan continues sticking to the "release early, release often" mantra with the availability today of Vulkan 1.1.74.

Xfce Releases/Updates

  • Xfce Settings 4.12.3 / 4.13.2 Released
    Fixes galore! Xfce Settings 4.12.3 and 4.13.2 were released on March 18th with several improvements, feature parity, and translations.
  • Xfce PulseAudio Plugin 0.4.0 (and 0.4.1) Released
    Stable as a rock. Xfce PulseAudio Plugin hit a new stable milestone with the 0.4.0 release. This release wraps up the awesome development cycle we’ve had on this over the last few months and is recommended for all users.
  • Xfce Settings Update Brings Better Multi-Monitor Support
    While still waiting on the long-awaited Xfce 4.14, out this weekend is an Xfce Settings 4.14.2 preview release as well as an Xfce Settings 4.12.3 stable series update. Both of these Xfce Settings updates bring better multi-monitor support, including visualization of all display configuration states, visually noting if two displays are mirrored, always drawing the active display last so it's on top, and a number of fixes pertaining to the multi-monitor display handling from this Xfce desktop settings agent.