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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

GNOME and Fedora

  • RFC: Integrating rsvg-rs into librsvg
    I have started an RFC to integrate rsvg-rs into librsvg. rsvg-rs is the Rust binding to librsvg. Like the gtk-rs bindings, it gets generated from a pre-built GIR file.
  • 1+ year of Fedora and GNOME hardware enablement
    A year and a couple of months ago, Christian Schaller asked me to pivot a little bit from working full time on Fleet Commander to manage a new team we were building to work on client hardware enablement for Fedora and GNOME with an emphasis on upstream. The idea was to fill the gap in the organization where nobody really owned the problem of bringing up new client hardware features vertically across the stack (from shell down to the kernel), or rather, ensure Fedora and GNOME both work great on modern laptops. Part of that deal was to take over the bootloader and start working closer to customers and hardware manufacturing parnters.
  • Fedora Atomic Workstation: Works on the beach
    My trip is getting really close, so I decided to upgrade my system to rawhide. Wait, what ? That is usually what everybody would tell you not to do. Rawhide has this reputation for frequent breakage, and who knows if my apps will work any given day. Not something you want to deal with while traveling.
  • 4 cool new projects to try in COPR for February

Why You Shouldn’t Use Firefox Forks (and Proprietary Opera)

  • Why You Shouldn’t Use Firefox Forks Like Waterfox, Pale Moon, or Basilisk
    Mozilla Firefox is an open source project, so anyone can take its code, modify it, and release a new browser. That’s what Waterfox, Pale Moon, and Basilisk are—alternative browsers based on the Firefox code. But we recommend against using any of them.
  • Opera Says Its Next Opera Release Will Have the Fastest Ad Blocker on the Block
    Opera Software promoted today its upcoming Opera 52 web browser to the beta channel claiming that it has the faster ad blocker on the market compared to previous Opera release and Google Chrome. One of the key highlights of the Opera 52 release will be the improved performance of the built-in ad blocker as Opera claims to have enhanced the string matching algorithm of the ad blocker to make it open web pages that contain ads much faster than before, and, apparently than other web browsers, such as Chrome.

Graphics: Glxinfo, ANV, SPIR-V

  • Glxinfo Gets Updated With OpenGL 4.6 Support, More vRAM Reporting
    The glxinfo utility is handy for Linux users in checking on their OpenGL driver in use by their system and related information. But it's not often that glxinfo itself gets updated, except that changed today with the release of mesa-demos-8.4.0 as the package providing this information utility. Mesa-demos is the collection of glxinfo, eglinfo, glxgears, and utilities related to Mesa. With the Mesa-demos 8.4.0 it is predominantly glxinfo updates.
  • Intel ANV Getting VK_KHR_16bit_storage Support Wrapped Up
    Igalia's Jose Maria Casanova Crespo sent out a set of patches today for fixes that allow for the enabling of the VK_KHR_16bit_storage extension within Intel's ANV Vulkan driver. The patches are here for those interested in 16-bit storage support in Vulkan. This flips on the features for storageBuffer16BitAccess, uniformAndStorageBuffer16BitAccess, storagePushConstant16 and the VK_KHR_16bit_storage extension. This support is present for Intel "Gen 8" Broadwell graphics and newer. Hopefully the work will be landing in Mesa Git soon.
  • SPIR-V Support For Gallium3D's Clover Is Closer To Reality
    It's been a busy past week for open-source GPU compute with Intel opening up their new NEO OpenCL stack, Karol Herbst at Red Hat posting the latest on Nouveau NIR support for SPIR-V compute, and now longtime Nouveau contributor Pierre Moreau has presented his latest for SPIR-V Clover support. Pierre has been spending about the past year adding SPIR-V support to Gallium3D's "Clover" OpenCL state tracker. SPIR-V, of course, is the intermediate representation used now by OpenCL and Vulkan.

Security: Updates, Tinder, FUD and KPTI Meltdown Mitigation

  • Security updates for Friday
  • Tinder vulnerability let hackers [sic] take over accounts with just a phone number

    The attack worked by exploiting two separate vulnerabilities: one in Tinder and another in Facebook’s Account Kit system, which Tinder uses to manage logins. The Account Kit vulnerability exposed users’ access tokens (also called an “aks” token), making them accessible through a simple API request with an associated phone number.

  • PSA: Improperly Secured Linux Servers Targeted with Chaos Backdoor [Ed: Drama queen once again (second time in a week almost) compares compromised GNU/Linux boxes to "back doors"]
    Hackers are using SSH brute-force attacks to take over Linux systems secured with weak passwords and are deploying a backdoor named Chaos. Attacks with this malware have been spotted since June, last year. They have been recently documented and broken down in a GoSecure report.
  • Another Potential Performance Optimization For KPTI Meltdown Mitigation
    Now that the dust is beginning to settle around the Meltdown and Spectre mitigation techniques on the major operating systems, in the weeks and months ahead we are likely to see more performance optimizations come to help offset the performance penalties incurred by mitigations like kernel page table isolation (KPTI) and Retpolines. This week a new patch series was published that may help with KPTI performance.