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Migrating TuxMachines to a Bigger Server

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We are in the process of moving the TuxMachines Web site to a better server with more capacity and better hardware. There may be temporarily odd behaviour on the site (if data is accessed which is out of date).

Monitoring Tux Machines With Apachetop, Nmon and Htop

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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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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.

140,000 Reached

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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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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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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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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.

Peaking Again

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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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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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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.

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More in Tux Machines

Puppy Linux Review and its Status Quo in the Linux Community

If we had 30 seconds to describe Puppy Linux bluntly, we would classify it as an OS under the light-weight Linux distro family with a functional objective of creating a smooth and easy user experience while simultaneously minimizing the memory footprint usage as much as possible. In this context, the memory footprint refers to the RAM, or Main Memory is used while software like an Operating System is active or operational. This 30-second assumptive description on Puppy Linux characterizes it as a Linux distro suitable for personal or home-user computers. If we are to assign it a birth year, then it would be 2003, and its creator being Barry Kauler. Puppy Linux stands out in the Linux community despite its name not being hailed on regular occasions as other Linux distros like Ubuntu, Fedora, Centos, and Kali Linux. The respect it has in these user communities is due to its outstanding positive attributes on display. Read more

Tmux vs. Screen: Which Is the Best Terminal Multiplexer?

When you work with terminals in Linux often, you’re bound to run into some struggles when you want to multitask. Multiple windows or tabs are fine, but when you’re logged into a remote server or other system, you don’t always have access to tabs or multiple terminal windows. That’s where the stalwart members of the Linux system administration world tmux and screen come in. But, as with all things in the open source community, the choice here isn’t clear as to which one of these commands is better for your usage. Today, we walk you through tmux vs screen to decide which is the best terminal multiplexer. Read more

Best Linux distro - The last five years - 2016-2020

Last year, for the first time in a decade, I did not write my end-of-year best distro reports. Because there wasn't anything majorly exciting to report about, and also because I found myself quite dejected and tired of testing systems for the sake of testing, going through the same old problems, bugs and regressions. Some of you even emailed me about this distinct absence of written judgment. Then I thought, well, if 2020 wasn't fun Linux wise, perhaps we can have a longer view? How about the best distro released in the last five years? That sounds meaningful, and should also give us a good dose of reflection and nostalgia. Now, as always, this is subjective, so if you don't see your favorite distro on the list, it's because I'm writing from my perspective. Begin, shall we? [...] Here we are. Or rather, here I am. Will you send me an angel, I mean distro. So yes. The past five years, and the best distros spawned, hatched, released, and tested. Percentage wise, Xfce takes the lion's share of medals, but it's also the case of Xfce being "better" earlier, and Plasma later in this period. And even Fedora got onto my list, because a few years ago, it was quite nifty and fun. Then I got old and cynical. Or something. The top entries for this list also feature distros that I use on my production systems. Combat-tested so to speak, with great delight and excellent results. My take on 2016-2020. And yes, you guessed right. We will have a sequel article, and it will cover the ENTIRE last decade. We'll examine 2011-2020, and vote on the bestest distro of them all. Take care. Read more

today's howtos

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    This is an introductory article; if you’re familiar with PXE you will want to skip the excursion but may be interested in the “Why”. The article ends with the post-installation setup of my test machine, turning it into a simple router so that the next article can start with the actual PXE-related setup.

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    Xournal is “an application for notetaking, sketching, keeping a journal using a stylus“. And now that my touchscreen is calibrated, highlighting can even be done with the fingers :)

  • 30 Basic Linux Commands For Beginners [Linux 101]

    When I was introduced to Linux, I had a pretty hard time getting used to and learning Linux commands. There’s no secret to learning Linux in a day or two easily but to practice, fail, stand up and practice again, and learn from your mistakes. The easiest way to learn Linux is not to abandon it if you don’t understand how it works. In this article, let’s look at some of the basic Linux commands for beginners. This list of Linux terminal commands contains all the common commands. Think of it as a Linux command cheat sheet as it contains almost all the basic ones to get you started.

  • How to Verify SHA256 Checksum of File in Linux

    Internet security is one of the most important aspects when it comes to the world wide web. There has been constant research and development to improve the security of applications and files on the Internet and thus to prevent malicious use. Downloadable files over the Internet are often the target of attacks on the Internet. As thousands and thousands of people download these files regularly, it becomes especially important to protect such files. In this article, we will learn about checksums and how they can be used to authenticate a downloaded file from the Internet.

  • How to Check Linux Commands History by Dates

    The history command in Linux is used to view previously executed commands from the terminal. It will show a list of commands, with an ‘id’ next to each command.

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  • How to Install and Use Docker Compose on Ubuntu 20.04 | 18.04

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