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Tux Machines This Month

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Tux Machines

THE Web site is still experiencing a resurgence/growth while bits and pieces are being modernised to take advantage of CSS3. This site's Netcraft ranking climbed sharply to 8479th and this month alone traffic climbed by about 25%. Thanks to all those who choose Tux Machines as their source of news.

Tux Machines Turns 10 in a Couple of Months

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Ten

THERE HAS always been something different in Tux Machines. Rather than strictly follow what corporate media said was the "big" story, Tux Machines paid attention to blogs large and small, trying to extract the signal out of the noise and the hype (stories that 'sell' better, such as vulgar language from Mr. Torvalds). Tux Machines was the first site to visit (back when I was merely a visitor) to look for news in. If there is a blog, site, mailing list etc. that you think we should follow (syndicate), please let us know because we are always looking for more diverse sources, especially ones that offer original stories, not repetition.

There will soon be an important anniversary for this site, which is still growing not only in terms of size but also in terms of readership. We stay committed to the scope as explained yesterday in the update to this page and we are hoping to keep serving for another 10 (or tens of) years to come. Today we added a "view as PDF" functionality. Any ideas for improving the site (in terms of functionality, layout, stories selection) would be much appreciated.

Signal-to-Noise Ratio

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Non-cached site traffic still increasing

Stats chart for Tux Machines

Tux Machines has been my favourite GNU/Linux news site since I first discovered it around 2005. I publicly recommended Tux Machines for several years. Susan knew how to select important stories and she contributed objective articles of her own.

Running Tux Machines

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Roy Schestowitz

TUX Machines has become an integral part of our life right here in this humble home. It's a rewarding experience but also a demanding experience. I personally write my articles in the lounge (which is no 'press room') and it requires many hours of digging and researching news. In Tux Machines, unlike in Techrights for example, it's mostly about finding news of high relevance and importance, and finding them fast! Timing counts. We don't want readers to waste their time wading/going through irrelevant, unimportant and out-of-date reports.

24/7 coverage of news is easy for us. Rianne works mostly at daytime, whereas I usually work at nights (customers are mostly government/public sector and they require 24/7 coverage). When Rianne is working I take over the responsibilities at Tux Machines and vice versa. We swap responsibilities like this when it comes to housework as well; we work out together when we are out of the house (also separately in terms of gym sections, e.g. cardiovascular/weights). This week we go to yoga classes as much as 5 times, but we usually just to Town for other facilities like pool, table tennis, sauna (men and women separately), gym, etc. This is our main escape from Tux Machines; given Wi-Fi (scarce coverage but definitely existent in Manchester City Centre), we sometimes update Tux Machines while out of the house as well.

The site forums are now open for participation and every registered member can add blog posts and push them to the front page (now that we've got the spam epidemic under control). Please do consider participating. This week, as in previous weeks, we are seeing a ~10% growth in traffic (week-to-week), perhaps owing to the slight redesign, loading speeds (Varnish cache), and very frequent updates. We check for news once in a few hours in order to keep abreast of breaking events.

Running Tux Machines will hopefully become more of a community effort over time. Anyone who is logged in can now submit stories. Unless this gets abused by spammers, we will keep it that way.

Mollom Works

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Drupal's very own Mollom is a Free/Open Source (collaboratively-developed and freely-shared) software for battling script kiddies and fighting against SPAM. The past 2 weeks were difficult because spammers exploited the fact that we had opened up the site for registration/subscription (to leave comments). After exploring some options for dealing with the problem (spam making it to the front page even!) we found that Mollom was good enough to eliminate almost 100% of all of spam (so far). Hence, for the time being, it seems safe to say now that we beat the script kiddies. Thanks, Mollom!

Mollom

First Month on the New Server (Updated)

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Tux Machines behind Varnish cache proxy

Chart for Tux Machines

Summary: Tux Machines growth and a note regarding SPAM prevention after a week or so of experiments

Here are the first four weeks' log sizes, plotted with LibreOffice and demonstrating week-to-week growth since the site's nameservers changed and the server moved to CoPilotCo. After 4 weeks all logs get deleted (logrotate) to ensure privacy through lack of data retention (except short term in case of DDOS).

Opening Up Communications (Updatedx5)

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Script kiddies can't get their way

Diversity

Summary: Script kiddies made it impractical to manage comments and forum posts; we are trying to tackle this issue today

IN ANOTHER attempt to restore user registrations, this time on the new server which has just been configured for mail, we are enabling anyone to quickly self-register (takes less than a minute and requires no verification), then immediately post comments, forum posts, etc.

Site Update (Updatedx2)

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Newspaper

Summary: Recent changes at Tux Machines, in just a nutshell

INSPIRED in part by Slashdot, we recently added topical icons to submissions, applying these changes retroactively to over 50,000 older pages. The idea was, this can improve orientation by helping to quickly associate text with topics. More minor modifications were made as well, some textual and some layout related. They are subtle but they can be seen. After receiving feedback regrading icons size we made further modifications. Regarding social media buttons, some of the ones we initially found were unbelievably privacy-infringing (allowing Google, Facebook, Twitter etc. to see visitors of this site), so we disabled them immediately and replaced them with static buttons. Right now we can assure that whenever loading pages in this Web site nothing except our security-aware network gets contacted. We share no data about visitors (with anyone) and Apache logs get shredded for good after a few weeks, leaving sufficient trail just in case of attacks on the site, which would merit investigation. Log rotation is similarly privacy-respecting at the cache level, which leads to the following point.

Today, after the above changes had been made and stability attained (there were some network disruptions yesterday), we also updated Drupal, ensuring it is secure and fully up to date (the latest minor bugfix release is a month old). There is still an issue with Varnish and until we tackle this issue users who are not logged in might be getting error pages. One way to overcome this is to append "?something" to the URL requested. This bypasses the Varnish cache until we finish our investigation of this issue and resolve it for good.

Update: The issue with Varnish turns out to be a conflict between two caching layers. It's fixed now. If you spot an issue, still, please let us know.

Update #2: Yesterday we identified another issue and soon thereafter fixed it. After Twitter syndication had failed we realised that RSS feeds were not standards-compliant, due to a blank line at the start of each generated page in Drupal. This is a common issue and it is a nightmare to debug (requires a complete code review with help of GNU utilities like grep). After 4 hours of investigation I found the culprit and fixed the coding error. RSS feeds are back.

This is "See Ya Around"

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I started to say "this is goodbye," but just because I sold the site doesn't mean I won't be around Linuxville. I'm still writing at ostatic and I may turn up here now and again as well. I'll be looking around to expand my writing after the new year too, so you're not rid of me yet. But the sale on tuxmachines.org has been completed.

Sold! (tentatively)

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I guess tuxmachines.org has been sold for $1000. I know it's kinda low, but times have changed and the new owner plans to carry on the tuxmachines tradition.

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More in Tux Machines

today's howtos

KDE: Qt, Plasma, QML, Usability & Productivity

  • Qt 5.11.1 and Plasma 5.13.1 in ktown ‘testing’ repository
    A couple of days ago I recompiled ‘poppler’ and the packages in ‘ktown’ that depend on it, and uploaded them into the repository as promised in my previous post. I did that because Slackware-current updated its own poppler package and mine needs to be kept in sync to prevent breakage in other parts of your Slackware computer. I hear you wonder, what is the difference between the Slackware poppler package and this ‘ktown’ package? Simple: my ‘poppler’ package contains support for Qt5 (in addition to the QT4 support in the original package) and that is required by other packages in the ‘ktown’ repository.
  • Sixth week of coding phase, GSoC'18
    The Menus API enables the QML Plugin to add an action, separator or menu to the WebView context menu. This API is not similar to the WebExtensions Menus API but is rather Falkonish!
  • This week in Usability & Productivity, part 24
    See all the names of people who worked hard to make the computing world a better place? That could be you next week! Getting involved isn’t all that tough, and there’s lots of support available.

Programming: Python Maths Tools and Java SE

  • Essential Free Python Maths Tools
    Python is a very popular general purpose programming language — with good reason. It’s object oriented, semantically structured, extremely versatile, and well supported. Scientists favour Python because it’s easy to use and learn, offers a good set of built-in features, and is highly extensible. Python’s readability makes it an excellent first programming language. The Python Standard Library (PSL) is the the standard library that’s distributed with Python. The library comes with, among other things, modules that carry out many mathematical operations. The math module is one of the core modules in PSL which performs mathematical operations. The module gives access to the underlying C library functions for floating point math.
  • Oracle's new Java SE subs: Code and support for $25/processor/month
    Oracle’s put a price on Java SE and support: $25 per processor per month, and $2.50 per user per month on the desktop, or less if you buy lots for a long time. Big Red’s called this a Java SE Subscription and pitched it as “a commonly used model, popular with Linux distributions”. The company also reckons the new deal is better than a perpetual licence, because they involve “an up-front cost plus additional annual support and maintenance fees.”

Linux 4.18 RC2 Released From China

  • Linux 4.18-rc2
    Another week, another -rc. I'm still traveling - now in China - but at least I'm doing this rc Sunday _evening_ local time rather than _morning_. And next rc I'll be back home and over rmy jetlag (knock wood) so everything should be back to the traditional schedule. Anyway, it's early in the rc series yet, but things look fairly normal. About a third of the patch is drivers (drm and s390 stand out, but here's networking and block updates too, and misc noise all over). We also had some of the core dma files move from drivers/base/dma-* (and lib/dma-*) to kernel/dma/*. We sometimes do code movement (and other "renaming" things) after the merge window simply because it tends to be less disruptive that way. Another 20% is under "tools" - mainly due to some selftest updates for rseq, but there's some turbostat and perf tooling work too. We also had some noticeable filesystem updates, particularly to cifs. I'm going to point those out, because some of them probably shouldn't have been in rc2. They were "fixes" not in the "regressions" sense, but in the "missing features" sense. So please, people, the "fixes" during the rc series really should be things that are _regressions_. If it used to work, and it no longer does, then fixing that is a good and proper fix. Or if something oopses or has a security implication, then the fix for that is a real fix. But if it's something that has never worked, even if it "fixes" some behavior, then it's new development, and that should come in during the merge window. Just because you think it's a "fix" doesn't mean that it really is one, at least in the "during the rc series" sense. Anyway, with that small rant out of the way, the rest is mostly arch updates (x86, powerpc, arm64, mips), and core networking. Go forth and test. Things look fairly sane, it's not really all that scary. Shortlog appended for people who want to scan through what changed. Linus
  • Linux 4.18-rc2 Released With A Normal Week's Worth Of Changes
    Due to traveling in China, Linus Torvalds has released the Linux 4.18-rc2 kernel a half-day ahead of schedule, but overall things are looking good for Linux 4.18.