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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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Site News

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

OSS Leftovers

  • Canada’s Spy Agency Releases its Cyber-Defense Tool for Public
  • Canadian govt spooks open source anti-malware analytics tool
    The Communications Security Establishment (CSE) said the AssemblyLine tool is designed to analyse large volumes of files, and can automatically rebalance workloads.
  • Microservices served on blockchain, in open source
    Cloud application marketplace company Wireline is working with open source blockchain project developer Qtum The new union is intended to provide a conduit to consuming microservices at [web] scale using blockchain at the core. As we know, microservices offer the ability to create Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) without having to manage the underlying hardware and software infrastructure. [...] The Qtum a blockchain application platform combines the functions of Bitcoin Core, an account abstraction layer allowing for multiple virtual machines and a proof-of-stake consensus protocol aimed at tackling industry-use cases. The Qtum Foundation, headquartered in Singapore, is the decision-making body that drives the project’s development.
  • Rendering HTML5 video in Servo with GStreamer
    At the Web Engines Hackfest in A Coruña at the beginning of October 2017, I was working on adding some proof-of-concept code to Servo to render HTML5 videos with GStreamer. For the impatient, the results can be seen in this video here
  • Working Intel CET Bits Now Land In GCC8
    A few days back I wrote about Intel's work on Control-flow Enforcement Technology beginning to land in GCC. This "CET" work for future Intel CPUs has now landed in full for GCC 8. The bits wiring up this control-flow instrumentation and enforcement support are now all present in mainline GCC SVN/Git for next year's GCC 8.1 release.
  • Using Gitea and/or Github to host blog comments
    After having moved from FSFE’s wordpress instance I thought long about whether I still want to have comments on the new blog. And how I would be able to do it with a statically generated site. I think I have found/created a pretty good solution that I document below.

Security Leftovers

  • Where Did That Software Come From?
    The article explores how cryptography, especially hashing and code signing, can be use to establish the source and integrity. It examines how source code control systems and automated build systems are a key part of the software provenance story. (Provenance means “a record of ownership of a work of art or an antique, used as a guide to authenticity or quality.” It is increasingly being applied to software.)
  • Judge: MalwareTech is no longer under curfew, GPS monitoring [Updated]
    A judge in Milwaukee has modified the pre-trial release conditions of Marcus Hutchins, also known online as "MalwareTech," who was indicted two months ago on federal criminal charges. Under US Magistrate Judge William Duffin’s Thursday order, Hutchins, who is currently living in Los Angeles, will no longer be subject to a curfew or to GPS monitoring.
  • [Older] Leicester teen tries to hack CIA and FBI chiefs' computers
    A teenager attempted to hack senior US government officials' computers from his home. Kane Gamble, 18, from Coalville, Leicestershire, pleaded guilty to 10 charges relating to computer hacking. His targets included the then CIA director John Brennan and former FBI deputy director Mark Giuliano.

Debian: pk4, Freexian and More

Kernel and Graphics: ZenStates, AMDGPU, RADV, Vulkan, NVIDIA

  • ZenStates Allows Adjusting Zen P-States, Other Tweaking Under Linux
    ZenStates is an independent effort to offer P-States-based overclocking from the Linux desktop of AMD Ryzen processors and other tuning. ZenStates-Linux is an open-source Python script inspired by some available Windows programs for offering Ryzen/Zen CPU overclocking from the desktop by manipulating the performance states of the processor.
  • AMDGPU DC Gets A Final Batch Of Changes Before Linux 4.15
    The AMDGPU DC display code has a final batch of feature updates that were sent in this weekend for DRM-Next staging and is the last set besides fixes for the "DC" code for the 4.15 target.
  • Valve Developer Lands VK_EXT_global_priority For RADV Vulkan Driver
  • Vulkan 1.0.64 Adds In Another AMD-Developed Extension
    Vulkan 1.0.64 is out this weekend as the newest specification refinement to this high-performance graphics/compute API. As usual, most of the changes for this minor Vulkan revision are just documentation clarifications and corrections. This week's update brings just under a dozen fixes.
  • NVIDIA TX2 / Tegra186 Display Support Isn't Ready For Linux 4.15
    While the Jetson TX2 has been out since this past March and it's a phenomenal ARM development board, sadly the Direct Rendering Manager (DRM) driver support for it still isn't ready with the mainline Linux kernel. Thierry Reding of NVIDIA sent in the Tegra DRM driver changes for DRM-Next that in turn is staged for Linux 4.15. Reding commented that there is prepatory work for the TX2 (Tegra186) but it's not all ready for upstream yet.