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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 We don't want readers to waste their time wading/going through irrelevant, unimportant and out-of-date reports.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.

going twice

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going twice

fair warning - going once....

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Well, I think I'm going to accept one of the two $1000 bids received, unless anyone else wants to bid...

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More in Tux Machines

Leftovers: OSS

  • Anonymous Open Source Projects
    He made it clear he is not advocating for this view, just a thought experiment. I had, well, a few thoughts on this. I tend to think of open source projects in three broad buckets. Firstly, we have the overall workflow in which the community works together to build things. This is your code review processes, issue management, translations workflow, event strategy, governance, and other pieces. Secondly, there are the individual contributions. This is how we assess what we want to build, what quality looks like, how we build modularity, and other elements. Thirdly, there is identity which covers the identity of the project and the individuals who contribute to it. Solomon taps into this third component.
  • Ostatic and Archphile Are Dead
    I’ve been meaning to write about the demise of Ostatic for a month or so now, but it’s not easy to put together an article when you have absolutely no facts. I first noticed the site was gone a month or so back, when an attempt to reach it turned up one of those “this site can’t be reached” error messages. With a little checking, I was able to verify that the site has indeed gone dark, with writers for the site evidently losing access to their content without notice. Other than that, I’ve been able to find out nothing. Even the site’s ownership is shrouded in mystery. The domain name is registered to OStatic Inc, but with absolutely no information about who’s behind the corporation, which has a listed address of 500 Beale Street in San Francisco. I made an attempt to reach someone using the telephone number included in the results of a “whois” search, but have never received a reply from the voicemail message I left. Back in the days when FOSS Force was first getting cranked up, Ostatic was something of a goto site for news and commentary on Linux and open source. This hasn’t been so true lately, although Susan Linton — the original publisher of Tux Machines — continued to post her informative and entertaining news roundup column on the site until early February — presumably until the end. I’ve reached out to Ms. Linton, hoping to find out more about the demise of Ostatic, but haven’t received a reply. Her column will certainly be missed.
  • This Week In Creative Commons History
    Since I'm here at the Creative Commons 2017 Global Summit this weekend, I want to take a break from our usual Techdirt history posts and highlight the new State Of The Commons report that has been released. These annual reports are a key part of the CC community — here at Techdirt, most of our readers already understand the importance of the free culture licensing options that CC provides to creators, but it's important to step back and look at just how much content is being created and shared thanks to this system. It also provides some good insight into exactly how people are using CC licenses, through both data and (moreso than in previous years) close-up case studies. In the coming week we'll be taking a deeper dive into some of the specifics of the report and this year's summit, but for now I want to highlight a few key points — and encourage you to check out the full report for yourself.
  • ASU’s open-source 'library of the stars' to be enhanced by NSF grant
  • ASU wins record 14 NSF career awards
    Arizona State University has earned 14 National Science Foundation early career faculty awards, ranking second among all university recipients for 2017 and setting an ASU record. The awards total $7 million in funding for the ASU researchers over five years.

R1Soft's Backup Backport, TrustZone CryptoCell in Linux

  • CloudLinux 6 Gets New Beta Kernel to Backport a Fix for R1Soft's Backup Solution
    After announcing earlier this week the availability of a new Beta kernel for CloudLinux 7 and CloudLinux 6 Hybrid users, CloudLinux's Mykola Naugolnyi is now informing us about the release of a Beta kernel for CloudLinux 6 users. The updated CloudLinux 6 Beta kernel is tagged as build 2.6.32-673.26.1.lve1.4.26 and it's here to replace kernel 2.6.32-673.26.1.lve1.4.25. It is available right now for download from CloudLinux's updates-testing repository and backports a fix (CKSIX-109) for R1Soft's backup solution from CloudLinux 7's kernel.
  • Linux 4.12 To Begin Supporting TrustZone CryptoCell
    The upcoming Linux 4.12 kernel cycle plans to introduce support for CryptoCell hardware within ARM's TrustZone.

Lakka 2.0 stable release!

After 6 months of community testing, we are proud to announce Lakka 2.0! This new version of Lakka is based on LibreELEC instead of OpenELEC. Almost every package has been updated! We are now using RetroArch 1.5.0, which includes so many changes that listing everything in a single blogpost is rather difficult. Read more Also: LibreELEC-Based Lakka 2.0 Officially Released with Raspberry Pi Zero W Support

Leftovers: Gaming