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Roy Schestowitz's blog

Uptime in Tux Machines and Upcoming Relocation

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Site News

Tux Machines is down! Yes, We Know.
A heads-up, folks!

SOME time soon the physical server of Tux Machines will need to be moved from one datacentre to another (the current datacentre is shutting down for good). Nothing will change, except perhaps some IP addresses, and duration of downtime is expected to be a couple of hours. In that period of time the IRC network will also be down (same physical machine), but it will be back online at around the same time as the site.

In terms of uptime, we haven't done too badly. 126 days since the last downtime and the issues we recently mentioned (due to a sort of DDOS) have been mostly resolved for weeks. That started around February and stopped at the start of this month. It might resume. Hopefully not...

So, in summary, if some time this coming month there's a long downtime, then it is likely intentional and scheduled. Given sufficient leeway or advance notice, we might even give a heads-up before the server starts its journey. The downside with such things may be, if you post a message about a site going offline and immediately (or shortly) after that the site does go offline, who's actually going to see that message? So we forewarn readers as early as today.

Linux is a Lot More Dominant Than You Were Led to Believe

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Linux

(Almost 50% of Web Traffic is Linux at the Client Side, Even Higher on the Server Side)

GNU/Linux market share
We're not as small as they want us to think

Kong Godzilla Doge: Apple, Microsoft, GNU/Linux
Combined market share continues to grow

CONTRARY to myths perpetuated by corporate media (funded by companies such as Apple and Microsoft through advertising), "Linux" is not a niche player. As actual surveys show, GNU/Linux on the desktop keeps growing, Android is already dominant (de facto standard on portable/mobile devices), and ChromeOS is also a 'thing' -- something based on Gentoo GNU/Linux even if it no longer respects freedom.

Don't let media shame and humiliate GNU/Linux advocates. So much progress has been made; further progress remains to be made.

Why Tuxmachines.org Refuses Connections Sometimes

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Site News

Junk request; Tuxmachines.org; /dev/null; Better!
Ongoing issue

EVER since February of this year we've had a hard time pushing back against a torrent of problematic requests, seemingly crafted to cause trouble. We wrote some programs a few months ago to automate mitigations, but occasionally the server still slows down or even hangs up on some legitimate connections/requests.

It would be nice to have an optimal, long-term solution, but we do not have that yet. At the moment it is a compromise.

Improving Our Commitment to Tux Machines Readers

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Site News

Tux Machines is now self-hosting IRC

Tux Machines IRC
Tux Machines is probably one of the largest (in terms of # of pages) GNU/Linux sites out there. But the IRC channel is relatively new (compared to the site).

THE 'IRC wars' of May (and to some degree June as well) left us in a precarious situation and over at Techrights we have set up our own IRC network. In June we set up a #tuxmachines channel in this new network. It has a two-way bridge set up with Freenode, so either network would be valid for following our updates.

We've accordingly updated the IRC page and the corresponding archives. We welcome people to join us in IRC. It's a substitute to RSS feeds or social (control) media. It's now hosted by us, so from a privacy perspective the readers are far better off. It's definitely an upgrade, a well overdue one.

30,000 Comments

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Site News

Humble beginnings
We turn 17.5 years before Christmas

THE 30,000th comment was recently posted in this site, but that in itself does not say much. More than half a decade ago we had to stop new account sign-ups due to an epidemic of SPAM. It wasn't manageable anymore due to increasing volumes. So leaving comments became harder, too.

Nowadays, as a result, most comments are basically just updates made to submissions of ours, adding related links to existing news updates. We consider that to be a good/better use of the comments feature. It's not prone to abuse. It also helps in keeping the site concise and tidy (less repetition).

It's summer here in England (like the rest of the northern hemisphere), so we try to enjoy the outdoors a bit more often (a certain pandemic notwithstanding). Above is a highland cow. We met one (and her calf) a few weeks ago in the countryside.

Video: Editing Work in Tux Machines

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Site News

Video download link

THE site is turning 17 very soon. We thought it would be worthwhile belatedly explaining how it works and how editorial policies evolved to better serve readers and lurkers.

Tux Machines Turning 17 Shortly

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Site News

Video download link

THIS site will turn 17 in a couple of weeks (screenshot below). The video above explains how we got here, who's responsible for it, and where we move from here. Wink

Tux Machines whoisThe video is very informal (totally unscripted, unedited, improvised), but it's also the first time we publish such a video in this site (or the blog).

We wish to thank all those who have supported or merely read us for many years. Spread the word. We're always eager to reach audiences that don't know much about GNU/Linux and may consider switching to it.

In retrospect, as this is composed after making the above video, it's worth noting that the antiX-19.4 page could not be found because of the dash (or hyphen). We rarely miss important news and we're typically very quick to cover/mention important stories.

Elephant and Its Ivory

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Just talk

Elephant and Its Ivory

LIVES at risk. This is a travesty. REPUBLIC OF NAMIBIA'S MINISTRY OF ENVIRONMENT, FORESTRY AND TOURISM: "We should manage elephants based on science and not emotions." By auctioning/selling off 170 live elephants? Give us a break. Oftentimes, animals were to make a sacrifice over humans because they are just "animals", so they can't speak to us, and can't protest. We're asked to assume they're just the least important, therefore we can eradicate (or "cull") them -- as simple as that. How I wish the the Animal Kingdom will become a force and burn this kind of society just to make a statement -- and then, maybe, humans will truly realise the value of animal rights. Shame on those African countries which don't give a shit about all those people who tirelessly devoted their time and life to protecting the wild animals, and specifically the elephants. Animals can't speak, but they can see you and they can feel you; just look into and gaze at their eyes, doesn't that give you goosebumps? Burn.

Big Traffic in Tux Machines Ahead of 17th Anniversary

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Site News

Big Big Traffic
Credit: Penguin rendering by Mogz

THE Tux Machines site turns 17 in a couple of months and traffic has never been better. This past week it was on average 100,000 hits per day and later this month we will have posted the 150,000th node.

Sorting out the news isn't a simple task, but with experience it gets a lot easier and we're glad to be a leading syndicator in that space.

Migrating TuxMachines to a Bigger Server

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Site News

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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Site News

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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Site News

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.

Microsoft Loves Painting Apple (or "GAFA") as the Problem

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Just talk

Mask Me No Questions: The 'new' Microsoft; Mask Me No Questions

Summary: The latest twist in Microsoft's PR strategy is, divert attention and blame to other companies [1,2], even if their alleged abuses are in fact a copy of Microsoft's own

  • Microsoft Backs Epic’s Apple Battle on Game Technology Access

    The graphics technology, known as Unreal Engine, is a suite of software used by millions of developers to build 3-D games and other products. Cutting off Epic from Apple’s iOS and Mac developer tools would mean the gaming company can no longer distribute Unreal Engine to other developers, Epic said in its legal filing. Microsoft, which makes the Xbox, uses the technology for games developed for consoles, PCs and mobile devices.

  • Microsoft Supports Epic Games, Says Apple Blocking Access to Unreal Engine Would Harm Game Creators

    In a declaration in support of Epic Games [PDF], Microsoft gaming executive Kevin Gammill wrote that "Apple's discontinuation of Epic's ability to develop and support Unreal Engine for iOS or macOS will harm game creators and gamers." Specifically, Gammill said that games utilizing Unreal Engine will be put at a "substantial disadvantage," citing Microsoft's own racing game Forza Street for iPhone and iPad as an example.

140,000 Reached

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Site News

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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Site News

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.

Sweet Sixteen

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Site News

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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Site News

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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Site News

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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Site News

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.

100,000 Tweets

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Site News

@tuxmachines in Twitter
The @tuxmachines account in Twitter as of this morning

We have been on Twitter for nearly a decade. It's proprietary and centralised, but some of our audience comes from there. In the start of March we'll have posted our 100,000th tweet in Twitter. A milestone? Maybe for Twitter. We try to focus on our presence in Free/libre networks, such as Mastodon, Pleroma and Diaspora. We joined Pleroma a year ago and have more followers there than we have in Twitter. Spring is fast approaching, which means we soon turn 16.

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