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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 There may be temporarily odd behaviour on the site (if data is accessed which is out of date).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

Red Hat/Fedora Leftovers

  • Fedora 34 Cleared For Btrfs Zstd Compression By Default, DNF/RPM Copy-On-Write - Phoronix

    The Fedora Engineering and Steering Committee has unanimously approved several high profile features for the upcoming Fedora 34. The latest batch of Fedora 34 features that received unanimous approval ahead of tomorrow's scheduled FESCo meeting include: - Deprecating XEMacs and related packages. This is due to XEmacs not seeing a major release in over seven years and the upstream development essentially at an end. There is still an occasional commit but no meaningful additions being made and thus XEMacs is being deprecated.

  • 5 tips for configuring virtualenvs with Ansible Tower | Enable Sysadmin

    Virtualenvs are a great way to create isolated scenarios where you can experiment with different Python/Ansible modules.

  • 11 considerations for effectively managing a Linux sysadmin team | Enable Sysadmin

    Having worked as a sysadmin with many colleagues and later on as a sysadmins manager, I thought it would be good to share some of my experience in this area with hopes that current managers and managers-to-be might find some useful hints. Managing sysadmins is, in many aspects, no different from working with any other group of people: Planning vacations, discussing salaries, setting targets, making certain skills and tools are up to spec. Your management style reflects who you are, and the crew is that fantastic blend of personalities and abilities. Together you can deliver projects and maintain complex technical environments. There are, however, some things you should be aware of that will improve your ability as a manager when you interact with the sysadmins.

  • Call for Projects and Mentors: GSoC 2021 – Fedora Community Blog

    Google Summer of Code (GSoC) is a global program focused on introducing students to open source software development. Students work on a 10 week programming project with an open source organization during their break from a post secondary academic program. Fedora has had great participation and we would like to continue to be a mentoring org this year too. We are currently looking for mentors and projects. Process of how to apply is described at the end of this blog after a brief info and new changes in GSoC program.

  • Storage and Distributed Compute Nodes: Bringing Cinder persistent volumes to the edge

    In part one of our series about Distributed Compute Nodes (DCN), we described how the storage backends are deployed at each site and how to manage images at the edge. What about the OpenStack service (i.e. Cinder) that actually manages persistent block storage? This post will dive into more details.

  • Sharing is caring: Building clearer contribution paths to your community

    One of the most important topics in the open source community is "how do we attract more people to our community?" This makes perfect sense because you can’t have a community without people. Given the importance of inviting people to a community—otherwise known as onboarding—you would expect a lot of discussion and debate applied to the topic. And yet, there are many open source community managers frustrated by a lack of new contributors. In this post, we’ll focus on 3 core principles of contributor onboarding.

today's leftovers

  • Parler Tricks: Making Software Disappear

    Much has been written and broadcast about the recent actions from Google and Apple to remove the Parler app from their app stores. Apps get removed from these app stores all the time, but more than almost any past move by these companies, this one has brought the power Big Tech companies wield over everyone’s lives to the minds of every day people. Journalists have done a good job overall in presenting the challenges and concerns with this move, as well as addressing the censorship and anti-trust issues at play. If you want a good summary of the issues, I found Cory Doctorow’s post on the subject a great primer. [...] This is part of the article where Android users feel smug. After all, while much more of their data gets captured and sold than on iOS, in exchange they still (sometimes) have the option of rooting their phones and (sometimes) “sideloading” applications (installing applications outside of Google’s App Store). If Google bans an app, all a user has to do is follow a list of complicated (and often sketchy) procedures, sometimes involving disabling protections or installing sketchy software on another computer, and they can wrench back a bit of control over their phones. Of course in doing so they are disabling security features that are the foundation for the rest of Android security, at which point many Android security experts will throw up their hands and say “you’re on your own.” [...] The Librem 5 phone runs the same PureOS operating system as Librem laptops, and it features the PureOS Store which provides a curated list of applications known to work well on the phone’s screen. Even so, you can use the search function to find the full list of all available software in PureOS. After all, you might want that software to be available when you dock your Librem 5 to a larger screen. We aim to provide software in the PureOS store that respects people’s freedom, security, and privacy and will audit software that’s included in the store with that in mind. That way people have a convenient way to discover software that not only works well on the phone but also respects them. Yet you are still free to install any third-party software outside of the PureOS Store that works on the phone, even if it’s proprietary software we don’t approve of.

  • Apple Mulls Podcast Subscription Push Amid Spotify's Land Grab

    The talks, first reported by The Information, have been ongoing since at least last fall, sources tell to The Hollywood Reporter, and ultimately could end up taking several different forms. Regardless, it’s clear that Tim Cook-led Apple — after spending the last two years watching rival-in-music-streaming Spotify invest hundreds of millions of dollars to align itself with some of the most prolific producers and most popular personalities in podcasting — is no longer content sitting on the sideline. “There’s a huge opportunity sitting under their nose with 1.4 million iOS devices globally,” says Wedbush Securities analyst Daniel Ives, “and they don’t want to lose out.” Apple declined to comment about its podcasting plans.

    Much of the growth of the podcasting industry over the last decade can be traced back to Apple and its former CEO Steve Jobs, who in 2005 declared that he was “bringing podcasting mainstream” by adding support for the medium to iTunes. A few years later, the company introduced a separate Podcasts app that quickly became the leading distribution platform for the medium. But Apple, which netted $275 billion in sales in fiscal 2020, has refrained from turning podcasting — still a relatively small industry that the Interactive Advertising Bureau estimated would bring in nearly $1 billion in U.S. advertising revenue last year — into a moneymaking venture.

  • Blacks In Technology and The Linux Foundation Partner to Offer up to $100,000 in Training & Certification to Deserving Individuals [Ed: Linux Foundation exploits blacks for PR, even though it does just about nothing for blacks [1, 2]]

    The Linux Foundation, the nonprofit organization enabling mass innovation through open source, and The Blacks In Technology Foundation, the largest community of Black technologists globally, today announced the launch of a new scholarship program to help more Black individuals get started with an IT career. Blacks in Technology will award 50 scholarships per quarter to promising individuals. The Linux Foundation will provide each of these recipients with a voucher to register for any Linux Foundation administered certification exam at no charge, such as the Linux Foundation Certified IT Associate, Certified Kubernetes Administrator, Linux Foundation Certified System Administrator and more. Associated online training courses will also be provided at no cost when available for the exam selected. Each recipient will additionally receive one-on-one coaching with a Blacks In Technology mentor each month to help them stay on track in preparing for their exam.

  • the tragedy of gemini

    While everything I have seen served via Gemini is friendly and sociable, the technical barriers of what-is-a-command-line and how-do-I-use-one are a fence put up that keep out the riffraff. Certainly, you can walk around the corner and go through the gate, but ultimately the geminiverse is lovely because it is underpopulated, slower-paced, and literate. It is difficult enough to access that those who can use it can be welcoming without worrying its smallness will be compromised.

    The tragedy is that I don’t think many of its denizens would claim that they only want to hear from technical, educated people, but in order to use a small [Internet], an August [Internet], they have let the fence keep out anyone else.

Devices: GigaIPC, Raspberry Pi, and Arduino Projects

  • Rugged systems provide IP67 waterproofing

    GigaIPC unveiled two compact, IP67-protected “QBix-WP” computers with Linux support and rugged M12 ports for 2x LAN, 3x COM, GPIO, and 9-36V input: one with 8th Gen Whiskey Lake and the other with Apollo Lake. Taiwan-based GigaIPC has announced a “QBiX-WP Series” of rugged embedded systems with IP67 protections: an 8th Gen Whiskey Lake based QBiX-WP-WHLA8265H-A1 and an Apollo Lake powered QBiX-WP-APLA3940H-A1. IP67 provides level 6 “dust-tight” protection against dust ingression and level 7 waterproofing against liquid ingress including immersion at up to 1 meter for 30 minutes.

  • Deter burglars with a Raspberry Pi chatbot
  • Arduino Blog » 3D-printed mobile robot platform based on the Arduino Due

    Although an Arduino can be a great way to provide computing power for a mobile robot platform, you’ll need a variety of other electronics and mechanical components to get it going. In his write-up, computer science student Niels Post outlines how he constructed a robot that travels via two stepper motors, along with casters to keep it upright. The round chassis is 3D-printed and runs on three rechargeable 18650 batteries.

  • Arduino Blog » Making your own Segway, the Arduino way

    After obtaining motors from a broken wheelchair, this father-son duo went to work turning them into a new “Segway.” The device is controlled by an Arduino Uno, along with a pair of motor drivers implemented handle the device’s high current needs. An MPU-6050 allows it to react as the rider leans forward and backwards, moving with the help of a PID loop. Steering is accomplished via a potentiometer, linked to a bent-pipe control stick using a bottle cap and glue.

Programming: PureScript, C++, Lua, and Raku

  • Excellent Free Tutorials to Learn PureScript - LinuxLinks

    PureScript is a small strongly, statically typed programming language with expressive types, written in and inspired by Haskell, and compiling to Javascript. It can be used to develop web applications, server side apps, and also desktop applications with use of Electron.

  • C++ Operator Overloading – Linux Hint

    This article provides a guide to operator overloading in C++. Operator overloading is a useful and powerful feature of the C++ programming language. C++ allows overloading of most built-in operators. In this tutorial, we will use several examples to demonstrate the operator overloading mechanism. [...] The C++ language allows programmers to give special meanings to operators. This means that you can redefine the operator for user-defined data types in C++. For example, “+” is used to add built-in data types, such as int, float, etc. To add two types of user-defined data, it is necessary to overload the “+” operator.

  • Lua, a misunderstood language

    Lua is one of my favourite programming languages. I’ve used it to build a CMS for my old educational website, for creating cool IoT hardware projects, for building little games, and experimenting with network decentralisation. Still, I don’t consider myself an expert on it at all, I am at most a somewhat competent user. This is to say that I have had exposure to it in various contexts and through many years but I am not deep into its implementation or ecosystem. Because of that, it kinda pains me when I read blog posts and articles about Lua that appear to completely miss the objective and context of the language. Usually these posts read like a rant or a list of demands. Most recently, I saw a post about Lua’s Lack of Batteries on LWN and a discussion about that post on Hacker News that made me want to write back. In this post I’ll address some of the comments I’ve seen on that original article and on Hacker News.

  • A Complete Course of the Raku programming language

    This course covers all the main aspects of the language that you need to use in your daily practice. The course consists of five parts that explain the theory and offer many practical assignments. It is assumed that you try solving the tasks yourself before looking to the solution.

    If you’re only starting to learn Raku, you are advised to go through all the parts in the order they are listed in the table of contents. If you have some practice and you want to have some specific training, you are welcome to start with the desired section.