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Contact Private Internet Access (PIA) Managers to Help Save Linux Journal From Shutdown

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Private Internet Access

TUX MACHINES turned 15 almost exactly two months ago. The site has operational costs, as one can expect, mostly the hardware and bandwidth. We've thankfully had these resources very kindly donated to us last year, basically saving us the massive burden of bills somewhere around $10,000. Running a site with a lot of traffic isn't cheap and it isn't getting cheaper, either. As an overhead or addition to server maintenance (uptime requires habitual work on repairing databases, managing backups, patching of software and agonising system upgrades once in a few years) it takes a lot of time to compose new material and moderate to keep spam out.

A lot of the mainstream media is bashing Linux Journal right now. It makes it seem like its demise is a problem with GNU/Linux itself. These are villainous lies from self-serving foes of Linux, sometimes people who are aligned with Microsoft or salaried by Microsoft (we don't want to link to their provocative clickbait). But anyway, the bottom line is that keeping Linux Journal online may be costly and people should prepare for the possibility of Linux Journal becoming unavailable (offline) some time soon. I try very hard to prevent this (today and yesterday). "There is a real (and ever-growing) danger that a massive trove of GNU/Linux and Free software history will vanish unless urgent action is taken right now," I said. There are ways to avoid this (writers of that site need to unite in a union-like sense). I also secure my own sites from such a fate, having reached almost 13 years in Techrights. This week the site is experiencing all-time traffic records.

I've decided to contact Rick Falkvinge (Dick Greger Augustsson), founder of the Swedish Pirate Party and head of privacy at Private Internet Access, which owns Linux Journal. Bear in mind he used to work for Microsoft. We're still friendly online (we've exchanged some messages over the years) and he probably has sufficient clout at Private Internet Access to sway their decisions. In case they plan to shut down the site, we must act fast. Please contact him; as per his Web site, his E-mail address is x1bpsas66na001@sneakemail.com and any message he receives he can relay to other high-level people at the company. I don't personally know anyone else at that company, so that's the only contact I'm able to provide.

Photos: 15-Year Anniversary Party

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Tux Machines Over the Past 15 Years

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2005

Tux Machines site in 2005

2010

Tux Machines site in 2010

2012

Tux Machines site in 2012

2013

Tux Machines site in 2013

Late 2013

Tux Machines site in late 2013

2014

Tux Machines site in 2014

2015

Tux Machines site in 2015

2019

Tux Machines site in 2019

Happy 15th Anniversary to Tux Machines

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Anniversary of Tux Machines

Summary: Anniversary of Tux Machines is today, a special anniversary too

Today Tux Machines is celebrating its 15th year of existing. When we bought the website it was about 10 years old, so kudos to Susan Linton who devoted time to make and keep the site on pace. We promise to keep the website up to date with lots of insightful OSS/FOSS/Linux/Android-related articles. We hope to continue the job well into the distant future.

Tell Us About Your (or Others') GNU/Linux Blogs

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THE MEDIA online is dying. It's no secret. Not all sorts of media are dying but traditional media struggles to survive. Causes for these have been explained for years if not more than a decade. This won't be the subject of this post.

Tux Machines does not produce a lot of original material. Susan used to publish GNU/Linux reviews (with galleries of screenshots), but other than that we mostly cluster and syndicate news. This has been the case for nearly 15 years (our anniversary is next month).

Each year it feels like mainstream media produces a lot less stories (not just about GNU/Linux but about anything, in general terms). So we're 'mining' more and more RSS feeds, typically of blogs. Do you have a GNU/Linux blog or know one/s you wish to recommend? Let us know in the IRC channel because we always hunt for more news sources, no matter if they're 'mainstream' or not as long as they're credible, reliable, and on topic.

Fifteenth Anniversary of Tux Machines Coming Soon

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NOT many Internet enterprises or even protocols outlast the Web. IRC is under attack, E-mail is being hijacked by large corporations (the business model of spying), and copyright monopolies compel ISPs to disconnect from USENET. Even without the Web there's a similar problem; not many sites last a decade; some last a few years until interest is lost or life-changing events cause stagnation and ultimately shutdown (it's not cheap to keep a domain registered and it can be technically difficult to keep a host going). Some sites or blogs remain active only for days, weeks, months. Not many sites have lasted 2 decades. Some become dormant and shelved. Some suffer the "Google Plus effect" (host decides it's not viable to carry on hosting, mostly for selfish "business reasons").

Tux Machines domainTux Machines remains very active. Every day, almost every hour. Even when we're on holiday (or abroad) we still log in and post the more crucial news. We never wink or lose a heartbeat. Dedication like this becomes almost addictive.

In less than a couple of months the site will turn 15. We're planning to celebrate locally somehow (a little party), knowing that it's a rare event and seeing how the Web becomes just "apps" and "social media" it's hard to guarantee we'll reach 20 (we sure hope so). Over the years we've considered modernising the site (CMS overhaul), but such novelty may entail bloat, speed losses, 'UX' erosion, and a lack of 'traditional' feel, maybe even issues associated with navigation, user familiarity, backward compatibility of URLs (we still use node numbers!) and so on.

Real-time Tux Machines Chat Over IRC (Internet Relay Chat)

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The first IRC server
"The first IRC server, tolsun.oulu.fi, a Sun-3 server on display near the University of Oulu computer centre." Credit/licence: CC BY 2.5, Urpo Lankinen

TUX MACHINES reached all-time record traffic in the past couple of weeks. This (raw) traffic now stands at about 4 million hits/week, with 3,970,777 hits in the past 6 days and 4,289,540 hits last week (predating these 6 days). It's just a shame that interaction with readers became hard; the forums had a severe spam issue, as did comments and submissions (by new registrants, always, more so at a later stage) -- to the point where it became impractical to allow any new registrations (except adding people manually upon request). The open/incognito registrants would overrun the site within minutes (we tried several times over the years and saw the effect immediately).

So we've decided to try IRC and have added "IRC" to the menu at the top with an applet (JavaScript) to make life easier for those who aren't familiar with IRC clients.

Here's how to join us. This is still experimental. Real-time updates with posts (as they are posted) will in due course be shown in the channel and we can all casually chat in real-time, too. We are also still working on our Android app these days.

Testers Wanted: Android App for Tux Machines Site

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APK icon

Diaspora logo Mastodon logo Pleroma logo

Tux Machines is turning 15 this summer and as we noted over the weekend, many people now access the site using mobile devices, for which the site provides a subpar experience due to legacy. RSS feeds are therefore recommended. There's our RSS feed for news, RSS feed for Tux Machines Blogs and another for Techrights, where I write my original articles.

Most readers, however, do not use RSS feeds. Consider the 700 followers of our Twitter account, the 2,365 followers of our Diaspora account, 1,080 followers of our Mastodon account, and 63 followers of our Pleroma account (so about 4,000 in total). Those are dependent on third parties (we do not self-host these platforms). Even if "apps" are used for access to these social media platforms/sites, the links would lead to Tux Machines Web pages, which don't render particularly well on small screens (phones). So we've made this simple "app" for the site, but we're still testing it. If anyone out there can try it on an Android device and report back to us, we'll appreciate it greatly and use the feedback to improve it.

Screenshot Tux Machines app

Mobile Interfaces, Internet, Devices and UX

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A mobile phone

Summary: Visitors who use mobile phones get a subpar experience, but that's an issue that boils down to preservation versus novelty

TUX MACHINES is turning 15 later this year. Longtime readers may very well know that the appearance or the layout of this site barely changed over the years. The key components have been in place since the very start. We still use node IDs as URLs (not ideal, but that works), mobile devices are barely supported (they were barely used on the Net at the time the site started), and due to SPAM we can no longer allow new user registrations (they overwhelm the site with a flood of SPAM submissions, i.e. noise such as pornographic comments, abusive blog posts etc.) within hours. We know because we tried opening up these registrations several times in the past. Any loosening of these restriction means a complete and utter mess.

"Mobile users who struggle with the site contact me routinely and my best suggestion for them is an RSS reader (many exist for mobile devices), which overcomes these issues and bypasses all the 'cruft'."

So-called 'UX' (buzzword for user interfaces/experience) in Tux Machines is far from ideal, especially for those who use a phone. We are aware of it, but the overhaul required to change that would be truly massive because of the number of pages, images, and the underlying framework, which was heavily modified and tailored for the existing user experience. I spent a lot of time making things work as they do. Susan had also invested a great deal of effort.

Mobile users who struggle with the site contact me routinely and my best suggestion for them is an RSS reader (many exist for mobile devices), which overcomes these issues and bypasses all the 'cruft'. Taking all the implications into account (endless work associated with a change), we don't plan a site redesign/overhaul. Maybe in the distant future, but not any time soon. The RSS feed is already used by a lot of people, even desktop/laptop users. We have no ads and no surveillance in this site, so RSS feeds don't impact some "business model" or whatever. In fact, it helps lower the strain on the server.

Come and Join Tux Machines in Pleroma, Part of the Fediverse

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Pleroma logo

Summary: Tux Machines is on Pleroma.site, a lesser-known part of the Fediverse

Tux Machines has been on the Fediverse for quite some time (our Mastodon account), but months ago we also joined Pleroma, which is an exciting new alternative written in Elixir.

Just a few weeks ago somebody published this "Guide for GPlus [Google Plus] refugees to choose a new social network in the Fediverse" because "G+ will close on April 2nd. So to help people that haven’t decided yet where to go in the Fediverse I made some pointers. I divided this guide in a number of sections. Each section describes a certain use of social networks and which networks are most suitable for this specific use. Combine this with your preferred use of a social network and you should be able make a decision."

Pleroma too is part of the Fediverse and Pleroma.site, one large instance of Pleroma, recently completed hardware upgrades. GNU/Linux aficionados can follow us there.

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More in Tux Machines

Debian and Ubuntu Leftovers

  • Ritesh Raj Sarraf: Bpfcc New Release

    bpfcc version 0.11.0 has been uploaded to Debian Unstable and should be accessible in the repositories by now. After the 0.8.0 release, this has been the next one uploaded to Debian.

  • Utkarsh Gupta: Joining Debian LTS!

    Back during the good days of DebConf19, I finally got a chance to meet Holger! As amazing and inspiring a person he is, it was an absolute pleasure meeting him and also, I got a chance to talk about Debian LTS in more detail. [...] I had almost no idea what to do next, so the next month I stayed silent, observing the workflow as people kept committing and announcing updates. And finally in September, I started triaging and fixing the CVEs for Jessie and Stretch (mostly the former). Thanks to Abhijith who explained the basics of what DLA is and how do we go about fixing bugs and then announcing them. With that, I could fix a couple of CVEs and thanks to Holger (again) for reviewing and sponsoring the uploads! :D

  • Ubucon Europe 2019 in local media

    News from the new Ubuntu distribution, the exploration of the several platforms and many “how to”, rule the 4-days agenda where the open source and open technologies are in the air. The Olga Cadaval Cultural centre in Sintra, is the main stage of a busy agenda filled with several talks and more technical sessions, but at Ubucon Europe there’s also room for networking and cultural visits, a curious fusion between spaces full of history, like the Pena Palace or the Quinta da Regaleira, and one of the youngest “players” in the world of software. For 4 days, the international Ubuntu Community gathers in Sintra for an event open to everyone, where the open source principles and open technology are dominating. The Ubucon Europe Conference begun Thursday, October 10th, and extends until Sunday, October 13th, keeping an open doors policy to everyone who wants to Afterall, what is the importance of Ubucon? The number of participants, which should be around 150, doesn’t tell the whole story of what you can learn during these days, as the SAPO TEK had the opportunity to check this morning. Organised by the Ubuntu Portugal Community, with the National Association for Open Software, the Ubuntu Europe Federation and the Sintra Municipality, the conference brings to Portugal some of the biggest open source specialists and shows that Ubuntu is indeed alive, even if not yet known by most people, and still far from the “world domain” aspired by some.

Devices/Embedded: Win Enterprises and Raspberry Pi 4

  • Win Enterprises unveils Atom-based LAN gateway and compact SBC

    Win Enterprises unveiled a fanless “PL-82000” networking gateway with 6x GbE and 2x SFP ports based on an Atom C3000. It also launched a Raspberry Pi sized “MB-5000” SBC that runs Ubuntu or Win 10 on Intel Apollo Lake. We tend to forget Win Enterprises because as its name suggests, the company typically sticks to Windows-supported products. Yet, they have increasingly produced barebones products without listed OS support, such as the new PL-82000 networking appliance, as well as Linux supported systems such as the MB-5000 SBC announced back in June. (In 2017, we covered an Intel Bay Trail based MB-80580 SBC and Win IoT-380 Gateway with Linux support.)

  • Raspberry Pi 4 PCI Express: It actually works! USB3, SATA… GPUs?

    Recently, Tomasz Mloduchowski posted a popular article on his blog detailing the steps he undertook to get access to the hidden PCIe interface of Raspberry Pi 4: the first Raspberry Pi to include PCIe in its design. After seeing his post, and realizing I was meaning to go buy a Raspberry Pi 4, it just seemed natural to try and replicate his results in the hope of taking it a bit further. I am known for Raspberry Pi Butchery, after all.

  • Raspberry Pi 4 B+ - PCI Express

    Why did I do it? Because I wanted to see if it can be done. Because Raspberry Pi 4 might be the cheapest device that is PCIe capable after a relatively minor modification (if I didn't lift the capacitors when desoldering the VL805, this is literally 12 soldering points). That, in turn, can be quite handy for developing own PCIe cores for various FPGA based experiments.

    I'm sharing it to allow people to learn from this - and to dispel the myth that PCIe is somehow out of reach of hobbyists due to some concerns over signal integrity or complexities. Stay tuned for more Pi4/PCIe experimentation!

OSS: Odoo, WordPress, MongoDB vs. MySQL

  • What's New in Odoo 13?

    Fast, Simple and Effective Business Management- this is the motto of Odoo, the leading open source ERP of the globe. And this is what makes Odoo the prominent and most favorite choice among business enterprises. With the release of Odoo 13, the open-source ERP has become all more fit and robust to meet the diversified needs of businesses. With Odoo 13 users can go along with better designs and customizations. With each version release, Odoo makes it a point to bring in major and minor improvements in the application, alongside a set of new features for improving the user interface and functionality of the user. The users worth 3.4 million is the evidence of Odoo being the finest application for business management.

  • Becoming Better Digital Citizens Through Open Source

    The WordPress Project is on a mission to democratize publishing. As WordPress empowers more people to participate in the digital space, we have the opportunity to make sure that everyone can participate safely and responsibly. Today marks the start of Digital Citizenship Week. We are going to share how open source can be used as a tool for learners (regardless of age) to practice and model the essential parts of being a good digital citizen. [...] Digital Citizenship is for all age groups. Anyone who uses the internet on a computer, mobile device or a TV is a digital citizen. You don’t have to be tech-savvy already, maybe you are taking your first steps with technology. Digital Citizenship Week is a chance to reflect together on our impact on the digital world. It can help us to make our consumption more considered and our interaction friendlier. It enables us to make a positive difference to those around us. All of us can strive (or learn) to become better digital citizens. It can be affected by the access those teaching have had to digital skills and good practice. Adult education classes and community tech hubs play a part in basic tech skill development. Unfortunately, these are not always accessible to those in less populated geographic locations.  Open source communities like WordPress already make a difference in encouraging the principles of digital citizenship, from sharing tech skills to improving security knowledge. They give people an opportunity to learn alongside their peers and many of the resources are available regardless of location, resources, or skills.

  • MongoDB vs. MySQL: How to choose

    During the dot-com bubble in the 1990s, one common software stack for web applications was LAMP, which originally stood for Linux (OS), Apache (web server), MySQL (relational database), and PHP (server programming language). MySQL was the preferred database mostly because it was free open source and had good read performance, which fit well with “Web 2.0” apps that dynamically generated sites from the database. Later the MEAN stack, which stood for MongoDB (document database), Express (web server), AngularJS (front-end framework), and Node.js (back-end JavaScript runtime), came to prominence. The MEAN stack was attractive, among other reasons, because the only language you needed to know was JavaScript. It also needed less RAM than an equivalent LAMP stack.

Security: XML External Entity (XXE) Example and the Latest Patches

  • XML External Entity (XXE) Example

    According to OWASP, an XML External Entity attack is a type of attack against an application that parses XML input. This attack occurs when XML input containing a reference to an external entity is processed by a weakly configured XML parser. This attack may lead to the disclosure of confidential data, denial of service, server side request forgery, port scanning from the perspective of the machine where the parser is located, and other system impacts. If a parser accepts unsanitized XML, we can take advantage of that and send our own crafted external XML payload to exploit our target. This post won’t be long so let’s get into it.

  • Security updates for Monday

    Security updates have been issued by Arch Linux (chromium, sdl, and unbound), Debian (clamav, libdatetime-timezone-perl, openssl, tcpdump, and tzdata), Fedora (cutter-re, jackson-annotations, jackson-bom, jackson-core, jackson-databind, jackson-parent, libapreq2, ming, opendmarc, radare2, and thunderbird), openSUSE (chromium), Oracle (kernel), and SUSE (axis, jakarta-commons-fileupload, kernel, sles12sp3-docker-image, sles12sp4-image, system-user-root, and webkit2gtk3).