Stories
Slash Boxes
Comments

SoylentNews is people

Meta
posted by martyb on Friday May 15 2020, @08:00PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the can-we-talk? dept.

Background:
Back in the early days of SoylentNews, things were often fly-by-the-seat-of-our-pants. We tried to plan ahead and anticipate future needs. In retrospect, I'd like to think we did pretty well, all in all. One early casualty was the choice of our discussion system. My memory is fuzzy on the details, but I seem to recall it was based on "phpBB Forum Software" (Corrections welcome!) That eventually was superseded by IRC.

Internet Relay Chat (IRC):
Yes, SoylentNews has its own IRC service. It's used for all manner of purposes. Ostensibly, it's for staff to communicate with each other about site plans, development, and operations. But, multiple "channels" are readily implemented, so we have a bunch of channels up and running. If you are new to IRC, the easiest way to get started is to use our web portal — just select a nick, accept "#Soylent" as the channel, and you're there!

If you have heard about IRC and are curious about our IRC service, please read on past the fold. Otherwise, a new story will be along presently.

Unrelated:
Please join me in wishing NCommander a Happy Birthday!

Operating Systems:
One of the early missteps was the choice of CentOS as the operating system for one of our servers: beryllium. All of our other servers ran Ubuntu. That CentOS server, beryllium, became the server for all the other services that were not directly required for site operations. Quite frankly, it's a bit of a mess. For the curious, expand the following for a subset of what is runs there:

Charybdis, IRC server, http://irc.soylentnews.org - port 6667, 6697(SSL)
Atheme, IRC services
Iris, IRC web chat, http://chat.soylentnews.org - port 3989, forwarded from 80 by apache
Various IRC bots
ZNC, IRC bouncer for staff, http://irc.soylentnews.org - port 60000
Yourls, URL shortener service on http://sylnt.us - port 80
MySQL, used for Yourls
Postfix
Mailman
Dovecot
Apache2/httpd
OpenSSH
ntpd

Progress:
We are in the process of cleaning things up.

We now have 3 servers running Gentoo: lithium, magnesium, and our new server aluminum. Gentoo lets us custom build our servers so they are only running the services we need. That gives us better security (smaller attack surface) and better performance, too. Oh, and no systemd.

The Nitty Gritty: At this point, I'll turn the microphone over to Deucallion (aka Juggs) on what's happening with IRC on aluminum (lightly edited):

So far we have brought a new ircd (Internet Relay Chat - Daemon) into the network: "call.me.al". The 2 crucial key points are:

  1. Moving services (NickServ, ChanServ, GroupServ, HostServ, SaslServ et al.) Those are all provided by one server side process (atheme), anyone not clued up won't really to know they exist as a separate thing and just interact with it to register a nick and then as the channel bots they see with all the daft names.
  2. Will be reversing DNS entries for irc1 and irc3.

If I do my part right, there will be minimal to no outage time caused by any of it.

Then there are all the ancillary bits and bots that do logs and stats and story subs and the like but they are not intrinsic to the main IRC infrastructure and just an inconvenience if they go away for an hour or so while ported across.

I announce to everyone here on IRC when I am doing work on something and anticipate a possible outage of some kind as TBH the only people who care if IRC goes down or is degraded in some form are the people using it at that time. As a user it is nice to know in that scenario that it is not your client playing up, nor your network, or your ISP etc. it's just gone for maintenance and sit it out; do not bother investigating. Same reason I announce when I stop messing with stuff so people know there are no works underway.

And for clarification the 3 ircds we currently have now are all classified as hubs, no leafs, they are peers in a network. There is no master-slave relationship in play. We think of irc. as being master because all the other ancillaries sit on it but they can just as well sit on irc2. or "call.me.al". The ircds and services do not give a flying monkey what DNS name resolves to them, it is just convention to name the ircd that resides at irc2.soylentnews.org "irc2.soylentnews.org" or as it is "irc2.sylnt.us" - but it is just that, a name, a label.

This is specifically why I am going with "call.me.al" for aluminum: it breaks that cognitive second guessing about "do I need to match the reverse DNS here or not" questions in my mind at least when I come back to look at it in a year or 2 or 3 or 5. Maybe I am just a simpleton with OCD or some such, but to my mind - a label should be a label, the DNS should be another thing. If they do not need to match, make them different for clarity.

Epilog:
Do keep in mind, this is all being done by volunteers from their (limited) spare time and at no charge. There's still much to do, but we are making progress. Our goal is that over the next couple months or so, to have all of our servers refreshed and moved over to Gentoo. There will be hiccups. Hopefully they will be minor, few, and far between. As always, we will keep the community apprised as to our progress.

So cross your fingers, and join me in thanking these fine folk for all their efforts: TheMightyBuzzard, Deucallion, audioguy, and NCommander!

Previously:
(2020-05-09) Site Potpourri for Mother's Day [Updated]


Original Submission

Related Stories

Community Roundtable: Monday, June 8th, 2020 242 comments

As promised, here's the round-table discussion post that I said on Wednesday was coming. We have a long history at SoylentNews of listening and responding to our community; I genuinely hope that never changes. I also recognize that I may have ruffled some feathers in the last few weeks with original content postings so here's the best place to get this all out.

I am mindful of the community's support and goodwill; I don't want to squander any of it. Yes, there are times where my hand may be forced (e.g., DCMA takedowns). Still, I'm always a bit hesitant whenever I post on the main site for anything that isn't site update news or similar. I may be the de facto site leader, but I want my submissions to be treated like anyone else's — I want no favoritism. The editorial team does review my stories and signs off before they go live (unless it's an "emergency" situation such as the last time we blew up the site). However, as the saying goes, the buck stops with me.

SoylentNews accepts original content. I'm also aware that I've probably submitted the most original content so far (See "Previously", below for some examples). I'm grateful for the community's apparent acceptance of my submissions and the positive responses to them. What I don't know is if there is an undercurrent of displeasure with these. Maybe everyone thinks these are all fine. Then again, maybe somebody has an issue with them. Rather than assume anything, let's get it all out in the open.

What I want to cover in this round-table discussion is original content and having images in posts as well as topics such as yesterday's Live Show on Improving Your Security -- Wednesday June 3rd, 2020.

So, contributors and commenters to SoylentNews, get that Reply button hot and let me hear your feedback. As usual, either a member of staff or I will respond to your comments below,

73 de NCommander

Previously:
(2020-06-03) Live Show on Improving Your Security -- Wednesday June 3rd, 2020
(2020-05-24) Retrotech: The Novell NetWare Experience
(2020-05-14) Exploring Windows for Workgroups 3.11 - Early 90s Networking
(2020-05-10) Examining Windows 1.0 HELLO.C - 35 Years of Backwards Compatibility
(2020-05-15) Meta: Having a Chat about SoylentNews' Internet Relay Chat
(2018-10-25) My Time as an ICANN Fellow
(2017-10-09) soylentnews.org experiencing DNSSEC issues
(2017-04-20) Soylentnews.org is Moving to Gentoo...
(2017-04-17) SN Security Updates: CAA, LogJam, HTTP Method Disable, and 3DES
(2017-03-13) Xenix 2.2.3c Restoration: Xrossing The X (Part 4)

Site Potpourri for Mother's Day [Updated] 19 comments

First off, on behalf of myself and the staff here at SoylentNews, here's wishing all the Moms out there a Happy Mother's Day! (For all mine did for me, I think it should last at least a month!) [Update: apparently this is for the USA; other countries have other dates. The sentiment, however, remains the same!)

Also, I hereby express the best possible wishes for our entire community as we try to navigate a path through the COVID-19 pandemic. Take the precautions you deem necessary to protect yourself, your loved ones, and all you meet. Please be careful out there!

Should you, or someone you know, be suffering at this time — be it from COVID-19 or any other reason — I can attest to the support I received from the community when I had a health-related situation last fall. You guys (and gals!) are the best!

Folding@Home: Our Folding@Home (F@H) team keeps chugging along! Historically, the F@H effort had been geared towards understanding Parkinson's Disease, Huntington's disease, cancer and the like. People donate their unused processing power (CPUs and and video cards) to perform simulations of how proteins fold. This, in turn, helps locate a way to interfere with the progression of a disease. For the past few months, the focus has shifted to the SARS-CoV-2 virus. In concert with that, there has been a huge increase in hardware donated to the cause. So, though our team rank has recently been slipping in the overall standings, I'm happy to report it's from the huge outpouring of support from around the world being brought to the cause.

Top place on our team is held by cmn3280 with just over 300 million points. Next we have LTKKane who just passed 222 million points. And not to be outdone, Runaway1956 has been running hard and is on the cusp of reaching 200 million points (and adding about 1.5 million points per day!) Pop into the #folding channel on IRC (Internet Relay Chat) or reply to this story if you'd like to join our team!

Read past the fold for info about the "Silly Season", subscriptions, site server issues, and plans.

This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.
Display Options Threshold/Breakthrough Mark All as Read Mark All as Unread
The Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not responsible for them in any way.
(1)
  • (Score: 2, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 15 2020, @08:47PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 15 2020, @08:47PM (#994756)

    As someone who is getting into irc the past 5-8 years, hearing how it is all put together is an interesting read.

  • (Score: 2, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 15 2020, @08:48PM (11 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 15 2020, @08:48PM (#994757)

    Well i didn't understand half of what was said there, but long live IRC.

    Even though i don't hang around on IRC (or any other chat platform) much, anymore, i'm happy that soylent news hasn't moved to some flavor of the month chat service, especially Slack. God i hate Slack.

    But you will catch me on Soylent IRC on super bowl sunday for as long as i and Soylent IRC are alive and super bowl is played (who knows what's gonna happen to super bowl 2021).

    And happy birthday NCommander.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 15 2020, @11:08PM (8 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 15 2020, @11:08PM (#994799)

      I find that somewhat humorous as Slack used to just be IRC with a pretty GUI.

      • (Score: 2, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 16 2020, @03:58AM (5 children)

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 16 2020, @03:58AM (#994871)

        Exactly. Propietary copy of IRC, but a bloated piece of crap at that.

        • (Score: 2) by Unixnut on Saturday May 16 2020, @01:35PM (4 children)

          by Unixnut (5779) on Saturday May 16 2020, @01:35PM (#994977)

          > Exactly. Propietary copy of IRC, but a bloated piece of crap at that.

          Too true. My company moved from internal IRC to a hosted Slack set up. Slack seems like a crippled version of IRC, with the addition of being able to send animated gifs, emoticons and files.

          For these "features", I am given such bloat it is mad. The web client would cause my browser to chew up memory until it crashed, so I switched to their desktop app, only to find that it is effectively a standalone web browser running web code. I've seen the thing consume 4.4GB of RAM and use all my cores at 100%, to just render a chat window. On multiple occasions when I am doing resource intensive work, I had to kill Slack, otherwise my system will grind to a halt due to lack of resources.

          It is mental, and the features provided are not even that special. I am sure you could have created a custom IRC client that provided the same features (off the top of my head, just base64 encoding binaries and sending them across the channel would have worked), all while using existing infrastructure and keeping backwards compatibility with every other client out there.

          Plus I can't pick which client I want to use. I have to use their bloated mess, or I can't do my work. There is no "IRC bridge", or method of using third party clients, no ability to say "I don't care for the animated gifs, just give me a low-resource, plain text interface", nothing.

          It is in so many ways such a complete step back in usability, performance and design that to all intents and purposes it should be long forgotten on the scrapheap of history, yet it is the most "popular" chat app used in offices across the world. The only thing it did which IRC doesn't, is Audio/Video calling, but it is so godawful at that, that nobody actually uses it unless they have no choice. We sure don't, using Skype (and recently Zoom) instead.

          I really don't understand why it is so popular, it has no redeeming feature that I have seen.

          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 17 2020, @05:25AM (2 children)

            by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 17 2020, @05:25AM (#995261)

            Those "features" you mentioned are already supported in many IRC servers and clients already. The ops, IRCops, and admins usually turn them off so random clients are supported and to cut down on spam/exploits.

            • (Score: 2) by Unixnut on Monday May 18 2020, @08:26AM (1 child)

              by Unixnut (5779) on Monday May 18 2020, @08:26AM (#995646)

              > Those "features" you mentioned are already supported in many IRC servers and clients already. The ops, IRCops, and admins usually turn them off so random clients are supported and to cut down on spam/exploits.

              Which ones? If I can find something that does the same flashy animated gifs and file uploads (that our programmers absolutely "must have" apparently), I may be able to convince the company to go back to IRC, especially as slack costs us a few thousand dollars a month in costs.

              • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 27 2020, @09:13AM

                by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 27 2020, @09:13AM (#999549)

                Look for ones with UTF-8 support (emojis and emoticons), DCC or fserve support (upload files), and inline images (animated gifs). There are a few out there that do all of that and support is getting better and more widespread.

          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 26 2020, @11:49AM

            by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 26 2020, @11:49AM (#999167)

            What "killed" IRC and the first generation of IM systems was mobile phones.

            IRC and like assumed a persistent connection, thus any disruption in the connection between client and server was seen as a disconnect.

            Mobile phones disconnect from the network almost constantly.

            The newer IM networks and Slack makes heavy use of the push servers of Apple and Google to fake a persistent connection.

            For IRC to do the same, there would have to be a network-wide bouncer service of some sort.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 16 2020, @04:47AM (1 child)

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 16 2020, @04:47AM (#994881)

        Back when that was all it was, we had multiple people suggesting changing our self-hosted, internal IRC server to a hosted Slack instance for something like $10 a month per user for less features than we had with our own solution. After their sales people got to the right decision makers, we eventually made the switch. Literally nothing changed in most departments, including the IRC clients to preserve full history, workflows and integrations, until the transition was fully figured out over the course of about 9 months. It has been a waste of probably millions of dollars at this point, and now there are rumblings that the higher ups want to move us to something else.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 16 2020, @04:43PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 16 2020, @04:43PM (#995038)

          We just moved to Microsoft Teams with AD integration.
          I still don't know why.

    • (Score: 2) by NCommander on Saturday May 16 2020, @12:13AM

      by NCommander (2) Subscriber Badge <mcasadevall@soylentnews.org> on Saturday May 16 2020, @12:13AM (#994814) Homepage Journal

      Thank you kindly :)

      --
      Still always moving
    • (Score: 2) by hellcat on Saturday May 16 2020, @01:07PM

      by hellcat (2832) Subscriber Badge on Saturday May 16 2020, @01:07PM (#994972) Homepage

      Totally agree with what you said here,
      and extra kudos to NCommander!
      Thanks soylentils...

  • (Score: 3, Funny) by SomeGuy on Friday May 15 2020, @08:50PM (4 children)

    by SomeGuy (5632) on Friday May 15 2020, @08:50PM (#994758)

    As far as tech goes, IRC is OK, its not centrally owned or run, and there is even a client that runs on an IBM PCjr!

    What? You haven't moved all of your critical communications to Twitter(R)(TM) and Facebook(R)(TM) and purchased the absolute latest Smart Phones to use them? :P

    • (Score: 2) by The Mighty Buzzard on Friday May 15 2020, @09:26PM (3 children)

      We don't have anyone in charge of social media (and I'm pretty sure nobody wants it to be me), so Twitter is write-only for us (though I do look through the mentions about once every week or two just in case someone said something important) and none of us are even sure how our articles get up on Facebook in the first place.

      --
      My rights don't end where your fear begins.
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 16 2020, @04:53AM (1 child)

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 16 2020, @04:53AM (#994883)

        If the descriptions match your RSS feed or a basic template can create them all, you probably set it to auto-post mode. Lots of organizations do that to increase the appearance that they use it, without actually increasing the load on their workers too much.

        • (Score: 2) by The Mighty Buzzard on Saturday May 16 2020, @10:37AM

          Couldn't say. However it's done, it was done by Xlefay, who'd disappeared entirely from the Internet last we checked. It's still working and none of us really care enough to find out how while it is. Twitter posts were being created by an IRC bot from the RSS feed but that got moved to a slashd (Cron reinvented in perl. Don't ask.) job when the Twitter-posting Python lib aged into brokenness.

          --
          My rights don't end where your fear begins.
      • (Score: 2, Touché) by jman on Saturday May 16 2020, @01:51PM

        by jman (6085) Subscriber Badge on Saturday May 16 2020, @01:51PM (#994983) Homepage

        If your Twitter account is "write-only", how does one view it? ;)

  • (Score: 2) by Booga1 on Friday May 15 2020, @09:28PM

    by Booga1 (6333) on Friday May 15 2020, @09:28PM (#994773)

    The IRC web client linked on the left hand side of the page only works intermittently for me. I do sometimes wonder if others also have similar issues.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 15 2020, @11:09PM (2 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 15 2020, @11:09PM (#994800)

    Is there a proper way to register an IRC nick permanently on Soylent network?

    And, bind it plausibly to a website nick?

    How about public /whois policy on irc server? Cloaks?

    Preventing impersonations while maintaining (relative) privacy is a critical factor for any chat long term socialization.

    • (Score: 2) by NCommander on Saturday May 16 2020, @12:12AM

      by NCommander (2) Subscriber Badge <mcasadevall@soylentnews.org> on Saturday May 16 2020, @12:12AM (#994813) Homepage Journal

      NickServ, which is standard on almost any IRC network aside from EFNet

      --
      Still always moving
    • (Score: 2) by The Mighty Buzzard on Saturday May 16 2020, @01:00AM

      There's currently no binding between site accounts and registered IRC nicks but I don't expect Deucalion (CEO, yes, but also IRC jefe) would have issue with transferring the nick to the rightful owner if someone was squatting on one. Mind you, spaces aren't allowed in nicks on IRC, so if you have them like I do, you just have to live without them.

      Cloaks? Yes. Automatically masked (slightly, they couldn't get your actual IP but they'll know your ISP or VPN) but also personalized to a set of preconfigured selections or to damned near anything by request if you don't mind waiting on Deucalion to approve a requested one. MrPlow, my bot, currently shows as MrPlow@nsa.gov, for instance.

      --
      My rights don't end where your fear begins.
  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by zeigerpuppy on Saturday May 16 2020, @03:03AM (5 children)

    by zeigerpuppy (1298) on Saturday May 16 2020, @03:03AM (#994854)

    Matrix is a really nice alternative to IRC with an easy upgrade path.
    It's fairly easy to deploy on a Debian/Devuan server and has the advantage of also supporting push on ios and android devices.
    Also has reasonably good discoverability and federation.

    I'd be happy to send my install notes if you're interested, we've had it humming along nicely for a couple of months and it has replaced our previous chat server really well.

    • (Score: 2, Insightful) by ptman on Saturday May 16 2020, @06:07AM (3 children)

      by ptman (5676) on Saturday May 16 2020, @06:07AM (#994901)

      I second this. Is the soylent IRC network bridged to matrix? Matrix is an open alternative to slack & similar and federated, so you don't need a new account everywhere but can join chat rooms from your preferred "home server".

      • (Score: 2) by hendrikboom on Saturday May 16 2020, @05:13PM (2 children)

        by hendrikboom (1125) Subscriber Badge on Saturday May 16 2020, @05:13PM (#995046) Homepage Journal

        Is there any advantage of Matrix over IRC?

        • (Score: 2) by takyon on Saturday May 16 2020, @06:17PM (1 child)

          by takyon (881) <{takyon} {at} {soylentnews.org}> on Saturday May 16 2020, @06:17PM (#995087) Journal

          https://matrix.org/faq [matrix.org]

          What can I actually do with this?
          A typical client provides a simple chatroom interface to Matrix - letting the user interact with users and rooms anywhere within the Matrix federation. Text and image messages are supported, and basic voice-only VoIP calling via WebRTC is supported in one-to-one rooms. (As of October 2015, experimental multi-way calling is also available on Riot.im).

          --
          [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
          • (Score: 2) by The Vocal Minority on Sunday May 17 2020, @04:35AM

            by The Vocal Minority (2765) on Sunday May 17 2020, @04:35AM (#995248) Journal

            Tried to use Riot.im for comms during the COVID-19 lock-down in my country. It was painful to say the least. Maybe the freebie infrastructure was overloaded but I would set up my own room then could not invite another new user to it, and the other users could not see my room. Got it to work eventually after endlessly dicking around with the settings.

            And HBD NCommander!

    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by The Mighty Buzzard on Saturday May 16 2020, @11:02AM

      I don't really have any objection to this but it'd go in with a bridge to IRC rather than as a replacement. IRC may be ancient and not support all the shiny and new but it's extremely reliable and doesn't have exploitable bugs being constantly added to it as new features are. Plus, I really don't want chromas trying to video chat me in his boxers. And definitely not out of them.

      Drop the notes in my email and I'll have a look at them after I get eight or so Apache vhosts and the SN mail daemons playing nice on aluminum. Could be a bit between still working on the church most every day and needing to take most of the downtime I can manage as actual downtime for sanity purposes.

      --
      My rights don't end where your fear begins.
  • (Score: 2) by Phoenix666 on Saturday May 16 2020, @04:08AM

    by Phoenix666 (552) on Saturday May 16 2020, @04:08AM (#994874) Journal

    Happy Birthday, NCommander!

    --
    Washington DC delenda est.
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 16 2020, @04:51AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 16 2020, @04:51AM (#994882)

    happy bday NCommander!

  • (Score: 2) by linkdude64 on Saturday May 16 2020, @09:12AM

    by linkdude64 (5482) on Saturday May 16 2020, @09:12AM (#994929)

    Thanks guys! And happy birthday NCommander!

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 16 2020, @04:49PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 16 2020, @04:49PM (#995041)

    Here's to another trip around the sun

(1)