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posted by martyb on Friday May 15 2020, @08:00PM   Printer-friendly
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 That eventually was superseded by IRC.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]


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  • (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.
    Starting Score:    1  point
    Karma-Bonus Modifier   +1  

    Total Score:   2  
  • (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? ;)