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posted by martyb on Friday May 15 2020, @08:00PM   Printer-friendly
from the can-we-talk? dept.

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 That eventually was superseded by IRC.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.

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, - port 6667, 6697(SSL)
Atheme, IRC services
Iris, IRC web chat, - port 3989, forwarded from 80 by apache
Various IRC bots
ZNC, IRC bouncer for staff, - port 60000
Yourls, URL shortener service on - port 80
MySQL, used for Yourls

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: "". 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 "". 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 "" or as it is "" - but it is just that, a name, a label.

This is specifically why I am going with "" 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.

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!

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

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  • (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".

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  • (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} {}> on Saturday May 16 2020, @06:17PM (#995087) Journal []

      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

      [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 []
      • (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 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!