Database prune

Every couple of years, freenode likes to get out the shears and prune the services database. Recently we broke the 80,000 usercount barrier, but the services stats are way ahead:

Sat 13:35:46 -OperServ(OperServ@services.)- Registered accounts: 446777
Sat 13:35:46 -OperServ(OperServ@services.)- Registered nicknames: 557497
Sat 13:35:47 -OperServ(OperServ@services.)- Registered channels: 141373

We’ve noticed that nearly half of the accounts shown there haven’t been used in the past 6 months! More importantly, over the past few months many people have noticed significant waits when issuing certain services commands – and we’d like to fix that.

Hopefully, the services upgrade should help with this, but we’re going to coincide this with a database prune.

As of the services upgrade date, any nicks unused for > 150 days are at risk of being dropped. This includes grouped nicks. The easy way to avoid this happening is to use each of your grouped nicks (while identified to the appropriate account) within the next few weeks – and to drop those that you don’t need anymore!

The testnet (testnet.freenode.net, port 9002. 9003 for SSL) is running a database snapshot from mid-March and will be periodically updated from the production network. This database instance is being regularly pruned – so check there to see how your account will be affected (use /msg nickserv info on both the production and test networks to see the differences).

Remember that testnet isn’t running a real-time duplicate of the production network, so when you use nicks which would be expired on the production network, they will still appear expired on testnet until the next database snapshot is migrated. Don’t worry though – the actual pruning will only occur on the current database at the time of upgrade.

On which note.. an upgrade date hasn’t been formally fixed but we’re aiming for mid-May.

Thanks, and don’t forget to test the testnet!

Defocus’s visit to the opticians: new guidelines

A couple of months ago, mrmist posted about the #defocus-focus channel, which was looking to improve the atmosphere in #defocus.

One of the areas that has been concentrated on is improving the ruleset for the channel.  A number of people including Fuchs, dax, Ttech and others have involved in this improvement process.

As a result of the efforts of all the fantastic people involved in that channel, we now have a new set of guidelines for #defocus. You can read them on our website.

Hopefully these changes bring the guidelines up to date with the general expectations and aims of the channel. As always, comments are welcome!

Martinp23

ircd upgrades

We’ve got some ircd upgrades in the works!

You may remember several weeks ago that we upgraded our ircd on the production network. Since then, we’ve wanted to fine-tune some changes and make sure that the upgrade is more consistent with the old version.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be looking to perform upgrades on the production network again. This will mean every server will reboot. A programme for the upgrades can be found at the end of this post (updated 13th Nov 2011).

In the meantime, please continue to help us to test the ircd at testnet.freenode.net port 9002 or 9003 for SSL (if you don’t get onto the first server that the DNS roundrobin gives you, keep trying!). Look for anything broken, inconsistent with previous versions (especially in terms of information release) or illogical. If serious issues are reported, we’ll aim to fix before upgrading, rather than having a further later upgrade. Please report issues to #freenode-seven on the production network.

Thanks!

NB: this list does not include servers invisible to users (eg hubs).
Week 1: Sun 13th Nov
-!- kornbluth.freenode.net Frankfurt, Germany
-!- zelazny.freenode.net Corvallis, OR, USA
-!- stross.freenode.net Corvallis, OR, USA (webchat backup)

Week 2: Sun 20th Nov
-!- barjavel.freenode.net Paris, FR
-!- wolfe.freenode.net Manchester, England
-!- hubbard.freenode.net Pittsburgh, PA, US

Week 3: Sun 27th Nov
-!- adams.freenode.net Budapest, HU, EU
-!- holmes.freenode.net London, UK
-!- sendak.freenode.net Vilnius, Lithuania, EU
-!- rowling.freenode.net Corvallis, OR, USA (webchat)

Week 4: Sun 4th Dec
-!- pratchett.freenode.net Rennes, France
-!- calvino.freenode.net Milan, IT
-!- leguin.freenode.net Ume?, SE, EU
-!- niven.freenode.net Corvallis, OR, USA

Week 5: Sun 11th Dec
-!- hitchcock.freenode.net Sofia, BG, EU
-!- gibson.freenode.net Oslo, Norway
-!- card.freenode.net Washington, DC, USA
-!- asimov.freenode.net TX, USA
-!- verne.freenode.net Newark, NJ, US

Unscheduled.
-!- roddenberry.freenode.net
-!- bartol.freenode.net
-!- brown.freenode.net
-!- anthony.freenode.net


Update: all upgrades are now complete.

New GRF-freenode process

As you might know, GRFs (Group Registration Forms) exist to form a relationship between a project and the PDPC (Peer Directed Projects Center). This relationship is relatively formal – personal details (address/tel no./etc) need to be shared by the project. For this reason, a severe backlog of GRFs has built up, since only a few staff have access to them (to protect this personal data). PDPC is the UK-based not-for-profit company which runs freenode. For most groups in our request backlog, their reason for registering is not to work with PDPC, but to gain a channel or cloak namespace on freenode. We’ve decided that running a separate, freenode-centric groups request system may help to move the system along. By requesting fewer details, we can open up this system to more staff, and hopefully keep on top of the queue of requests.

From now on, using a new, shorter form, projects can choose to file a GRF-f (for GRF-freenode) and submit a GRF for processing by freenode, rather than by PDPC. This sends details (no personal details, other than email address, will be required) to a system to which many more staff will have access. This new form will allow you to gain control of a channel and the right to issue cloaks much more quickly than previously, as we will double/treble the number of staff able to deal with requests. For now, please only apply if you are a ‘priority’ group – ie, you do not own the main channel of your namespace.

If you already have a group registered and approved with an old-style GRF, you do not need to do anything. Your registration remains valid. If you need to make changes to the registration, please contact staff on freenode who will, if appropriate, direct you to use the old (GRF) system. The GRF-f system cannot be used to update groups which filed under the GRF system.

If you have a request pending in the old GRF queue, you are welcome to re-file under the GRF-f system. This is likely to mean that your request will be dealt with much more quickly than otherwise. This approach supersedes the grfprocess@ system introduced a while back – unfortunately, we just weren’t able to keep up with requests to that address.

You might be wondering where all of this fits into the GMS (Groups Management System) masterplan. When GMS is ready, we may need to ask all projects registered under the GRF-f system, and likely some projects which are already registered, to re-file. The GMS system will allow us to dispense with GRF-fs, and just build project<=>PDPC relationships, since forms will be able to be processed much more quickly. To be clear – it is quite possible that any registration made now may be revoked if a registration is not re-filed after GMS is released. If this does become reality, as much warning as possible will be given.

We hope that this will change will counter some of the ill-feeling around the GRFs system. In effect, the mentality is shifting from one of “GMS will clear the GRFs backlog” to “GMS will help us to serve groups better”. We’re no longer waiting for GMS to clear the queue. We’re still looking for help with GMS: if you have Perl/Catalyst or web design experience and think you can help, join #freenode-gms.

Update 2012-06-09 – All group registration has been suspended whilst we evaluate the system and its implementation. A replacement should be available in due course, but for now it is not possible to register groups, and the link to the grf-f form has been removed.

PDPC Fundraiser 2011

Hello everyone and Happy St Valentine’s Day!

Love PDPC! 2011 Fundraiser

We here at freenode and PDPC love Free and Open Source Software (FOSS), and we know that at least 70,000 of you do too.

What better time than the middle of February to show your love and appreciation?

Peer-Directed Projects Center Ltd. (PDPC) exists to support all sorts of peer-directed projects, and our roots are firmly planted in the world of FOSS. Hundreds of projects, large and small, use our services, including:

  • freenode: probably the reason you’re on this blog – the 70,000-strong IRC network focused on FOSS
  • Geeknics: the popular real-world meetups for geeks – “Geek Picnics” (we don’t bite, honest!)
  • FOSSCon: the friendly and successful conference about to enter its second year – watch this space
  • fossevents: your online guide to the real-world happenings of the FOSS universe
  • … and infinitely more! Got an idea? Get involved and let us know about it.

The aim of this fundraiser is to generate £5000, which will help to cover general operating expenses and enable us to apply for recognition as a Charity. This will help us to show our appreciation to donors and sponsors (on freenode) who may be able to claim tax benefits from their governments as a result. It also means that we can ensure that more of future donations go towards PDPC’s projects, and not to the taxman!

While the aim of the fundraiser is, of course, to generate income for PDPC, we want to give you the opportunity to express your appreciation for the projects and developers you love. For the next two weeks only, we are running the following offers:

Valentine cloaks

Would you love to send your favourite developer a valentine? Donate £10 or more and we’ll offer the target of your affections a “pdpc/valentine/message/account” cloak for the duration of the valentine period. The best bit? You get to choose “message”! Of course, you will still, subject to the same staff discretion as usual, be welcome to a PDPC supporter cloak for yourself. Donate here.

Please keep the message clean and pleasant, and be aware that we will not set cloaks that we deem to be offensive or that the recipient does not want. If you wish for us to tell the recipient that you bought their cloak, let us know. All of this, with your account name too, should be conveyed in the PayPal donation message. We will process outstanding requests at least daily, and these valentine cloaks will remain for 24 hours from when they were set.

Cloud Nine

As usual, when you donate to PDPC, we will give you the opportunity to link your donation to a channel – this might be a channel you frequent, or that for a project you love. For the next few weeks (and possibly beyond, but without the love theme!), we are going to use this data to compile a Love Cloud (yes, you guessed it – “Cloud Nine”) where at a glance you will be able to see the relative contributions in each project’s name. We are measuring donations in hugs: £5 = 1 hug (£10 = 2, £500 = 100), and the hearts will be scaled appropriately (if we have to break out some logarithmic scaling, we have success!). Cloud Nine will be sitting over the homepage of freenode.net.

We’re all about sharing the love here at freenode, so if you are naming a channel with your donation we would love it if you would tell us why. What makes this project so great? Please try to keep kudos concise! We might wallop some of the best messages (so set yourself /umode +w to see them, or /umode -w to hide them), and we will blog the collected kudos at the end of the valentine period. If you do not want your account name to be attached to feedback that you send, please mention this to us. All of this should be placed into the PayPal donation comment. Donate here.

We have some more ideas for the fundraiser in the pipeline, so keep an eye on this blog for more details!

Finally, but by no means least, significant thanks are owed to JonathanD, mgdm and Scott Rigby of BaseKamp who have contributed much time and effort to forming this fundraiser launch at short notice. You’re awesome.

So, everyone, I’d encourage you to put your hands in your pockets, send a small donation our way (£5 – the cost of a couple of pints of beer?) and, most importantly, get involved with our fundraising fun for 2011!

With love,

Martinp23, the Board and Staff.

Peer-Directed Projects Center Ltd. is a company limited by guarantee (no 06680918), 2nd Floor, 145-157 St John Street, London, EC1V 4PY, England

Sponsorship Roundup

As you may know, the network operations of freenode are fully supported by donations – of hosting and other resources – from both companies and individuals. We acknowledge all sponsors on our website, but it is nice from time to time to provide a round-up of recent changes on the sponsorship scene!

If you’re currently connected to freenode, you will be connected to a donated server – look at the “MOTD” (delivered to you on connection or by passing the command /motd) to see who has provided your particular server.

Our newest servers include roddenberry.freenode.net (Brisbane, Australia) and asimov.freenode.net (Dallas, Texas, USA), provided by On Q Telecom and by Rackspace, respectively.

Worthy of mention indeed are those companies who support the network in ways other than providing servers. Gandi provides our SSL certificate and acts as our domain registrar, and Simtec Electronics recently generously supported the network with a donation of entropykeys. Look out for a later technical blog post as we roll these out!

While this post focuses on recent additions to the sponsorship team, it’s important not to forget the ongoing contributions of all our sponsors – take another look at our acknowledgements section and give these groups the kudos they deserve!

Cheers,
Martin

Further webchat issues

Unfortunately, it seems the box our webchat is on has decided to fall out with the Internet again. We’re working on setting up a reserve instance which shouldn’t be affected by this sort of issue in the future. When we have more details, we’ll update this post. We’re really sorry for the inconvenience this causes, and guarantee it will be less in future.

Update: The host’s issues appear to have been resolved. We now also have a backup instance running which can easily be switched to in the event of downtime in the future.

Webchat downtime

Hi everyone.
Currently the freenode webchat instance (webchat.freenode.net) is down. This is due to maintenance by the host of the box upon which the service sits, and looks set to continue for up to a further 6 hours.
This is maintenance that we, as staff, were not previously aware of.
We’re very sorry for the inconvenience and are doing what we can to reduce it.

Update: resolved.

Java webclient decommissioning

Following our successful switch of cloaking on our web gateway (http://webchat.freenode.net) to show the full IP address of connecting users (see this blog post), we have decided to transition our old and relatively unused Java client (pjIRC) to our webchat service. This will be done via a HTTP redirect.

Only around 30 users at a time can be found from the java client, hence as time goes on it makes less and less sense to continue to support this platform. We’ll be decommissioning the Java client on Sun 8th August.

Other pjIRC instances which connect to freenode will be unaffected. We are simply removing our version of the program.

If you’ve any concerns, queries or comments we’d love to hear from you either in #freenode or via support at freenode.net.