[Maintenance] Downtime warning — lem, orwell

Hi all,

Tomorrow evening, November 3rd 2008, at 22:00GMT we will be undertaking some routine maintenance on two of our client servers, lem and orwell, both servers have already been taken out of rotation. The downtime window is set to one (1) hour, but we anticipate that the upgrades will take less time. At time of posting we have approximately 2,000 users across the two servers, and while we will urge users to connect to a different server prior to the upgrades we realise that not everyone will be able to act on the notice in time and as such we expect to see some disturbances on the network at the time of the upgrade.

Thank you for using freenode!

Who Are freenode Staff? (Part 1 of ?)

As you have undoubtedly noticed by now, freenode recently changed services. Along with this new look, we thought it would be a good time to formally (and perhaps not-so-formally) announce the addition of new staff. You’ll find below a list of all our current staff, and in this post and some that follow, we’ll give you a tiny snapshot of the new (and some of the old) members of our circus^Wteam.

Current freenode staff:

AndrewB
chb
christel
cybersystem
Dave2
denny
DLange
dmwaters
Exstatica
Ganneff
Gary
jenda
JonathanD
Karlprof
kloeri
Lorez
Martinp23
Matt
Md
nalioth
njan
numist
PhilKC
pinpoint
PriceChild
RichiH
seanw
Sejo
skenmy
SportChick
Stx
stylus
tomaw
Udontknow
vorian
weasel
werdan7
wimt
Yaakov

And now, for a little insight on a couple of individuals:

  • christel: If by now, you don’t know christel…well, where have you been?! For the last couple of years, she has been the head of staff of freenode and has seen it through many changes. No, freenode is not yet pink (though if she had her way, it would be entirely pink – you can thank some of the male staffers for preventing that so far). She did once say that if she were to leave a job in a flamboyant manner, she’d simply go to work in pink body paint. Her secret desire has always been to become a Russian spy…however, being from Norway, she’s had to settle for being self-employed and an irc mogul in her spare time. She got her start on irc nearly half her lifetime ago, creating havoc on EfNet and running up her dial-up internet bills.
  • vorian: One of the more recent additions to staff, vorian’s first experience on irc was starting up a Local (Ubuntu) Community team in 2006. Though married (for 10 years!) and with four children, he clearly wasn’t busy enough. A long-time wolf-bot addict, vorian has announced his goal for the future of freenode – creating a unified wolf-bot game where everyone plays by the rules, pays strict attention, and always has a minimum of 8 players per round (this replaces his former goal of becoming a jet pilot AND nurse for the navy).


A very brief mention of upcoming changes..

As you are probably aware we are in the process of rehauling the IRCd and Services software running on freenode. While hyperion and theia have served us well for a significant amount of time they are also starting to struggle under the weight of our rapid growth (we recently hit 43,000 users, which is a number we hadn’t anticipated – that’s 15,000 more users than we had a year ago).

We are of course pleased that our numbers are growing and that more and more people and projects are finding a use for freenode; it’s a fantastic feeling to be able to give something back to the wider FOSS community.

Services wise, we’re currently testing new services on testnet and are close to letting you all loose over there for wider testing before we introduce the new services to the production network. Now, there will be a few changes, and while most of them won’t be noticeable, I felt it was a good idea to remind you of a couple of things.

If as many people as possible can follow the above advice I’d be grateful – it would make the migration a lot easier for us, as well as for our users.

Expirations and e-mails aside, we’ve had a lot of feedback from projects and users who would like to see some changes to the services package – among other things a web-based frontend to services has been mentioned over and over again, particulary for project management. Group contacts would like a way to manage their project namespace, set project related cloaks, and the like. We are looking into OpenID and how to help users and projects which want to more easily integrate, for example, bugzilla and similar with their IRC infrastructure. We’re also trialling a new procedure for verifying group contact forms that may help to reduce the backlog somewhat; over the next few weeks we’ll be trying it out with a portion of the current queue.

In addition to everything I’ve mentioned, we’ve heard some really great ideas and suggestions for further improvement originating from our users, so I thought I’d ask you all what you would put on your wishlist. What can freenode do to better serve the communities? How can we improve irc as a communication and development tool for your project? For your users? I’d love to hear any ideas you may have and would love it if you dropped me a line to ideasATfreenodeDOTnet

Before I wrap up, I’d like to apologise for the instability of the network over the past few days. We have been under a pretty heavy DDoS attack, though hopefully it has all settled down by now. I’d like to thank our fantastic sponsors for the swift manner in which they dealt with things their end, for their continued support and for pulling together to ensure that we have the data required to pass on to the relevant authorities.

It’s pretty rare for us to be on the recieving end of an attack like that, and I sincerely hope it will turn out to be an isolated incident.

Thank you!

Today saw the (hopefully temporary) resignation of one of our senior staffers; Andy Lindeman (alindeman). Andy has been an important part of freenode staff, both as an excellent part of the strong group of user facing staff and as a part of our infrastructure team. It’s sad to see him go, and we hope that he will find the time to rejoin our ranks at some point in the future, but as most of us can relate, being a college student you often find yourself with new and other priorities, be it studies or the social aspects of spending a few years away studying.

On behalf of freenode staff and the PDPC board I would like to thank Andy for the time and effort he has put in volunteering for us over the years and wish him all the best for the future. And when you finish your degree, do come back! :)

freenode has reached 40 000 users

Today at around 18:45 UTC freenode hit a total number of connections of fourty thousand, which is a new network record. Over the past few months our usercount has been steadily growing and we are really pleased that more people are finding freenode a useful resource. If you want to see how many users are connected at any one time, type the IRC command /lusers

[18:45:52] [freenode] -!- WALLOP Md: FYI, freenode has just broken the record of 40000 connected users. let’s join the party in #defocus

A Re-/De-focus

freenode is pleased to announce a few changes effective May 12, 2007 at 12:55 UTC:

  • the (re)formation of #freenode, which will be an official help channel for the freenode network. For more information, please review the #freenode channel guidelines.
  • the closing of #freenode-social. While#freenode-social has served its purpose for the last couple of years, it has really outgrown itself and is being closed.
  • the opening of #defocus, the new social channel for freenode. #defocus is being launched with anticipation of more to come in the near (or mid-) future. It will differ from #freenode-social in a number of ways, including: (1) like #freenode, has its own set of channel guidelines, which should help clarify what is on/offtopic in the channel, and (2) unlike -social, #defocus will be -m, which means you won’t require voice to talk.

We truly hope you enjoy these changes and look forward to serving you under this new structure.

Upcoming changes to hyperion, our ircd software

We’re working on rolling out some new changes to hyperion, our ircd software. If everything goes well, we should be running with these changes in a few weeks. However, you should note that we’re releasing these changes as hyperion 1.0.3, and we don’t particularly encourage any other networks to try to run this code (there are better, more modern ircd software out there). In addition, hyperion 1.0.3 will probably be the last release we make of hyperion. (We are collaborating with Stuart Walsh and TJ Fontaine, the authors of oftc-hybrid which have some great ideas for a next generation ircd tree for freenode!)

This update will add some fairly modern features to the ircd’s I/O engine to allow it to operate more efficiently and fix a few internal bugs that have been noticed during the run of hyperion 1.0.2b. These changes will be going live on a testnet in the next few days most likely, at which point I will write another post with information on how to play around on the freenode testnet with the updated ircd code.

We have also added support for a commonly requested feature, CALLERID (umode +g, server side ignore) in this update, and we have added support for the NETWORK property in our 005 numeric (IRC client authors will probably be thrilled). We have also implemented support for the Linux epoll mechanism, which may provide a marginal performance boost on some of our client servers.

If anyone else has any suggestions or bugs, please note them as comments to this story or come discuss it in #hyperion. We would love to hear your feedback. The more technically inclined can download the in-progress 1.0.3 working tree from our subversion repository at http://svn.freenode.net/hyperion/trunk.

Group registration with freenode

Hi all. I’d like to talk about a unique feature that freenode has that many are not aware of for my first post to this blog. Sitting quietly in a small corner of our website, the concept of group registration is one of the things that makes freenode unique amongst IRC networks and it is something that I think highlights our commitment to open projects. The process is simple: after submitting a group contact form, a representative of freenode will contact you, usually by telephone, to verify your identity and to help get things set up.

The concept of registering your project and the availability of this service has been around for some time. Rob Levin, the late founder of PDPC and freenode, placed particularly emphasis on the importance of real world-backed relationships between projects and the network, and there are many benefits to the projects for going through the process: they have rights over the channels they register, and to this end can request transfer of ownership of any channels that they lay claim to as part of their group – assuming, of course, they are able to prove that they are involved in the group to a sufficient level of authority to authorise this. Additionally, project cloaks can be requested. These replace the default unaffiliated cloaks given out; for example, I wear a Wikimedia cloak to show my involvement. Group registration is also possible for about, reference or topical groups, such as those found at ##cooking, ##philosophy and ##security on freenode, to name but a few. They too can request cloaks and gain an official relationship with the network and its staff.

Now, for a bit of honesty: we’re rather backlogged in processing requests for group registration. This is no secret; those of you who have already submitted forms will have probably noticed that you have not been contacted. Recently however, several staff have got involved in the verification process and we are starting to process forms more quickly. We operate on a squeaky wheel system: poke a staff member listed on /stats p to process your form if you have not heard back from us after a week or so, and they will try and find someone. We’re also making improvements to the systems and infrastructure we’re using to record the forms and verifications to make things smoother for everyone.

So, if you like freenode and are using it for your open project, why not register your group today?

[Scheduled Maintenance] IRCD upgrade.

In order to upgrade our ircd code to fix various bugs and security issues, it has become necessary to restart a large portion of freenode network.

This morning, between 6:00 and 7:00AM UTC, we will be restarting numerous servers, including our network hubs. Approximately 35% of the network will be disconnected and the rest will notice significant fragmentation. We have planned the upgrades well in advance and with hope, the affected servers will only be down for a few minutes, at which point the network will return to normal operation.

We have already sent notices to users on the affected servers (i.e., those that will shunt clients). A list is also below. You may find which server you’re on by a WHOIS command on yourself (i.e., /whois nick)

  • adams.freenode.net
  • asimov.freenode.net
  • lem.freenode.net
  • leguin.freenode.net
  • niven.freenode.net
  • orwell.freenode.net
  • sterling.freenode.net
  • zelazny.freenode.net

Additionally, servers used for tor connections will shunt users.

We apologize for the inconvenience, and thank you for using freenode. Further questions can be directed to [email protected]