Helping GNOME defend its trademark

The GNOME project will be familiar to the vast majority of our users, what you might not be aware of is that the project is currently facing an expensive trademark battle against Groupon with the latter having allegedly chosen to infringe upon GNOME’s trademark by launching a product with the same name (a POS “operating system for merchants to run their entire operation”).

I am not going to go into the details here, as they have been explained by the GNOME project over at http://www.gnome.org/groupon/ and the GNOME folk are in a much better position than me to provide more detailed information on the matter.

What I am going to do is appeal for your help. The GNOME project is looking to raise $80,000 to cover the legal costs involved in defending their trademark. At the time of writing this post the freenode network has 89,998 connected users. Users who are passionate about FOSS.

If each of us donated just ONE DOLLAR to the GNOME project they would cover the anticipated legal costs AND have some spare change leftover for a pint when the proceedings conclude.

Even if you do not use GNOME, please consider helping them out. This is bigger than just GNOME and I think would be fantastic if the FOSS communities could drum together to support our own.

If you head over to http://www.gnome.org/groupon/ you can make a donation directly via PayPal by clicking on the “Help us by donating today” button.

Update: Due to the controversial nature of PayPal, GNOME is now also offering other ways to donate .

Thank you!

Update #2: According to the Groupon blog and this article over at Engadget Groupon has issued the following statement: “Groupon is a strong and consistent supporter of the open source community, and our developers are active contributors to a number of open source projects. We’ve been communicating with the Foundation for months to try to come to a mutually satisfactory resolution, including alternative branding options, and we’re happy to continue those conversations. Our relationship with the open source community is more important to us than a product name. And if we can’t come up with a mutually acceptable solution, we’ll be glad to look for another name.”

I am assuming that this means that the trademarks filed will be retracted and that the GNOME project can go about business as usual. I am certain they will be releasing a statement with further details before long.

Help us test our services upgrade!

Very soon we will be upgrading your favourite network helpers… (no not erry…): NickServ, ChanServ, Alis etc. They’re currently connected to our testnet and we need your help with testing, looking for any issues which may affect the production network.

You can connect to our testnet at testnet.freenode.net port 9002 (or 9003 for SSL)

The full changelog is rather long and not all of the features offered by atheme are loaded on freenode. So to help you out, we’ve pulled out the highlights which we think deserve attention:

  • NickServ’s certfp module. (see /msg nickserv help cert and this link.)
  • NickServ will now notify you in real time of failed logins.
  • NickServ’s previous limit on password lengths has been increased.
  • ChanServ will still hand over single-# channels to freenode-staff on expiration of the channel founders, but the method has changed.
  • NickServ & ChanServ’s ‘set’ commands have had a general reorganisation behind the scenes. Nothing should be visibly different but it won’t hurt to check them!

Please note that the services database on the testnet is probably more than a few days old. Don’t be surprised if recent changes you have made on the production network aren’t replicated there.

We’re all in in #freenode on the testnet so please come find us there if you have any questions or bugs.

Finally, look out for a followup blogpost (hopefully quite soon) with some important information on the upgrade itself and our planned database cleanup!

Thanks for using freenode!

P.s. a full list of changes from atheme ~5.1 to ~6 can be found here

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.

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.

Group Registration Form verifications

For a long time, freenode has utilised a Group Registration system to give groups (such as companies and open source projects) the ability to manage channels in the primary namespace (ie, channels beginning with a single “#”) and to give contributors to their projects cloaks. Perhaps more importantly, the system allows groups to retain control of their identity on freenode. It is because of this aspect of Group Registration that filing a Group Registration Form (GRF) has been necessary for projects to acquire primary channels which have been already registered. For the same reason, we ask those who register new primary channels to file a form.

A great number of fantastic projects use freenode. Only a small subset of staff are able to handle GRFs, and in combination with the large volume of forms filed we have developed a significant backlog. We realise that because of this backlog, certain groups are unable to claim channels on freenode which should rightfully be theirs. While we appreciate that many projects have been waiting months or years for a form to be processed, we must consider GRFs filed in order to obtain channel ownership for a legitimate project to be a priority – if you’re in the former position and not the latter, I hope you can see why.

At this stage, we are hoping to move through these priority requests in the coming weeks (and, depending on volume, months), before moving on to other requests. If you are a prospective group contact who has filed a GRF form before and you fall into the priority group (to be clear: you are in the priority group only if you need the GRF to be processed in order for you to gain access to the #group or #project channel on freenode), please email us at grfprocess at freenode dot net. The email should contain your IRC nick and your group’s name – no other personal information should be sent. We will soon be in touch regarding “next steps”.

If you want to help us to provide a top class service to groups, please consider getting involved with development of our new Group Management System (GMS).

Finally, a quick word of gratitude to those who have been waiting for GRFs to be filed for a long period of time. Thank you for your patience – we will move on to processing your requests as soon as we are able, and will let you know when via this blog and network wallops. Thanks for choosing freenode :)

Groups Advisory Board

For many years now, freenode has offered projects and userbases on the network the option of registering themselves as “Groups”.  Each of these groups has one or more designated people as their “Group Contacts”, who are the point of contact for freenode-staff<=>group liasion, and are thus able to contact staff to request that cloaks be set, or to request assistance in administering channels.

We now have several hundred registered groups on freenode, and many more groups for which registration requests have been submitted.  There is a rather large backlog of these requests, but this will reduce dramatically once GMS has been completed, tested, and deployed (on which note, if you think you can give some time to help code it, get in touch!). An aim of the groups policy is to foster good relationships between groups and staff.

This is where the Groups Advisory Board (GAB) comes in – immediately, for approved GCs!  This is a way in which we would like to give groups a role in influencing the direction that freenode, and the PDPC, will follow in the future with regards to group and project related policy.  The GAB is completely optional and brings with it no committment. It is open to all group contacts who would like to be members. The GAB is effectively a consultation forum where staff can get feedback from groups. As well as improptu discussions on IRC, discussions will take place on a mailing list and occasional, optional IRC meetings will be arranged. If you’re interested in giving your group a greater voice in the management of freenode, speak to staff in #freenode, or drop an email to support NOSPAM at freenode.net, and we’ll sign you up to the freenode-groups mailing list and invite you to #freenode-gab.

Thanks!

freenode is dead, long live freenode

After much time in development and testing, the move to ircd-seven is finally complete. The migration took place in the early hours of today, Saturday January 30th 2010.

I would like to express thanks to everyone who has helped us get here — those staff and users who have helped find and squash bugs, those who have done extensive load testing and those who have helped finalising documentation in preparation for the migration earlier today.

In particular I would like to thank the Charybdis development team and the ratbox contributors whose work left us with a brilliant ircd platform to build upon to create the more freenode specific ircd-seven. In no particular order my thanks go to:

dwr, Valery Yatsko <dwr -at- shadowircd.net>
gxti, Michael Tharp <gxti -at- partiallystapled.com>
jilles, Jilles Tjoelker <jilles -at- stack.nl>
nenolod, William Pitcock <nenolod -at- nenolod.net>
AndroSyn, Aaron Sethman <androsyn -at- ratbox.org>
anfl, Lee Hardy <lee -at- leeh.co.uk>
beu, Elfyn McBratney <elfyn.mcbratney -at- gmail.com>
Entrope, Michael Poole <mdpoole -at- trolius.org>
ThaPrince, Jon Christopherson <jon -at- vile.com>
twincest, River Tarnell <river -at- attenuate.org>
w00t, Robin Burchell <surreal.w00t -at- gmail.com>

And for leading the development efforts of ircd-seven, for putting up with my many quirky and often unreasonable requests:
spb, Stephen Bennett <stephen -at- freenode.net>

I’d also like to express my gratitude to the following freenode volunteers for the hard work they’ve put in to make the migration go as smoothly as possible. I’ve been amazed at the initiative and responsibility shown in this last phase. Your help has been invaluable and I feel privileged to work with you:

kloeri, Bryan Østergaard
Lorez, Mike Mattice
Martinp23, Martin Peeks
Md, Marco D’Itri

With the exception of port(s) 7000 and 7070 which are now being used for SSL, all other ports and DNS stay the same as it did prior to migration.

If you are a regular freenode user you will most likely be aware that there’s some user facing changes with the move to ircd-seven (and likely to have been annoyed by my global notices on the subject), you may wish to familiarise yourself with the updated FAQ and glance at some of these earlier ircd-seven related blog posts:

http://blog.freenode.net/2010/01/connecting-to-freenode-using-tor-sasl/

http://blog.freenode.net/2008/11/help-us-test-ircd-seven/

http://blog.freenode.net/2010/01/migration-to-new-ircd/

http://blog.freenode.net/2010/01/ircd-migration…-jan-30th-2010/

Again, thank you for helping out, however small or large your contribution may have been. We are celebrating the migration to ircd-seven with a special fundraiser “Give £7 for seven”. This campaign will end on February 7th 2010, until such time you may read more and donate here. Any donation of £21 or any multiple of £7 over £21 will receive a freenode t-shirt.

To all our users, thank you for using the network, and welcome to seven!

Happy 25th Birthday, GNU!

To mark the 25th “birthday” of the GNU project the FSF have teamed up with a very special man; Stephen Fry.

I personally am a great fan of Mr. Fry — he’s an accomplished actor, terrific writer and a good documentary maker. I enjoy his books, I will happily set aside entire weekends for my fry-a-thons in which I am glued to the TV re-watching the entire set of “A bit of Fry & Laurie”, “Jeeves & Wooster” or many of the other fantastic things he’s done for British TV. And I make sure to never miss an episode of QI — again, I probably re-watch all of them. I follow his blog, I listen to his podgram.. I have a lot of respect and admiration for this man, for his insight, his honesty, his no-nonsense approach, his incredible way with words and his hysterically funny ways.

So who better to mark the anniversary of a project for which I also have a great deal of respect — a project which values, visions and goals are shared by the majority of our users. A project often found at the core of so many of the projects who choose to use freenode.

So without further ado — Happy Birthday GNU!

Freedom Fry

Lugradio Live: The grand finale

I, for one, was saddened to hear that my favourite FOSS podcast; Lugradio is coming to an end. If you are in the UK, heck, if you’re anywhere and don’t mind traveling a bit you may want to catch the grand finale at this years Lugradio Live.

LugRadio Live UK 2008
The Lighthouse Media Center, Fryer St., Wolverhampton, WV1 1HT

LugRadio Live UK 2008, the most popular community Open Source event in the UK takes place in Wolverhampton on the 19th and 20th and features three stages full of 25+ speakers including Chris DiBona (Google), Max Spevack (Red Hat), Steve Lamb (Microsoft), Robert Collins (Canonical),
Benjamin Otte (GNOME), Rob McQueen (Collabora), Edward Hervey (Collabora Multimedia), James Hooker, Kevin Sandom, Barbie (MessageLabs), Daniel James, Emma Jane Hogbin, Bruno Bord, Ben Thorp, Rufus Pollock (FFFI) Sam Birchall, John Carr, William J Giddings and many more…

In addition to this the show will feature over 20 exhibitors, special debate sessions, the legendary Gong-a-thong Lightbulb Talk Extravaganza (read: a series of small talk chaired by a man in a very small pair of pants and a very large gong – not to be missed!), parties on the Friday and Saturday evenings and much, much more.

All of this is just £5, and there are even a raft of hotel deals
available to make your trip simple and cost effective. Head over to www.lugradio.org/live to find out more.

I hope to see you there!

Services Migration

The time has come for freenode to migrate from our old, legacy services package to a much newer, actively maintained package known as Atheme, developed by the Atheme Project. Although we, with the help of the Atheme developers, have tried to make the migration process as painless as possible, there are still a few interface differences that you will need to be aware of. This guide, prepared by tomaw, will attempt to walk you through the main changes, grouped by service.

NickServ

  • NickServ will now require a valid, verified email address to register new nicks. Because of this the registration command has changed to
    /msg NickServ REGISTER <password> <email address>

    You will the receive a confirmation email with instructions on how to confirm your account registration. Accounts that have been migrated from theia that did not have an email address set will find that their address is set to ‘nomail’. These users should set an email address as soon as possible.

  • New NickServ accounts that are registered but not confirmed will be automatically dropped after 24 hours.
  • What was Nick Linking has now been replaced with Nick Grouping. This means that you have just one account (including one password, one email address etc.) but potentially multiple Nicks associated with that account. For more information please issue the following command:
    /msg NickServ HELP GROUP

    Migrated accounts will have the password associated to the master nick, but will have the first valid email address found when searching all linked nicks.

  • SET UNFILTERED has been removed and the global block on messages from users that have not identified to NickServ has been removed. This was only ever intended to be a temporary measure to combat spam and we’re hopeful that we can deal with those events in different, less intrusive ways. UMODE +E remains an alternative for any users who wish to block such messages.
  • SET GSM, PHONE, and the like have been removed and replaced with a SET PROPERTY feature. For more information, see:
    /msg NickServ HELP SET PROPERTY
  • INFO will no long return a list of channels where you have access. Instead use:
    /msg NickServ LISTCHANS
  • A new SET ENFORCE feature replaces the un-used SET KILL feature. For details, see
    /msg NickServ HELP SET ENFORCE

ChanServ

  • Channel access is now controlled by a series of flags, rather than levels. This will allow channel owners and Group Contacts to better control the access they grant users, and to see more clearly what access those users will have. Channel Access now also includes a powerful templating system, making it easier to manage large and complicated access lists. For more information on these features, please see:
    /msg ChanServ HELP FLAGS
    /msg ChanServ HELP TEMPLATE
    /msg ChanServ HELP ACCESS
  • Channel access can now be manipulated using two different commands.
    /msg ChanServ ACCESS #channel

    behaves similarly to our previous services, but the standard Atheme command is to use

    /msg ChanServ FLAGS

    Note that viewing FLAGS requires you to have flag +A on the channel in question, but ACCESS does not. This can be useful if you’re trying to locate channel operators.

  • ChanServ can no longer be used to OP or VOICE multiple users, though it is still possibly to OP/VOICE individual users:
    /msg ChanServ OP #channel nick
  • A new RECOVER command is now available, which can be used by the founder to regain control of a channel which has been “taken over”.
  • Channel passwords are no longer used for registration as all channel access is control by the access flags.
  • LIST *pattern* has been replaced by a new service called ALIS. See below for details.

ALIS

  • ALIS provides a more useful channel list facility than what was previously available. It will list matching channels, but will filter out channels that are not currently in use. Its use is similar to the functionality that was previously built into ChanServ:
    /msg ALIS LIST #freenode-*

MemoServ

  • Memos can now be replied to and forwarded to other users
  • Optional email forwarding to your registered email address. To enable this feature, issue the following command:
    /msg NickServ SET EMAILMEMOS ON

Hopefully that covers most of the differences that you will come across during day to day life on freenode. Of course, if you have any questions, suggestions or comments, please feel free to drop by #freenode, email support (at) freenode (dot) net or message a member of staff.