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

On SOPA/PIPA

Today, January 18th 2012, a number of websites, organisations and institutions along with countless individuals have chosen to take a stance to protest the proposed SOPA and PIPA legislations.

We believe that these acts could have a significant impact on the way in which we currently use the internet, and we strongly encourage and support raising awareness about the legislative proposals in order for people to make an informed decision about their stance on the issue.

Whilst we will not be partaking in any blackout to mark the occasion, we very much welcome frank and open discussion about SOPA/PIPA in ##sopa on the freenode network. The channel is not run by freenode staff, but was created by some people with a passion about the topics covered by the proposed legislations. If you feel passionate about SOPA/PIPA or you want to find out what all this is about, why not come along and join in the discussion?

As the USA is a power house in so far that they directly or indirectly control most of the internet’s infrastructure, and the proposed legislation has been written in a manner in which they specifically take into account “foreign rogue sites”, the legislation will, should it pass, have an impact upon the world as a whole.

For more information about SOPA/PIPA, please see:

 

Focus on #defocus

We’ve been working on improving the environment in #defocus for a while now.  We think we’re on the right track with opening up channel moderation to more than @freenode/staff/ but we need your help to get to where we want to be.

So this is a call out to those who think that they might be able to work with us to improve #defocus further.  If you think you have what it takes to be a #defocus channel operator, or simply have some ideas that you want to share as to how the existing or new team can improve things, please /join #defocus-focus where you can state your desire to be considered for the team, or share your ideas, or both!

(Don’t worry if you’re the first one there, either, someone has to be!)

Hope to see you there.

mrmist.

Merry Christmas

It was the day before Christmas, when all across the network not a creature was stirring, not even a troll…

Another year is coming to a close, a year of FOSS, a year of collaboration, a year of getting to know exciting projects and contributors, a year plentiful in conferences and events. A year in which community was at the heart of everything freenode and the PDPC did.

I am sat here in a candle lit room that smells of Christmas spice whilst sipping eggnog and stealing a moment to myself to reflect… when I first started using freenode, the network had around 1200 users — some years on we’ve passed 76,000. It is great to see so many projects make use of the service! The PDPC is doing some exciting stuff, FOSSCON was arranged for the second year running in 2011, FOSSEVENTS is still going strong and Geeknics are being held across the globe. Sometimes it is a bit daunting, everyone involved with freenode (and other PDPC projects) volunteer their time and skills to help the communities — and whilst this is great, the volunteer roster isn’t growing at a rate matching the increase in users. We will be doing another “Call for volunteers” in the New Year and we’re looking to find some awesome people to add to the team.

On a more personal basis, I’ve had the pleasure of participating in some brilliant “real life” events this year – from the always brilliant OGGCAMP, arranged by the amazing people behind the Linux Outlaws and Ubuntu UK podcasts. OGGCAMP is the sort of event which attracts “my sort of geek” — people with which I really enjoy spending time and socialising and I am already looking forward to next years! I’ve also enjoyed a number of Ubuntu-UK events, from the recent release party to smaller happy hours to the rather interesting Christmas meal at Dans Le Noir, where we ate a surprise menu (consisting of glow in the dark scallops, ostrich and blue shark to name some items!) in complete darkness before wandering off to enjoy a few pints of ale. Now, this is where freenode communities are great — I am an avid fan of the Ubuntu project, however, I have never used the distribution (though as a Debian user I am sure I’d get on with it just fine.. right?) but through freenode I have, over the years, come to know a lot of Ubuntu contributors and users, and over time discovered that these are people I really enjoy spending my time and people I am proud to call my friends! And I love their social events, they are a lot of fun! So thank you for letting me be a part of your community despite not really being “one of you” ;)

On the subject of freenode, communities and Christmas parties — as freenode volunteers are scattered across the globe, few of us meet on a regular basis but we tend to try make an effort to get together for dinner and drinks at events such as fosdem. This year, we decided to have a Christmas party, surprisingly we ended up with 21 people attending, most of which had never met each other in person before. Our volunteers flew over from America and Europe and we all had a smashing weekend filled with good food, nice drink and much laughter. Thank you all for coming!

In 2012 I look forward to learning about more projects, old and new. I look forward to attending yet more conferences and meeting more of you in person! I look forward to another year together with our volunteers and our sponsors, and of course our users.

On which note I shall wrap this entry up, thank you for using freenode and wish you all a Merry Christmas!

 

 

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.

Wednesday Server Updates

This Wednesday (September 14th, 2011) we will be continuing our server updates as mentioned here.

The following servers will be affected: leguin, gibson, wolfe, hitchcock, and pratchett.

During the update process these servers will be restarted and anyone connected to them will need to reconnect. You may wish to connect to an alternate server if you are currently connected to one of these.  You can check what server you are currently connected to using the command “/whois nickname” with your own nick as “nickname”.

We apologize for any inconvenience as we continue to improve the technology behind freenode.

Update: This is now done.

IRCD Upgrades

Over the next weeks we will be upgrading our servers to the next version of ircd-seven. This means restarting all our servers. Downtime should be minimal, and as we will not upgrade all servers at the same time this should not be as noisy as the upgrade from hyperion to ircd-seven was. When the server you are on is upgraded you will be disconnected, but should be able to reconnect immediately (most clients will do this automatically).

The following user-visible changes have been made since the versions in production:

– The channel quiet list is now sent using the new numerics RPL_QUIETLIST(728) and RPL_QUIETLISTEND(729) instead of overloading the same numerics as for ban lists. You may find that clients have to be updated before they will display this in a user-friendly format.
– Users who cannot send to a channel are now prevented from changing its topic, even when mode +t is not set.
– Sending a private message to another user while user mode +g is active will now automatically add an accept-list entry so that they can reply.
– Account names are now displayed in WHOWAS entries.
– Two new client capabilities are available: ACCOUNT-NOTIFY and EXTENDED-JOIN. These two together with the existing extended WHO syntax allow clients to track account names of other users who share a channel.
– Client flood control settings have been made configurable; you may notice them being stricter than before.

Once all ircds have upgraded we also plan to re-enable the +S channel mode, which only allows users connected using SSL to join.

Some more features will become available once we upgrade services, which will happen at some point after we have upgraded all irc servers:

– It will be possible to identify to services using SSL client certificates.
– ChanServ mode locks will be (mostly) enforced by the server. Instead of setting a mode and having ChanServ revert it immediately, you will not be able to change a locked mode.

Fixing #defocus

We want #defocus, the network social channel, to be a welcoming place for relaxed, easy conversation. Of late, we’re seeing that staff are acting in a policing role more than we are able to take an active part in the flow of the channel. This is something of a circle, as the more we are seen to be police, the harder it is for us to achieve what we want with the channel.

We’ve had some extensive discussions with #defocus regulars and ops on various channels around what we can do to improve the day-to-day atmosphere of the channel and bring it around to be what we want it to be, and one of the more immediate outcomes of these discussions was that we need to introduce more specific channel ops for #defocus, to work alongside staff in shaping the channel’s future.

To that end, the following users are now channel ops in #defocus, and are ready and able to asist when moderation might be required. _msh, jbroome , rww , Ttech, bburhans, frantk, gry, Fuchs , TheEvilPhoenix, Zuu.

Please help us in welcoming them to the #defocus team.

A short mention on Mibbit

Hi all.

It has come to our attention that Mibbit have experienced a security issue impacting (or so it initially appears) their testing servers. This has resulted in a list of plain text NickServ passwords from Mibbit’s own NickServ (the one you use if you connect to irc.mibbit.com) being made public, as well as a small section of private logs and some internal server details of the affected equipment. There’s some more information on their own blog.

As I’m sure many of you have been aware, Mibbit hasn’t been available for use with freenode for quite a while now so the issue will only indirectly impact freenode users when the password they use for their NickServ is the same as it is for elsewhere.  Therefore freenode staff are recommending that anyone that has used Mibbit’s own NickServ should ensure that their password is changed to keep your account secure.

Of course, it’s always good practice to change passwords periodically so you may wish to take the opportunity to do so as a matter of course.