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11.12.19

Maintaining the ‘Delete Github’ page

Posted in Microsoft, Site News at 11:31 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

By figosdev

GitHub RepositoriesSummary: “This list really is a starting point, which can hopefully increase awareness about the issue of concern.”

THE primary goal of the Delete Github page is an early-warning system for projects that Microsoft has undue control over — they can restrict access, delete projects, or (perhaps in a worst-case scenario) either deliberately modify a project download as SourceForge once did, or simply act a vector for malicious activity — as has already happened to Gentoo and Canonical.

“At this stage there is an effort to be as comprehensive as possible — to include as many mainstream Free software projects as we can, to give people a better idea of how many projects are potentially threatened by a monopoly.”As with higher quality warning systems, including all anti-malware software, false positives are a known possibility. Some care is taken to avoid them, simply to increase the quality of the list itself. At this stage there is an effort to be as comprehensive as possible — to include as many mainstream Free software projects as we can, to give people a better idea of how many projects are potentially threatened by a monopoly.

Admittedly, there is a lower threshold of evidence to get on the list than to be removed. While people may decide to make decisions based on this list, we hope they would double-check our findings first. This is research, it is not law — the list includes IceWM, which I use routinely, and JWM, which I have running as a process as we speak. It includes Leafpad, which I am using to type this very line of text. If we find evidence that WordPress is using Github (and there is a repo for it, I haven’t checked it yet and it isn’t on the list yet) it is unlikely that Roy will decide to remove it from the Techrights servers.

“To some of us, this list is like an endangered species list — we are concerned about the future of projects that are hosted on Github.”If a clerical error places an allergy you don’t have on your medical records, it is very possible that when this error is found, a single line will be drawn through the note. That is the sort of response that will most likely come of discovering errors in the list. A prominent note (perhaps in bold text) is the most likely correction.

To some of us, this list is like an endangered species list — we are concerned about the future of projects that are hosted on Github. And we are most eager to update the status of each one (even possibly Systemd, not necessarily for any wishes of success.)

But how can we know that we are in error? Certainly there is some level of assurance we can be given, most likely we will try to re-evaluate items that are called into question as our priorities allow. But we can check on the first one during the writing of this article:

“We will also probably use this lowercase convention for projects that abandon Github for other repos — if it’s all lowercase, that means we no longer believe the project is relying on Github.”“OpenBSD does not use Github for development at all Roy. They do not even use git!”

“I’m sure there are others in the list that also do not use github.”

Hopefully so. And by no means is Wikipedia a facts-only source of information, but if we simply grep https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OpenBSD:

$ leafpad <(wget -O- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OpenBSD | tr ">" "\n" | grep ithub)

We get this:

<a rel="nofollow" class="external text" href="https://github.com/openbsd"

“When this list started, it was a completely manual process.”Now, it’s possible that OpenBSD doesn’t use this repo. If so, the article should be corrected. Let’s increase the quality of this check and visit the actual article: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OpenBSD

Ah, now — one of the not-yet-implemented (though already considered) quality checks is to verify if the Github link is in the summary box (or whatever it’s called, I’m not a Wikipedian) on the top right. Selecting it and right-clicking, “View Selection Source” we find this is probably called an “infobox” and that it begins with:

<table class="infobox vevent"

It completes with "</tbody></table>" which we can use in the future to parse infoboxes.

Doing a further search for our Github link, we find the non-url text of our link is in the “External links” section, titled “Github mirror”.

“There are still checks in place, but in the writing of this article we have found things we can do to refine the process.”What have we learned:

1. The Github link isn’t in the infobox section, which decreases the significance of the link.

2. The official repo is https://cvsweb.openbsd.org/cgi-bin/cvsweb/ this is actually the most pertinent information.

3. The text of the very link that put OpenBSD on our list was labeled “Github mirror” which isn’t necessarily criteria we want or need to add projects to this list.

“Obviously people who are more intimately familiar with these projects are encouraged to help us, as arm did.”I would say this warrants a correction, which I will issue now before the article is finished. Since the first letter of every list entry is capitalised, we will make it easier to parse / automatically filter corrected entries by making the title all lowercase: OpenBSD -> openbsd. And… updated. Thanks to arm for setting this straight.

We will also probably use this lowercase convention for projects that abandon Github for other repos — if it’s all lowercase, that means we no longer believe the project is relying on Github.

When this list started, it was a completely manual process. Since then, (only) some aspects have drifted towards rudimentary automation. This has produced a more complete list, with a slightly higher tendency towards false positives. There are still checks in place, but in the writing of this article we have found things we can do to refine the process.

“For the moment, the highest priority is still adding to the list, so we may not double check every existing entry right away.”Even after items are added, we can use this new information to double-check the entries (even all at once.) That doesn’t mean this will happen today, but it may ultimately make it easier to discover when projects abandon Github, which would be a bonus. Obviously people who are more intimately familiar with these projects are encouraged to help us, as arm did.

For the moment, the highest priority is still adding to the list, so we may not double check every existing entry right away. This is the stage where the list is built as large as possible, within reason and utility.

At no point has the process become entirely automated, though I did just parse all of English Wikipedia for Github entries. Wikipedia will not be (is not) our only source, entries do not automatically go from discovery to inclusion (they are checked further, and also chosen manually for relevance, but please feel very free to suggest items you think are worth adding) but we will now try to slightly refine the process of adding new entries, first.

“We also want to encourage projects to leave Github.”We want everybody to realise that Github holds more mainstream projects than many of us thought. We also want to encourage projects to leave Github. We already know that GNOME and KDE mostly have their own repositories, though at the moment it appears that Kate for example, may use Github for something (that is still being looked into.) It’s surprising to discover gnuradio on Github — we are also aware that some of these (like OpenBSD) are just mirrors.

This list really is a starting point, which can hopefully increase awareness about the issue of concern. As awareness increases, we fully expect the quality of this information to be further refined — not unlike the software projects listed here as talented people review them and contribute to the sources.

Thanks again, you’ve helped make this list better than it was when we started.

Licence: Creative Commons CC0 1.0 (public domain)

11.07.19

Happy Anniversary to Us

Posted in Site News at 12:13 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Finally. It’s thirteen.

Number thirteen mix

Summary: We’re still alive and well after non-stop (daily) publication since 2006

I DON’T fancy celebrating instead of focusing on further publication (there’s lots going on at the EPO this week), but later today I’ll have posted 700,000 tweets. The 700,000th will probably be posted some time in the evening. More importantly, however, today is our thirteenth anniversary and the number isn’t particularly special (like ten or fifteen). It’s safe to say that we’re stable enough to reach fifteen and still be active every day. Twenty years? Too far to tell… that’s 7 years from now. Now, at age 13, this sites serves at a pace of about quarter billion hits per year. Tux Machines is the same. We might not seem big, but we have broad reach and it improves over time. Our main IRC channel, #techrights, regularly has 55-70 members online. Some lurk, some talk, and there’s more going on behind the scenes (we try to shed light on that in order to discourage unnecessary suspicion or false rumours).

11.06.19

Gone Are the Days of Large IRC ‘Data Dumps’

Posted in Site News at 3:48 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: A month after starting to post IRC logs on a daily basis (as we had done until around 2010) we’re about to celebrate our thirteenth anniversary

Thirteen eggsTHE IRC channels started around spring or summer of 2008. We hadn’t anticipated they’d mature the way they did, especially because IRC is relatively old technology (I first used that in the early 1990s). Posting IRC logs is a time-consuming process because of redaction-related curation. We’re careful not to harm people’s privacy when/where it’s necessary. Many lurkers have been there for a long time, even over a decade. The more active participants are a close-knit community that sort of grew up together, talking about technology for the most part. All our IRC logs are complete; when loggers had gaps, which was a rare situation, the decentralised nature of IRC was leveraged to fuse together the missing bits. So we almost never lost any data.

“That’s thirteen eggs on the left by the way…”A month ago we devised a work pipeline or a workflow that allows us to post IRC logs every morning. We know that some people are reading those. Some cite these to make particular points or informal observations. The purpose was explained too.

We’re not secretive; we never were. Obviously we make exception when it comes to source handling; in 13 years we never ever let down a source that needed protection. We hope to maintain this perfect record.

Tomorrow this site turns 13. We’ll write about that separately. That’s thirteen eggs on the left by the way…

10.30.19

The Memes Aren’t Going Away

Posted in Site News at 11:25 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

When they tell you Techrights overuses memes. But it's the only way to get people to read technical stuff.

Summary: One way to get difficult subjects/messages across is mild humour and sarcasm

‘Twas around September when we started using lots of memes in Techrights and some readers may wonder why we do this. It’s easier to get people’s attention and get them to understand technical issues/controversies when there’s a succinct joke. If readers get tired of these memes, then those who do can contact us and tell us to stop. Nobody has done that so far. We’ll carry on while it’s still legal and not legally risky in the EU (because of those notorious copyright/upload filters which can help censor memes).

10.23.19

Guest Posts Wanted

Posted in Site News at 3:40 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Hampi
Hampi (City in India)

Summary: Welcoming contributions from more people, more voices

AS longtime or regular readers may have noticed, quite inevitably, lately we’ve published quite a few guest posts. Today, for example, guest posts outnumbered my own. This is good and it is a desirable thing. A diversity of views, interepreations, sources and opinions make us more likely to find truths. Perspectives may vary based on one’s background.

“We’re not a business but a platform for the public.”We’re happy to say that we now have regular guest posts from the United States, Europe and Asia (India). If anyone else wishes to submit an article, reach us on bytesmedia@bytesmedia.co.uk and we can help with proofreading etc. We’re not a business but a platform for the public.

Exploring Devuan as a GNU/Linux Server Platform

Posted in Site News at 3:17 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Serving about 20 million requests over the past month

Tux chair

Summary: Techrights will explore a migration to Devuan some time in the coming weeks or months

THE UPLOAD above is an image from figosdev, not exactly a fan of systemd. But he’s not alone. Other people, including associates of ours, have grown tired of systemd for purely technical reasons. It causes issues. Techrights still needs to run jobs in the background to ameliorate such issues. I myself have been more or less neutral or at least apathetic on the matter for many years. To be frank, init systems (systemd was initially introduced as such) aren’t something I’m sufficiently familiar with to comment on.

We recently noted that we had run the site on CentOS since 2006. This, however, might change soon. We might experiment with Devuan and see how well it works as a server. There should be plenty of time to entertain the idea and experiment around Christmas. This isn’t yet a promise that we will make the move, only an assurance that the possibility is being explored.

10.19.19

26,000 Posts

Posted in Site News at 2:35 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

AS readers are aware if they’ve been following for a while (some have followed us closely since 2006!), we’re soon turning 13 and this weekend we’ve finally hit that key milestone, which is 26,000 blog posts (some of these daily links, some articles, sometimes site announcements such as this one).

“We don’t intend to ever receive corporate money/patrons; that would defeat our purpose and credibility.”We want to thank those who help spread the word; it gives us moral support and morale. It keeps us going. It’s not just myself but a bunch of us who are involved and are working behind the scenes every day of the year. We’re 100% independent from corporate money, so any ‘biases’ we may have aren’t financially motivated but likely idealogical*. We don’t intend to ever receive corporate money/patrons; that would defeat our purpose and credibility.
____
* For those looking or pursuing full disclosure, my ‘daytime’ job (actually nighttime) is providing support for Free software. By far our biggest client is the National Health Service and some are activism/citizen journalism sites. There’s no conflict of interest.

10.14.19

This Week Techrights Crosses 26,000 Posts Milestone, 3 Weeks Before Turning 13 (2,000+ Posts/Year)

Posted in Site News at 4:44 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Time for another meme

Techrights; Exposing corruption; Oct 2019; Meme generator

Summary: A self-congratulatory post about another year that’s passed (without breaks from publishing) and another milestone associated with posting volume

THANKS to some help maintaining and running the site we believe it should be possible to increase productivity and take pace of publication up another notch. We expected to reach the 26,000 threshold (or milestone) some time next month, but we’re about to cross it before this week’s end. This certainly means that we’ve accelerated somewhat in recent weeks/months.

26,000 isn’t a particularly pretty number and 13 isn’t a special number/age except in one religion, so we probably won’t be preparing a cake or anything like that. Instead all effort/resources will go into more research, fact-checking and publication.

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