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Debian Bits: I love Free Software Day 2016: Show your love for Free Software

Sun, 14/02/2016 - 01:10

Today February 14th, the Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) celebrates the "I Love Free Software" day. I Love Free Software day is a day for Free Software users to appreciate and thank the contributors of their favourite software applications, projects and organisations.

We take this opportunity to say "thank you" to all the Debian upstreams and downstreams, and all the Debian developers and contributors. Thanks for your work and dedication to free software!

There are many ways to participate in this ILoveFS day and we encourage everybody to join in and celebrate. Show your love to Debian developers, contributors and teams virtually on social networks using the #ilovefs hashtag and spreading the word in your own social media circles, or by visiting the ILoveFS campaign website to find and use some of the promotional materials available such as postcards and banners.

To learn more about the FSFE, you can read their announcement of this campaign or visit their general website.

Categories: LUG Community Blogs

Debian Bits: Tails installer is now in Debian

Thu, 11/02/2016 - 14:30

Tails (The amnesic incognito live system) is a live OS based on Debian GNU/Linux which aims at preserving the user's privacy and anonymity by using the Internet anonymously and circumventing censorship. Installed on a USB device, it is configured to leave no trace on the computer you are using unless asked explicitly.

As of today, the people the most needy for digital security are not computer experts. Being able to get started easily with a new tool is critical to its adoption, and even more in high-risk and stressful environments. That's why we wanted to make it faster, simpler, and more secure to install Tails for new users.

One of the components of Tails, the Tails Installer is now in Debian thanks to the Debian Privacy Tools Maintainers Team.

Tails Installer is a graphical tool to install or upgrade Tails on a USB stick from an ISO image. It aims at making it easier and faster to get Tails up and running.

The previous process for getting started with Tails was very complex and was problematic for less tech-savvy users. It required starting Tails three times, and copying the full ISO image onto a USB stick twice before having a fully functional Tails USB stick with persistence enabled.

This can now be done simply by installing Tails Installer in your existing Debian system, using sid, stretch or jessie-backports, plugging a USB stick and choosing if one wants to update the USB stick or to install Tails using a previously downloaded ISO image.

Tails Installer also helps Tails users to create an encrypted persistent storage for personal files and settings in the rest of the available space.

Categories: LUG Community Blogs

Steve Kemp: Redesigning my clustered website

Sun, 07/02/2016 - 11:28

I'm slowly planning the redesign of the cluster which powers the Debian Administration website.

Currently the design is simple, and looks like this:

In brief there is a load-balancer that handles SSL-termination and then proxies to one of four Apache servers. These talk back and forth to a MySQL database. Nothing too shocking, or unusual.

(In truth there are two database servers, and rather than a single installation of HAProxy it runs upon each of the webservers - One is the master which is handled via ucarp. Logically though traffic routes through HAProxy to a number of Apache instances. I can lose half of the servers and things still keep running.)

When I setup the site it all ran on one host, it was simpler, it was less highly available. It also struggled to cope with the load.

Half the reason for writing/hosting the site in the first place was to document learning experiences though, so when it came to time to make it scale I figured why not learn something and do it neatly? Having it run on cheap and reliable virtual hosts was a good excuse to bump the server-count and the design has been stable for the past few years.

Recently though I've begun planning how it will be deployed in the future and I have a new design:

Rather than having the Apache instances talk to the database I'll indirect through an API-server. The API server will handle requests like these:

  • POST /users/login
    • POST a username/password and return 200 if valid. If bogus details return 403. If the user doesn't exist return 404.
  • GET /users/Steve
    • Return a JSON hash of user-information.
    • Return 404 on invalid user.

I expect to have four API handler endpoints: /articles, /comments, /users & /weblogs. Again we'll use a floating IP and a HAProxy instance to route to multiple API-servers. Each of which will use local caching to cache articles, etc.

This should turn the middle layer, running on Apache, into simpler things, and increase throughput. I suspect, but haven't confirmed, that making a single HTTP-request to fetch a (formatted) article body will be cheaper than making N-database queries.

Anyway that's what I'm slowly pondering and working on at the moment. I wrote a proof of concept API-server based CMS two years ago, and my recollection of that time is that it was fast to develop, and easy to scale.

Categories: LUG Community Blogs