1. 15

    What do you want to accomplish? Do you want something with the same sorts of abstractions as existing desktops? If so is there a reason other than vanity that prevents you from contributing to KDE or GNOME (do you want to do this as a learning exercise?)? Do you want to do something novel? If so, how will you provide an incremental migration path for existing software?

    Using an existing toolkit locks you into a lot of core abstractions that the toolkit provides and limits your flexibility. Not using an existing toolkit makes it harder for existing apps to work in your environment.

    If I had time to do DE-like things today, I’d contribute to Arcan. It’s the first thing I’ve seen in a long time that looks as if someone is building tooling that enables the kind of system I want to be running ten years from now.

    1. 3

      Just wanted to see for myself how hard it is to create a barebones version. Not for any practical use or to release as an alternative to the existing ones.

      1. 6

        Then my next question is: What do you want to learn?

        • How window management works?
        • How application launchers work?
        • How Wayland / X11 works?
        • How file browsers work?
        • Something else?
        1. 2

          Yes to all of the above, except file browsers.

          1. 9

            For X11, start with XCB, which is an incredibly thin wrapper over the protocol and lets you build up each part of a window manager one step at a time. Start with reparenting, then add compositing support. You’ll find the individual protocol extension docs a good reference.

            For Wayland, the window manager is integrated into the compositor (which is what Wayland calls the window server). This means you can’t easily write one from scratch, but I believe there are some quite configurable ones that you can start with.

            1. 5

              For learning about X11, I cannot recommend this site enough: https://tronche.com/gui/x/xlib/

          2. 1

            Well, then start with a minimal X11 window manager, itʼs just a few lines of code, for instance: http://incise.org/tinywm.html

            1. 2

              Isn’t X11 deprecated? Why not Wayland?

              1. 11

                No, it’s not deprecated, even if some Linux corporations claim otherwise. People still using X11, and will continue to do so in the next decades.

                1. 6

                  For decades its development has been funded by Linux corporations. Now they’re funding something better (for their users’ needs). I’m not sure to what extent others whose needs aren’t met by Wayland have stepped up to fill the gap.

                  This is a relevant post: https://ajaxnwnk.blogspot.com/2020/10/on-abandoning-x-server.html

                  1. 5

                    It’ll exist for decades, but it’s probably going to be doing so in stasis. Still useful to understand, but probably not the future of anything.

                  2. 4

                    Try this for the Wayland equivalent: https://github.com/swaywm/wlroots/tree/master/tinywl

            1. 9

              nice release, I wish the announcement was less marketing buzzwords galore though.

              1. 27

                Holy shit you weren’t joking.

                Today, Canonical released Ubuntu 21.10 – the most productive environment for cloud-native developers and AI/ML innovators across the desktop, devices and cloud.

                Getting harder and harder to tell the difference between satire of tech and just regular tech these days.

                1. 11

                  Compare with the OpenBSD 7.0 release announcement: https://www.openbsd.org/70.html

                  It’s shockingly different for sure!

                  I have no idea what’s actually in Ubuntu 21.10 except “new stuff” that’s supposedly better for me somehow. I have a very good idea of what’s in OpenBSD 7.0 now.

                  1. 9

                    It’s definitely different, but it does not seem like a good example of release announcement to me. It’s mostly a very long list of changes grouped by area, not even sorted by “how likely is it that people would care”. For instance, “Unlocked the top part of the VM fault handler on i386.” is the first item in the list of kernel improvements…

                    I find the Debian 11 announcement much better in terms of focusing on the important changes users may care about https://www.debian.org/News/2021/20210814 - though perhaps a few more details would have been interesting.

                    1. 6

                      Heh, I had the opposite reaction. The Ubuntu announcement mentioned a few high level points surrounded by marketing jargon, but the OpenBSD one read like a commit history.

                      1. 7

                        Well, the new OpenBSD 7.0 is the most productive OpenBSD environment for AI/ML innovators and cloud-native developers thus far!

                        (I guess everything that runs numpy better than before due to a newer compiler with better optimizations qualifies)

                  2. 5
                  1. 13

                    Unreadable without FF reader view.

                    Keep your cool h4ck3r aesthetics if you wish, but maybe consider the consequences on how your content is read and perceived. Since most of the content is <pre> rendered text, making the entire thing available as a zip would be better.

                    Accessibility matters.

                    1. 21

                      Not sure what you mean, it renders perfectly fine for me in Firefox, without reader view. eww in emacs handles it perfectly as well.

                      Complaining about readability seems a bit silly when all content is contained within a single pre tag. I don’t see how a zip file would make it any easier to read; to me a zip file would make it harder, not easier.

                      1. 11

                        They mention on the page that all the pages are available as txt files.

                        They also have a zip download: https://tmpout.sh/1/tmp.0ut.1.txt.zip

                        If you used a fraction of a second actually viewing the website, you would maybe have noticed these facts.

                        1. 1
                          1. 2

                            I’m not sure why you think this person made a mistake. Neither posters made a mistake, the website just changed in the interrim.

                            1. 2

                              I think the mistake @L-P refers to was of @opfez assuming that, if @L-P had used a fraction of a second more, they would’ve noticed something that was not in fact there at the time they viewed the website.

                              1. 1

                                That’s not a mistake – it’s a lack of knowledge. It would have been kinder, rather than to call it a mistake, to instead say “It has changed to add those since then”, or some other factual response that does not pass judgement.

                                1. 1

                                  I don’t disagree. They were responding to some pretty intensely accusatory language, so I can understand using less kind language in response.

                            2. 1

                              Ah I see. I apologize, please excuse my ignorance.

                          2. 4

                            I can read it just fine, though the font is a tad small

                            1. 2

                              Best Viewed With Lynx!

                              1. 2

                                Maybe you jest, but it’s actually perfectly fine with lynx.

                            1. 2

                              I vaguely remember this guy. I think he sabotaged downstream packages with some obnoxious nagware message and drama ensued on Debian mailing list. I can’t take this guy seriously if he is just going to come off as an ass.

                              1. 33

                                Debian had fucked up and made an annoying support burden for him, by refusing to ship bugfixes from upstream but also seemingly refusing to hard-fork it and update support information.

                                I think that jwz is firmly in the right to be annoyed here.

                                1. 2

                                  The reason why people choose Debian stable is that the software doesn’t change every time upstream comes up with a new version, but when the distro is released. If he doesn’t like that he should explicitly forbid packaging his code, because that’s how distros work .

                                  1. 6

                                    The whole debate wasn’t (just) about Debian not packaging a more recent version, it was specifically about Debian packaging the old version with the “the version you’re currently running is out of date” message removed. I.e. downstream patched the xscreensaver code to remove the update… alert? It wasn’t really an alert, it just said “This version is very old, please update” on the splash screen, next to the title and copyright.

                                    I don’t think asking downstream not to patch that out is an unreasonable demand. If they want to package old versions and not update them (which, as a former Debian stable user, I understand 100%) that’s great, but it’s at the very least bad taste to patch out a perfectly harmless piece of code (not a bug!) that only lessens the support burden for the upstream developers.

                                    1. 2

                                      Well the message didn’t just ask people to update. It added “If this is the latest version that your distro ships, then your distro is doing you a disservice”, which is trollish at best. Then again the same guy also trolls distros in his configure scripts, and is clearly very successful at that— without all this publicity we wouldn’t be talking about him right now.

                                      1. 13

                                        It’s easy to call something trollish when you’re not at the receiving end of emails about bugs you fixed three years ago, which cause you to spend three days chasing a CVE-worthy regression – and then it turns out it’s no regression, someone’s really using a three year-old version.

                                        Way back when the Stable codename was Potato, it was pretty common knowledge among Debian users that, if you run into a bug, you don’t report it upstream before building the latest version from source. Because e.g. half the protocols Gaim supported didn’t work in the package Debian shipped in stable, as the protocols had long changed. There was a good chance that your bug report wasn’t just out of date, but that it would refer to code that wasn’t even there anymore.

                                        As Linux (and Debian, and its derivatives) became more popular, that piece of very useful wisdom became less and less common, but lots of folks in the Debian packaging team never quite woke up to that realisation.

                                        Most of the time this doesn’t blow up in someone’s face, it just silently fizzes out in the form of bug reports from Debian users being silently ignored. In this case, it did.

                                        Edit: FWIW, I had no idea there was a pop-up message, too (I didn’t use XFCE, I just read about that in the original bug report – I probably read that back then, too, but I certainly forgot about it, hence the “wasn’t really an alert?” part in my previous message, which is obviously wrong :-D).

                                        1. 2

                                          I don’t buy that, sorry. The first thing you do when you get a bug report is asking for the version number. If you spend three days investigating a bug without knowing which version of the software the user is running then you’ve got only yourself to blame. Adding a passive aggressive pop up alert like that to your software is crying for attention (and it works well apparently given that I’m still here :D)

                                          1. 5

                                            No one is selling you anything to buy.

                                            Specifically from jwz’s post on the topic he is complaining about being spammed by Debian users.

                                            And what about “This version of XScreenSaver is very old! Please upgrade!” is passive aggressive?

                                            1. 2

                                              I don’t buy that, sorry. The first thing you do when you get a bug report is asking for the version number.

                                              The first thing most bug report emails start with “I’m using the latest version of and…”. Then it turns out it’s the latest version from Debian stable, so it’s something from three years ago.

                                              Yes, after a while you end up knowing better than to take their word for it, but it’s not fun. It’s also not fun for everyone else. It’s hard not to sound condescending when you reply and ask them for the EXACT version number.

                                              Debian makes this particularly difficult because – I know, I like mailing lists & co. too, I sympathise, but! – lots of Debian users have no idea how to report a bug or check on what’s happening with their report. Many of them were born after that reportbug-based thing. So they just write to the program’s author instead.

                                              (Edit: and FWIW I like reportbug mailing list workflows, and I wish people would use them, but practical experience shows that at this point a lot of them don’t, and don’t see the point of learning it just to report a bug, either.)

                                          2. 5

                                            Well the message didn’t just ask people to update. It added “If this is the latest version that your distro ships, then your distro is doing you a disservice”, which is trollish at best.

                                            No, it didn’t and doesn’t.

                                            1. 1

                                              Yes, it did. From the original bug:

                                              There is a similar warning when opening the “Screensaver” command from the XFCE Applications Menu:

                                              _("Warning:\n\n"
                                                "This version of xscreensaver is VERY OLD!\n"
                                                "Please upgrade!\n"
                                               "\n"
                                                "http://www.jwz.org/xscreensaver/\n"
                                               "\n"
                                                "(If this is the latest version that your distro ships, then\n"
                                                "your distro is doing you a disservice. Build from source.)\n"
                                                ),
                                              

                                              See https://bugs.debian.org/cgi-bin/bugreport.cgi?bug=819703

                                              1. 1

                                                I stand corrected. The “your distro is doing you a disservice” message is in the Gtk demo driver.

                                        2. 5

                                          the software doesn’t change every time upstream comes up with a new version

                                          The mistaken assumption in this is that a new version from upstream will change things, or be incompatible. For some software, this is the case. For others: not really.

                                          It’s this “one size fits all” approach that causes a lot of friction, and also pushes quite a bit of maintenance burden on the community as a whole. It’s not uncommon for projects to work around things just because “Debian still ships with this libfoo version from 3 years ago containing a bug that’s long since been fixed”, or “this libfoo feature is not yet available in Debian and causes a compile error”.

                                          One of the reasons I like Vim is because it’s really stable, but if I use Debian stable I’ll still be stuck with Vim 8.1.0875 from two years ago, which also causes friction in the community, as people expect all plugins to be compatible with this old version as well. I’ve definitely spent a lot of time on compatibility issues just because of Debian.

                                          This is an old discussion and we’re never going to agree, but IMO if you want stable software then choose, well, stable software from stable vendors. I’m not a fan of Debian second-guessing the upstream release processes, and while I don’t really care how people use their computers (it’s their computer after all), the friction Debian introduces for the community/ecosystem as a whole as well as the unwillingness to recognizes this leaves me with some amount of dislike of Debian.

                                      2. 6

                                        It was about some distros shipping a very old version of xscreensaver, which resulted in lots of users sending him emails about bugs that had already been fixed for years.

                                        https://www.jwz.org/blog/2016/04/i-would-like-debian-to-stop-shipping-xscreensaver/

                                        This sounds a lot like one of those posts that started circulating a few years ago about OSS maintainer fatigue. Though jwz certainly added fuel to the fire with his attitude.

                                      1. 87

                                        I work at Signal, and here are my two cents:

                                        Signal is incrementally better than the incumbents on the technology side. We do a better job encrypting message contents than most and I think we do a much better job staying ignorant about message metadata (e.g. who you’re talking to) than our competitors. I’m proud of the work my colleagues have done and I do think we have some significant differentiators, but Signal’s architecture is similar to WhatsApp’s.

                                        The bigger shift, I think, is not technical. People know that corporations don’t always have users’ best interests in mind; Facebook is emblematic of this problem. In my view, shifting from a for-profit app to a nonprofit one is as significant as switching from a centralized platform to a federated one, if not more significant.

                                        That’s not to say Signal gets a pass; we are far from perfect. But I think we’re a baby step towards the ideal.

                                        I spend a lot of time on Mastodon and the cries for a better federated/decentralized system are loud there. I, too, would love to see messaging get there in the mainstream. Maybe it’s Matrix, maybe it’s Berty, maybe it’s Briar, who knows. But I see Signal as an important step to get there.

                                        This isn’t an official response from Signal, just my opinion!!

                                        1. 12

                                          Thanks for the input here! I think these are reasonable ways to view things even if I periodically express frustration at the ways Signal falls short of (or operates on a philosophy that contradicts) my personal ideal. I derive a tremendous amount of value from it even if I’m uncomfortable with, say, the stances laid out in the ecosystem is moving, and I’m grateful for the utility provided in a very hard space to work in.

                                          The bigger shift, I think, is not technical. People know that corporations don’t always have users’ best interests in mind; Facebook is emblematic of this problem. In my view, shifting from a for-profit app to a nonprofit one is as significant as switching from a centralized platform to a federated one, if not more significant.

                                          As someone who works for a nonprofit on a public good that’s extremely centralized in architecture (I’m an employee of the Wikimedia Foundation), I tend to share this view. The way software labor gets paid for is crucial, and if there might be better models than a foundation, then there are certainly also far worse ones.

                                          That said, though I’d far rather work for a donation-supported nonprofit than most of the realistic alternatives, our centralization sure is a vulnerability that keeps me awake at night. All institutions are vulnerable to capture, corruption, or collapse, and I wish we had better models for mitigating that risk. I’m pretty sure federation / distribution of architecture is an important piece of the puzzle, but it’s often difficult to discuss that in a way that’s also clear-eyed about the benefits and affordances of centralization.

                                          1. 4

                                            That’s not to say Signal gets a pass; we are far from perfect.

                                            Out of curiosity, in what ways would you hope the project would improve?

                                            1. 4

                                              Maybe it’s Matrix

                                              Matrix’s future is encouraging, because they tackle not only centralisation but also moderation.

                                              The answer is to remove the centralisation. Users should be able to make up their own minds and make their own censorship decisions - something that we’re actively working on and supporting via Matrix’s decentralised reputation work. – https://element.io/blog/2021-escalated-quickly/

                                              1. 3

                                                I don’t think we automatically get a pass because we’re a nonprofit. I’d trust a nonprofit’s incentives over a corporation’s, but we could still do plenty of bad things. I’m not aware of us doing anything like this, but I want to avoid saying “nonprofits = always pure and good”.

                                                The most obvious improvements I see are with the desktop app, which is what I work on day-to-day. It’s no secret that the app is buggy, consumes a lot of resources, and isn’t at feature parity with the mobile apps. I joined in an effort to improve those things, but there’s still a ways to go. Turns out it’s hard to build a good native app for three different operating systems (especially when no two Linux installations are the same)!

                                                1. 1

                                                  For what it’s worth, there’s no love lost between me and the Electron end-user experience in the general case, but Signal at least manages to be the one Electron app I run routinely. On my fairly new and expensive desktop system I don’t usually have performance complaints and I can’t remember it crashing much. That may sound like damning with faint praise, but then again if you’ve used the typical Electron-based chat app maybe not…

                                                  1. 1

                                                    Tangent on this, a lot (or at least some) would like to know if OWS has a stance on making bots and clients for unsupported operating systems. That bear has to be poked eventually and we can only hope for a positive response! :)

                                                2. 4

                                                  I know you can’t answer this (and might not be fair for me to ask) but what’s your opinion of the Radio Free Asia (CIA spin off) funding that seeded Signal? I’m not trying to create FUD, just not seeing much talk about it. How do you convince a skeptic like me?

                                                  Also, why isn’t Signal investing in p2p? Maybe you can answer the second question…

                                                  1. 16

                                                    You are swallowing FUD from the same people that has been trying to discredit the Tor project for the past 6-7 years on the same reasons.

                                                    Inherently it doesn’t matter if CIA throws money on secure crypto. Because it’s secure. The double ratchet algorithm has had eyes on it for years and considering the fairly good track record of people finding suspicious crypto I’m not even batting an eye on the conspiracy some people are trying to push.

                                                    1. 6

                                                      If a US government run conspiracy exists around Tor I would be far more worried it relates to the laughably low count of active nodes and the potential that a not so insignificant count of them are being run by malicious parties.

                                                      1. 11

                                                        You don’t need a conspiracy to point at the multiple successful attacks against the Tor network and active sybil attacks people have used on it though.

                                                        1. 3

                                                          Who brought up conspiracy theories? Is it a conspiracy to think that the intelligence community would be more likely to fund a project that they can crack?

                                                          1. 5

                                                            When a large group of people with disparate goals and interests are treated as though they were all cooperating on a single unified goal, yeah, that’s conspiracy. At the very least, the intelligence community is divided into two very different groups: “attackers” and “defenders”.

                                                            It’s quite plausible that the “attackers” group would want to fund vulnerable crypto systems in the hope that more useful traffic would be unprotected. However, it’s also quite plausible that the “defenders” group would want to fund very strong crypto systems, so that their agents’ communications would be secure, and hidden among a flood of equally-secure civilian communications.

                                                            Just saying “Ah, this was funded by a spin-off of the CIA!” is not in itself evidence of vulnerability or security. If you could prove whether that funding came out of the “attackers” or “defenders” budget, that would be interesting and useful.

                                                            For me, the fact that the CIA money was part of the seed funding (not when Signal was already popular) suggests that the money came from the “defenders” budget — they hoped it would get big enough that their own agents’ traffic would go unnoticed. I’d expect a donation from the “attackers” camp to come later on, once they had found a weakness, to help Signal establish a lead over competing apps without known weaknesses. That’s not proof, of course, but without hard evidence nothing’s certain.

                                                            1. 1

                                                              When a large group of people with disparate goals and interests are treated as though they were all cooperating on a single unified goal, yeah, that’s conspiracy.

                                                              is anyone saying that?

                                                              Just saying “Ah, this was funded by a spin-off of the CIA!” is not in itself evidence of vulnerability or security.

                                                              …or that?

                                                              1. 1

                                                                There are people saying that. Which is why this is being discussed in the first place.

                                                                1. 1

                                                                  who/where?

                                                      2. 6

                                                        What FUD are they swallowing exactly? They only stated that a CIA spin off initially funded Signal, which is true. It’s reasonable to ask why the U.S. intelligence apparatus would want to fund projects like Signal and Tor.

                                                        1. 2

                                                          Sure but in some cases, the CIA’s and the public’s interests can be aligned. Strong crypto, safe communication, identity hiding proxies are needed for both.

                                                          1. 3

                                                            sure, for some definitions of “the public.” during periods for which we have records of CIA activities, the peasants of southeast asia probably would’ve preferred the CIA to be less able to secure identities and communications.

                                                          2. 1

                                                            The FUD is that this somehow compromises the integrity of signal.

                                                            1. 1

                                                              Depends what you mean by integrity and what you think of Radio Free Asia.

                                                            2. 1

                                                              Well, when someone asks on lobste.rs, where they know that the chances of getting a factual answer to this question are zero, you might reasonably think that the question isn’t a straightforward request for factual answer. What else might it be? FUD and innuendo are among the possiblities.

                                                              Personally my first guess for that funding would be someone at the CIA used some money in a way that helped their own performance reviews and maybe get them promotions, without regard to what effect it would have on other people at the CIA or NSA.

                                                              “Tasks accomplished this year:

                                                              • Blah that helps Chinese/Burmese/Indonesian blah blah against state wiretapping”

                                                              This is a guess, not a factual answer. I’m just assuming that the CIA is no better coordinated than the places where I’ve worked. That people at the CIA will put their own department’s tasks and goals above those of other people in other buildings, just like… I could digress into frustrated rambling here.

                                                              1. 1

                                                                so you’re insinuating through innuendo that the only reason they would ask for an open ended opinion on this topic, is to spread FUD

                                                            3. 4

                                                              A union election is about to start in the Amazon facility in Bessemer, Alabama. Amazon wanted the election to run on their internal voting system instead of mail in ballots. The union reps declined because they were suspicious about running a union vote on the companies own platform for what seems to be like a good reason. Of course Amazon made the same arguments, that their software is secure an anonymous.

                                                              The question is it legitimate FUD? Because it seems to me, if people are getting on Signal because they are worried about US government monitoring, then it would seem like a legitimate concern that the CIA funded the same software they are trying to use.

                                                              Just because it’s FUD doesn’t mean it’s illegitimate. Just like just because it’s a conspiracy theory doesn’t mean there isn’t a conspiracy. I personally think this is a legitimate concern and there is no reason to believe Signal at face value given it’s history.

                                                              Let’s also point out that technically, it’s very easy to shut signal down. Look at the recent outage. Look at the fact they are renting AWS hardware. Even if you don’t believe the FUD, nothing technically about signal seems robust.

                                                              1. 5

                                                                A union election is about to start in the Amazon facility in Bessemer, Alabama. Amazon wanted the election to run on their internal voting system instead of mail in ballots. The union reps declined because they were suspicious about running a union vote on the companies own platform for what seems to be like a good reason. Of course Amazon made the same arguments, that their software is secure an anonymous.

                                                                How does this apply to signal? Union workers that has consistently been under threat and pressure in the US are completely sane to consider something else. For this argument to make sense then you are just suggesting signal is in direct opposition to the goal of their users. This feels like constructing some strawman.

                                                                The question is it legitimate FUD? Because it seems to me, if people are getting on Signal because they are worried about US government monitoring, then it would seem like a legitimate concern that the CIA funded the same software they are trying to use.

                                                                I disagree that some undocumented donation from a government agency is funding anything. The article Yasha has written is pay walled. Whatever donation they made years ago doesn’t matter as they have created a non-profit and gotten a significant donation from the whatsapp founder.

                                                                Just because it’s FUD doesn’t mean it’s illegitimate. Just like just because it’s a conspiracy theory doesn’t mean there isn’t a conspiracy. I personally think this is a legitimate concern and there is no reason to believe Signal at face value given it’s history.

                                                                The argument needs to be stronger then “some government agency gave a donation”.

                                                                1. 3

                                                                  The union comparison is correct because there is a long history of vulnerable groups being targeted by the US government. Isn’t it sane for the same groups to be suspicious of tech funded by their oppressors?

                                                                  1. 1

                                                                    Are you saying that any organization taking donations from the US government is ultimately working for the US government to do their bidding?

                                                                    Isn’t it sane for the same groups to be suspicious of tech funded by their oppressors?

                                                                    This is inane. How much money was given how many years ago?

                                                                    1. 2

                                                                      Obviously if the USPS funded it, or national park service, or the NSF, I wouldn’t be really be that concerned…

                                                                2. 3

                                                                  The term FUD is only honestly used to describe disingenuous propagandising. Amazon’s voting software is not widely used FLOSS, unlike Tor and Signal. You are actively spreading FUD by making this misleading comparison.

                                                                  1. 3

                                                                    What if it doesn’t matter if the messages are encrypted. What if the metadata, who talks to who when is what they’re trying to capture? Because getting the rest of the conversation is easy… Simply arrest them and get access to the phone.

                                                                  2. 3

                                                                    I don’t think that a donation from the CIA is sufficient enough reason to worry. However it would have surely been smart for a project like Signal not to accept it, given the clear conflict of interests at play.

                                                                    1. 2

                                                                      Or alternatively that money would’ve enabled a lot of good and may not have come with significant strings - after all, I’m sure the CIA would use Signal too if it met their needs.

                                                                      Ultimately we just don’t know. That’s what breeds the conspiracy theory. I’m not convinced we’re entitled to an answer, but it is something that could be easily disspelled if the project wanted to.

                                                                      1. 3

                                                                        You underestimate conspiracy theorists’ ability to do mental gymnastics if you think this can be easily dispelled. Look at how insistent mempko is being about factually incorrect assertions about metadata.

                                                                        Bottom line, historical funding is not evidence of ANYTHING. It’s clear (to me) why the CIA might want something like Signal to exist and be rock solid, but that will never satisfy some who choose to see opportunity for conspiracy.

                                                                        1. 1

                                                                          As far as I know, only contact discovery is in the SGX enclave. Signal themselves made it clear they are working on not knowing who sends messages to who but as far as I know, they aren’t there yet. Am I factually wrong here? I would love to see the evidence. I’m a big boy and can admit when I’m wrong.

                                                                          Signal set themselves up on a huge up hill battle by insisting on a centralized architecture. They could have gone p2p and would have no idea when people are talking and who they are sending messages to. They decided against that because it’s easier to upgrade the client with shiny new features. In other words they chose ease of development over security.

                                                                          And you know what? It worked! They are really popular now and have a really nice client.

                                                                    2. 2

                                                                      I think people are more worried that facebook selling their data than US gov wiretapping. The latter happens anyway.

                                                                    3. 1

                                                                      The double ratchet algorithm has had eyes on it for years

                                                                      The double ratchet algorithm is also fairly simple, and quite obviously correct. Any student in applied cryptography can examine it and convince themselves there’s nothing fishy there.

                                                                      1. 2

                                                                        I’ll repeat what I said above. What if it doesn’t matter if the messages are encrypted. What if the metadata is what they are trying to capture. Signal knows who is connected and who talks with who, when. Getting the rest of the conversation is easy, just get physical access to the phone.

                                                                        1. 5

                                                                          Signal knows who is connected and who talks with who, when.

                                                                          They don’t.

                                                                          https://signal.org/blog/sealed-sender/

                                                                          https://signal.org/bigbrother/eastern-virginia-grand-jury/

                                                                          1. 3

                                                                            additional resistance to traffic correlation via timing attacks and IP addresses are areas of ongoing development.

                                                                            “area of ongoing development” means “we have no solution for this yet”

                                                                            1. 2

                                                                              And? They removed a whole class of metadata, pushing an attack from a trivial lookup to the statistical realm. Is your complaint that they haven’t done enough? That the CIA protected you from everyone but them?

                                                                              I’d love a chat app that advertised itself as “literally only the CIA can read your messages.”

                                                                              1. 1

                                                                                I was responding to /u/Foxboron’s claim that Signal doesn’t know who talks with whom. My understanding is that the IP address logging and traffic correlation can be done by Signal, so they could figure out who talks with whom.

                                                                              2. 2

                                                                                There are solutions for this problem. Examples - Pond by imperialviolet and Vuvuzela. Both hide the fact that you are sending the message. The cost - your device sends data all the time. Most of the time it’s white noise, sometimes it’s encrypted message. Observer can’t distinguish. Obviously, this does not work on mobile because of power requirements.

                                                                                Alternatively, you can introduce random delays. This means you are no longer in chat territory - you are operating mailing service.

                                                                                Anything short of two solutions above makes correlation attacks directed at contact network discovery very doable. And decentralization does not help - it will leak the same or greater amount of metadata, depending on implementation.

                                                                                1. 1

                                                                                  In this case I think the attacks are a lot easier than with e.g. Tor because all messages go through Signal’s servers and they know the identity of the recipient.

                                                                                  1. 1

                                                                                    https://signal.org/blog/sealed-sender/

                                                                                    They know the identity of the recipient, but not the identity of the sender.

                                                                                    There is an argument to be made, that by partitioning users into federated servers (or relay nodes, without permanent residence) you partition your anonymity set.

                                                                                    1. 1

                                                                                      Correct me if I’m wrong but it seems really easy to deduce or guess with high confidence who the sender is, based on the information that Signal servers have access to. For example if you receive a message and reply to it immediately, Signal could get a pretty accurate mapping from your IP address to your identity for that message, no?

                                                                                      If I’m right it’s quite interesting that this blog post is being spread around as evidence that Signal doesn’t know who talks to whom.

                                                                                      There is an argument to be made, that by partitioning users into federated servers (or relay nodes, without permanent residence) you partition your anonymity set.

                                                                                      I don’t see an argument for that. In this case it seems like your “anonymity set” is the group of people who could plausibly use the same IP address as you at the time you are sending a message, which is quite small if not a group of one.

                                                                                      1. 1

                                                                                        Correct me if I’m wrong but it seems really easy to deduce or guess with high confidence who the sender is, based on the information that Signal servers have access to.

                                                                                        Yes. Definitely. But that is also true for an attacker who just controls the routers around signal’s servers, which is cleaner way to attack the network (hard to get caught!).

                                                                                        In this case it seems like your “anonymity set” is the group of people who could plausibly use the same IP

                                                                                        That would be trying to hide the fact that you are using the communicator.

                                                                                        No. I’m speaking about hiding whom is talking to whom. Imagine your server handling high amount of traffic. And we have a hostile router that can see packets and their destinations, but not packet contents. When router does time correlation attack to identify whom is talking to whom, the worst thing server can do is immediately forward messages from sender to the receiver. This makes connecting the dots trivial. Now, if multiple pairs of people talk at the same time, server can introduce a small random delay (lets say below 1s) between receiving and forwarding to confuse the router. More people talking - more possible permutations there is. AFAIK this method of confusing the observer is not a very good one. I recall seeing papers about de-anonymization of Tor users via capturing and analyzing traffic data for a long period of time. But that is a problem of every low latency communication method. To work around that you would need to lots of wasted bandwidth (as in vuvuzela) or long delays (as in mixnet).

                                                                                        1. 1

                                                                                          I think we are talking about two different things. It’s easier for Signal because for each message they know the IP address of the sender (at the time of sending) and the identity of the recipient. If they can figure out who maps to the IP address for a given message, they know the identity of the sender and the recipient for that message – not just that the sender is using their service.

                                                                                          1. 1

                                                                                            My real point - you wont get much in terms of privacy just by distributing servers :-)

                                                                                            1. 1

                                                                                              probably true, but you do get interface stability and independence

                                                                                2. 1

                                                                                  That still means Signal does not know though. You would only get the information with a global adversary which is fairly hard to protect against.

                                                                                  IP (still) does not correlate to a person though.

                                                                                  1. 1

                                                                                    It’s not even a global adversary. You just need an adversary sitting in AWS. And who is bigger a global adversary than the USA?

                                                                                    1. 1

                                                                                      are you saying U.S. intelligence funded a project with vulnerabilities that could only be reasonably exploited by a hegemonic adversary? :)

                                                                                      1. 1

                                                                                        To add to my snarky reply, I don’t think you are right that Signal doesn’t know. If you reply to a message within a few seconds of receiving one, your IP address probably hasn’t changed, so Signal would know your identity as a sender. That’s just one example, and it’s not hard to think of ways that Signal could figure out the sender and receiver in most cases (or at least have a confident guess).

                                                                            2. 5

                                                                              You’ve expressed confidence in Signal’s message encryption. It’s open, well analyzed, and widely used.

                                                                              You’ve expressed concern about Signal retaining metadata. Your only specific threat of “who talks to who when” has been specifically and repeatedly addressed: https://signal.org/blog/sealed-sender/

                                                                              Well over a year after that announcement, I looked at their code to see how it worked. It didn’t. It wasn’t on. And I don’t care enough to look again because…

                                                                              Signal is still strictly more secure than every other major messaging app.

                                                                              Finally: both the autobahn and the US interstate highway system were national defense projects. Should I be skeptical of them?

                                                                              1. 1

                                                                                Moxie doesn’t like p2p and decentralization. He made an entire talk about that during 36c3 and the recording of that talk was promptly deleted after a wave of backlash and criticism since apparently Moxie didn’t actually agree to have the talk recorded.

                                                                                edit: I was wrong and posted rumors.

                                                                                1. 5

                                                                                  that talk was promptly deleted after a wave of backlash and criticism.

                                                                                  That’s not true. The talk was deleted because Moxie asked for the talk to not be recorded and to not be made public: https://twitter.com/moxie/status/1211427007596154881

                                                                                  I just prefer to present something as part of a conversation that’s happening in a place, rather than a webinar that I’m broadcasting forever to the world. I have less faith in the internet as a place where a conversation can happen, and the timelessness of it decontextualizes.

                                                                              2. 2

                                                                                Get to work unionizing so you can force Signal to allow third party clients and federation!

                                                                              1. 3

                                                                                Can anyone suggest a xscreensaver alternative that doesn’t pull a bunch of dependencies?

                                                                                resolving dependencies...
                                                                                looking for conflicting packages...
                                                                                
                                                                                Packages (21) gdk-pixbuf-xlib-2.40.2-1  glu-9.0.1-2  libglade-2.6.4-7  perl-clone-0.45-2  perl-encode-locale-1.05-7  perl-file-listing-6.14-1  perl-html-parser-3.75-1
                                                                                              perl-html-tagset-3.20-10  perl-http-cookies-6.10-1  perl-http-daemon-6.06-2  perl-http-date-6.05-3  perl-http-message-6.27-1  perl-http-negotiate-6.01-8
                                                                                              perl-io-html-1.004-1  perl-libwww-6.52-1  perl-lwp-mediatypes-6.02-8  perl-net-http-6.20-1  perl-try-tiny-0.30-5  perl-www-robotrules-6.02-8
                                                                                              xorg-appres-1.0.5-2  xscreensaver-5.44-3
                                                                                

                                                                                I mean, is this reasonable for everyone?

                                                                                1. 10

                                                                                  I use i3lock. Its direct dependencies look reasonable, although I don’t know what they recursively expand to.

                                                                                  With that said, I don’t know whether it is “secure” or not because my threat model doesn’t really care if it is or not. I only use it to prevent cats and children from messing around on the keyboard. And for that, it works well.

                                                                                  1. 4

                                                                                    Try slock, which has no dependencies except X11 itself.

                                                                                    1. 2

                                                                                      Build from source and disable the savers/hacks that require the dependencies you aren’t happy about.

                                                                                      1. 1

                                                                                        I don’t want any screensaver, just want my screen to lock reliably. I guess I’ll try that.

                                                                                          1. 2

                                                                                            It’s a great compromise when using X11, but the whole concept of screen savers on X11 is just so fragile. Actually suspending the session even if the screensaver should crash would be much cleaner (which is how every other platform, and also wayland handle it).

                                                                                            What I’m even more surprised about is that you said this compromise is possible with 25yo tech - why did no distro actually do any of this before?

                                                                                          2. 0

                                                                                            What about physlock?

                                                                                            1. 5

                                                                                              No idea about physlock or any other alternative, I am asking because this sentence kind of make me think:

                                                                                              If you are not running XScreenSaver on Linux, then it is safe to assume that your screen does not lock.

                                                                                              Though this person’s attitude kind of bothers me, if you run ./configure on xscreensaver you read stuff like:

                                                                                              configure: error: Your system doesn't have "bc", which has been a standard
                                                                                                                part of Unix since the 1970s.  Come back when your vendor
                                                                                                                has grown a clue.
                                                                                              

                                                                                              hm. Ok? I guess I don’t have to like it, I just don’t see the need for that.

                                                                                              1. 19

                                                                                                jwz ragequit the software industry some 20 years ago and has been trolling the industry ever since. Just some context. He’s pretty funny but can be a bit of an ass at times 🤷

                                                                                                1. 18

                                                                                                  He’s also pretty reliably 100% correct about software. This may or may not correlate with the ragequitting.

                                                                                                  1. 3

                                                                                                    While ragequitting may not correlate with being correct about software, being correct about software is absolutely no excuse for being an ass.

                                                                                                    1. 7

                                                                                                      It’s not his job to put on a customer support demeanor while he says what he wants.

                                                                                                      He gets to do as he likes. There are worse crimes than being an ass, such as being an ass to undeserving people perhaps. The configure script above is being an ass at the right people, even if it does editorialize (again, not a problem or crime, and really software could use attitudes!)

                                                                                                      1. 4

                                                                                                        Lots of people in our industry seem to think that being a good developer you can behave like a 5 years old. That’s sad.

                                                                                                        1. 4

                                                                                                          Especially in creative fields, you may choose to portray yourself any way you choose. You don’t owe anybody a pleasant attitude, unless of course you want to be pleasant to someone or everybody.

                                                                                                          For some people, being pleasant takes a lot of work. I’m not paying those people, let alone to be pleasant, so why do I demand a specific attitude?

                                                                                                          1. 2

                                                                                                            Being pleasant may take work, but being an asshole requires some effort too. Unless you are one to begin with and then it comes naturally of course. :D

                                                                                                        2. 3

                                                                                                          How is the bc comment being an ass at the right people? Plenty of distros don’t ship with bc by default, you can just install it. What is a “standard part of unix” anyway?

                                                                                                          1. 9

                                                                                                            bc is part of POSIX. Those distros are being POSIX-incompatible.

                                                                                                            1. 8

                                                                                                              As a developer for Unix(-like) systems, you should be able to rely on POSIX tools (sh, awk, bc etc.) being installed.

                                                                                                          2. 2

                                                                                                            It sounds like you view software as an occupation. It is not. It’s a product.

                                                                                                      2. 2

                                                                                                        Physlock runs as root and locks the screen at the console level. AFAIK the problems affecting x-server screenlockers aren’t relevant to physlock.

                                                                                              1. 5

                                                                                                Things like this are why I don’t use Linux as a desktop OS. It’s just too unreliable.

                                                                                                1. 2

                                                                                                  What do you use instead?

                                                                                                  1. 2

                                                                                                    Windows 7 mainly. I also have an old computer running Alpine Linux (but without X11 or anything) that I SSH into using PuTTY. I’m playing around with Plan 9 in a VM on that computer as well.

                                                                                                1. 3

                                                                                                  “Researchware”: not the word we deserve, but the word we need.

                                                                                                  1. 3

                                                                                                    Realize you can’t possibly answer about everything (while doing the job itself!), but the peek at the architecture makes me curious about adjacent stuff–hardware and what Wikipedia’s particular load looks like to CDN. Just to fire off random questions:

                                                                                                    Does a PoP have relatively cheap boxes or fewer bigger ones? Is a PoP server’s network/disk/CPU/RAM balance far off from a typical app server’s? Is the filesystem layer SSD or HDD? (Would very weakly bet on lower-end SSD, e.g. SATA: no more worries about IOPS, but cheap for an SSD.) Is the size public for any of the PoPs?

                                                                                                    Also, given that images, etc. tend to be larger than text but easier in other ways (e.g. they don’t normally need to expire quickly), I wonder how much your cost/complexity is driven by big media files (needing huge storage, etc.) vs. articles (needing more origin fetches?). (That’s not quite even a well-formed question.) I also wonder about how those 10% of uncacheable hits break down, e.g. relaying logged-in users uncacheable pages vs. actual long-tail article fetches.

                                                                                                    Again, I don’t really expect answers, much less complete ones. I hope you at least take the peppering of questions as an indication people find all this stuff interesting. :) And of course much appreciation for what you’re working for as well!

                                                                                                    1. 4

                                                                                                      Is the filesystem layer SSD or HDD?

                                                                                                      We’ve got a mix of cheap SSDs for the OS and good NVMes (Samsung PM1725a/PM1725b) for the on-disk cache. See https://wikitech.wikimedia.org/wiki/Traffic_cache_hardware for the details. That page should indirectly answer some of your qualitative questions too.

                                                                                                      Is the size public for any of the PoPs?

                                                                                                      Pretty much everything is public. :) On-disk caches are 1.6T per host, see for instance ATS cache usage on this Amsterdam node. We have 16 servers per PoP except for San Francisco and Singapore (12).

                                                                                                      given that images, etc. tend to be larger than text but easier in other ways (e.g. they don’t normally need to expire quickly), I wonder how much your cost/complexity is driven by big media files (needing huge storage, etc.) vs. articles (needing more origin fetches?).

                                                                                                      Very good question, I’ll keep it in mind for the next article. In brief: we do have two logically distinct cache clusters, one for larger files like images and videos and another for everything else, including html/css/js and the like. The former is called “upload”, the latter “text”. Their VCL configuration is slightly different, see upload vs text, but most importantly the in-memory frontend caches are kept separate given the different access/expiration patterns you’ve mentioned.

                                                                                                      I also wonder about how those 10% of uncacheable hits break down, e.g. relaying logged-in users uncacheable pages vs. actual long-tail article fetches.I also wonder about how those 10% of uncacheable hits break down, e.g. relaying logged-in users uncacheable pages vs. actual long-tail article fetches.

                                                                                                      Big difference between text and upload. Traffic for logged-in users, as you guessed, isn’t cacheable and forms the bulk of the ~7% “pass” you see in the breakdown here. When it comes to upload, instead, the hitrate is as high as ~96%.

                                                                                                      I hope you at least take the peppering of questions as an indication people find all this stuff interesting

                                                                                                      This is very useful feedback for the next article, thank you!

                                                                                                      1. 2

                                                                                                        Thank you! I would have guessed, from the sheer number of views WP gets, that each PoP would need an even bigger pipe than you could fill with 10GbE from 12-16 cache nodes, but poking at the public Grafana for the SFO PoP, it looks like you’re actually plenty well provisioned on that front. Neat!

                                                                                                    1. 10

                                                                                                      It makes me unreasonably happy that Wikipedia hasn’t succumbed to the trend of using Cloudflare, Cloudfront, or one of the other huge CDNs.

                                                                                                      Also, just for fun, I used curl -I to find out what headers Wikipedia returns for a successful request. The returned headers include a GeoIP cookie that did a pretty good job of identifying the region I’m in, including the system’s guess at my country, state, city, and approximate latitude and longitude. I wonder how much it costs Wikipedia to get that information.

                                                                                                      1. 4

                                                                                                        Indeed. I’m definitely looking forward to the next installments, especially information about Apache Traffic Server (and potentially alternatives considered). Everyone seems happy offloading their CDN workloads to other companies, so I haven’t seen much public content about running your own. How many people really need to pay some company for access to 200+ PoPs and all that fanciness? Clearly not Wikipedia.

                                                                                                        Re: location data, it looks like MaxMind offers databases at that granularity for $100 a month. IANAL but my reading of the licensing info seems like Wikipedia would not need a commercial license, and could use the MaxMind database at that $100/mo price point:

                                                                                                        you may use Geolocation Functionality to customize and target your own ads for your own products and services, surveys, and other content but may not use Geolocation Functionality in connection with a service that customizes or targets any content on behalf of your customers, users, or any third party

                                                                                                        1. 5

                                                                                                          location data, it looks like MaxMind offers databases at that granularity for $100 a month

                                                                                                          That is correct. We also use the netspeed stuff, so that’s ~190 USD a month. See our maxmind puppet configuration and the documentation by the Analytics team for details about what the information is used for.

                                                                                                      1. 1

                                                                                                        The big question for me is why they updated Varnish if they had a working setup with Varnish v3 and they knew that their preferred backend was moved to the proprietary version in v4.

                                                                                                        1. 9

                                                                                                          Hey! We had to upgrade because v3 wasn’t supported anymore by the Varnish development team, so no more bugfixes. Being a team of 2 we surely did not have the capacity to maintain a Varnish fork, on top of all other things. :)

                                                                                                          1. 1

                                                                                                            Sure, I get that, but it had been working for years. Were you seeing any vulnerabilities or bugs?

                                                                                                            1. 7

                                                                                                              Frequently, yes. https://phabricator.wikimedia.org/T133866 is just one example, but if you dig into our phab you’ll find plenty more! Plus of course the idea is that when a security vulnerability is discovered you want to already be running the supported version. Take into account that upgrading from v3 to v4 was a project that took many months and involved porting hundreds of lines of VCL code, it wasn’t a matter of apt dist-upgrade.

                                                                                                              1. 2

                                                                                                                Commiserations, that does sound like a bit of a pain. I hope that the new system serves you well :)

                                                                                                              2. 2

                                                                                                                Personally, I’ve seen Varnish segfault on non-malicious input more than once. Given that, I think it’s implausible to hope that serious security bugs won’t sometimes turn up.

                                                                                                            2. 2

                                                                                                              Varnish v4 was released in 2014 and v3 went EoL a year after that in 2015. It hasn’t had any security patches etc from upstream since then.

                                                                                                              1. 2

                                                                                                                Varnish v4 was released in 2014 and v3 went EoL a year after that in 2015

                                                                                                                Correct, and we upgraded in 2016 (one year too late!).

                                                                                                                It hasn’t had any security patches etc from upstream since then.

                                                                                                                Right, if it’s unsupported, upstream does not provide fixes.

                                                                                                            1. 8

                                                                                                              The article links here which contains the phrase “GNU/Systemd”. That really made my day.

                                                                                                              This is some quality performance art.

                                                                                                              1. 3

                                                                                                                “catalogue of carnage” did it for me

                                                                                                              1. 1
                                                                                                                1. 4

                                                                                                                  As I understand it the ruling is “Storing customer data in the US is not compatible with GDPR compliance”, so it would be enforced using the existing GDPR enforcement regime.

                                                                                                                  1. 6

                                                                                                                    Sure, but where can you store a chat conversation between European and USA citizens ?

                                                                                                                    1. 4

                                                                                                                      In Europe

                                                                                                                      1. 3

                                                                                                                        On their own devices. Use end-to-end encryption while you still can (but that’s a good question in general)

                                                                                                                      2. 2

                                                                                                                        The CLOUD Act seems to be removing the distinction between data stored in the USA versus data stored abroad when it comes to US companies. As far as I understand it, the act in a way extends American jurisdiction to every country where the server of an American company is located, so perhaps a more important thing EU states can do in this regard is not entering CLOUD Act agreements with the US at all? I’m only partially trolling.

                                                                                                                      3. 0

                                                                                                                        Why, by giving EU States complete access to their data feeds, of course.

                                                                                                                        I wonder if I’m being paranoid by seeing this as a subtle play for warrantless surveillance?

                                                                                                                        1. 11

                                                                                                                          I think it’s far more likely that it will be enforced with the possibility of outlandish fines or loss of market access if found to be in violation of the law. That would (roughly) align with how other data privacy regulations are established in the EU.

                                                                                                                          A gross expansion of warrantless surveillance seems quite unlikely in the EU, as there is a cultural belief that data about one’s self belongs to one’s self which is in contrast to the American culture where data about one’s self is typically viewed as belonging to whoever collected the data.

                                                                                                                          1. 20

                                                                                                                            In case anyone’s wondering what the deal is here: lots of European countries, especially in Eastern and Central Europe, but also some Western European countries (e.g. Germany) have a bit of a… history with indiscriminate data collection and surveillance. Even those of us who are young enough not to have been under some form of special surveillance are nonetheless familiar with the concept, and had our parents or grandparents subjected to it. (And note that the bar for “young enough” is pretty low; I have a friend who was regularly tailed when he was 12). And whereas you had to do something more or less suspicious to be placed under special surveillance (which included things like having bugs planted in your house and phones being tapped), “general” surveillance was pretty much for everyone. You could generally expect that conversations in your workplace, for example, would be listened to and reported. With the added bonus of the fact that recording and surveillance equipment wasn’t as ubiquitous and cheap as it was today, so it was usually reported by informers.

                                                                                                                            Granted, totalitarian authorities beyond the Iron Curtain largely employed state agencies, not private companies for their surveillance operations – at least on their own territory – but that doesn’t mean the very few private enterprises, limited in scope as they were, couldn’t be coopted into any operation. And, of course, the Fascist regimes that flourished in Western Europe for a brief period of time totally partnered with private enterprises if they could. IBM is the notorious example but there were plenty of others.

                                                                                                                            Consequently, lots of people here are extremely suspicious about these things. Those who haven’t already experienced the consequences of indiscriminate surveillance have the cautionary tales of those who did, at least for another 20-30 years. If someone doesn’t express any real concern, it’s often either because a) they don’t realize the scope of data collection, or b) they’ve long come to terms with the idea of surveillance and are content with the fact that any amount of data collection won’t reveal anything suspicious. My parents fall in the latter category – my dad was in the air force so it’s pretty safe to assume that we were under some form of surveillance pretty much all the time. Probably even after the Iron Curtain fell, too, who knows. But most of us, who were very quickly hushed if they said the wrong thing at a family dinner or whatever because “you can’t say things like that when others are listening”, aren’t fans of this stuff at all.

                                                                                                                            Edit: Basically, it’s not just a question of who this data belongs to – it’s a pretty deeply-ingrained belief that collecting large swaths of data is a bad idea. The commercial purpose sort of limits the public response but the only reason why that worked well so far is that, politically, this is a hot potato, so there’s still an overall impression that the primary driving force behind data collection is private enterprise. As soon as there’s some indication that the state might get near that sort of data, tempers start running hot.

                                                                                                                            1. 5

                                                                                                                              For more details on this, Wikipedia’s entry on Stasi, the security service of East Germany, is a great read. Stasi maintained detailed files (on paper!) on millions of East Germans. Files were kept on shelves, and shelves were >100 kilometers(!) long when East Germany fell.

                                                                                                                              It is easy to imagine why Facebook’s data collection reminds people of Stasi files.

                                                                                                                              1. 1

                                                                                                                                There were some amazing stories floating around in 1989 – like, the Stasi were sneaking across the border into the West to buy shredders, because they couldn’t shred the documents fast enough; and the army of older ladies who have been painstakingly reassembling the bags and bags and bags of shredded documents.

                                                                                                                              2. 3

                                                                                                                                To be fair with powers shifting, companies consolidating, individuals having the same money and thereby power of whole governments, and individual companies or partnering ones not only being owrking individual sectors anymore and governments outsourcing more and more of their stuff (infrastructure (IT & non IT), security, etc. and corporations creating pretty much whole towns for their employees and oftentimes families they overall become more similar to governments, but usually with fewer guarantees by things like constitutions.

                                                                                                                                1. 2

                                                                                                                                  Absolutely. There’s been talk of a “minimal state” for decades now, but no talk of a “minimal company”. Between their lack of accountability, the complete lack of transparency, and the steady increase of available funds, I think the leniency we’re granting private enterprises is short-sighted. But that’s a whole other story :).

                                                                                                                            2. 5

                                                                                                                              The US actually claims the right to warrantless surveillance of non-US citizens, through FISA. Additionally, through the CLOUD act, they claim the right to request personal information from US companies, even if this information is not stored on US soil.

                                                                                                                              Looking at the political side of things, many EU lawmakers are perfectly fine with engaging in a little protectionism for European IT companies, and if EU privacy law makes life difficult for FAANG, that’s perfect. On the other hand, the US is trying to use the world dominance of its IT companies as a way to extend the reach of its justice and surveillance system.

                                                                                                                              Then there are FAANG-paid lobbyists, who keep pushing for treaties that claim the US extends protections to EU citizens’ data, even though it clearly doesn’t. They don’t last long once they get taken to court. This is why some US tech companies, like Salesforce, are now lobbying for a data protection regime in the US - this would be one way to reconcile this difference.

                                                                                                                              This is a trade war, and the victims are smaller US companies that shy away from doing business in the EU.

                                                                                                                          1. 3

                                                                                                                            It might also just be that having written Homebrew isn’t enough to automatically get a job everywhere.

                                                                                                                            1. 48

                                                                                                                              I’ve read through a lot of these kind of discussions in the last week, and one thing that really strikes me is that they consist almost entirely of white people discussing this. This seems a bit odd to me because there are plenty of non-white programmers as well. I’d like to think that these people are more than articulate enough to raise these kind of issues themselves if they have a desire to, but thus far I gave not really seen much of that.

                                                                                                                              Quite frankly, I find that the entire thing has more than a bit of a “white saviour” smell to it, and it all comes off as rather patronising. It seems to me that black people are not so fragile that they will recoil at the first sight of the word “master”, in particular when it has no direct relationship to slavery (it’s a common word in quite a few different contexts), but reading between the lines that kind-of seems the assumption.

                                                                                                                              For me personally – as a white person from a not particularly diverse part of the world – this is something where I think it’s much wiser to shut up and listen to people with a life experience and perspective very different than mine (i.e. black people from different parts of the world), rather than try and make arguments for them. I think it’s a very unfortunate that in the current climate these voices are not well heard since both the (usually white) people in favour and opposed to this are shouting far too loud.

                                                                                                                              1. 28

                                                                                                                                It’s called White guilt. Superficial actions like changing CS terms and taking down statues are easy ways to feel better about oneself while avoiding the actual issue (aka: bike-shedding).

                                                                                                                                1. 5

                                                                                                                                  I had the same thought: this is something that is easy to have an opinion about and feels achievable. That makes it very attractive to take action on, independent of the actual value it has.

                                                                                                                                  1. 8

                                                                                                                                    It is easier to change the name of a git default branch and put that on your CV as an action demonstrating you are not racist, than it is to engage in politics and seek to change some of the injustices that still remain.

                                                                                                                                    1. 6

                                                                                                                                      Or to put it really on point: it’s easier for GitHub to talk about changing the default branch name on repos created on GitHub from ‘master’ to ‘main’ than it is for them to cut their contract with ICE.

                                                                                                                                2. 14

                                                                                                                                  It’s not like you can guess someone’s race from a gravatar. Not to mention, one of the liberating features of the Internet is being able to hide your identity and be treated for what you say in stead of what you are. On the flip side that does mean everybody sees everyone as an adolescent white male.

                                                                                                                                  In any case, there’s a black engineer expressing their thanks in the comment section of the OP.

                                                                                                                                  1. 11

                                                                                                                                    I probably wasn’t too clear about this, but I did not guess anyone’s skin colour; I just looked at their profile pictures, names, etc. For example the author of this post is clearly white, as are the authors of the IETF draft he linked (I did a quick check on this), everyone involved in the Go CL was white, and in the Rubocop discussion everyone was white as well as far as I could tell – certainly the people who were very much in favour of it at the start. There certainly are non-white people participating – anonymously or otherwise – but in general they seem to be very much a minority voice.

                                                                                                                                    Or, to give an analogy, while I would certainly support something like Black Lives Matter in various ways, I would never speak on the movement’s behalf. It’s simply not my place to do so.

                                                                                                                                    On the flip side that does mean everybody sees everyone as an adolescent white male.

                                                                                                                                    Yeah … that’s true and not great. I try not to make assumptions on the kind of person I’m speaking to, but “talking” to just a name is very contrary to human social interaction and it’s easy to have a mental picture that’s similar to yourself and those around you. This is kind of what I was getting at: sharing of different experiences and perspectives is probably by far the most helpful thing and constructive thing that can move this debate (as well as several other things) forward, instead of being locked in the shouting match it is today.

                                                                                                                                    I have no illusions that this will happen, because far too many people seem far too eager to comment on the matter, and to be honest I’ve been guilty of that as well.

                                                                                                                                  2. 15

                                                                                                                                    If we look back at how visceral the reaction to these types of ideas can be, and especially how that response is so often personally directed, it should be no surprise that someone who feels in any way marginalized or at risk in the software community might be reluctant to speak up.

                                                                                                                                    1. 15

                                                                                                                                      OK, so I think you’re referring to the Reddit Go thread (which was a dumpster fire of “I’m not racist but…” comments; for someone to get so upset about someone else’s internal code base is proof of some underlying issue).

                                                                                                                                      Here’s some things to think about:

                                                                                                                                      • “It seems entirely white people discuss this”: There’s a really obvious reason for this. Look at Google’s diversity numbers: their value of hiring vs attrition places the number of black people at Google at 3.7%. And yet the census reports 12.1% in the US are African American. Who do you think is going to be discussing this? They’re not here. They can’t be part of this conversation. Worse, black people leave Google faster than other demographics, so even when they get there they decide they don’t like it more and leave. Why would you work hard for your whole life to get a job at Google and then decide to leave? What is it about the software engineering environment that is toxic? Why bother getting upset and making a noise when you’ve already decided it’s hopeless and given up?
                                                                                                                                      • “It has a white savior smell”: It is incumbent on the privileged class to show allyship and help build equality for the underprivileged. It is unacceptable to put on blinkers and go “they’ll work it out”, as it ignores the systemic reasons why inequity exists. A big difference about what is happening now is that white people are going out to the streets and showing their allyship. These protests are very similar to those in Ferguson, except in Ferguson it was all black people. Nothing happened. Now that white people have come out, suddenly people start talking about “movements”. You can’t look to black people in CS and say “you overcome all the systemic problems” just like we can’t look to women in CSand say “you overcome all the systemic problems and please suck it up when you get battered with toxic behavior that’s just the way we are lol.” For the privileged class to sit back is for the privileged class to approve of what happens. “White savior” is a weaponized term to say that if you are white, you don’t get to help. Actually, if you are white, you absolutely should be helping.
                                                                                                                                      • “you should listen rather than make arguments for them”: Again, we are back to who do you listen to? Representation is so horrifically low. The Go thread raised up anyone who identified as black, had the same viewpoint as the mob and held that viewpoint as representative for the whole black community. You can’t just ask someone on the street and say “there you go, he said it”. You have to talk. And talk. And talk. And talk. To as many people as you can. Over and over again. I am so glad Google has the Black Googlers Network for exactly that sort of discussion.

                                                                                                                                      Names mean something. master/slave has clearly had it’s time. whitelist/blacklist (as in the Go thread) is unnecessary, a term that we basically invented, and is easily replaced. Would I change master to main? Probably not. But I’m certainly not going to come and say that attempting to move the needle, even if it doesn’t work or the needle move only a fraction, shouldn’t be attempted.

                                                                                                                                      Anecdote: Google offers a number of optional diversity training. I went to one that showed this video. I was in tears. It was so foreign to me and so horrific that I was crying at work and had to leave the room. That video is the result of white America doing nothing.

                                                                                                                                      1. 12

                                                                                                                                        I’m not really referring to the Reddit thread as such. Not only is Reddit really anonymous, so much of the time I have no idea who I’m dealing with, Reddit also has its fair share of … unpleasant … people. On Twitter Nate Finch mentioned he banned a whole truckload of people who had never posted in /r/golang before coming in from whatever slimepit subreddit they normally hang out in. Unfortunately, this is how things work on Reddit. There were some interesting good-faith conversations, but also a lot of bad-faith bullshit. I was mostly referring to the actual CL and the (short) discussion on that.

                                                                                                                                        As for Google diversity, well, Google is just one company from one part of the world. The total numbers of developers in India seems comparable or greater than the number of developers in the US, for example. I’ve also worked with many Brazilian developers over the years, so they also seems to have a healthy IT industry. There are plenty of other countries as well. This is kind of what I meant with the “outside of the Silicon Valley bubble” comment I removed. Besides, just because there are fewer of them doesn’t mean they don’t exist (3.7% is still >4k people) or that I need to argue things in their place.

                                                                                                                                        It’s one thing to show your allyship, I’m all in favour of that, but it’s quite another thing to argue in their place. I have of course not read absolutely anything that anyone has written on this topic, but in general, by and large, this is what seems to be happening.

                                                                                                                                        This is something that extends just beyond the racial issue; I’ve also seen people remove references to things like “silly” as ableist, but it’s not entirely clear to me that anyone is actually bothered by this other than the (undoubtedly well-intentioned) people making the change.

                                                                                                                                        The Go thread raised up anyone who identified as black, had the same viewpoint as the mob and held that viewpoint as representative for the whole black community.

                                                                                                                                        Yeah, this is a problem: “here’s a black person saying something, therefore [..]”. Aside from the fact that I wouldn’t trust such a post without vetting the account who made it (because, you know, /r/AsABlackMan) a single person commenting doesn’t represent anything other than that single person.

                                                                                                                                        An initiative from something like the Black Googler Network would probably be much more helpful than some random GitHub PR with little more than “please remove oppressive language” true-ism.

                                                                                                                                        If you’re telling people who have been used to these terms for years or decades that all of the sudden it’s racist and oppressive without any context or explanation, then it’s really not that strange that at least some people are going to be defensive. I really wish people would spend a lot more thought and care in the messaging on this; there is very little effort spent on actually building empathy for any of this; for the most part it’s just … accusations, true-isms, shouting. You really need to explain where you’re coming from, otherwise people are just going to be confused and defensive.

                                                                                                                                      2. 4

                                                                                                                                        This seems a bit odd to me because there are plenty of non-white programmers as well, especially if you look beyond the Silicon Valley bubble.

                                                                                                                                        Silicon valley is full of nonwhite programmers. White people are somewhat underrepresented in Silicon Valley compared to their percentage of the American population. And of course most of the world is not America.

                                                                                                                                        1. 3

                                                                                                                                          I’ve actually never been to the States, much less the Silicon Valley. I just dimly remember reading somewhere that it’s mostly white, but I probably just remembered wrong. I’ll just remove that part since it doesn’t matter for my point and I clearly don’t know what I’m talking about with that 😅

                                                                                                                                          1. 4

                                                                                                                                            In my previous company in SV (I was a remote engineer abroad, everybody else US based) we had literally 1 person on the team that was born and raised in the US, everybody else was from somewhere else. India and China were dominant, but not the only other countries.

                                                                                                                                            Other teams looked pretty much the same. CEO (+founder), VP of Eng and all team leads in Engineering were non US born and almost all non white too.

                                                                                                                                            I am now working for a different company with head-quarters in SF and it is a bit different. We still have pretty big mix of backgrounds (I don’t know how to express it better, what I mean is that they are not decedents of white Europeans). We seem to have more people that were born in the US yet are not white.

                                                                                                                                            Our European office is more “white” if you will, but still very diverse. At one point we had people from all (inhabited) continents working for us (place of birth), yet we were only ~30 people in total.

                                                                                                                                          2. 2

                                                                                                                                            Well, it’s full of programmers from Asian countries, to the point where I wouldn’t call their presence diverse. Being a Chinese/Indian/White male isn’t diversity, it’s a little bit more diverse. So while “nonwhite” is accurate, it’s not really the end game. Software engineering is massively underrepresented in women and in Black and Latinx.

                                                                                                                                            1. 6

                                                                                                                                              So who exactly sets the rules on what is diverse enough? Is it some committee of US Americans or how does that work?

                                                                                                                                              1. 1

                                                                                                                                                Ah okay so here we see the problem. It’s only diversity when there aren’t enough of them, then it stops counting as diversity once you actually have diversity and the goalposts shift once again.

                                                                                                                                            2. 4

                                                                                                                                              Quite frankly, I find that the entire thing has more than a bit of a “white saviour” smell to it, and it all comes off as rather patronising. It seems to me that black people are not so fragile that they will recoil at the first sight of the word “master”, in particular when it has no direct relationship to slavery (it’s a common word in quite a few different contexts), but reading between the lines that kind-of seems the assumption.

                                                                                                                                              Agreed that black folks are in the main far too sensible to care about this kind of thing.

                                                                                                                                              I don’t know that it is really so much about being a ‘white saviour’ (although that may be part of it); rather, I see it more as essentially religious: it is a way for members of a group (in this case, young white people) to perform the rituals which bind the group together and reflect the moral positions the group holds. I don’t mean ‘religious’ here in any derogatory way.

                                                                                                                                              1. 9

                                                                                                                                                Not sure about this specific issue, but in general there’s so much systemic stuff that it’s a bit much to ask black communities alone to speak up for everything. It’s emotionally exhausting if we don’t shoulder at least some of the burden, at the same time listening to and amplifying existing voices.

                                                                                                                                                To be honest I’d never really thought about the ‘master’ name in git before, and think there might be larger issues we need to tackle, but it’s a pretty low effort change to make. Regardless, the naming confused me anyway when I first used git and then just faded into the background. I’ll let black people speak up if they think it’s overboard, however, although I’d imagine there’d be different perspectives on this.

                                                                                                                                                1. 3

                                                                                                                                                  Not sure about this specific issue, but in general there’s so much systemic stuff that it’s a bit much to ask black communities alone to speak up for everything. It’s emotionally exhausting if we don’t shoulder at least some of the burden, at the same time listening to and amplifying existing voices.

                                                                                                                                                  Yeah, I fully agree. I don’t think they should carry all the burden on this and it’s not just helpful but our responsibility to be supportive both in words and action. But I do think they should have the initiative. Otherwise it’s just a bunch of white folk sitting around the table musing what black folk could perhaps be bothered by. Maybe the conclusions of that might be correct, but maybe they’re not, or maybe things are more nuanced.

                                                                                                                                                2. 2

                                                                                                                                                  Really couldn’t disagree more — one of the big repository hosting services had this discussion just the other week. Much of the agitation came from Black employees, particularly descendants of enslaved Africans brought to America.

                                                                                                                                                  I agree with you on one count, though: if you’re white and you don’t have any particular investment in this issue, you should probably keep your opinion on it to yourself.

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                                                                                                                                                    Which discussion in particular are you referring to?

                                                                                                                                                    1. 2

                                                                                                                                                      The idea that this is being primarily driven by white people, specifically as a “white savior” exercise. The word “master” does bring up a painful legacy for lots of Black people, and with the context as muddled as it is with “git master,” it makes sense to defer to them on how they perceive it, especially in an industry where they’re so underrepresented.

                                                                                                                                                      1. 3

                                                                                                                                                        You mentioned that:

                                                                                                                                                        one of the big repository hosting services had this discussion just the other week. Much of the agitation came from Black employees

                                                                                                                                                        So I was wondering if you have a link or something to that discussion? I’d be interested.

                                                                                                                                                        1. 3

                                                                                                                                                          I wish I had something to share — the conversations have been internal and I wouldn’t want to breach confidentiality (any more than I already have). Once we’ve all forgotten about this, if there’s a blog post to share, I’ll thread it here.

                                                                                                                                                          1. 3

                                                                                                                                                            Ah cheers, I didn’t realize it was an internal thing.

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                                                                                                                                                  you need something under and acceptable licence, so python is out.

                                                                                                                                                  What’s wrong with python’s license? This is the first time I’ve heard anyone say there’s issues with it.

                                                                                                                                                  Also, I think he forgot to mention Rust. Must definitely rewrite everything in Rust. /s

                                                                                                                                                  1. 2

                                                                                                                                                    Marc Espie elaborates a bit on this in another post on the openbsd-misc mailing list:

                                                                                                                                                    As for the license, python’s license appears fairly similar to Perl’s artistic license. I would worry a bit about the strong terms in

                                                                                                                                                    1. This License Agreement will automatically terminate upon a material breach of its terms and conditions.

                                                                                                                                                    for which no equivalent is visible in Perl’s license.

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                                                                                                                                                        That was fixed in Python 2.0.1, released in June 2001…

                                                                                                                                                    1. 1

                                                                                                                                                      Those statements seem to be contrarianism of the basic form that highlights the bad aspect of things that are for the most part good. https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/9kcTNWopvXFncXgPy/intellectual-hipsters-and-meta-contrarianism

                                                                                                                                                      And yes, they are factually correct.

                                                                                                                                                      1. 37

                                                                                                                                                        At my former employer, for a time I was in charge of upgrading our self-managed Kubernetes cluster in-place to new versions and found this to eventually be an insurmountable task for a single person to handle without causing significant downtime.

                                                                                                                                                        We can argue about whether upgrading in-place was a good idea or not (spoiler: it’s not), but it’s what we did at the time for financial reasons (read: we were cheap) and because the nodes we ran on (r4.2xl if I remember correctly) would often not exist in a quantity significant enough to be able to stand up a whole new cluster and migrate over to it.

                                                                                                                                                        My memory of steps to maybe successfully upgrade your cluster in-place, all sussed out by repeated dramatic failure:

                                                                                                                                                        1. Never upgrade more than a single point release at a time; otherwise there are too many moving pieces to handle
                                                                                                                                                        2. Read change log comprehensively, and have someone else read it as well to make sure you didn’t miss anything important. Also read the issue tracker, and do some searching to see if anyone has had significant problems.
                                                                                                                                                        3. Determine how much, if any, of the change log applies to your cluster
                                                                                                                                                        4. If there are breaking changes, have a plan for how to handle the transition
                                                                                                                                                        5. Replace a single master node and let it “bake” as part of the cluster for a sufficient amount of time not less than a single day. This gave time to watch the logs and determine if there was an undocumented bug in the release that would break the cluster.
                                                                                                                                                        6. Upgrade the rest of the master nodes and monitor, similar to above
                                                                                                                                                        7. Make sure the above process(es) didn’t cause etcd to break
                                                                                                                                                        8. Add a single new node to the cluster, monitoring to make sure it takes load correctly and doesn’t encounter an undocumented breaking change or bug. Bake for some day(s).
                                                                                                                                                        9. Drain and replace remaining nodes, one a time, over a period of days, allowing the cluster to handle the changes in load over this time. Hope that all the services you have running (DNS, deployments, etc.) can gracefully handle these node changes. Also hope that you don’t end up in a situation where 9/10 of the nodes’ services are broken, but the remaining 1 original service is silently picking up the slack and hence nothing will fail until the last node gets replaced, at which point everything will fail at once catastrophically.
                                                                                                                                                        10. Watch all your monitoring like a hawk and hope that you don’t encounter any more undocumented breaking changes, deprecations, removals, and/or service disruptions, and/or intermittent failures caused by the interaction of the enormous number of moving parts in any cluster.

                                                                                                                                                        There were times that a single point release upgrade would take weeks, if not months, interspersed by us finding Kubernetes bugs that maybe one other person on the internet had encountered and that had no documented solution.

                                                                                                                                                        After being chastised for “breaking production” so many times despite meticulous effort, I decided that being the “Kubernetes upgrader” wasn’t worth the trouble. After I left, is seems that nobody else was successfully able to upgrade either, and they gave up doing so entirely.

                                                                                                                                                        This was in the 1.2-1.9 days, for reference, so though I’d be very surprised things may be much better now.

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                                                                                                                                                          tldr; If you can’t afford 6+ full-time people to babysit k8s, you shouldn’t be using it.

                                                                                                                                                          1. 13

                                                                                                                                                            Or, at least, not running it on-prem.

                                                                                                                                                            1. 6

                                                                                                                                                              True, if you out source the management of k8s, you can avoid the full-time team of babysitters, but that’s true of anything. But then you have the outsourcing headache(s) not including the cost(like you still need someone responsible for the contract, and for interacting with the outsourced team).

                                                                                                                                                              Outsourcing just gives you different, and if you selected wisely, less, problems.

                                                                                                                                                              1. 5

                                                                                                                                                                True dat. But every solution to a given problem has trade-offs. Not using Kubernetes in favour of a different orchestration system will also have different problems. Not using orchestration for your containers at all will give you different problems (unless you’re still too small to need orchestration, in which case yes you should not be using k8s). Not using containers at all will give you different problems. ad infinitum :)

                                                                                                                                                                1. 6

                                                                                                                                                                  Most companies are too small to really need orchestration.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. 2

                                                                                                                                                                    Totally!

                                                                                                                                                            2. 2

                                                                                                                                                              I keep having flashbacks to when virtualization was new and everyone was freaking out over xen vs. kvm vs. VMWare and how to run their own hypervisors. Now we just push the Amazon or Google button and let them deal with it. I’ll bet it 5 years we’ll laugh about trying to run our own k8s clusters in the same way.

                                                                                                                                                              1. 8

                                                                                                                                                                Yeah, this is the kind of non value added activity that just beg to be outsourced to specialists.

                                                                                                                                                                I have a friend who work in a bakery. I learned the other day that they outsourced a crucial activity to a contractor: handling their cleaning cloths. Everyday, a guy come to pick up a couple garbage bag full of dirty cleaning cloth, then dump the same number of bag full of cleans one. This is crucial: one day the guy was late, and the bakery staff had trouble keeping the bakery clean: the owner lived upstairs and used his own washing machine as a backup, but it could not handle the load.

                                                                                                                                                                But the thing is: while the bakery need this service, it does not need it to differentiate itself. As long as the cloth are there, it can keep on running. If the guy stop cleaning cloth, he can be trivially replaced with another provider, with minimal impact on the bakery. After all, people don’t buy bread because of how the dirty cloth are handled. They buy bread because the bread is good. The bakery should never outsource his bread making. But the cleaning of dirty cloth? Yes, absolutely.

                                                                                                                                                                To get back to Kubernetes, and virtualization : what does anyone hope to gain by doing it themselves? Maybe regulation need it. Maybe their is some special need. I am not saying it is never useful. But for many people, the answer is often: not much. Most customers will not care. They are here for their tasty bread, a.k.a. getting their problem solved.

                                                                                                                                                                I would be tempted to go as far as saying that maybe you should outsource one level higher, and not even worry about Kubernetes at all: services like Heroku or Amazon Beanstalk handle the scaling and a lot of other concerns for you with a much simpler model. But at this point, you are tying yourself to a provider, and that come with its own set of problems… I guess it depends.

                                                                                                                                                                1. 2

                                                                                                                                                                  This is a really great analogy, thank you!

                                                                                                                                                                  1. 2

                                                                                                                                                                    It really depends on what the business is about: tangible objects or information. The baker clothes, given away to a 3rd party, do not include all personal information of those buying bread. Also, business critical information such as who bought bread, what type and when is not included in the clothes. This would be bad in general, and potentially a disaster if the laundry company were also in the bread business.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. -7

                                                                                                                                                                      gosh. so much words to say “outsource, but not your core competency”

                                                                                                                                                                      1. 1

                                                                                                                                                                        Nope. :) Despite my verbosity we haven’t managed to communicate. The article says: do not use things you don’t need (k8s). If you don’t need it, there’s no outsourcing to do. Outsourcing has strategical disadvantages when it comes to your users data, entirely unrelated to whether running an infra is your core business or not. I would now add: avoid metaphors comparing tech and the tangible world because you end up trivializing the discussion and missing the point.

                                                                                                                                                                2. 3

                                                                                                                                                                  As a counterpoint to the DIY k8s pain: We’ve been using GKE with auto-upgrading nodes for a while now without seeing issues. Admittedly, we aren’t k8s “power users”, mainly just running a bunch of compute-with-ingress services. The main disruption is when API versions get deprecated and we have to upgrade our app configs.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. 2

                                                                                                                                                                    I ahd the same problems with OpenStack :P If it works, it’s kinda nice. If your actual job is not “keeping the infra for your infra running”, don’t do it.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. 2

                                                                                                                                                                    Wikimedia Foundation, the non-profit organization behind Wikipedia (Alexa top 5) as well as all sister projects such as Wiktionary, Wikiquote,.. is hiring Site Reliability Engineers, Application Security Engineers and more. All positions in San Francisco or remote.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. 1

                                                                                                                                                                      Just saw that you’re pretty new there, how is it going?

                                                                                                                                                                      1. 2

                                                                                                                                                                        Oh, I have seen this comment only now! I’ve been at WMF for 3.5 years now, and still like it. :)

                                                                                                                                                                    1. 21

                                                                                                                                                                      It would also be a way better email if you dropped all the HTML shenanigans.

                                                                                                                                                                      Composing better emails? Plain text should be number 1 on the list.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. 14

                                                                                                                                                                        Personally disagree on this. A proper HTML link is almost always cleaner than “(see link below)”. You can’t underline stuff (you can “put asterisks around stuff” but…). Sometimes you want to just reference an image inline!

                                                                                                                                                                        There’s a reason that word processors are a big business. Laying out a message nicely aesthetically is valuable for human consumption! The answer to “people always misuse HTML layout” isn’t to get rid of HTML layouts, it’s to teach people how to use it nicely!

                                                                                                                                                                        1. 2

                                                                                                                                                                          I totally get what you mean, but emails are not meant for rich text.

                                                                                                                                                                          Link to a shared document (or an HTML page!) if you need to convey some information that requires media.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. 1

                                                                                                                                                                            I will admit to preferring plain text, but if HTML is used sparingly, it’s fine. That said…

                                                                                                                                                                            A proper HTML link is almost always cleaner than “(see link below)”.

                                                                                                                                                                            This is true, but practically no one does this. Certainly in the 10+ years I’ve been working in corporate environments, no one makes the effort to do a proper link.

                                                                                                                                                                            The answer to “people always misuse HTML layout” isn’t to get rid of HTML layouts, it’s to teach people how to use it nicely!

                                                                                                                                                                            That time has come and gone. The only way this is likely feasible is if you change the tools in some way. Teaching people to use something “correctly” when there are a myriad of (easy) ways to use it incorrectly is a losing battle.

                                                                                                                                                                          2. 10

                                                                                                                                                                            Sorry to be blunt, but I don’t think it’s good that plain text email is such a shibboleth that you can say the equivalent of “I prefer plain text email” without giving any justification or discussion, and it will be the top comment on an article.

                                                                                                                                                                            There are good arguments against HTML email, there are good arguments that we should support some form of formatting, whether or not it’s HTML (see the sibling post by rtpg). Whichever view is right, I don’t think it should just be assumed without any attempt to argue for your opinion.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. 2

                                                                                                                                                                              I’m all for formatting. I regularly use markdown-style formatting in my plain text mails, and I’m an avid user of references[1] for links.

                                                                                                                                                                              HTML formatting in emails is an abomination. Period. It’s a hack. It causes all kinds of issues; it enables phishing, automatic “read notifications” that you did not approve of and difficulties for people with a need for screen readers, just to name a few. Not to mention the security vulnerabilities in clients that have resulted from trying to support this crap.

                                                                                                                                                                              [1] Like this.

                                                                                                                                                                            2. 7

                                                                                                                                                                              I agree but this is not realistic in a world where everyone usees Outlook. I swam against the tides and ran mutt at work for years, until one day I missed a critical update from my manager that used rich text to denote something in red.

                                                                                                                                                                              IMO This is a lost cause, but feel free to rage against the dying of the light :)

                                                                                                                                                                              1. 2

                                                                                                                                                                                Up voted for poetry. :)

                                                                                                                                                                                1. 2

                                                                                                                                                                                  Alternatively, you can go work somewhere where the managers use mutt. :) https://boards.greenhouse.io/wikimedia/jobs/1623040

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. 1

                                                                                                                                                                                    Yup it’s all about choices.

                                                                                                                                                                                    I’m willing to run Outlook as my mailer and deal with a bit of large corporate white noise because the value I derive from working here far FAR outstrips those minor annoyances.

                                                                                                                                                                                    Everybody has to do their own cost/value curve calculations though.

                                                                                                                                                                                  2. 2

                                                                                                                                                                                    IMO This is a lost cause, but feel free to rage against the dying of the light :)

                                                                                                                                                                                    Don’t worry; I will! https://p.hagelb.org/line.jpg

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. 2

                                                                                                                                                                                      +10 for an entirely apropos ST:TNG

                                                                                                                                                                                    2. 1

                                                                                                                                                                                      It is of course unfortunate that you missed such an important update. This is where it would make sense to use the Subject header to emphasize the importance of the message, such as the use of [URGENT] or [CRITICAL].

                                                                                                                                                                                      I totally agree that this is a lost cause, but yeah, I will continue to fight for the cause :)

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. 2

                                                                                                                                                                                        It is of course unfortunate that you missed such an important update. This is where it would make sense to use the Subject header to emphasize the importance of the message, such as the use of [URGENT] or [CRITICAL].

                                                                                                                                                                                        It had that, but as I said in the post, it was like:

                                                                                                                                                                                        Blahblahblah

                                                                                                                                                                                        <SUPER CRITICAL STUFF IN RICH TEXT COLORED RED THAT MUTT CAN’T SEE>

                                                                                                                                                                                        blahBLAHblahblah.

                                                                                                                                                                                        So yeah, no hope at all other than “Don’t use rich text.”

                                                                                                                                                                                        In my work environment, I know of literally maybe 2 people in a team of 150 who use mutt. I don’t know what the stats are for the wider company, but I know it’s a TINY fraction.

                                                                                                                                                                                        Expecting my manager to cater to my needs and preferences to this extent is unreasonable in my book.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. 1

                                                                                                                                                                                          maybe 2 people in a team of 150 who use mutt

                                                                                                                                                                                          OK, but how many are colorblind?

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. 3

                                                                                                                                                                                            You’re preaching to the choir.

                                                                                                                                                                                            I personally think leaving critical information to the vagaries of color is a mistake, but it wasn’t my call. I just need to roll with the punches and deal with the technology environment I’m given.

                                                                                                                                                                                            Yes, I know, I could go work over at $PERFECT_COMPANY and all manner of things would be well, but having to run Outlook and deal with rich text in my E-mail isn’t enough to blunt what is otherwise a really compelling value prop for me in this job.