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Atheme / InspIRCd m_invisible brouhaha

Those who closely follow either projects development will have noticed a few “odd” looking commits to their sourcecode in the past few days.

The commits all concerned InspIRCds m_invisible module which provides similar functionality as the old mode +I in UnrealIRCd 3.1.x.

Quoting the InspIRCd wiki page about m_invisible the module

adds support for quiet (invisible) opers. A quiet oper is invisible to normal users on channels. This can be used for surveillence of botnet channels, statistics bots, etc. Note that other opers CAN see invisible opers; +Q only hides the oper from non-opers.

The brawl emerged when Atheme developer nenolod commited a few changes to the services packages that would make such a join visible to channel members by announcing that “Channel security has been compromised” because an invisible user has joined.

This commit was followed up by danieldg of the InspIRCd developer team who moved the module out of the main – and therefore by default included – modules into the seperate “inspircd-extras” repository, but only in the 2.0 beta and 2.1 pre-alpha branches.

The initial commits to Atheme have since been reverted but there now are checks for m_invisible being loaded and the services package now refuses to link if it spots the module being present.

The module, referred to as “morally unacceptable” and “not … ethical” by nenolod, has legitimate uses such as “private networks inside offices, with special uses, those do need logging and accountability, most of them even disable private messages entirely” said developer Brain when asked about his views of this whole situation. They wrote it because “users asked for the module” and his opinion is that it “should be kept, and we’re keeping it, in third party”.

Brain says to him “it’s all about choice, the choice to run the modules or not to, we aren’t going to tell people whats right and wrong” and that “people are sensible enough and educated enough to decide for themselves”.

What’s your opinion about this? Do you use m_invisible on your network? And if so, do you tell your users that such a module is loaded? Guns don’t kill, people do?

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  • katsklaw says:

    I for one can see a need for this module in the setting that nenolod refers to, however, such a module should not be in main stream on a project like Inspircd that focuses on public networks. That’s just begging to be abused.

    In generally public networks, like 99.9999% of them we all know about, Oper Hiding, like Unreal’s umode +H is more than sufficient.

    Brain said: “people are sensible enough and educated enough to decide for themselves”

    Unfortunately, no they are not. IRC is plagued by new admins that do not know what they are doing and do not think far enough in advance to consider what’s moral or even illegal is some places to make an educated opinion about such a module. Ask any experienced admin that travels from network to network and they will tell you about some of the crazy, pointless choices that many admins make.

    In short I say it’s ok for the module to exist but not ok to make it so easily loadable. Refer to the eternally debatable os_raw debate.

    March 24, 2010 at 6:34 pm
  • DanC says:

    Any module loaded can be viewed via /modules. A user can view the modules loaded, and if m_invisible is one of them, they are free to leave the network. I see little use for the module, but I think it’s ridiculous if the atheme devs are going to prevent services from linking if a server is running the module. Admins should be free to do as they please. May be a good idea for Inspircd to think about adding a server message on connect, advising that a module is loaded that would allow irc operators to be hidden. I for one would not recommend a services client that attempts to dictate what can/can’t be done.

    March 26, 2010 at 3:21 am
  • Daniel says:

    In all honesty, no service software is forced to support a certain IRCd. So in turn if they believe they do not like a certain feature of an IRCd, they may choose NOT to support it. InspIRCd is lucky because they did not get completely unsupported, but instead just chose to unsupport a certain aspect. It’s all about right to refuse service to anyone. And honestly Atheme is used by tons of networks that are not InspIRCd. So long story short, Atheme does have a right to dictate if they want to support an IRCd, or any of its features, or not.

    March 27, 2010 at 12:03 am
  • Jeff says:

    Most services clients do dictate what can and cannot be done on an IRC network, in some fashion. And, admins are free to do what they want — they don’t have to use Atheme.

    March 27, 2010 at 4:05 am

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