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Freenode under DDoS

What many have suspected has now been confirmed – the root cause of the many netsplits on the freenode IRC network during the last days have been caused by ongoing DDoS attacks on their sponsors.

Freenode staffer JonathanD writes in their blogpost that they are experiencing a “heavy DDoS against several locations at which some of our servers are hosted. The attack is ongoing and cause a lot of disruption, both to users of the network and unfortunately to projects/companies/individuals whos infrastructure is hosted at the same locations as us” but also writes that they are “working hard to try curb the attacks as best they can.”

He also writes that they will keep their staffblog updated on the issues and recommends that “users of the network will also be able to receive (infrequent) status updates via global notice and slightly more frequent updates via wallops for those who have chosen to go +w (/umode +w or /mode yournick +w) will enable wallops in your irc client should you wish to see these.”

In closing he apologizes for “the inconvenience this no doubt causes for you and your project(s) and we would like to thank you all (in particular, our very generous and dedicated sponsors) for the patience and support while the issues are still ongoing.”

Freenode issues

Not only was (and is) Freenode being hit by some bored kiddy – to add insult to the injury they’re currently experiencing major stability issues, resulting in many netsplits throughout the day.

As JonathanD writes in their most-recent blogpost they’ve been “facing some fairly major splits today as there have been issues between some of our major hubs” and that they’ve “rerouted these and are working on tracing down the cause of any other splits” and that their “staff are already hard at work on these issues and will resolve them as quickly as possible”.

The following global notices have been sent on the network to let the users know what is going on:

[Global Notice] Hi all, we appear to be having some connectivity issues with our main US hub, as a result of this we are temporarily without  services, if this affects your channel please contact staff in #freenode for assistance. We’re looking into the issues as we speak. Thank you for your patience.

[Global Notice] Hi all, we’re having some major issues with connectivity at the DC hosting one of our hidden hubs, I’m going to re-route around it,  which will cause about twice as much noise as the splits already made. Apologies for the inconvenience.

JonathanD also notes that “these and other issues are a large part of the reason for the upcoming migration to ircd-seven, and we still need your help in that regard.” They are “still in need help testing the new ircd and working out the bugs”, so if you feel like being part of the solution he asks you to “have a look at this posting for information on how you can test the new ircd.”

DALnet releases Bahamut IRCd 1.8.6

After more than 2 years of silence the DALnet Coding Team released a new version of Bahamut, an IRCd mainly used on DAL.net.

First being released as version 1.8.5 there was a bugfix-release shortly thereafter as a bug has been found in channelmode +c which sometimes not only prevented control-characters as bold and underlined being sent but also stripped legitimate messages that contained certain arabic and hebrew characters.

We took the time to ask Epiphani – the Coding Teams Team-Leader – a few question about his IRCd and the history of it:

- The last release, 1.8.4, was over 2 years ago – why did it take so long for 1.8.5 (and now 1.8.6) to be released?

It’s mostly been two reasons:

1. We didn’t really have a lot of minor things we wanted to work on.

Bahamut has been stable and effective for several years, and while there is enhancements that we’d like to implement, those enhancements are more major changes than they are small updates.

We did have a few fixes come through the pipe, such as security fixes and minor other fixes (such as updated x64 support), and we decided to roll them into a patch release.

2. Life gets in the way of open source development sometimes.

At present, the team is mostly idle as life has started eating most of their time. I’ve had a few changes in my life recently that have allowed me to put more time into Bahamut once again, so I’m hoping we can revive some development.

We’ve also changed some of our processes (including a move from subversion to git) so we’re hoping to get more involvement from the community in the future.

- The list of changes introduced with this release does look small compared to the ones introduced with 1.8.4 – what, in your opinion, are the most important ones?

Mostly the security updates.

For example, we removed zlib from the distribution and made it an external dependency, due to security updates from the zlib people – we didn’t want to have to release every time zlib has an issue.

There were also a few fixes for “IP leaks” where hub IPs could be shown to normal users in certain edge cases.

- Are there any changes that are noticeable on the user side of things?

Nope, not in this release.

- When did the development on Bahamut start and why?

I believe the project kicked off sometime in late 1998, with the first public release in 1999. I can’t really remember, that was a good while ago.  :)

The Bahamut project came about due to some of the performance concerns around the former DALnet ircd, Dreamforge.

Back in 1999 DALnet was growing very fast, and the hardware we were running on wasn’t terribly fast.

We needed to be able to support over 6000 clients on a 250Mhz machine, and Dreamforge simply didn’t perform to those levels. Once we rolled out Bahamut, we started seeing much better performance.

I believe somewhere in 2001 we hit our record with around 45,000 clients on a single 900Mhz AMD Duron machine with 512 megs of ram.

- Is there anything you’d like to mention?

We’re always looking for contributors to Bahamut.

We have a wishlist of features, including ipv6 and other such things, that anyone is welcome to code up and provide patches for to the dalnet-src [at] dal.net mailing list.

We are mostly interested in people with the initiative to bounce ideas around on the mailing lists and go off and code!

The complete list of changes between 1.8.4 and 1.8.6 is below:

- Fixes for x64 – this is a combination of Kobi’s work and my own.
- Fixed m_part() and m_quit() to ignore part/quit reasons from squelched users.
- Fixed compiler errors with gcc4.
- Changed a debug message that could leak servers’ IPs to ADMIN_LEV. Thanks key!
- Fix configure tests for zlib removal.
- This patch is intended to mark SVSHOLDs as SBAN_SVSHOLD to stop them from being removed by a kill -HUP
- Fix several small issues where IPs would be displayed when they shouldnt be, from Kobi (kobi [at] dal.net)
- Do not display uplink of ulined servers, from Kobi (kobi [at] dal.net)
- Fix slight errors in m_who argument parsing, from kobi (kobi [at] dal.net)
- Do not display warnings about juped servers attempting to commit, from Kobi (kobi [at] dal.net).
- Fixed m_invite to honor umode +R and silence restrictions.
- Two small rwho fixes to option parsing, from Kobi (kobi [at] dal.net)
- Add hooks for several events
- Remove zlib from the distribution – rely on the library provided by the system.
- Fix msg_has_ctrls() so it doesn’t block non-control characters.

Bahamut IRCd can be downloaded from here.

Thanks go to Epiphani for the short interview and the wants-to-stay-anonymous tipster for the tip! :)

GameSurge turns 5

The GameSurge network turns 5 years today as admin pb announces on their homepage.

But, as they write in the announcement “unlike your birthday (we hope, anyway), instead of you giving US presents, well, we’re giving YOU some!”.

He continues to write that they will have “a little party on IRC in #5thAnniversary” and that they’re “doing random giveaways”. Those will consist of “a ton of Left4Dead swag or some RazerZone gear” and he says that you “can’t go wrong no matter what”.

Their contest page has a little more information about the upcoming and planned events:

In addition to the small random giveaways on IRC, we have two different contests lined up, each with multiple (bigger) prizes, and yes, you may enter both of them. Both contests are open to all people who are 13 or older (Sorry, kids), not currently banned from GameSurge for breaking the rules, and living in the US (or anywhere else in the world if you’re willing to pay for shipping if you win – my minimum wage job won’t cover a bunch of packages to Europe, sorry).

The first contest will be limited to “simply a random drawing” held on IRC and is open to “AuthServ accounts over 30 days old” with “one entry per household” and of course “multiple entries will result in your disqualification”.

The grand prize is “an assortment of Left4Dead swag from Valve, including a very large mouse pad, a long-sleeved L4D shirt, L4D hat, L4D stickers, poster, and whatever else will fit in the package”. Second, Third and other places in this contest will get “a shirt and/or hat, stickers, and posters until I run out, all in all there being about 10 prizes total from this contest”.

The second contest is “is open to AuthServ accounts of any age” and is said to be “a little trickier”.

This time, it’s creativity that counts. They want you to “submit a story, draw a picture, make a video, sing a song, etc. Just show us something that creatively tells about your experiences on GameSurge”. Winners in this contest “will receive a copy of Valve’s Left4Dead for the XBox 360, as well as the same grand prize package from the other drawing” and the “runners up in this contest will also get something similar to the other contest, mostly consisting of shirts and/or hats, stickers, posters, but also TF2 collectible card packs”.

So join in but be aware of that last sentence in the announcement that likes you to “note that anybody who rick rolls the judging team will be disqualified, most likely G-Lined, and possibly voodoo hexed as well”.

Good luck to all participants!

Quakenet.Org Web-Chat Released

Today, Quakenet.org has announced the release of their new web-based chat client:

“We’re pleased to announce that our brand new webchat client is now out of testing and live for public use. The webchat client is the best way to connect to QuakeNet from a web browser, and offers many many excellent features such as full integration with QuakeNet and our “Q” channel service bot.”

Of course, we decided to take it for a spin.

The client comes up with a nice and simple window:

Webchat Introductory Screen

Webchat Introductory Screen

I assume you know how the next part works :P

Once you’re connected, you’re presented with a simple, but clean interface.

Chat Screen!

Chat Screen!

The interface is minimalist in nature. You have (going from left to right)  the menu button, status window and channels. The options menu is well designed; there are enough features present to enhance basic functionality of the web client, without bombarding the user with things that they would never really use. The status and channel windows are both visually identical to mIRC; excellent for giving users a sense of familiarity.

The online functionality of the client was impressive. You have access to all your basic functions (whois, ctcp, kicks, bans etc.), something which other web-based clients don’t necessarily have all of (such as Mibbit). Although you miss some of the bells and whistles that you would get with a full IRC client (such as text formatting and some nickname menu functions), it’s certainly nothing to scoff at so soon after release, especially since the development team behind it (which you can find on #dev on the network) will be continuing to develop and improve the client as bugs and feature requests make their way to them.

Overall, the webclient released by the Quakenet team is a sound one. It’s an easy-to-use client that serves as a great tool for both those who are new to the realm of IRC and the more experienced users who don’t have access to IRC in locations such as the workplace. You could even go so far as to recommend it as a tutorial ‘tool’ as a way to formally introduce new people to IRC. It has much of the functionality of a full IRC client, as well as a dedicated team to keep it going. It’s a great day for the Quakenet denizens who want to check in from elsewhere in the world!