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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.”

Happy 15th Birthday, freenode!

christel of the freenode network writes in a posting on the staffblog about the beginning of freenode, which started 15 years ago.

15 years ago, on January 29th 1994 Rob (lilo) Levin first joined the channel #linuxneo on the EFNet IRC network. This date has since been referred to as the conceptual moment, the foundation, the cornerstone which later led to the network you now know as freenode.

She continues to tell how freenode became a network of its own, which happened after the channel has been through several moves over various networks to finally become in 1995 – and “a few name-changes later and we’re freenode.”

Freenode nowadays mostly consists of channels for the F/OSS community – “from the Wikimedia Foundation to various Linux distributions (Fedora, Gentoo, Redhat, Suse to name but a few) to the Free Software Foundation to .. the list goes on and on and on.. and is currently peaking at “just over 52,000 daily users, spread across FOSS and other peer-directed communities.”

Closing the posting she writes:

So, to each and every one of you, to each and every project on the network, to Free and Open Source Software, to the exchange of ideas and information, to the memory of lilo — A very happy 15th birthday to freenode!

And to each and every user and to all the volunteers, past and present — thank you for making this possible!

Happy Birthday freenode from here too – may there be at least another 15 years to follow! :)

freenode testing a new IRCd

freenode, the network hosting the channels for many free / opensource projects – who just recently announced that they have surpassed the 50,000 users mark – do have big news again.

Existing since 1995 as a stand-alone network, it’s gone through a few IRCds already – from ircu to dancer-ircu then dancer-hybrid and hyperion now.

Being in use since August 2005 now, hyperion could see it’s end-of-life on freenode pretty soon as this blog post, asking for users to get aboard the freenode testnet, might indicate.

ircd-seven is the name the new IRCd is called, which is based on charybdis which in turn is based on ircd-ratbox. This should prove as being a very stable codebase as ratbox is the main IRCd used on EFNet and therefore is used on a large scale for quite some time now.

Since “neither ratbox nor Charybdis implements freenode’s more unique features, such as ban-forwarding or hidden IRC operators” a small team of developers started modifying the code, consisting of only one main dev, a few upstream contributors and the occasional contribution by volunteers. Today, according to christel of freenode, the project is “fairly close to completion, it needs a few tweaks to some staff-only functionality, but most of it’s there”. Asked about an anticipated release date, christel replied that they’re “looking at early next year if everything is going after plan”.

A few of the new features already have been publicized, amongst them are SSL-support for both servers and clients where hyperion only did S2S compression and haven’t had any encryption neither for users nor servers so that’s a big leap forward to the 21st century. Also the channel ban system has been reworked and the username prefixes (i= and n=) are gone for good ;) and ~ is used to indicate a non-identd username instead as most other IRCds do too.

The way you can identify on connect also has been changed and you can now sign in to an account without having to use a nickname that is linked to it by specifying it in the form of accountname:password in the server-password field. You can also do that using SASL provided your client supports it – only irssi and Conspire do that as of now.

Being asked if there are even more features coming up or if the features in the posting are complete, christel replied “Oh, theres definitely a few more surprises in store!”.

To check out the new IRCd yourself, connect to on port 9002 for normal connections or 9003 for SSL encryption. The ircd-seven bugtracker is located here – you can also download the IRCds sourcecode there.

Thanks to TheXception for the tip & thanks to christel for the interview! :)

Freenode and OFTC Networks Start Cooperation

About half a decade ago Open and Free Technology Community (OFTC) separated from, founded by Rob ‘lilo” Levin, because of different opinions on fund raising and managing the project.

One year ago Rob Levin was hit by a car and died by the injuries. Freenode has since then made changes within its managing structure where users can have more influences in decision making and a more transparent organization in general.

This new cooperation between the two networks initially will be observing each others operations and swapping of of staff. What the future cooperation will be like, including a possible merger is not yet laid out. But both sides are interested in taking next steps.

The two networks have very different technical operation, and both fall under a different organization and have cultural differences. The size of both networks are different, 33,000 for Freenode against 3750 on OFTC.

One of the first steps being looked at is moving Freenode to a new IRCd. The current IRCd in use is a highly modified and difficult to maintain IRCd called Hyperion. Head of staff at Freenode Christel Dahlskjaer is currently looking at several options and has special interest in OFTC’s Hybrid-based IRCd and Charybdis (based on IRCd-ratbox).