July 2020 Monthly Update – We're Halfway There

I'm thoroughly convinced that blog posts like this are going to act as a bit of a time capsule for America and the world during this pandemic. My state attempted to open back up, but it looks like things are going to be most likely closing a bit in the near future, as we've become one of the peak states for case growth as of late. Regardless, a lot happened in the two months since my last update.

Updates

In support of BLM, I decided not to post an update last month. However, there were a few things that happened since then that are likely worth mentioning. Because of this, I'll be adding a second “Summary of the month” section titled “Summary of the month: May-June”, and I'll append this first one to “Summary of the month: June-July”.

Summary of the month: May-June

Xenia, the Linux Fox

One of the biggest things I worked on from this month was commissioning out some art for Xenia, a potential Linux mascot that lost a competition back in 1996.

A screenshot of the original announcement I made for the art.

Once again, big shoutout to all three artists that helped me out. Here are each of the pieces individually with some links to the original artists:

@FirstProgenitor@mastodon.art

@heyheather@snouts.online

@Marbles@snouts.online

Here's also a link to the original announcement post: https://masto.werefox.dev/@shadow8t4/104235712891251159

Overall, this was a bit of an empty month in the first place. I focused quite a bit more on playing games in my spare time.

Summary of the month: June-July

Xenia, the Linux Fox – Stickers!

With the help of @WildePrints, I've managed to order some sticker prints of the designs mentioned above!

Here are the phyiscal stickers of each of the designs!

I also put out a form for anyone who wants one to fill out, and I'll be sending them out over the next month as I gather input and start putting together all the letters. It might take some time (especially since many of the form responses are from people outside of the country), but it will happen!

I'm hesitant to post a link to the form here, but please feel free to reach out to me if you're interested in them! If this first batch goes really well, I may consider ordering a second set, or setting up a more professional storefront with proceeds going to the original artists if I gain their permission in the future (these stickers will be free of charge for the time being, though).

Small Contributions to Pinafore

In the past few months, if you've been following me, it's no secret that I've been dabbling more and more into understanding and utilizing Docker's container tehcnology. It has been interesting to take almost any project I have access to and see what it would take to conver it to a container microservice or just a container image in general. I feel like over my time I've gotten to understand the process and some of the best practices, and have now been able to translate that knowledge into a couple contributions here and there to the Pinafore project. It's not much, just updating an existing Dockerfile for the NodeJS project and contributing a docker-compose.yml for easier management, but I felt like it's worth noting here.

Brutaldon

Brutaldon is a brutalist, Web 1.0 web interface for Mastodon and Pleroma. It has options to disable all Javascript for the front-end, and is designed to be able to work in terminal web browsers, such as Lynx and w3m.

Although the project itself seems to have been largely abandoned, the interface still works just fine, and I've been hosting it inside a container for a while now. I'm pleased to say that I've experienced no issues thus far, and so I've updated the services page to reflect this new addition.

If you would like to see the source code for the containerized version I'm using, you can view it at https://gitea.werefox.dev/shadow8t4/brutaldon-docker

Matrix & Riot Updates – Jitsi Video Conferencing

Riot users that utilize the Riot client I've hosted on https://riot.werefox.dev will now be able to initiate video conferences through a Jitsi server I've begun hosting. Additionally, I've created a post on the blog that's now pinned which outlines with some screenshots how a new user can register for an account on https://matrix.werefox.dev or other custom instances. These small updates will hopefully make it more user-friendly to new potential users to start using these chat services over others.

Shameless plug reminder – Werefox Software does have a public open Matrix chat that anyone can join at #chat:matrix.werefox.dev

Server Maintenance

Last week I finally took the time to test out the backups system I have had set up for the servers, and completely wiped the NUC with a fresh install of Ubuntu Server 20.04. While there were some hiccups here and there, things seems to be back up and running just as they were before. One big difference being that nearly every service being hosted currently is now being hosted in a container or set of containers managed by docker-compose. This has the advantage of essentially being able to run a clean install of Ubuntu 20.04 with only docker, docker-compose, and nginx installed, meaning I can focus development efforts, or other local network services, on other devices that don't have public ports exposed. As an added bonus on top of that, this will enhace security as the only ports exposed are those that are inside containerized subnets.

I'm sure someone may be quick to correct me on that last statement, but regardless, this is something that needed to happen at some point to ensure that I can continue to provide a reliable self-hosted experience.

Further Updates

Even with how long this post was, there are still future updates to list out. I've still put off setting up a full CI/CD for now, as the server currently running my Gitea instance needs to also have a fresh install performed on it, as I explained above. Once that has been completed, I can focus my efforts on getting that pipeline set up.

Additionally, I've been actively working behind the scenes to set up a mail server for this domain. I've been using an account that was graciously provided to me by a kind fellow at vcity.network, however, as you may have noticed, that domain is currently down. Emails are still working for now, but I'm a bit anxious about the possibility that they will stop working at some point. Therefore, I feel like this initiative is quite necessary. Hopefully I can post some progress about it soon.