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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.

Updates

It's been a pretty slow week leading up to this monthly update. I'm still trying to get a few things done in my personal life, still dealing with some personal setbacks.

Summary of the month

Telegram Bridge Bot

I was finally able to get the Telegram-Matrix bridge bot back up and running. The general chat on Matrix and Telegram should now have their messages synced.

Daily Backups

Gitea, GitLab, Mastodon, and Matrix all have daily backups set up for their respective databases/configs.

System Updates Account

Go follow @System for posts on Werefox Software updates to services.

Gitea Update Script

I created a repository for the script I'm using to auto-update my Gitea instance.

Werefox Software has a new logo! It should be visible on all services.

Glitch-soc

https://masto.werefox.dev is now running the glitch-soc patch.

Riot

Werefox Software is now hosting an instance of the Riot web client.

Closing Notes

Fairly productive month overall, even if it ended a bit poorly. I'm still looking at a few more things I want to get done for myself in the near future, so I'm unsure how much these updates will continue to be about service updates. Hopefully, I'll find some way to squeeze some more interesting things in here.

First of all, it was my birthday just a couple days before writing this on September 6th! It was pretty great, and I’m definitely using that as an excuse for why I didn’t get a lot done since the last update.

Second excuse it a lot more personal. I recently had a bit of a development in my life happen, and that considerably affected my motivation towards maintaining these services and posting updates. It’s something I don’t feel comfortable sharing here, but I should be returning to my usual cadence soon.

Glitch-Soc

Mastodon is officially running with the glitch-soc updates. This actually was accomplished shortly after the previous weekly update, but since I had already written it, I decided to include it in this one instead. There seemed to be no real issues getting set up, and I couldn’t be happier with that process. Definitely recommend for any sys admins looking to #upgrade their Mastodon experience.

Riot Web Client

As a new “service” being offered by Werefox Software, you can now access the Riot web client from the werefox.dev domain. I’ll be adding a link to it (https://riot.werefox.dev) on the services tab shortly. Unfortunately, I was informed I cannot link directly to the general chat through the hosted web client. However, I did realize that you should be able to link to the chat through a riot.im link.

Custom Alexis Emoji

Finally, as a small update, I commissioned some pixel art from @pearshapes and made the resulting image into a custom emoji. Users on the instance can type :alexis: to use the emoji. Feel free to ask your system administrator to copy it to yours as well!

Future Updates

I don’t really have anything to say here this week. Right now I’m mainly focusing on (finally) getting some things done around the house and working on some personal projects.

That’s all for now. Next update should be a monthly one. I’ll go over anything else that happened between now and then and summarize the previous updates.

Mastodon

Mastodon is an online, self-hosted social media, and social networking service. It allows anyone to host their own server node in the network, and its various separately operated user bases are federated across many different servers.

Pinafore

An alternative web client for Mastodon, focused on speed and simplicity.

Halcyon

Halcyon is standard Twitter like client of Mastodon, And you can use it just by login to your instance. Let's Toot like a tweet.

Brutaldon

Brutaldon is a brutalist, Web 1.0 web interface for Mastodon and Pleroma.

PeerTube

PeerTube is a free and open-source, decentralized, federated video platform powered by ActivityPub and WebTorrent, that uses peer-to-peer technology to reduce load on individual servers when viewing videos.

Matrix / Element

Matrix is an open standard and lightweight protocol for real-time communication. It is designed to allow users with accounts at one communications service provider to communicate with users of a different service provider via online chat, voice over IP, and videotelephony.

Element (previously Riot) is an all-in-one secure chat app for teams, friends and organisations. Keeps conversations in your control, safe from data-mining and ads. Talk to everyone through the open global Matrix network, protected by proper end-to-end encryption.

I have a community hosted on my Matrix instance, you can use the link here to join: – Community+werefox-software:matrix.werefox.dev Or you can just join the main chat room: – Main chat#chat:matrix.werefox.dev I also have bridge chats for the following services: – Telegram

Gitea

A painless self-hosted Git service. Gitea is a community managed lightweight code hosting solution written in Go. It is published under the MIT license.