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Saturday 26 December 2009

A New Home

The colabti website lived for 4 years in a very small home. The virtual server from star-hosting.de had only 1 GB disk space. And the operating system used a large share of it.

Small Home Photo by Jurek D.

With a service like irc logger 2, the disk space usage increases continuously. And of course, the 1 GB filled up. Deleting the old logs would defeat the purpose of the logging service. Thus, the only option left was to buy a new and more expensive vserver with more disk space. Star-hosting proposes the vServer net2-300 SMART which is slightly more expensive. But it has only 3 GB. As the logs increase continuously, it will fill up quickly again.

After searching a lot, netcup.de came out with cheap vservers with a lot of disk space. On paper, they look much better than star-hosting. The netcup vServer BRONZE offers unlimited traffic, 20 GB of disk space and is much cheaper.

So last week, colabti moved to its new home at netcup. The much larger home will store the IRC logs without trouble for a long time.

The colabti.org domain name continues to work. But as a consequence of the move, the old colabti.de domain name will stop working very soon. Update your links and bookmarks.

Sunday 15 June 2008

Facelift of the IRC logs

Since a few weeks, the layout of the IRC logs got completely renewed. The new layout is based on the CSS created by Aankhen and used by the ilbot logger of Moritz Lenz. By the way, ilbot was inspired by IRC logger 2 on colabti.

Under the hood, the code generating the pages was completely rewritten too. This opens some new possibilities: With the new system, nicknames are now colored. Other features are coming: annotations of abbreviations, support of IRC color codes and automatic hyperlinking of some patterns (like revision numbers from subversion or tickets from the bugtracker).

In the end, the new code will also enable the usage of different backends to store the logs. Currently the logs are stored in plain text files with MIRC formatting. That format is a pain to use and uses a lot of disk space. The new system will allow to switch to another format or a database. It will also become possible to compress the logs to save disk space.

The code for the channel list, the search page and the index still needs to be rewritten. As soon as they are rewritten, the storage backend can change. They also need a better looking layout. If you have suggestions, post them here.

Sunday 17 February 2008

How it all started

When you work on a open source project, you need to follow the discussions with the other members of project. Each project has its own preferred way of communication. Most times they rely on mailing lists or IRC. Some rare ones even rely on newsgroups, sprints or private emails.

Some time in 2004, I got involved in the Stratagus project. The main communication channel for Stratagus was IRC. It worked great. A lot of people were active on the channel from everywhere over the world. The project leader lived in Australia, some developers lived in the US and Canada while others lived in Europe or anywhere else in the world.  Everybody lived in different timezones. And that was a big problem. While sleeping the guys in the other timezones had important discussions about the project. When joining the channel later on, you were lost. In order to participate in the project and stay tuned, one had to keep his (noisy) computer always on to stay connected on the IRC channel. Leave a week or two for holidays, and you're completely lost when you come back.

Later we found a IRC logger service by Colas Nahaboo. Finally the solution for those communication problems ?

The logger enabled you to set a password on the channel logs. Of course, I tried. Unfortunately the password had special characters which did not get through the authentication. Result: a few hours after activating the logger, the logs were lost forever.

The logger by Colas is targeted for Intranets. As such it has some weaknesses when deployed on the public Internet. The code to display the logs consists of bash scripts without many consideration for security. Also anyone on the channel can tell the bot to leave. In a hostile environment like the Internet, this is an invitation for crackers to disrupt your tools. Conclusion, Colas logger is very useful but not reliable.

No other IRC logger was as close to our needs than the one of Colas. If we wanted better, we had to write our own. And thus, I bought a virtual server and created an improved version of the logger. A version tailored for the public Internet and which one could rely on while absent of IRC.

People noticed the logger and enjoyed it. Some asked if the logger could log their channel too, and so the list of logged channels increased.

This is the story of the birth of the IRC logger on colabti.