December updates, infra and vouching

I haven’t been posting in a while so I thought it was time to write about some small little things I’ve been working in the last week or so.

When I haven’t logged in to some servers for a while it can be hard to remember exactly how everything is connected, so I finally took the time and set up an instance of NetBox to keep inventory of both Blinkenshell stuff and my home network. I’ve heard about NetBox from colleagues in the business for a while but never used it, and now that I have I think it’s a pretty neat system and it seems to have a lot of support in the community regarding plugins etc. It took several hours to manually put in so far 30+ virtual machines plus some physical devices and then lots of IP addresses, prefixes, ASNs, VLANs and connections in there but I hope it will be worth it!

I also set up CheckMK monitoring in addition to the nagios that already exists but is mostly used for monitoring as an external viewer from the outside. CheckMK has many detailed checks and good system for putting up “rules” to control thresholds/limits and exceptions per host or per other labels. So far I really like it although it uses quite a bit of CPU resources just for monitoring. It also has some neat integrations so I hope to get the grafana instance to show some CheckMK data in the same dashboards as other stuff.

I’ve also been working on the firewall setup a bit, and had to make a few changes after an upgrade. More changes are coming later hopefully within a month or so and might cause some short disconnects etc. Sorry for kicking people out from SSH on Sunday, oops!

After a (very short) discussion on IRC I also decided to change the vouching system to only require a 1 hour wait period after creating an account instead of the previous 24h wait period. I think in the year 2022 people are just much too impatient to wait 24h for anything, and someone leaving social media alone for a few minutes to figure out how to join IRC is in itself maybe a sign that it’s a pretty serious person 🙂 The old limit of 24h seems to have been in place since at least 2008, a time before Instagram or even the Google Chrome browser!

In general I think that we as a community has to change our views a bit on how much work we expect from someone before we vouch. Lately it seems like fewer people has been vouched in, and we definitely need new people coming in to keep the community alive! Thanks to everyone out there taking time with new members and vouching, gold stars to all of you! <3

I also made a litte statistics counter on the main webpage where you can see how many active SSH sessions the server has for v4 and v6 respectively, and some other stats. It was not very easy with all the security profiles in place on the shell server, I ended up actually building a Go binary to get the data from proc tcp so I could bind specific policies to that binary (not so easy with shell scripts). It was my first time in Go but a very simple project and I was happy with it 🙂 (Of course I also set up a little grafana dashboard for the new stats, I hope I can expose some of that later.)

grafana dashboard

That’s all for now! I’m going away for a few days so merry Christmas if I don’t see you in chat before 🙂

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