From the new head administrator of Wilde: Thank you to all who are currently using Wilde and those who plan on joining us in the future!
I’m planning on holding a sort of “Q/A” session with Wilde users on the 12th of March to help make Wilde’s management transition as smooth as possible.
Thanks for flying Wilde.
Note: Posts before this one were written by the old owner, and may not reflect the view of Wilde’s current administration.
With a growing community of users, Wilde has proven its usefulness in the Tildeverse as a platform for learning Windows, as well as an alternate computing platform for university and college students who require it for their courses. Unfortunately, personal circumstances dictate that the founder has to leave. This doesn’t mean the service will end at all; administration has been handed over by TechEmporium to amcclure, with deepend assisting in the hosting of Wilde. With this comes a fresh outlook towards the future, with possible improvements and the oversight of the gopher protocol being implemented. It’s been quite a good 8 months since Wilde’s inception and it’s only building in momentum. Hopefully, there are more ups than downs for the project’s future; may it last for a good long while.
After the initial excitement of Wilde’s arrival to the World Wide Web, things have started to slow down, as the project and its users have settled down confortably into their new home. 6 months into the project’s operations and things couldn’t be any better; 34 users all in good standing, enjoying the various services offered and a Windows port of Gophernicus is in the works. Once Gophernicus is fully implemented, it will add a whole new dimension to this server; serving gopher more efficiently than was previously done with Gopher Cannon, on a per-user basis. So stay tuned; the future is bright for Wilde.
Wilde has now been inducted into the Tildeverse, after 5 months of operation and 27 registered users. Though it’s only a quasi-official recognition, it’s still a milestone for the service, since it means Wilde is recognised by a wider community of remote computer and programming enthusiasts, who are more accustomed to Linux and BSD servers.
The migration of Wilde to new hardware and a new version of Windows has been completed successfully. It was quite an adventure, where it took the better part of 3 days to migrate user files. Thankfully, the user file migration was completed on January 11 and the work of rebuilding user accounts was completed by January 13.
It was also discovered that a certain malicious user from Estonia, who was previously removed from Wilde on October 26, rejoined the service using an alternate alias and email address; not only did Leonid Mashko fail with his second ransomware attempt on January 13, but his attempt backfired on his own user directory, corrupting his malware’s source code and his compiler software. As was stated in a communication with Mr. Mashko the day after his second removal, he’d make for a better comedian than an agent of Russia’s Federal Security Service… Needless to say that he met his defeat with a child-like tantrum. This said, his IP address, malware payload, dropper and ransom note (complete with instructions on where to access his ransom payment site,) have been saved and reported to authorities.
In the meanwhile, nobody else’s data has been compromised on either the old server or the new. The old server is now offline, the new server is online and many users are now happy to have improved service.
With the advent of official recognition as part of the Tildeverse, Wilde’s going through both a hardware and software upgrade. We’re going to be running on a more powerful server preloaded with Windows Server 2012, generously donated to us by deepend. It will take some time to rebuild all the user profiles from the old system into the new, but every use will be emailed once their credentials and their files have been copied over.
Wilde has received its final memory upgrade and now carries its maximum RAM capacity of 4 GB. So far, the system is good when it comes to storage; with 26 subscribers as of this date and only 8.41% of the 750 GB HDD in use, Wilde should be fine for a while. Other than this, there’s nothing new, beyond the usual attempts by hackers to break into the system via Remote Desktop; a steady collection of intrusive IPs is being compiled, actively blocked by the system’s firewall software and compiled into a blacklist for distribution among all server administrators in the Tildeverse.
Firefox was good while it lasted on Wilde, but it, along with most current and popular browsers available (namely Chrome, its variants and all of Firefox’s variants,) have been ridiculously resource-hungry. So much so, that it stopped being feasible to run Firefox on Wilde (or any of these browsers on decades-old hardware, for that matter). In order to better maintain system resources, Wilde switched Firefox with NetSurf as a default web browser. We ask that every Remote Desktop user do their best to use software that’s less resource-hungry, so as to maintain resource availabbility to everyone on such a low-end computer.
Since the last bit of drama last month, Wilde has been on cruise control; everything’s running comfortably, without issues. And on request from a fellow user, Ghostscript has been installed. Now, Pandoc users can view the PostScript files they generate, either through GhostScript itself or through SumatraPDF (which was made the default PostSCript reader for Remote Desktop users).
Wilde was deliberately vandalised by a new user, who had completely ignored the terms of service and decided to compromise the server in no less than 5 hours of having received their credentials. The user, a novice criminal hacker from Estonia, maliciously tried to bring the entire system under a ransomware attack. Thankfully, the attack was mitigated, the offending software purged and the offending user banned from the server. In the midst of this attack, no user-generated or user-uploaded content has been corrupted, thankfully. The attack has corrupted the server’s main website and gophermap, as well as its installation of Apache, FreeOCR, MinGW, Open Watcom, Resource Hacker and Python; all files, as well as all previously-corrupted software, has been repaired and replaced.
After a risk assessment and a full virus scan, Wilde has a 100% clean bill of health and is back online, ready to serve. We’ve also taken the time to update the system’s installation of Firefox, MuseScore and Python.
Nothing much is happening on Wilde; we’ve reached 18 subscribers since this service went public in September. We’ve added EXIFTOOL GUI, Jhead, jpegtran and Bulk Image Converter, so that users can better manipulate image files. Jhead allows for the modification of EXIF headers, while jpegtran allows transcoding of EXIF-formatted images for lossless scaling and rotation (both programs are command line tools available through SSH). EXIFTOOL GUI allows Remote Desktop users to benefit from EXIFTOOL, Jhead and jpegtran without need of the command line.
For music and media lovers, Wilde now has MuseScore 2 and K-Lite Codec Pack installed. These programs are available via Remote Desktop. However, audio streaming has to be enabled from within the Remote Desktop client program; audio over Remote Desktop isn’t the best and artifacting (in the way of cracking audio output) may be heard. This, unfortunately, is normal and has no solution to it. This said, one can always copy content generated with MuseScore 2 out from Wilde, for easier listening.
Wilde has also received a RAM upgrade from 2 GB to 3 GB; this is namely to compensate for slower boot times and for resource-intensive programs like Firefox and LibreOffice. In spite of the upgrade, Haroopad was a bit too resource-intensive for the RAM upgrade to remedy, so it was uninstalled and replaced by PanWriter (a graphical frontend for Pandoc with WYSIWYG editor features).
After a long hunt for usable software, we’ve managed to find working ports of Linux command line programs to Windows that would function properly on Wilde; the copy of GNU nano that normally ships with Git for Windows has been replaced with a better version that can work correctly over an SSH connection, while Links was replaced with Lynx 2.8.5 r1. Users are finally able to navigate, edit files and browse the internet/gopher with little or no hindrance to usability; should Lynx become graphically unstable over SSH, the repair is as simple as reloading the page with CTRL-R.
Additional software has been included for Remote Desktop users as well; namely, the WYSIWYG Markdown editor Haroopad, the HxD hex editor, Notepad++ and vDosPlus, a 16-bit DOS emulator that can help with testing 16-bit DOS programs created in Open Watcom. As always, if any bugs are found with any of the programs installed on Wilde, feel free to contact us by email or through irc.tilde.chat #wilde.
In spite of yesterday’s news, it turned out that IIS was still behaving badly; due Wilde running on Windows 7 Ultimate SP1, which is a consumer-grade operating system, the version of IIS it shipped with would only allow Administrator users to take advantage of virtual directories, or to copy files into the default IIS web directory and have them display in a browser without authentication errors. Any user who may have tried to host their own pages in the default web directory would have needed the system operator to transfer file ownership of each page to the system operator’s Administrator account.
Because of this, it was decided to uninstall IIS and replace it with Apache, provided by XAMPP. Now, users are free to display their own web pages without any issues, straight from their home directories, in C:[username]_html, without any special requirements necessary. As Wilde eagerly awaits the Windows port of Gophernicus, users can at least rest assured that they can fully utilise web services on the server, without hindrance.
Not much has happened since the last major news update, except for Wilde’s website finally providing all of its intended content, as well as users having options for hosting their own websites here. Since IIS 7 works differently than other web servers available on UNIX-like systems, Wilde refuses to play nice with shortcuts and symbolic links for web directories; instead, IIS offers per-user virtual directory configuration, which is accessible through Remote Desktop with the help of these instructions. Users can now have their own personal web folders located outside of the default IIS web directory. The only caveats are that this option is only accessible through Remote Desktop, web directories won’t be visible online until the virtual directory’s owner supplies their account credentials to allow this, it’s expected that each virtual directory is given the alias of “~[username]” (i.e.: a tilde followed by the owner’s username) and lastly, when using this option, it’s expected for each user to keep their personal web folders within their own home directory. Regardless of this option, both Remote Desktop and SSH users are free to create their own web folders within the default IIS web directory; the only requirement is that the owner’s web directory must be named “~[username]” (i.e.: a tilde followed by the owner’s username).
Gopher is also in the works; the Gopher Cannon server isn’t quite as robust as Gophernicus, unfortunately. Gopher Cannon supposedly has its own scripting language called “Active Gopher Pages,” but due to the its lack of documentation regarding its script, as well the server itself being abandonware with an inability to contact its original creator, we’re eagerly awaiting the end result of efforts to port Gophernicus to the Windows platform. This said, Gopher Cannon is a good server for people who want to host their own basic gopher holes, without anything fancy like user directory listings, etc.
Wilde has now been fully setup with all Windows updates available to it. There’s been a lot of rebooting and downtime as a result, but the server has been updated and will continue to be, up until Windows 7’s end of life comes around in 2020.
Once again, we ask that people do NOT fool themselves and remain ignorant to the fact that Wilde is nowhere near as secure as a Linux or BSD server, especially as Wilde carries no SSL/TLS certificates or host HTTPS sites. This ignores the fact that there’s no such thing as a fully secure Windows system; by virtue of the Windows operating system having a big market share, it’ll always be an easy and tempting target for malicious hackers. Regardless of how up-to-date this system is, users must ALWAYS practice common sense, follow the terms of service and to NEVER store confidential information on Wilde (including personally-identifiable information that you don’t want to make public). As for antivirus software and backup tools, we’re using Windows Defender, as well as having a live CD of both CloneZilla and Kaspersky Antivirus on hand. For any questions, concerns and suggestions, contact us by email or through irc.tilde.chat #wilde.
More programs have been added for use not only over Remote Desktop, but also through SSH; Wilde now includes a fully functional MinGW environment, Git, IRSSI, PanDoc, Midnight Commander, Python, Node.js, Xdelta3, EXIFTOOL, MEGATOOLS, DOS Navigator /2 and GNU nano, all of which are accessible through SSH as well as Remote Desktop (though DOS Navigator /2 and nano have minor graphical issues over SSH). Links browser is also available, though it currently only works well under Remote Desktop; it’s virtually unusable over SSH, so the search for a functional text-mode web browser continues. As for graphical Windows programs, KVIrc, OTVDM for running 16-bit Windows programs, a GUI for Xdelta3, Resource Hacker and 3 of Faith Kodak’s executable program compilers for Windows batch files, PowerShell scripts and VBscript have been added. More work is being done to the website as well; SMTP is fussy and an alternative SMTP server is currently being sought after. This said, the website finally has functional registration and contact forms, working through a non-standard SMTP relay hack. This will be rectified soon.
Progress has been made with setting up essential services on Wilde. Not only are internet and SSH services fully functional, but so are Remote Desktop and gopher services. With IIS 7 hosting web pages and Gopher Cannon hosting gopher holes, users can now host their own sites. And thanks to Remote Desktop, users can also access Firefox, Gopher Browser for Windows, PeaZip, Open Watcom, FreeBASIC, htm2chm for compiling help files, SumatraPDF, FreeOCR, Doro PDF printer and LibreOffice. Wilde can be used for office work and programming, as well as slow-paced games like those available on Windows 7 by default. However, faster-paced games like Windows XP’s Space Cadet Pinball, resource-intensive games such as Counter-Strike 1.6 and anything running from a retro computer/video game console emulator will run horribly over Remote Desktop (if they can run at all). PHP is also available. More is to come!
Trying to get SSH working properly and securely on Windows XP was a horrendous pain; the only options available free of cost were either a pain to configure properly (like OpenSSH under Cygwin,) horribly outdated (like the 2004 Windows XP port of OpenSSH) or horribly implemented in the most insecure ways (like freeSSHd). So, it was decided to retire the PCM-9343 in favour of a Toshiba Satellite U400, where Windows 7 Ultimate was installed alongside IIS 7 and OpenSSH. More features are on the way, so stay tuned! We’re also accepting applicants through tilde.chat #wilde as of now, even though we still don’t have any registration forms yet.
After a few days of testing and tinkering with Windows XP Embedded on the PCM-9343, the server is finally online. Right now, we’re not taking any applicants yet, as there’s still a lot to be worked on; only IIS is running right now and the server needs a lot more to be functional (namely, an SSH server).