Forward Feral

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Please bear in mind that we do a lot of backend work that might not result in a visable change but still works towards improving Feral as a whole. These sort of changes are not something we readily report.

  1. Features Working Towards Right Now
  2. Ideas Under Consideration
  3. Recent Releases

Features Working Towards Now

I am working on the following service visible features.

Network: upgrade core
We need to look at retiring Miaow and expanding core capacity for future growth.
Network: redundancy on TOR switches
We have the hardware so we should set up the network to cater to this properly.
We need to upgrade the way we offer secure access to the network with a more modern approach that fits nicely with our new network strategy. This includes updating and offering OpenVPN and IPSec.

Ideas Under Consideration

Next we have a melting pot of ideas both big and little. These are less defined but will eventually get evaluated and implemented.

One technical success of the previous website was having all data integrate into what was known internally as "feralapi". I will look at bringing this back in a distributed manner. This had a lot of hidden complexity which makes assessing the implementation difficult.
External dependency assessment
I wish to reduce external depedencies particularly where Feral has the resources to do things itself. This will help reduce future issues.
Anonymous, semi-anonymous, non-anonymous slot distinction
I would like anonymous slots to be: no e-mails and Bitcoin only. Semi-anonymous slots have e-mails associated (not as an owner) for notification and may pay with debit / credit cards although Bitcoin is encouraged. Non-anonymous slots are tied to a specific e-mail address (the owner) and enable features such as renewals. I need to find a better name than "non-anonymous" slots. This step will add the ability to associate slots behind a login.
Front-end redundancy
The front-end is not a redundant system but is integral to a lot of services. It depends on a non-distributed database for ease of programming. I will assess what work needs to be done to move to distributed databases.
Core system redundancy
There are other support servers that provide services we depend on, for example DHCP. I will double check their properly redundant.
Network: ddos protection
One of the reasons for keeping on an external network was to gain better ddos protection. I will assess what more can be done.
Network: bring additional exchanges online
I have prepared agreements for additional connectivity across European exchanges. I will contact them to begin the connection process.
Network: reroute
The reroute page could be easier "just download this file to optimise".
Network: IPv6
It's deployed but not pushed. I should evaluate what IPv4 only functions still exist in the system and see what is required for its full use.
Network: dedicated IPs
I should automate their set up and management. They can then be purchased on the honour system. 100% of funds pledged should go to purchasing new IPs.
Wiki: search
Can it be improved? The FAQ's search was historically terrible.
Handle alternative curriences: GBP, EUR, USD and BTC. This may avoid fees at some banks and allows less worry over fluctuating exchange rates (also, who wants to hold GBP any more?)
Privacy: private information
When we lost our front-end server only e-mail addresses were on it. This was a fortunate precaution instead of trying to store everything that is passed to us. I wish to assess what meta-information is stored across all servers and set up a policy showing what exactly is stored, for how long and its justification. I need to think of ways to properly enforce and track this.
Privacy: encryption
Our front-end server should be encrypted. This won't protect against online attacks but will bring peace of mind knowing when it is offline.
Business: lifecycle
Whenever I have a bad customer support experience I evaluate on whether Feral would respond in a similar fashion. From memory, when we've shut down a slot, it has always been for an obvious reason "you were using it to launch denial of service attacks" which leads me to believe we may have never been in OVH's position taking down our server. I believe documenting all possibilities in a slot's lifecycle will help alleviate this. It will allow us to specify exactly what is happening to a slot was closed and possible recourse.
Slot: meta information
Clicking the server should provide you with more information e.g., the IP address, SSH fingerprint
Slot: software restart
I am an administrator and I think that logging via SSH is a daft idea. Why put my customers through it? I should implement software restart buttons. (SSH access will still be available though).
Slot: change passwords
I should evaluate the need for a proper method for changing passwords. The current system says "just reinstall" which is a simple method. This might be too complex (having to understand and change application state) and might take a different approach.
Slot: extra software
I should go through the FAQ / Wiki and look to automate installing the software.
Slot: SSH web console
This would make using the slot easier but might make everything a little more risky.
Slot: uninstall software
Remove it from the software page and slot.
Software: rutorrent's feralstats plugin
This small little plugin will probably need an API from Feral.
Software: accept custom SSL certificates / automatic creation
Custom domains cannot have their own SSL certificate added. We should set one up automatically.
Services: expand on offers
All slots are currently sold by disk space (for both HDD and SSD). I should expand offers to specify cores, RAM and IOPS. This will allow customers to make a slot tailored to their exact needs. This will take a lot of work and investment as the design of the whole business is dependent on matching CPU and RAM to disk capacity although CPU and RAM are heavily over provisioned.
Slot: disk redundancy
We should offer a RAID1 set up for half the disk space on a slot.
Slot: back ups
We should offer integration of external back ups to customers in some fashion.
Site: HTML / CSS
I will need to improve the website to be more "reactive" and better cater to mobile users.
I would like to offer much more real-time statistics on all servers and slots. It was never hidden but should be more accessible.
Test coverage
Having just rebuilt the main website, test coverage will not be 100%. I shall add more unit, integration and system tests where appropriate.
Technical debit
I have accrued technical debt in parts of the codebase.
Darker themed site
Someone has expressed an interest in a dark background website making for easier viewing at night time. There are a few ways to handle this: we implement a user setting to toggle an alternative CSS, custom CSS, or perhaps instructions to set up custom CSS in the browser. This request suggests something else: evaluating accessibility (e.g., blindness, colour blindness) and not just ease of viewing under different conditions.
Many have expressed interest in keeping Amazon Payments. There are two issues: (1) their anti-fraud isn't up to par and (2) it increases a dependency a business that I can't easily replicate elsewhere i.e., they are picked because of trust in Amazon's brand which gives them control over their captive audience allowing them to make decisions that hurt Feral. For instance they could shut down (like Google Checkout), unilaterally stop accepting our payments (like PayPal), or increase prices (as happened in March). I plan to integrate Amazon but with a +5% fee to cover the extra cost involved. This fee can be removed at will via the honour system and paves the way to adding other branded payment processors. Their API is a nightmare so integration might take a little longer.

Recently Released

Here are the subjects from the most recent releases:

  1. Update: Debian Stretch
  2. Update: Transmission 2.93
  3. Update: Full Network Redundancy (2x 10G to each server), Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
  4. Update: Network Upgrades: 200G to GTT, 100G to AMS-IX
  5. Update: Subscriptions