Author Archive

Web services downtime

Tuesday, January 19th, 2021

Update 07:00 All web services are back online.

Tomorrow Wednesday 2021-01-20 starting at 06:00 we will upgrade the server hardware hosting most of our web services. We expect them to be back by 08:00 at the latest.

Affected web services

The following services are unavailable during the downtime:

Our Debian, Ubuntu and Raspbian mirror as well as Grafana, InfluxDB and Webmail will not be affected.

We will not be able to send any status updates via our news blog or via our Matrix news and status rooms.

Update on Matrix (chat)

Friday, October 9th, 2020

Since our launch of Matrix at the D-PHYS in March a few things have changed.

Important changes

  • The subdomain of the D-PHYS hosted Riot Element Web App changed and is now at element.phys.ethz.ch. If you still use the old subdomain riot.phys.ethz.ch, please move over to the new domain and verify your new session. We will start redirecting the domain in 2021. If you have no other way of getting access to your encryption keys, you could lose access to your encrypted messages
  • New documentation is available at readme.phys.ethz.ch/chat

Other changes

  • Federation with other Matrix instances at ETH and the rest of the Matrix network, giving us access to bridged networks like IRC, Slack, etc. as well
  • We now auto-invite new users to two more ISG moderated rooms (News/Status). Opt-out by leaving if you do not wish to receive updates from us (discouraged!). All existing members of the D-PHYS Lobby have been joined last night
  • End to end encryption support (enabled by default). Element Web does not provide a search function in encrypted rooms as that would be a security issue, use the Desktop App instead
  • Secure key backup method has been set to show one option only (‘Security Passphrase’) to new users, which will still provide the secondary recovery method using a ‘Security Key’
  • We opened up public rooms and room aliases for everyone. Publish your room in the public room directory to be discoverable by others on the Matrix network
  • We enabled quota of 2 GiB (initial) quota per user for media (uploads) to protect from accidental or abusive over-usage
  • Bots for gitlab, reminders, RSS feeds and more
  • Bridges for webhooks and Slack
  • Integrations (widgets)
  • Import of the Slack workspace history of 3 groups at the D-PHYS
  • An Element Web instance with experimental (Labs) features like tags
  • A tag manager to organize many rooms in large accounts
  • Jitsi video conferencing and screen sharing solution (still experimental but used by ISG on a daily basis)
  • URL redirecting service to invite people via websites or email

Lookout

  • We will focus on improving performance and less on features
  • Stabilizing 1:1 calls and video (TURN server) and Jitsi (group calls)

For help and discussion about Matrix and Element join #matrix:phys.ethz.ch

New D-PHYS collaboration/chat service (Slack replacement)

Friday, March 20th, 2020

Now that we’re all forced to work from home, one of the biggest challenges is effective communication. Some of you might have heard about Slack, a popular proprietary collaboration/chat solution for group communication. At ISG, we have worked on a D-PHYS-hosted alternative for quite some time, and have now redoubled all efforts to get it out to you as soon as possible. Today we’re launching our Matrix homeserver and Element chat client to all D-PHYS employees and students. In contrast to Slack, which is a proprietary communication silo that holds your chat history hostage, Matrix is an open source project that publishes the Matrix open standard for secure, decentralized, real-time communication (chat, VoIP, AR/VR, IoT). All parts of your communication (chats, uploaded documents etc) will be hosted at D-PHYS allowing data self-sovereignty (making it compatible with ETH regulations).

If you’re interested to use this service to communicate and collaborate in your group or with us, please see this readme page.

Please note that we’re starting with a basic set of functionality (group and direct chats, image upload). Internally we’ve already tested features like video calling and custom bots which will be rolled out incrementally in the coming weeks.

Informatikdienste will soon announce the availability of Microsoft Teams, which tries to achieve the same goal but which we neither recommend nor support in D-PHYS.