a web log for tilde town or at least what passes for one

zine issue 4!

Wed 02 Dec 2020 07:52:10 PM UTC

the 4th issue of the tilde.town zine is out! check it out~ <3

happy birthday!!!!!!

Tue 27 Oct 2020 06:27:45 PM UTC

On October 11th, 2020 tilde.town turned six! I totally forgot to post about it. Anyway. Happy birthday, town~

dormant account cleanup

Thu 13 Aug 2020 09:35:27 PM UTC

tilde.town will be 6 in a short time! in internet years we are supposed to be on our deathbed, but inside the server the town is still active and bringing in new members. We're well over 2,000 accounts at this point.

A big part of the town is creating a sense of community, belonging, and high trust. Part of that is knowing who your neighbors are; or, at least, knowing which neighbors are around and happy to respond to email.

We're not really 2,000 users strong; between 500 and 1000 users have never logged in. ~vilmibm is working on a dormant account cleanup project that will free up never-used accounts and make it more clear who has broken ground in our town.

A lot of these accounts are from the first year of the town where signups were at first just done manually and then tracked in an extremely gnarly spreadsheet. ~vilmibm was manually mailing people back and forth about usernames and accounts and there just isn't a good record of how to actually get in touch with a lot of our old users. Ideally we'd reach out and try and see if folks want their account, but that's just not feasible.

If your account ends up removed and that bums you out, please feel free to sign up for a new account.

new town command

Fri 12 Jun 2020 09:50:08 PM UTC

Do you ever wonder what commands make tilde.town different from a regular linux server? Now, you can run town and see an index of all the town's commands. Running town help chat, for example, will give you information about the town's chat command.

If you want a command included, please send vilmibm a mail on the server :)

upgraded to 20.04

Sat 25 Apr 2020 11:54:28 PM UTC

we are on ubuntu 20.04! plz alert an admin via email or irc if something seems bad. don't forget to rebuild any python venvs as we're on 3.8 now.

upgrading to 20.04

Sat 25 Apr 2020 10:29:19 PM UTC

This weekend we are working on an upgrade to Ubuntu 20.04. Expect service disruptions and multiple restarts.

welcome back, tilde.club

Tue 17 Sep 2019 11:02:08 PM UTC

the original server that inspired tilde.town has active management again. check out tilde.club!

Ubuntu upgraded

Sat 06 Jul 2019 01:56:27 AM UTC

We are now on the newest version of Ubuntu. Please let the admins know if anything seems broken. IMPORTANT! if you maintain python code in a virtual environment, that venv will HAVE to be rebuilt.

The only current known issue is that the tildeverse irc bridge is down. it will be fixed at some point.

Downtime 7/5 for system upgrade

Wed Jul 3 16:44:32 UTC 2019

We're upgrading our server's OS on Friday. Expect some downtime.

signups paused

Tue Jul 2 03:11:52 UTC 2019


tilde.town is big. we have over 2,000 registered users and receive numerous signups every week. despite existing for over four years, our administrative infrastructure is not that much more evolved than when ~vilmibm manually created every user account with a google form, a big spreadsheet, and a lot of coffee. we have automation, but it's primitive and not easily to delegate.

there are a number of administrative improvements coming that will allow town moderation and administration to be spread over a team of volunteers. the ultimate goal is for each individual volunteer to do far less work than in a system with a single admin while, all the while, maintaining a healthy community.

what is a healthy community? it is one that can weather change, growth, technical glitches, account problems, and conflict without ripping itself apart or transforming into something ugly. tilde.town has been coming down with a community cold: we have not had the right tools for maintaining a healthy community and we're suffering as a result. admins are overworked and burning out, which leaves no energy for actually contributing to and modeling the kind of community we wanted tilde.town to be.

in order to accomodate the improvements coming, we're pausing user sign ups. the first improvement is around our email systems, and it's easiest to not be processing new user signups while that's going on.

if you were hoping to sign up and don't want to wait for this maintenance window, i recommend checking out this list of similar servers: https://tildeverse.org/members/


how to fix ssh after the migration

Tue Jan 15 23:38:21 UTC 2019

You will get a scary warning when you reconnect to the town because we both changed what computer we run on and our IP address. SSH will say stuff about how the host key has changed or the IP has changed (or both).

To fix this, run: ssh-keygen -R tilde.town. Alternatively, you can edit the file ~/.ssh/known_hosts and delete the line for tilde.town or delete the whole known_hosts if you're comfortable with that.

migration paused again but access restored

Tue Jan 15 08:33:01 UTC 2019

SSH is re-enabled. Mosh is currently unavailable and several commands are missing; we're also missing a lot of packages. ~vilmibm is very tired and will resume restoring commands, packages and services tomorrow.

known outages

migration progress

Mon Jan 14 16:35:19 UTC 2019

downtime update

Downtime is confirmed for tonight; signups are also offline. The town will be fully unreachable for a bit.

Downtime was scheduled for this past weekend for a migration from AWS to Digital Ocean; unfortunately, we weren't able to complete the migration in that timeframe. Downtime is possible tonight if ~vilmibm is able to finish the migration.

system restart

Wed Dec 26 22:41:12 UTC 2018

tilde.town was accidentally restarted today because of user error in the AWS console. If anything seems messed up after the restart, let the admins know in chat.


Thu Oct 11 17:15:37 UTC 2018
            /         (/^\)     /
           ( \         \ /     ( \     /^\
           \ |        _|_      \ |   |/^\|
            _|_        | |      _|_    \ /
            | |        | |      | |    _|_
            | |        | |      | |    | |
            | |    ****| |******| |    | |
     *******| |****    | |      | |****| |
    *       | |                 | |    | |*****
  *    H  A  P  P  Y                   | |      *
 *                                               *
 | *      B  I  R  T  H  D  A  Y    T I L D E  * |
 |  *****                                 *****  |
 |@      **********  T O W N !  **********      @|
 | @   @           *************           @   @ |
 |  @@@ @    @                       @    @ @@@  |
 |       @@@@ @      @       @      @ @@@@       |
  *            @@@@@@ @     @ @@@@@@            *
   *                   @@@@@                   *
    *****                                 *****
         **********             **********

new local irc server

Fri Oct 5 04:56:02 UTC 2018

We've moved to a different IRC server (called Oragono). It's much easier to configure and allows both nickname and channel registration. For more information, check out the wiki.

important note for botmothers! your children may not be handling ping requests from the new server properly. If your irc bot is ill, check on its pings.

tilde.chat irc network!

Fri Jun 29 19:50:59 UTC 2018

We've officially bridged a local IRC server to the nascent tilde.chat IRC network.

What does this mean?

You can opt-in to the tilde.chat network from within Weechat, our default chat client (what runs when you run chat). From Weechat, press alt+1 and run:

/server add tildechat
/connect tildechat
/join #meta
This will drop you in a chat room visible to the other tilde servers. You can always get back to our private server by running /buffer #tildetown.

There is also a page about this on the wiki.

irc outage

Sun May 27 10:58:31 UTC 2018

~vilmibm messed up the irc config and somehow irc restarted, picking up the broken config. the outage was prolonged because ~vilmibm was on a plane for a very very long time. irc service is restored, now, but let ~vil know if your client isn't reconnecting.


Wed Apr 25 19:41:13 UTC 2018

Another runaway user script pegged the CPU, degrading SSH to the point where a restart was needed. ~vilmibm has finally actually made an /etc/security/limits.conf file with priority limits.

Automated key management and u

Thu Feb 22 07:38:46 UTC 2018

The SSH keys that you've provided to the town live in your ~/.ssh/authorized_keys2 file. There's a scary warning at the top that says to probably not modify it.

Until today, that message was toothless. Now, all key update requests will be handled through our Django admin tool and authorized_keys2 WILL be overwritten as your keys change.

As usual, you are free to manually add any keys you want to ~/.ssh/authorized_keys.

Finally, if this post makes no sense to you, that's 100% ok. You don't have to worry about it, things will just keep working as normal :)


Mon Feb 19 23:24:19 UTC 2018

~vilmibm is consolidating some of our programs. you might experience some weirdness with, for e.g., feels/ttbp. this is normal for now; let them know if it persists beyond today.

surprise restart and important admin notice

Sat Jan 13 16:53:38 UTC 2018

sadly in the night tilde.town restarted. it's back and services have been restored. if anything is still down please let ~vilmibm know via mastodon.

as some townies might know, ~vilmibm is moving far away! this of course doesn't affect our lovely virtual home, but it does mean 48ish hours of very restricted connectivity for them. you can still ping them with issues but be aware that there isn't much they can do while driving for hours.

another restart :(

Sun Dec 3 23:27:47 UTC 2017

A non-malicious user accidentally set off a fork bomb, taking out the server. we're restored. let vil know if anything didn't come back up.

attn all shadowrunners

Tue Nov 21 23:14:46 UTC 2017

we all know and love bbj, our awesome command line forums. now, we have shadowland, a special customized bbj instance that exists in the Shadowrun universe.

it's designed for posting in charcter, so dream one up and get shadowrunnin.

signups are back

Wed Nov 15 23:47:52 UTC 2017

admin app is fixed and user signups are back.

temporary signup outage

Wed Nov 15 23:29:39 UTC 2017

while deploying some updates to our admin tool i ran into some small issues; user signups are broken for a bit. fixing now.

server reboot

Fri Nov 10 19:21:38 UTC 2017

We had a reboot last night. Sorry! You'll need to remake any screen/tmux sessions and also restart any processes that aren't run through cron.

help vilmibm beta test the new wiki

Wed Oct 4 00:33:51 UTC 2017

There's a new wiki system! But it probably has bugs. ~vilmibm is looking for volunteers to beta test the new system and post in `bbj` about any bugs or feedback.

If you are interested, check out the instructions at the new wiki!

new exciting things!

Fri Sep 1 01:38:08 UTC 2017

A bunch of new stuff is going on!

americans: net neutrality is important

Wed Jul 12 19:32:08 UTC 2017

this post is largely relevant to american users

tilde.town harkens back to a time when the internet was for everyone -- not just corporations. Culturally, the internet has moved away from personalized sites or even personalized social media profiles and towards a completely commercial internet where we are products whose attention is bought and sold.

Today, nothing stands in the way of setting up something like tilde.town. That's thanks to net neutrality. Without it, traffic to anything but services owned by companies like Comcast would be severely slowed.

Please take a minute to go check out this page for more information and a link to tell the FCC how much net neutrality means to you.

new birthday command

Wed Jun 21 01:26:48 UTC 2017

there's a new command available: birthday. it will list any users whose birthday is today (UTC time). To see whose birthday is on an arbitrary date, you can pass a month/day string like so: birthday 10/11.

In order to make your birthday discoverable, add ~/.birthday with a single line of month/day, e.g.

$ cat ~/.birthday
Enjoy :)

welcome pycon folx

Sun May 21 20:37:12 UTC 2017

~vilmibm gave a lightning talk about the town at pycon. there is a subsequent influx of new virtual faces. say hi!

newsletter! also, swag pile!

Wed May 17 00:13:39 UTC 2017

The second issue of the Tilde Town Times is hot'n'fresh in your local inbox! It's assembled by the ever wonderful ~jumblesale and features a lot of great content, including an interview with ~troido.

If you haven't used town-local email yet, run alpine and open your INBOX.

Also, because ~vilmibm wanted a convenient way to get tilde.town swag, there is now a zazzle shop with a few items. It's not intended as a way to make money as tilde.town upkeep is provided by patreon, it's just in case people wanna rep tilde.town.

If you want a free pile of stickers, just let ~vilmibm know via irc or local mail and they'll send em to you for free <3


Fri May 12 07:29:40 UTC 2017

an errant user script swamped RAM, causing network slowdown and ssh unreachability. the script has been disabled and services restored. important note bbj is down until further notice.


Wed May 3 23:58:14 UTC 2017

Two new things to report on!

Have a good day~

check your local email!

Sat Apr 15 23:47:22 UTC 2017

The first issue of the Tilde Town Times is hot'n'fresh in your local inbox!

If you haven't used town-local email yet, run alpine and open your INBOX.

Check it out!

new bbj client

Fri Apr 14 21:55:39 UTC 2017

Running bbj will now load up a new, easier to use client. thanks, ~desvox!

it's tootin time

Mon Apr 10 17:43:18 UTC 2017

Have you heard of ostatus, gnusocial, or the deservedly hyped mastodon.social? If not, they're three aspects of an alternative to Twi**er that is decentralized and non-commercial.

Our own ~insom has made a little tilde-flavored home on this new network called tiny.tilde.website and we're all invted to join :)

Sign up and say hi!

cool new commands

Wed Mar 29 02:53:12 UTC 2017

there are some fun new things to do on the server:


Wed Jan 18 07:01:31 UTC 2017

aw shit! we have a shared Starbound universe now! isn't that cool? Ask in IRC for connection details!

We also have procured some gift copies of the game to give out! To get a free copy, add a space-themed piece of art to your ~ page and then let ~vilmibm know!

help test new user signup tool

Sat Jan 14 08:46:27 UTC 2017

~vilmibm has been working on a new tool for administrative tasks and it features a user signup tool. it would mean the world to them if you could beta-test it a bit!

check out the tool and either file an issue or tweet about anything messed up.


tweet command busted

Tue Dec 20 07:58:03 UTC 2016

until further notice the tweet command is messed up.

python note

Fri Dec 16 21:47:36 UTC 2016

if you are having an issue with python libraries seemingly disappearing, try rebuilding your virtual environment. if you are relying on system libraries (and not using a virtual environment), let ~vilmibm know so they can make sure things are installed properly at the system level post-upgrade. sorry for any hassle.


Fri Dec 9 23:06:45 UTC 2016

All rejoice! After two years in operation, tilde.town now runs Ubuntu 16.04, the current LTS. In addition to a hot'n'fresh OS, we've grown into a medium EC2! We have two CPUs now and 4gb of RAM (plus some recently added swap).

This wouldn't be possible without the help yr sysadmin gets from patreon as well as the support of this awesome community. Thank you!!

That's all for this update, but there are some more rad things in the works:


recent outage

Thu Aug 11 17:58:00 UTC 2016

There was recently an issue with AWS that blocked off HTTP, UDP, and outbound traffic from the town. The outage lasted about 24 hours and is now resolved.

tilde.town in washington post

Mon May 9 21:36:08 UTC 2016 Our entry on

brutalist websites was mentioned on a Washington Post blog. Apparently, tilde.town is both ugly and hard to use ^_^ Let ~vilmibm know if this is the case...

https support

Mon Mar 28 06:25:27 UTC 2016

Thanks to the gracious help of user ~demophoon the town is now accessible over https! just hit up https://tilde.town in ye olde browsere to check it out.

irc client fixed for all users

Tue Feb 23 16:31:58 PST 2016

the irc and chat commands are now fixed for all users. in the course of this fix i accidentally deleted everyone's weechat config. if you had a bunch of stuff in your weechat config that you really want back let me know and i can check the backups.

irc client outage

Fri Feb 19 13:39:25 PST 2016

because of Reasons, the irc and chat scripts are broken. you can still use irc, you just have to run the following:

/set irc.look.temporary_servers on
and you should be good to go until this is fixed.

Restart today

Fri Feb 19 12:07:09 PST 2016

Thanks to this glibc vulnerability the town needs to restart to install security updates.

remember your tilde.town apocalypse training:

Systems status

Wed Oct 14 13:49:12 PDT 2015

~vilmibm released a rewrite to the server's infrastructure yesterday. Nothing should be different, but it'll be much easier to work on new features and consume fewer resources.

Currently, the guestbook is down. Usenet has also been disabled for now since no one was using it and it has a nontrivial impact on the system. If you want to talk about bringing usenet back, bring it up in irc <3.

BIRTHDAY! The Town Turns 1

Sun Oct 11 18:54:35 UTC 2015

Exactly a year ago, ~vilmibm gave himself a birthday present in the form of a small unix server meant for commnunity and sharing. Now, tilde.town is a thriving community of feels, peer education and beautiful digital art.

If you are not yet a towner, check out our code of conduct, look at some user pages, and sign up!. Everyone is welcome here regardless of skill level and if making SSH keys is a little scary, that's okay. Reach out to for help.

Here's to another year of html and feels.

new stuff!

Sat Aug 1 17:27:15 PDT 2015

today was a day of things happening!

as always, tilde.town is a place for html and feels. feels run strong and well today. come say hi!

new homepage design

Sun Jul 26 18:01:58 PDT 2015

~vilmibm made a cleaned up homepage. it's linking to two under construction feature--a new help desk for admin requests and a random page linker. there is also a new FAQ.

we've also hit a cool donation milestone of $60. thank you everyone who has donated! our monthly costs are now covered and if we hit $65 we can do some more server enhancements.

donations! also, new disk

Wed Apr 29 06:04:58 UTC 2015

An exciting day for tilde.town. We now have way to donate via patreon. Thanks to all the folx who have already become patrons! y'all make the heart of this sysadmin warm and fuzz. A big part of the push for donations was a need for more server space which we have as of tonight's server upgrade/reboot. The main tilde.town server now has a 40gb disk. Enjoy!

Some updates coming down the pipe:

server restart

Tue Jan 27 21:13:27 UTC 2015

Hi. Today tilde.town had to restart to pick up a patch for CVE 2015-0235. data.tilde.town (our poetry server) has also been patched and restated. Sorry for any inconvenience!

lots of people

Thu Jan 1 07:37:16 UTC 2015

we have ~370 users. isn't that wild?

Scheduled Downtime Tonight

Wed Nov 26 21:19:12 UTC 2014

To accommodate our growing user base, there will be a server resize/reboot tonight (Pacific time). Sadly I cannot give an exact time as I still don't have internet at my new place and will have to opportunistically find some to execute this upgrade.

The server should only be down for a few minutes, but this will terminate any running applications (like tmux/screen/irssi). Any files open in an editor should be preserved by a swap file but you still may want to save and close things in the next several hours.

Also, this upgrade means that tilde.town is no longer an essentially free project, so I may put up something for donations soon.

100+ users party report

Sun Nov 9 23:07:08 UTC 2014

tilde.town now has 102 users. We crossed into three digits last night and lots of townies hung out in irc to celebrate. Some new features even launched!

80 users!

Wed Oct 29 18:19:45 UTC 2014

tilde.town just added its 80th user. Welcome! Some folks have been having trouble with ssh public keys. Remember, public keys are really confusing if you aren't too familiar with them, and there is no judgement if you can't immediately get them to work. Feel free to tweet at @tildetown if you'd like some help.

60 users

Sat Oct 25 19:37:47 UTC 2014

tilde.town is up to 60 users. This is lovely! It is also only a tenth of our planned total user capacity, so if you are interested in a tilde* account we'd love to have you. You can even submit a user request with a fancy form now!

submit a user account request!

Change of IP, warnings when you ssh

Sun Oct 19 03:28:59 UTC 2014

In the interest of making sure we don't suddenly disappear from the Internet as a result of a dynamic IP change on AWS I switched to using an Elastic IP (amusingly, "elastic" IPs are static).

The upside is that we now have a static IP (also it's free) (woo).

The downside is that when you try to SSH into tilde.town, now, you'll get an error about "something nasty" and there will be many @ characters. You'll want to edit your .ssh/known_hosts file and remove the entry for tilde.town (your error message should have a cute copy-pasta-able one-liner for doing this for you).

Go ahead and do that, and then log in With Confidence. Hopefully this won't happen again.

I'll close by mentioning the imminent arrival of many new tildeverse members. We (the tildeverse operators) are just about ready to accept the signups currently languishing in a waitlist. This means lots of new users, which is lovely, but may mean some growing pains while I adapt our server to the new user load in the most cost-effective way.