Folks are already accepting the new policies – thanks.
We’re going to start requiring acceptance to access the matrix.org server on Tuesday (May 29th).
We’re already receiving our first GDPR requests… :|
Erasure and Right-to-be-forgotten work (Phase 2) is next up so we can action the requests in a timely manner.
It looks like we will go ahead on removing MXIDs on events as a Phase 3 (although for now we do warn people that this is effectively a technical limitation of Matrix, albeit one that we’re working on).
mtxclient E2E progress
Big E2E progress from mujx, developer of the nheko client on his project mtxclient. As of this week, mxtclient is able to decrypt group events. When writing (that is, sending encrypted messages) is complete, the idea is to migrate this work back to nheko, though mujx points out this library could be used in any client.
Plaintext view to be able to click long links and such
Fixed some bugs
GDPR-capable release! 0.15.4 out today
Various bugfixes and performance regressions.
Sticker sending is ready modulo some CSS bugs; we’ll get it pushed shortly.
JonTheNiceGuy bridging video
JonTheNiceGuy produced a helpful video describing how to use bridges for IRC, Slack and Telegram, showing the difference between the different bridges. I found this to be really clear and well-paced for following the many practical details of bridging. Watch here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZNEzgYRLj8g
This small tool will take the local part of the room ID created by the Matrix<>Facebook Messenger bot once the friend has joined it, identify th friend, and grab their avatar and display name to set the room’s.
I have managed to do the first phase of a massive refactor that makes it way more reliable (temporarily store SMS in the database before delivery)
this makes it more resilient to synapse hiccups, as well as general failures
matrixboard, from betz
betz runs the https://hackerspaces.be/ matrix server and has this week, inbetween repairing his Synapse install, been working on a project called matrixboard. This tool is used to output the last five messages from a given room to displayed as HTML, the idea being to display output from a specific room as a website widget. You can see an example using #matrix-devhere.
The idea of using the room state to encapsulate bot data per-room was well received, discussion in #TWIM:matrix.org suggests this is an estabilished practice for some developers.
No general GSOC round-up this week, &Adam shared the news that GSOC-student Zil0‘s first PR towards E2E in matrix-python-sdk landed on master. These PRs are working from efforts previously contributed by pik.
Work continues in the Ruma space. This week saw the release of
ruma-events0.10.0: ruma-events contains Serializable Rust types for the events in the Matrix specification. 0.10.0 sees a major update with code provided by mujx, and contains many breaking changes.
As part of my master’s thesis, I wrote the DSN Traveller bot, which is crawling the matrix federation to measure the shape and size of the matrix network, and how distributed it currently is. The bot is already in a smaller number of rooms for testing, and will join the remaining rooms over the next days. All details at https://dsn-traveller.dsn.scc.kit.edu/, room at #dsn-traveller:dsn-traveller.dsn.scc.kit.edu.
GDPR policy management is welcomed in by Synapse 0.30
Means we get server notices too!
Explosion of Python 3 activity from notafile & Amber (hawkowl)
andrewsh has prepared a Debian package for the 0.30 release.
Anoa is on the case, having joined the core team on Monday – Dendrite is already sending events to ASes! Meanwhile APwhitehat is hacking away on his GSoC projects!
Last week I promised an update on the state of the various GSOC projects in the Matrix Ecosystem. There is activity happening but other than what’s been discussed above we’ll wait a week or two for more detailed updates.
See you soon
As always, if you have things to say, projects to advertise, or anything else, ping me or visit #TWIM:matrix.org. I’m keen to get everyone included and keep this community enthused about all the work going on in the Matrix ecosystem.
As you may have seen from the previous blog post, we have a new drive to advance the Matrix Specification itself. Part of this is https://matrix.org/docs/spec/proposals, which lists all the spec change proposals we’ve accumulated so far, and describes the flow for getting new proposals merged. There is a new room, #matrix-spec:matrix.org for discussion, please join if you want to get involved in this process. Check out the page and the blog post for more detail.
Next up: try to turn some of the many WIP proposals into Spec PRs…
A major topic at the Hackfest was a discussion of splitting the Fractal client into two UIs for the different behaviours of messaging apps. For anyone interested in product design thinking this is a genuinely fascinating topic. I encourage you to read “Banquets and Barbecues”, Tobias’ excellent coverage of the latest thinking. The different chat personas are very well explained and the post brings up some of the immediate technical challenges too.
Projects and Products
mxisd v1.1 RC1 available
Max reports on mxisd, a Federated Matrix Identity server for self-hosted Matrix infrastructures:
mxisd v1.1 RC1 is out, addressing various privacy issues and being more GDPR-friendly overall. Testing and feedback from the community is very much appreciated
Dimension, an open source integrations manager for matrix clients from TravisR, now supports sticker packs.
Lots of excitement at the variety of independent clients and servers able to interact over the matrix protocol. The images above show The Construct (server) and gomuks (client), and then mxhsd and Fractal. A fundamental part of matrix is to be an open protocol, so it’s great to see entirely independent implementations liaising together! While implementing mxhsd, Max has been documenting spec omissions in a branch of the spec – we’re hoping he will contribute these back!
Honourable mention for mujx, who was sending messages with nheko and Ruma a year ago!
Matrix Core team expansion
Stève – 17th May (yesterday)
Amber – 21st (Monday)
Anoa – 21st (Monday)
Hubert – 28th May
Half-Shot – 4th June
…and one more community member, hopefully (just sorting paperwork currently!)
Heads up that we’re consciously trying to hire a mix of folks from the Matrix community as well as those outside it – and avoid hiring the whole community, both to ensure diversity of viewpoint & experience in the core team, and also to avoid cannibalising folks who working on their own commercial projects on top of Matrix. We’d prefer Matrix to be as decentralised and heterogenous as possible, needless to say – and instead try to support folks in building on Matrix without hiring them into the core team (where we’d expect them to focus on the core project for everyone’s benefit). This may change once we have Matrix set up as a separate foundation, once we’ve got out of beta, of course.
#matrix-spec:matrix.org is a new room dedicated to discussions on specific matrix spec proposals, as part of the process we’re building around contributing to the matrix spec.
We’ve been able to start investing more time in advancing the Matrix Specification itself over the last month or so thanks to Ben joining the core team (and should be able to accelerate even more with uhoreg joining in a few weeks!) The first step in the new wave of work has been to provide much better infrastructure for the process of actually evolving the spec – whether that’s from changes proposed by the core team or the wider Matrix Community.
So, without further ado, we’d like to introduce https://matrix.org/docs/spec/proposals – a dashboard for all the spec change proposals we’ve accumulated so far (ignoring most of the ones which have already been merged), as well as a clearer workflow for how everyone can help improve the Matrix spec itself. Part of this is introducing a formal numbering system – e.g. MSC1228 stands for Matrix Spec Change 1228 (where 1228 is the ID of the Github issue on the github.com/matrix-org/matrix-doc/issues repository that tracks the proposal).
Please note that these are *NOT* like XEPs or RFCs – i.e. optional proposals or add-ons to the protocol; instead they are literally proposals for changes to the Matrix Spec itself. Once merged into the spec, they are only of historical interest.
Feedback would be much appreciated on this – so please head over to #matrix-spec:matrix.org and let us know how it feels and how it could do better.
This is also a major step towards properly formalising Matrix.org’s governance model – hopefully the changes above are sufficient to improve the health of the evolution of the Spec as we work towards an initial stable release later this year, and then you should expect to see a spec proposal for formal governance once we’ve (at last!) exited beta :)
Huge thanks to Ben for putting this together, and thanks to everyone who’s contributed so far to the spec – we’re looking forward to working through the backlog of proposals and turning them all into merged spec PRs!!
The talk of the town in Strasbourg this week was the arrival of Fractal Hackfest 2018! Event is still ongoing, and I’m sure they will provide a report of the progress on https://wiki.gnome.org/Hackfests/Fractal2018, though Alexandre kindly sent us a photo of the group in action
Wonderful things are happening and being discovered regarding IoT and Home Automation. uhoreg was the first to point us to tinloaf’s project to build a Matrix Chatbot component for Home Assistant:
This component allows you to send messages to matrix rooms, as well as to react to messages in matrix rooms. Reacting to commands is accomplished by firing an event when one of the configured commands is triggered.
Enthusiasm for this work led to jfred discussing his past adventures in Matrix, including a component for sibyl, ‘a python chatbot with a focus on XBMC’ allowing Matrix communication.
All this excitement led to Cadair creating #homeautomation:cadair.com, which has started a more thorough discussion. I’m eager to see more non-chat applications of Matrix, #twim:matrix.org came up with others with projects in progress.
It’s worth noting that we feel that GDPR is an excellent piece of legislation from the perspective of forcing us to think more seriously about our privacy – it has forced us to re-prioritise all sorts of long-term deficiencies in Matrix (e.g. dependence on DNS; improving User Interactive authentication; improving logout semantics etc). There’s obviously a lot of work to be done here, but hopefully it should all be worth it!
TravisR on GDPR
TravisR has also been thinking about GDPR, and how it relates to his Voyager bot. In his words:
TWIM: I’ve mostly been working on figuring out how GDPR affects t2bot.io for the last couple weeks. One of the things running on t2bot.io is Voyager – a bot that tries to join rooms it sees mentioned in people’s messages, graphing them on https://voyager.t2bot.io. With the increase in talk about GDPR and more bots starting to wander the federation, the recurring topic of whether Voyager should change its approach to finding and listing rooms.
With the current approach, Voyager reads messages and tries to find room aliases to try and join. Individual people can opt-out of this tracking to stop Voyager from reading/parsing their messages (opting back in at a later time, if desired). The room moderators can kick or ban the bot to completely remove their room from the graph, and can invoke a ‘soft kick’ if they’d like to have their room remain listed, but don’t want the bot in the room. Voyager will make sure to only show information for public rooms and will update the graph if the room flips between public and private.
If anyone has feedback on how this approach could be improved (or if it should be left as-is), please come by #voyager:t2bot.io on matrix to start the conversation.
I was surprised and excited to learn that a Russian translation of the Matrix FAQ has been produced by a group of Russian-lanugage users. ma1uta reported:
They’ve provided a PR which I will presently merge (though of course, as I don’t speak Russian I will need to trust that it’s really a translation of the FAQ!)
Projects and Updates
Matrix Ruby SDK
Ananace reports that work has begun on a Matrix SDK for Ruby ‘with a design based heavily on the Python one‘. Doing a lot of sysadmin work, Ananace has been working a lot with Ruby, and also wants to get going using the SDK to write bots.
Public catalog for matrix rooms announced: matrixstats.org. The place where you can find a lot of rooms and sort them by ratings or categories. Presented rooms are collected from different homeservers; some of rooms have detailed statistics. The homeservers itself can be explored without the registration. The project is currently in beta stage, so some features may be missing. We would be glad to receive any feedback and ideas for further improvement. Additional info available at https://matrixstats.org/about, related discussions at #matrixstats:matrix.org.
Lots of work implementing chunking for DAGs to properly solve the depth vulnerability
Much-needed work has begun to classify and present the spec proposals for the Matrix specification. We’ve tagged up the all the issues in GitHub, new page will appear on matrix.org at the start of next week if I can just stop preening the generator.
Do you have a suggestion for this series? What could we be doing more of? I have a nascent plan to do ‘deeper’ conversations with people or projects that aren’t necessarily in the normal run of things, but are interesting uses of Matrix. Does this sound like something you’d want to read on a Friday afternoon? Drop a line in #twim:matrix.org or ping benpa.
One of the riot developers, luke has a fun side-project called Journal, this being a blogging platform built on matrix.
The big news this week being that I’m going to redesign the interface to focus on the personal blog use-case, optimising for easy setup and easy blog post sharing.
And hopefully push a 1.0 release that I’d be happy to use as my own personal blog.
Worth noting that the linked project page (Journal) is itself a blog using journal (the url might give you a hint of this!)
This week kitsune has been focused on ‘GTAD (Generate Things from API Description)’, which is a code generator for C++, taking API description in Swagger/OpenAPI as it’s source. Now at version 0.5, apparently GTAD
can generate correct buildable (and runnable) code to convert data structures used in CS API between JSON and C++ – for the entirety of CS API calls. That basically means that libqmatrixclient gains (so far low-level) C++ CS API for all calls in The Spec and will follow updates to it.
This is super-exciting, especially as we are going to see discussion and progress on the spec…
Trying to work our way through the regressions which keep stacking up
Lots of work on improved UTs for Groups and Replies; discussion about flux stuff
Next up is E2E verification (at last).
Android is now Kotlin enabled!
Handling abuse of the depth parameter; short-term fix deployed and longer term coming along shortly.
This destroyed progress on the algorithmic perf improvements.
Half-Shot PRs for negotiating size limits
Amber is inbound!
We’re behind on PRs – sorry Thibaut :(
Ansible stuff is being refactored based on our experiences trying to use it in the wild
status.matrix.org is coming soon!
Loads of work happening to build the Spec Proposals website, tracking workflow for all the proposals in flux and putting them into a formal RFC-style process. It should help community participation in the spec process massively whilst we finalise the longer term governance model for Matrix.org
Also looking at publishing formal roadmaps for Synapse, Dendrite and Riot (at last!) – we have them internally these days but need to just chuck them up on the web and maintain them.
Finally, GDPR work is in full swing.
This section is scraped manually from #newrooms:matrix.org, though there has not been much activity there this week. Meanwhile, there are a couple of rooms suggested by Creak which deserve some love:
Amber Brown of the Twisted project will be joining the Matrix core team in a few weeks. She’ll be focusing on Synapse implementation work, and will bring a lot of Python experience with her. Having someone working full time on synapse will increase others bandwidth for homeserver and spec work.
Matrix Live is now available, where among other things you can see this blog post being written!
Many people will have noticed disruption in #matrix:matrix.org and #matrix-dev:matrix.org on Sunday, when a validation bug in Synapse was exploited which allowed a malicious event to be inserted into the room with ‘depth’ value that made the rooms temporarily unusable. Whilst a transient workaround was found at the time (thanks to /dev/ponies, kythyria and Po Shamil for the workaround and to Half-Shot for working on a proposed fix), we’re doing an urgent release of Synapse 0.28.1 to provide a temporary solution which will mitigate the attack across all rooms in upgraded servers and un-break affected ones. Meanwhile we have a full long-term fix on the horizon (hopefully) later this week.
This vulnerability has already been exploited in the wild; please upgrade as soon as possible.
The ‘depth’ parameter is used primarily as a way for servers to signal the intended cosmetic order of their events within a room (particularly when the room’s message graph has gaps in it due to the server being offline, or due to users backfilling old disconnected chunks of conversation). This means that affected rooms may experience message ordering problems until a full long-term fix is provided, which we’re working on currently (and tentatively involves no longer trusting ‘depth’ information from servers). For full details you can see the proposal documents for the temporary fix in 0.28.1 and the options for the imminent long-term fix.
We’d like to acknowledge jzk for identifying the vulnerability, and Max Dor for providing feedback on the fixes.
As a general reminder, Synapse is still beta (as is the Matrix spec) and the federation API particularly is still being debugged and refined and is pre-r0.0.0. For the benefit of the whole community, please disclose vulnerabilities and exploits responsibly by emailing [email protected] or DMing someone from +matrix:matrix.org. Thanks.
Changes in synapse v0.28.1 (2018-05-01)
Clamp the allowed values of event depth received over federation to be [0, 2^63 – 1]. This mitigates an attack where malicious events injected with depth = 2^63 – 1 render rooms unusable. Depth is used to determine the cosmetic ordering of events within a room, and so the ordering of events in such a room will default to using stream_ordering rather than depth (topological_ordering). This is a temporary solution to mitigate abuse in the wild, whilst a long solution is being implemented to improve how the depth parameter is used.Full details at https://docs.google.com/document/d/1I3fi2S-XnpO45qrpCsowZv8P8dHcNZ4fsBsbOW7KABI
Pin Twisted to <18.4 until we stop using the private _OpenSSLECCurve API.