Which Url should I use? Relay vs Redirect vs Main

With the recent server ip-address changes, many customers have found out the hard way that 3rd party aggregators like TuneIn and others are just not aggressive enough when it comes to maintaining their domain name services (DNS). Serious aggregators such as iTunes, Roku and Sony have more robust network operations and correctly update when we do which is why customers using those platforms don’t have as many issues.

So, why change the IP-Address anyways?

Our network is hostname centric for reasons that will become clear as you read on. Those who been with us longer remember a time when we were being attacked on an almost daily basis causing service interruptions. Since then we’ve locked things down quite a bit and part of that action was to implement ‘Floating IP‘ and ‘AnyCast DNS‘ technology.

A Floating IP is an IP address that can be instantly moved from one System to another in the same datacenter. Part of a highly available infrastructure is being able to immediately point an IP address to redundant systems.

Anycast DNS is a network addressing and routing methodology, in which datagrams from a single sender are routed to the topologically nearest node in a group of potential receivers.

Our AnyCastIP technology implements a hybrid version of both technologies where an ip-address pool is predefined with DNS hostnames that are rotated at random intervals or when malicious activity is detected which are assigned to multiple redundant systems.

Hackers looking for new victims routinely scan whole ip networks looking for vulnerable systems. Streaming technology (regardless of vendor) requires the use of open network ports in order to communicate which introduces HUGE security holes. Our Intrusion Detection Technology watches for malicious connections and if something fishy is suspected, changes the ip-address to ward off any possible attacks.

This, of course, plays havoc with those still routed in the concepts of ‘static‘ ip-addresses as each hostname must be manually updated each and every time one or the other changes in order to achieve proper functionality. Which is why customers should NEVER use the IP-Address! Ever!

Enough Geek Speak! Which Url should I use?

We offer 3 separate Urls in order to cover the widest field of application. On the BoomBox Dashboard page, customers will see 3 ‘thumbs up’ icons colored according to application in the ‘My Station‘ section:

Relay Url (Green – Website and Players):

The relay url is what customers should put in 3rd party players, on their website and generally share with listeners. It is the most compatible, the most reliable and the url never changes as long as the account is active.

The Relay Url is funneled through a highly customized Icecast stream server cluster hosted on 24 geographically dispersed network nodes) that normalizes and buffers the stream for fastest possible startup and rock solid, high quality, playback. And since Icecast (more so by far than ShoutCast) works with every known player out there, it is compatible with just about anything including computers, tablets, set-top boxes and cellphones.

Redirect Url (Blue – 3rd party Software and Aggregators)

Aggregation Services (i.e. TuneIn), Broadcasting software (i.e. SAM Broadcaster) and 3rd party tools (i.e. RadioToolBox) need to query ShoutCast’s proprietary ICY protocol in order to function correctly. The redirect url merely forwards port requests directly from our worldwide nodes to the main url, but more importantly the url never changes as long as the account is active.

Main Url (Red – Backup only)

Those having difficulties broadcasting live using 3rd party broadcasting software can use the main url as a fallback, but be advised that the url can change at any time.

BoomBox Finder Updated to 2.28

We are happy to announce the update of BoomBox 3.1 Finder File Manager Application to version 2.28. This release resolves customer reported issues and general security concerns:

  • Hardening of underlying security system which jails users to their home directory.
  • Separation of log and backup folders.
  • Expanded the max upload limit to 2 gigabytes.
  • Repaired the archive extraction routines.
  • Implementation of the Flysystem file system to facilitate the use of dynamic FTP ports and 3rd party cloud service providers like Google Drive and AWS (coming soon).
  • Repaired global music library (GML) access for all users.
  • Expanded browser support to include Contana (IE) and Opera.
  • Expanded support for mobile devices.

Re-Introduction of FTP

FTP was globally disabled a few months ago as some producer data was deleted by the malicious acts of hackers. Before re-enabling FTP we had to come up with a concept to protect users. We built a security layer into our firewall which detects and reports malicious FTP activity (like trying to delete too many files at once). Those who wish to use FTP clients may do so again and will find access information on the BoomBox Dashboard page.

Note: Another feature we developed for FTP (as it is not natively supported) is dynamic port allocation. SoniXCast FTP does not listen on the standard ports for security reasons, but will also change the listening ports at random intervals as an added security feature against hackers. It is therefore important that those who use 3rd party FTP clients check the BoomBox Dashboard for the current FTP port before trying to connect.

Implementation of Flysystem

Flysystem is a PHP agnostic file system library which enables the transparent management of diverse file systems across the network. Besides simplifying the use of the Finder application and internal volume management, Flysystem also supports the integration of third party cloud service providers like Dropbox, Google Drive and Amazon S3. BoomBox is currently being expanded to support this feature.

BoomBox 3.1 Patch for Chrome

We are happy to announce the release of the Chrome Browser Cache patch for BoomBox 3.1.

The Issue:

Chrome Browser (like Mozilla [Firefox]) uses proprietary caching to cache web pages for faster viewing. With the update to Bootstrap 4 in BoomBox 3.1, Chrome specifically ignored the standard directive to empty said cache when using forms resulting in some features not working correctly. For example: Server, AutoDJ, individual DJ and Playlist pages would not display all settings. Other Browsers like Opera, IE and Firefox were not reported as having the same issue, however the patch will affect them as well.

The Fix:

We added code that would force Chrome and other browsers (IE, Firefox) to NOT cache pages containing forms, force loading the current values from the database.

For Customers:

Customers who experienced issues changing individual settings for the Server, AutoDJ, or individual DJ’s and Playlist’s are encouraged to login to BoomBox and try again. Please report any issues to support@sonixcast.com.

Issues on CABHS30 & CABHS31

Full disclosure:

Neither cabhs30 nor cabhs31 were ever down. The ip-address on each system was automatically changed due to some type of network attack we are still investigating.

The status page uses the hostname for most systems which automatically updates whenever there is an ip-address change as do the redirects and relays. However, because cabhs30 and cabhs31 are some of our oldest servers, they were (Yes. against our own recommendations) setup using the ip-address which is why the were showing offline. That issue has been permanently resolved.

The BoomBox system is designed to be hostname (cabhs30.sonixcast.com, cabhs31.sonixcast.com) centric and using the ip-address anywhere will only cause you headaches as it WILL change at any time. The only thinkable gotcha is if you’re broadcasting live when the ip changes. Then you may notice a short interruption as the router re-routes your connection.

It is a necessary evil to keep Hackers and Trollers at bay, Folks.

AutoDJ Patch 3.1.1.08

We are happy to announce the release of BoomBox AutoDJ patch version 3.1.1.08 which resolves the following reported customer issues:

  • Unable to save existing DJ and Playlist settings
  • Unable to create Playlist
  • Invalid folder configuration
  • Track Folder not created

Customers who were having issues with the AutoDJ are encouraged to login and try again and to report any continuing or new issues to support@sonixcast.com.

AutoDJ Patch

We are happy to announce that we have released a patch that resolves reported issues with the AutoDJ.

BoomBox Patch 3.1.1 includes the following fixes:

  • Incorrect display of form values on some browsers
  • Saving of AutoDJ settings on some browsers
  • Adding and Deleting DJ’s
  • Adding and Deleting Playlists

The primary reason why some customers were having issues saving AutoDJ settings was due to undocumented changes in the JQuery library which would send only partial form data to the API. This forced BoomBox to fallback to default configuration settings resulting in some values not being recognized by the system.

Customers who had difficulties with the AutoDJ are encouraged login to BoomBox and try again. And please report any further issues immediately to the support@sonixcast.com team.

Upgrade CABHS35

As part of ongoing development we will immediately begin upgrading CABHS35.sonixcast.com to the latest version of BoomBox 3.1. Customers who have services on CABHS35 are encouraged empty their browser cache before using the control panel. In addition an email will be sent to each customer affected informing them of possible pitfalls and temporary workarounds as the ip-address will be changing. The migration will occur on ALL BoomBox servers as an operating system change is required in order to support the Liquidsoap* implementation.

Features Released in BoomBox 3.1:

  • Upgrade to Bootstrap 4.1 with a simpler more mobile and handicap friendly interface.
  • More accurate statistics and statistics collection.
  • More speed through decentralized object loading.
  • CDN enhancement with more than 20 geographic locations.
  • Global Music Library for everyone.
  • First implementation of the Liquidsoap* transcoder (Auto-DJ).
  • Integrated help and examples.

*Liquidsoap Implementation

In this initial release, Liquidsoap merely duplicates the functionality of the previous SoniXCast transcoder and new features will be announced in steps. The purpose is to allow customers time to familiarize themselves with the new system before being exposed to additional features and to allow the development team time to document fully.

Expected Issues and Pitfalls

As with any major server migration, worldwide DNS (host name to ip-address translation) replication can always be an issue. The Liquidsoap* Implementation requires a different operating system than the one we are currently using which means a new server (with a new ip-addresses) must be configured and setup for use. In addition we are migrating to virtual private servers (VPS) and floating ip-addresses in order to have more control over the hardware making for a more robust and distributed system thereby eliminating potential outages.

Customers experiencing issues using the hostname cabhs35.sonixcast.com are encouraged to use the following ip-address <sent via email> in order to broadcast live or in rare cases access the BoomBox control Panel for the next 24 hours only and then must change back to the hostname as the ip-address may change again at anytime for security purposes.

BoomBox 3.1 is a complete rewrite of the 3.0.8 system which was necessary for the Liquidsoap* Implementation and operating system change. Although thoroughly tested, in rare cases there might be bugs and users are encouraged to contact support@sonixcast.com immediately with any problems they observe.