Capital Area Central Texas UNIX Society
CACTUS Newsletter

Volume 14, Number 7 - July 1998


July 16th CACTUS Meeting

About July's Presentation

John Quarterman is the president of Matrix Information and Directory Services, Inc. (MIDS) that produces a variety of statistical reports concerning Internet performance. John will will discuss Internet monitoring and the Internet Weather Report (IWR) that are featured at the MIDS web site ( These reports are produced using UNIX-based systems, with Perl scripts and the Berkeley database API used to organize the data.

From The Editor

by Gil Kloepfer

Last month's newsletter requested feedback about whether we should continue to distribute a printed newsletter by mail. So far there has been very little feedback on this subject. All of the feedback I have received in e-mail and noted at the meeting has indicated that the membership would like the newsletter to be entriely electronic rather than printed. Because of the low response, I am once again asking for feedback on this subject. If the responses continue on a similar path, then I will recommend to the membership and officers at the August meeting that the printed newsletter be discontinued beginning with the September newsletter.

Someone at the last meeting also noted that while the printed newsletter is a membership privilege (for those who have paid their membership dues), we have been very liberal about who the electronic newsletter is distributed to. It has been my opinion that non-member access to the newsletter has helped make the community at large aware of the activities at CACTUS, and motivates more people to join and get involved. I would appreciate your feedback on this topic as well. Yes, folks, CACTUS is really more than pizza and soft drinks!

June Meeting Report

by Ron Roberts

The official head cound was twenty, but we had some ARLers who didn't sign in as guests. The pizza [with plates] and soda was abundant. President Jack McKinney was absent because he was moving into a new home. Lindsay Haisley assumed the chair, greeted everyone and made some announcements. Our Webmaster, Roger is still not getting email since we upgraded to qmail. Lindsay discovered that our perl membership program has to be run manually to update the membership statistics, and therefore, his earlier counts were wrong: CACTUS currently has 65 active members. He's also going to have to manually send out mail to recently expired accounts.

In other CACTUS.ORG news, the Air Warrior Web page will be archived and removed soon. We should have enough space to install emacs! Our aliases have been reconfigured, so that admin [at] cactus <dot> org will reach the same group that officers [at] cactus <dot> org did--without the redundancies.

Lindsay then welcomed Jonathan Abbey from ARL who explained Ganymede (also called GASH2) a system administration tool. Ganymede is a portable, customizable directory management system. Work on it's predessor, GASH, was begun before Tivoli was selling TME 10, or Novell Directory Services, or Computer Associates' tools were available.

Jonathan described the problems: the network needs centralized management information, and organizations need distributed control. The solution is directory management systems and tools. Version 1, GASH, was presented at LISA in 1994. Ganymede is an extention of that early work, but a client-server implementation with Java, RMI, and multi-user, multi-threaded GUI. It feeds DNS, NIS, etc., rebuilds and pushes the changes throughout the network. It's year 2K compliant and handles IP6. It's also transaction based with a two phase commit.

Ganymede users can have multiple personas, which can each have multiple roles--different levels of authoriztion for the same login ID. The basic server tasks are for expiration, warning and consolidation. You can cusomize the server by writing additional Java objects. You can also extend the schema of the database.

The client part runs on the Java Virtual Machine (JVM) 1.15 and greater. They have them running on Windoze 95, WinNT, Solaris, and FreeBSD. It looks very much like a Web browser. With the help of Mike Mulvaney, Jonathan proceeded to give a live demo--on the real ARL network. He was careful not to divulge too much to our inquiring eyes.

The demo went surprisingly well--it worked as expected. Rather than an hour glass, it displayed an animated GIF of a guy busting rock with a pick axe to indicate it was working. They edited the schema to add Web page to the user object. About 2,000 systems are managed using only a 4.2 megabyte database. While performance has been a problem, it has been stable. It's only crashed twice in 1998. That's not too bad for something that's being constantly developed and enhanced.

The developer release of Ganymede is available for ftp:

Thanks to ARL, Mike Mulvaney, and Jonathan Abbey for a most interesting presentation.

CACTUS.ORG System News

by Lindsay Haisley


As promised for some months, we've set up several new mailing lists for the use of CACTUS members. These lists are:

These lists are run on the system using the ezmlm mailing list manager which makes subscribing and unsubscribing to lists very ez indeed. Email to an address created by appending "-subscribe" or "-unsubscribe" to any of the list names above produces the expected result. The content of the message is discarded, so a blank e-mail to the appropriate address will do the job. To summarize, e- mail to:

cactus-news-subscribe [at] cactus <dot> org   subscribes you to cactus-news
jobs-subscribe [at] cactus <dot> org          subscribes you to jobs
members-subscribe [at] cactus <dot> org       subscribes you to members

You'll be sent a confirmation request by ezmlm, to which you need only reply. The correct magic is supplied in the From: address in the confirmation request you received, so as with your original request, all the work is done by the address and the body of your reply is ignored.

Unlike other mailing list managers, ezmlm allows users to set up their own private mailing lists complete with automated subscription and unsubscription and other standard MLM features. The man pages for ezmlm are installed on in /usr/local/man and provide complete, although somewhat "distributed" documentation of ezmlm. Start with man 5 ezmlm and man 1 ezmlm-make. The ezmlm binaries are in /usr/local/bin/ezmlm. We plan to provide a tutorial on ezmlm at a CACTUS meeting during the next few months.

If you have questions, send them to staff [at] cactus <dot> org.


We're making a number of improvements to and trying to update as much of the old software on it as possible, consistent with the limitations of the system itself. To maximize our disk space and make this resource as valuable as possible to current CACTUS members, we'll be going through the membership database and eliminating or restricting access to all accounts belonging to expired members. Accounts over 6 months old will have their home directories compressed or archived. Accounts over a year old will be removed, along with the filespace assigned to them. Unfortunately, former CACTUS members who may be affected by this are no longer receiving the newsletter and won't be reading this, so we'll be making an effort to contact expired members by e-mail and encourage them to rejoin.


To renew your membership, please send check or money order payable to CACTUS ($25/yr for regular membership and $96/yr for corporate sponsorship):

PO BOX 9786
AUSTIN, TX 78766-9786

You can also pay in person at the general meetings. The date on the upper right hand of the newsletter mailing label indicates when your membership expires. Please direct any inquiries or address changes to membership [at] cactus <dot> org.

CACTUS Officers

Contact Information

CACTUS Sponsors

CACTUS Meeting Location: Applied Research Labs

CACTUS meets on the third Thursday of each month at the UT Applied Research Labs (ARL) in the JJ (Jake) Pickle Research Campus (JJ PRC). We'll meet in the main auditorium located directly behind the guard's desk and main lobby.

Please do not show up earlier than 6:20 pm on the specified day. Enter through the main entrance at 10000 Burnet Road for ARL:UT. Tell the guard that you are here for the CACTUS meeting. You will be required to sign a log book, but not required to wear a badge. The guards will direct you to the auditorium entrance. Limited parking in the front of the building is available, but more extensive parking is available in the large parking lot just north of the ARL building. After 6:30 pm, all entrances to JJ PRC, except for the Burnet Road entrance, are closed and locked. You can still enter the parking lot in front of the ARL building. No parking tags are necessary after 6:00 pm. See maps for further details.

Online maps are available at:

As always, please leave the facility as you saw it when you arrived. So let's clean up all pizza and soda items before we leave. Thanks and hope to see all of you there.

Map to the Monthly CACTUS Meeting

                                            | |     ^
  <---- to MOPAC                            | |     |
                                            | |     | North
                                            | | B   | to Braker Lane
                             ---------------+ | U
                             -+ /-----------+ | R
                              | |           | | N
                              | +--------+  | | E
                              |  Parking |  | | T
                              |    Lot   |  | |
                              +----------+  | | R
                                            | | D
                     +------------+         | |
                     |            | +-------+ |
                     |            | |   +---+ |
                     |            | |   |   | | Rutland
                     |    ARL     | |   |   | +---------
                     |            | |   |   | +---------
                     |            | |   +---+ |
                     |            | +---+---+ |
                     +------------+         | |  |
                                            | |  | South
                                            | |  | to US 183
                                            | |  v