Capital Area Central Texas UNIX Society
CACTUS Newsletter

Volume 16, Number 4 - April 2000


April Letter from the President

In the vein of trying a new pizza place each month, we'll try Peter Piper pizza in April. After that we may pick one pizza place to stick with for a while, unless someone has a suggestion for other dinner ideas.

The Sparc2 is still a high priority, unfortunately all of the admins have been too busy this past month to take care of it. Look for announcements in the upcoming weeks as we manage to clear our schedules enough to take care of CACTUS business. As always, come to the meetings, it is the best way for you to have an effect on this group, and for this group to help meet your expectations of it.

Michael Rice
president [at] cactus <dot> org

Our Sponsor of the Month - OuterNet Connection Strategies

By Lindsay Haisley

OuterNet Connection Strategies is the second in our series of featured CACTUS sponsors. OuterNet, along with Real/Time Communications and JumpNet, is one of the companies hosting CACTUS's 3 online systems. I spoke last week with Mike Erwin, president of OuterNet, about their company and their plans.

OuterNet's specialty is in meeting the outsourcing and engineering needs of business customers, both regionally and soon on a national scale, especially with regard to Internet connectivity - often called 'professional services' in the trade press. "People hire us and say 'we'd like to design some connectivity between here and Washington, and we have satellite offices, and we need a VPN, etc.'" says Mike. OuterNet provides the solutions.

As far as Virtual Private Networks are concerned, OuterNet literally "wrote the book." Charlie Scott, Paul Wolfe and Mike Erwin, all principals at OuternNet, are the authors of the definitive O'Reilly publication on the subject. The book is now about to go to its 3rd edition, notable for it's much stronger focus on Open Source VPN solutions than previous editions.

While many ISPs and businesses which use Unix rely on Solaris, BSDI or some other proprietary Unix, OuterNet has chosen to stick with Open Source. Most of their operations run on Linux boxes, and Apache is, of course, their web server platform of choice. "It's just the community" says Mike Erwin. "It's the people that support Open Source. [Open Source is] being beaten down by places like Microsoft right now, and even by large IS and IT managers around the world. They say you don't have the kind of support you can get from Microsoft, or from Berkeley, or whatever. They need to wake up and smell the coffee! It's the other way around. You'd rather have 750,000 developers dealing with something than essentially one giant conglomerate forcing it down your throat. We're basically much happier with using Open Source stuff. We're developers by heart."

OuterNet is a young company, founded in 1995 by a group of young engineers who saw a viable market niche in providing Internet service solutions for businesses. They're small - only 15 people, of whom 12 are technical staff. Their strong bias toward the hands-on technical end of the business results, Mike feels, in OuterNet frequently getting overlooked. "We're technology guys. We're not sales and marketing guys." says Mike. "We appeal to technology people. They feel very comfortable with us. We have very high customer loyalty and high employee retention." They do their best, with evident success, to give their customers what they want and to provide a fun work environment for their employees.

When I asked Mike about OuterNet's future plans, he smiled broadly and kept his aces up his sleeve. "We have some plans in the works right now that I wish I could divulge" he said, but what he did reveal sounds exciting. We can expect some major announcements from OuterNet during the next few months on their expansion. They are definitely taking their vision of their place in the high-tech marketplace onto the national scene. "Outsourcing of Internet professional services is huge" says Mike. "We'd like to expand our professional services division across the United States. A lot of the biggest companies actually maintain staff, and don't have the expertise that they need. So they call us in." Along with plans for their company's professional presence in a larger market, they are moving their offices and data center from office suites in a large office building to a building of their own, currently under construction adjacent to their present location at Steck and Shoal Creek. We can expect to hear more from and about these folks. CACTUS is fortunate to have them as a sponsor.

You can visit OuterNet's website on the Internet at

April Meeting

As I was putting together the newsletter, email arrived from Ray Schafer, our Programs person, regarding the program for our April meeting. Murphy's law has done its work, the chaos of the Universe has been increased, and we have no presentor for Thursday's meeting. Jack or Lindsay may pull together a presentation, but at press time there was still no announced program. Please show up anyway. Some of our most interesting meetings have been our 'open' meetings at which general discussion replaced a formal program.


By Luis Basto

We welcome Darrell Lack as the newest member of CACTUS. We'd like to thank Lenny Tropiano, Brian Sinclair, Johnny Long, John Kingman, and Don Kassebaum for renewing their membership.


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

You can also pay in person at the general meetings. 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 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 map 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
                                                  | |     | to Braker Lane
                                   ---------------+ |
                                   -+ /-----------+ |
                                    | |           | |
                                    | +--------+  | |
                                    |  Parking |  | |
                                    |    Lot   |  | |
                                    +----------+  | |
                                                  | |
                           +------------+         | |
                           |            | +-------+ |
                           |            | |   +---+ |
                           |            | |   |   | | Rutland
                           |    ARL     | |   |   | +---------
                           |            | |   |   | +---------
                           |            | |   +---+ |
                           |            | +---+---+ |
                           +------------+         | |  |
                                                  | |  | South
                                                  | |  | to US 183
                                                  | |  v