Capital Area Central Texas UNIX Society
CACTUS Newsletter

Volume 16, Number 7 - July 2000


Contents:


June Letter from the President

by Michael Rice

We have had requests from some companies that would like to advertise their services, or advertise their need to hire Unix-savvy talent, more directly to CACTUS. I believe that this should be a fundamental service of an organization to its members.

I would like to let all our membership know that if any members or sponsors would like 5 minutes at the start of our monthly meeting to introduce themselves to please just send email to president [at] cactus <dot> org and programs [at] cactus <dot> org beforehand and then come on out to the meeting.

For job opportunities specifically we have a mailing list (jobs [at] cactus <dot> org), subscription and posting is open to any member or sponsor. We talked briefly at our last meeting about setting up a section for job posting on the web site. This may still be a possiblility, we haven't seen a huge demand for it yet (the jobs list has three people on it, I was told).

I have to assume from the amount of email I and the other officers been getting that CACTUS is doing a good job in providing services to its members. If for some reason you think that we are missing something that you might like in either services or programs, please let us know. Email officers [at] cactus <dot> org, president [at] cactus <dot> org or programs [at] cactus <dot> org directly.


Our Sponsor of the Month - LaserLink.net

By Lindsay Haisley

The highly touted Information Revolution marches on, and behind the hype and headlines are lots of folks out in the trenches with fresh energy and new and creative ideas who are actually making it happen. One such company is Our Sponsor of the Month this month, LaserLink.net, now a part of Covad Communications, which joined us in May of this year.

To find out more about LaserLink.net, I spoke with Chip Rosenthal who's the principle engineer at LaserLink.net. Chip will be remembered by a number of CACTUS members for his excellent presentation last year on Paul Vixie's MAPS spam control project in which he participated. I started by asking Chip about the description of LaserLink.net as a 'Virtual Internet Service Provider'. Chip explained, "This is a business that LaserLink started. We help organizations set up ISPs." These organizations may not have a network infrastructure, but they have affinity groups which need to connect and communicate with each other and with the rest of the Internet. LaserLink helps these organizations set up ISP services, providing everything needed for them. To the world, the Internet presence of these organizations appears as their own, but all the actual services are actually provided through LaserLink's facilities.

In March of this year, LaserLink.net was purchased by Covad, the largest Competitive Local Exchange Carrier for DSL in the US. This has moved LaserLink, now a part of Covad, into providing many IP services more closely related to broadband access. Chip noted that "One of the interesting things about both LaserLink and Covad is that neither of us sell directly to the public. That's kind of why the match was so good. We both basically sell to organizations."

I asked Chip about what's really exciting and interesting at Covad at this point. Without any hesitation, Chip led me right to the gold mine! "We're a really big Unix / Linux / Open Source shop. I think what excites us most is not only the wealth of resources that are out there these days, available for us to do our job, but also the fact that our company stands behind us and lets us contribute back. We've got one small package published on our web page. I'm about to publish another one our web page to help people do secure email. We have a problem in that we're a remote office and we're running over the public Internet and we don't have a full VPN setup, so I want to be able to secure our email, so I came up with a solution laid on top of SSH." Chip several times brought up the importance of Open Source software to Covad's work. This seems to be a theme now days.

Talking with Chip, I had a number of flashbacks to my interview with Mike Erwin of OuterNet Connection Strategies for our February newsletter. Like OuterNet, Covad/LaserLink is a young, smart company which is at the cutting edge of Internet innovation. Also like OuterNet, Covad, as Chip puts it, "lives and breathes Unix and Linux" and is a solid supporter of and contributer to the Open Source community. Images of the Earth 65 million years ago come to mind. Although the dinosaurs still rule the land, the real heritage of innovation belongs to the small mammals which hang in and will eventually prove themselves to be smart and adaptable enough to inherit the world. All we need now is a good virtual meteorite impact!

You can learn more about LaserLink and Covad at their websites at http://www.laserlink.net and http://www.covad.com.


June Meeting Minutes

by Ron Roberts

Attendance was disappointing as we actually had a tutorial and a program announced in advance of the June meeting. Michael Rice opened the meeting with the usual discussion of the CACTUS machines -- in particular mail on linux.cactus.org. Jack McKinney agreed to fix the problem as soon as he got sudo access. Gil Kloepfer mentioned that the Central Texas LAN Association (CTLA) may be moving their meeting time, which conflicts with the CACTUS meeting time. Lenny Tropiano noted that he went to the CTLA meeting before showing up at CACTUS: no one was there.

Program chair Ray Schafer then provided a tutorial on the Journeled Filesystem (JFS) that AIX uses. This shipped as the default filesystem in AIX 3.1 for the RISC 6000 in June of 1990. JFS logs all meta-data before writing to the fileystem. In the event of a crash, the log is replayed from the last checkpoint. Logredo replaces fschk, you rarely lose more than a few writes, and you almost never get an unmountable filesystem. This was demonstrated later in the program.

Ray metioned that JFS is already released to the open source community and that the Logical Volume Manager (LVM) would be released soon.

LVM was the subject of Ray's main program for which he brought an IBM 43P desktop workstation (named Junker) running AIX 4.3.3. In setting up the demo, he forgot a step and had an unbootable system to begin with. By manipulating the hard drives he was finally able to get it to boot. Don't try this at home kids.

Ray proceded to show the basic LVM commands using the command line versions, not the SMIT paths. He showed the hardrives: lsdev -Cc disks. He listed the volume groups: lsvg -l. Most members had some familiarity with LVM. They egged him on: lslv to show the logical volumes. Ray made a new volume group, created a logical volume on it, then a filesytem. He mounted the filesystem, then began copying a bunch of stuff onto it, then expanded the mounted filesystem on the fly, while he was copying files into it. No problem, and it's bundled with the OS.

Ray then cleaned it up: umount filesystem, remove logical volume, remove the new volume group (reducevg: reduce volume group). He then added the extra drive to the root volume group (default boot disk) and used copy logical volume to copy the operating system onto the other drive. Using bosboot, he told the firmware to boot off of the new drive. Then he removed the orginal boot drive from the volume group with reducevg. Ray didn't forget the next step twice: bootlist -m normal hdisk0. That was the importand step he left out when setting up the demo. At this point, he remvoded the original drive from the configuration: rmdev -l hdisk2. Though it was not a removable disk, Ray disconnected the cabling on the drive, and operating system kept right on going.

Finally, to demonstrate the robustness of JFS, Ray started copying many files from one filesytem to another and deliberately crashed the system by redirecting garbage to /dev/kmem. Rebooted system, logredo, everything mounted. Quite impressive.

Thanks to Ray Schafer and The Kernel Group (TKG) for an entertaining and machine hostile presentation!


July Meeting

by Ray Schafer

July's presentation will be on the Network Appliance's Network Attached Storage (NAS) devices. Pete Farrell, of SIS will present Network Appliances's NAS product and talk about some of it's nice features. This is a system dedicated to file serving, and as such has been built from the ground up to do just that. Because of this approach, Network Appliance was able to build the OS and file system to enhance performance and minimize administration needs. NAS allows you to consolidate your storage into one manageable box. It uses standard NFS protocols for the Unix environment and CIFS (aka SMB) protocols to talk to the Windows world. It provides features that allow it to out-perform direct attached SCSI devices.

The presentation in August will be given by Cisco Systems. Craig Tobias will discuss Cisco's Net Director, a router device that can perform load balancing between servers.


CACTUS System News

by Lindsay Haisley

On July 12 I issued the final shutdown on the CACTUS Sparc II with a "Say Goodnight, Gracie" wall message, probably echoing off the walls of an empty house. On July 13 Mike Rice picked up the box, keyboard and monitor from Realtime Communications' downtown office. An era has ended. The Sparc II has been with us since the early 90s, as has Realtime's sponsorship colocation of the box. Both are now ended and we move on into the future with our fast-as-a-greased-pig dual PII Linux box hosted at OuterNet Connection Strategies and our very capable Sparc 10 hosted at Jump.Net.

The Sparc II is technically the property of Sun Microsystems and we're obligated offer it back to them. If they decline the offer, the box will be available to our membership, and in this event, I'd suggest that we might want to auction it off at a future meeting.

If you are a paid-up CACTUS member you should already have an account on both linux.cactus.org and sparc.cactus.org. If you find that you don't please contact our membership chairman, Luis Basto at membership [at] cactus <dot> org and bring the matter to his attention.

If you need any utilities or services on either the Linux box or the SPARC 10 which are not already installed, please contact the system administrators at admin [at] cactus <dot> org and one of them will be glad to install the requested software for you. For utilities which might be of use to more than one member, this is much better than having everyone compile their own local versions - for obvious reasons.


Membership

By Luis Basto

Nothing very exciting happened this month.

Oh yes, Thanks to Lindsay Haisley and Luis Basto for renewing their membership.

Also, I accidentally stumbled onto the grand opening celebration of OuterNet. They and three other internet flavored companies are moving into new, larger corporate HQ across the parking lot from their former location. Thanks to Charles Scott for letting me into the building and giving me a quick tour. They've got lots of room for expansion, hosting web servers, colocation, and such. linux.cactus.org is also being moved into another lab.

[Editor's Note: OuterNet's grand opening was also an opportunity for them to publicly announce their acquisition by Aperian (http://www.aperian.com) which will give them a much broader presence on the national Internet scene.]

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