Capital Area Central Texas UNIX Society
CACTUS Newsletter

Volume 17, Number 4 - April 2001


April Meeting Program - TKG's AutoTrace comprehensive debugging tool

We're resorting this month to last minute everything. Blame the President, I know I do.

Long time member and Linux expert, Jack McKinney offered to have his company, TKG, talk about one of their new products called AutoTrace (

A Note from the President

by Michael Rice

I'm very glad everyone could make it last month for the LVM presentation. Thanks very much to Jack McKinney for stepping up and presenting to us. Jack seems to have lots of rabbits in his hat these days, if anyone wants to see a specific color rabbit, be sure to send your requests to programs [at] cactus <dot> org.

In the downward spiralling marketplace, and with so many companies going out of business or downsizing, it should be a very good thing to get out of the house and mingle with other technologists at least a little each month. This month resolve to make it a CACTUS meeting. See you all there!

For those of you watching to see what becomes of our hardware that is in my care, you'll note that I still have the Sparc2, and an announcement I hope to make with Jack McKinney's help tomorrow is that the Network Appliance Filer is back in our hands and working. The techs at NetApp donated yet more of their time to look at what might have been wrong with it and pronounced it working.

March Meeting Report

by Lindsay Haisley

CACTUS President Michael Rice started the meeting with the announcement that he had picked up the SPARC 10 from Jump.Net. The machine is currently off-line but hopefully will find a sponsor to co-locate it during the coming months.

Future speakers were discussed. Scribe Lindsay Haisley had contacted Eric Raymond but as of the March meeting hadn't heard back from him. Programs chair Ray Schafer will try to get Bruce Sterling for a June or July meeting, possibly also John Quarterman.

Member at Large Gil Kloepfer discussed his idea of a Unix program on ACTV, an idea which he'd presented earlier at the officer's meeting.

Michael once again brought up the question of the disposition of our boat anchor.... er.., SPARC II and brought up the idea, once again, of a raffle. No decision was made. Member at Large Jack McKinney suggested that it be given to the person who had served longest as CACTUS president, but the idea was discouraged by the membership present. Michael also announced that our Network Appliance file server had gone back to Network Appliance for review and possible repair.

Ray Schafer solicited ideas and energy toward addressing the 'digital divide'. The members present were in general agreement that this was altogether a good idea, but no further discussion or planning took place.

Lindsay Haisley announced once again the forthcoming upgrade of our linux box to Debian 2.2.

We moved on to an excellent presentation by Jack McKinney on the Linux Logical Volume Management system with many questions and answers along the way. Pizza was, as usual, delicious, with soft drinks from the newly purchased large cooler. Thanks to Johnny Long for taking care of us with this. Publicity Chair M.H. Kahn, who had promised a "non-pizza" food item showed up with an ample supply of donuts.

CACTUS System News

by Lindsay Haisley

Our Linux box, co-located at Outernet/Aperian, has been upgraded to Debian GNU/Linux distribution version 2.2, a.k.a. "potato". The quality of the distribution is such that the only glitches which occurred were the result of "operator error$" rather than flaws in the software. The entire upgrade was done using the Debian apt facility via the Internet. The purpose of the upgrade is to prevent the recurrence of the situation we had with the Sparc II, on which the OS was seldom if ever upgraded and security holes remained unplugged. As everyone knows, the Sparc II finally became like an old abandoned house, frequently inhabited (and often vandalized) by homeless crackers.

The only glitch of note in the upgrade involved a significant change in the layout of bind, for which recent distributions of Debian GNU/Linux locate named.conf files in /etc/bind rather than /etc. All references in named.conf to zone files must now be fully pathed. Zone files are by default now located in /etc/bind rather than /var/named. Due to being overly busy and inattentive to details, I let the manual adjustment of DNS details on the box slide for a day, and DNS was down for the duration. We've had no backup name service since the removal of the Sparc 10 from Jump.Net, so and all other domains hosted on the box were dark to the universe. My sincere apologies to CACTUS member Gil Kloepfer, who was relying on the box for backup DNS for his domains, and to any other members who were inconvenienced during the DNS outage.

We're still not up to Linux kernel 2.2.x on An attempt to upgrade the kernel resulted in a kernel panic and the box had to be manually rebooted. The problem apparently involves the software RAID system, which may need to be disabled for the kernel upgrade and then reconfigured on the new kernel. Jack McKinney is our RAID expert and we'll be getting him involved at some point soon to help with the upgrade. The box is currently running Linux kernel 2.0.36, which, although an excellent and stable kernel, is now considered "obsolete".

In other news, our domain,, is now registered with CASDNS,, rather than with Network Solutions, Inc. CAS (for Computer Analytical Systems) is located in Louisville, KY and provides domain name registration services as a Council of Registrars (CORE) member. They're a small company, very competent and responsive. I've been working with them for a couple of years and if necessary I can almost always reach the top person in their registration service within a few seconds on the phone. No voice mail hell with these folks! I approached them about registering our domain for two years on a sponsorship basis, to which they readily agreed, so you'll find a listing for them in the "Friends of CACTUS" section with full information on reaching them. They must be doing something right! I talked with their main registration person early this month and he was up to his ears in domain name transfer requests from people fleeing NSI.

My company, FMP Computer Services, is currently providing a 2nd DNS server for on which is slaving DNS from When we get the Sparc 10 back on line, we can either move our 2nd name service to it, or leave it at FMP and set up the Sparc 10 as a 3rd name server. I am also listed as the tech/zone contact for the domain, and we may want to change this back to hostmaster [at] cactus <dot> org at some point. It will be a pleasure to work with the people at CASDNS after some of the tangled negotiations on changes we and others have had working through Network Solutions!


By Luis Basto

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

Significant Contributing Sponsors

Applied Research Laboratories/University of Texas at Austin
(Gil Kloepfer, Computer Science Division (CSD), 835-3771, gil [at] arlut <dot> utexas <dot> edu)
Internet service provider.

CACTUS Sponsors

Auspex Systems
(Paul Levine, plevine [at] auspex <dot> com
Fastest reliable network fileservers.
Flametree Corporation
(David Maynard, 670-4090, dpm [at] flametree <dot> com)
Internet and software consulting.
(Chip Rosenthal)
Multi Media Arts (MMA)
(Lee Williams, 451-7191)
Publisher of instructional materials for classroom and independent study.

Friends of CACTUS

Applied Formal Methods, Inc.
(Susan Gerhart, 794-9732, gerhart [at] cactus <dot> org)
Austin Code Works
(Scott Guthery, 258-0785, info [at] acw <dot> com)
(Warren Brown, (800) 977-3475), wlb [at] cas-com <dot> net)
A top-level domain name registrar, CORE member.
(Maurine Mecer, 502-0190 [FAX 502-0287])
Professional recruiting.
Compaq Computer Corporation
(Ron Boerger, 432-8000)
Provider of scalable, high availability systems.
EDP Contract Services
(Mark Grabenhorst, 346-1040) Professional recruiting.
Hewlett Packard
(Bill Sumrall, 338-7221)
(Marilyn Harper)
Houston's Unix Users Group.
Network Appliance Corporation
(Frank Mozina, fmozina [at] netapp <dot> com)
O'Keefe Search
Professional recuiting.
Sailaway System Design
(Chris J Johnson, 447-5243)
(Kathy O'Brien, obrien [at] asc <dot> slb <dot> com)
Technical services and products in over 100 countries.
Silicon Graphics
(Don Williams, 346-9342)
Solid Systems
(Pete Farrell, 442-2222)
Sterling Infomation Group
(Darrell Hanshaw, 344-1005, dhanshaw [at] sterinfo <dot> com)
Sun Microsystems
(Rick Taylor)
Supplier of Unix client-server computing solutions.
Texas Internet Consulting
(Smoot Carl-Mitchell, 451-6176, smoot [at] tic <dot> com)
TCP/IP networking, Unix, and open systems standards.
A Sun Authorized Training Center and a Hardware Reseller.
Unison Software
(Shelley St. John, 478-0611)
Supplier of networked systems management solutions.
UT Computer Science Department
(Patti Spencer)
UT Computation Center
(Mike Cerda, 471-3241, cerda [at] uts <dot> cc <dot> utexas <dot> edu)

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