Capital Area Central Texas UNIX Society
CACTUS Newsletter

Volume 18, Number 1 - January 2002


January Meeting Program

We'll elect officers for the 2002 year. Ron Roberts will present a tutorial on RedHat Linux 7.1 (and 7.2) workstation clients in a Solaris NIS and automount environment.

The Network Appliciance F210 fileserver will be offered to anyone who wants to learn how to use OnTap [TM].

December Meeting Report

by Lindsay Haisley

The CACTUS meeting in December was once again an open discussion with no formal program. The discussion was lively and interesting, much of it as usual focused on the sorry state of the colocation/hosting industry in general and on the future of CACTUS. Gil Kloepfer opened discussion of whether or not we really need to have two boxes hosted and run at different locations. The original idea behind this was to have different flavors of Unix available for CACTUS members to work on and learn about, however with the increasing difficulty of finding tech-friendly colocation and the declining membership in CACTUS, there may be reason to rethink this plan.

MH Kahn opined that if we are going to continue to have any online systems at all running, we need to have a better system for maintaining them. In particular, someone needs to be the "official" sysadmin for each box and be responsible for keeping it up, and for overseeing any work done by others on it. The idea met with general approval and CACTUS member Ray Solanitz volunteered to be the administrator for the Sparc 10. Lindsay Haisley volunteered to be the sysadmin for the Linux box, since he has committed to upgrading the OS on it and the box is currently colocated at the office of his company, FMP Computer Services.

Lindsay mentioned the deteriorating situation at Fourthstage, former colocation host of our Linux box, and told about the collective that Mike Erwin, Charlie Scott, and other former OuterNet principals currenty have put together for their own personal and future hosting use. Gil proposed that CACTUS might want to get together a colocation collective of some sort. The suggestion was made that we might want to contact Mike Erwin and see if there was some possibility of synergy between our interests and endeavors. Lindsay subsequently talked to Mike Erwin on this subject, and Mike said that he'd be pleased to talk with anyone from CACTUS who might be interested in such a collaboration.

CACTUS System News

by Lindsay Haisley

Well we're down but not out on the CACTUS Linux box, and not even "down" in the IT sense. I got a moderately urgent call from Mike Erwin in December regarding the situation with Fourthstage Technologies. OuterNet Connection Strategies was our original hosting sponsor for the system. OuterNet was consumed by Aperian, which was subsequently absorbed into Fourthstage Technologies. Mike, Charlie Scott and a number of other friends of CACTUS hung in through the entire feeding frenzy, but it appears that uncertainty is mounting about the future of Fourthstage, and Mike advised us to pick up the box ASAP to keep it out of "harm's way". This was duly done on Dec. 18, with apologies to anyone who was caught off guard by the rather sudden shutdown of the system. The box was soon running again at IP address on the network of my company FMP Computer Services.

Prior to the move, we had a bit of trouble with yet another break-in on, this one using a relatively recently exploited vulnerability in the SSH1 CRC-32 compensation attack detector. The intruder created a new account with root privs, however the break-in was detected relatively quickly and it looks as if no great harm was done. Nonetheless, the system is scheduled for a rebuild and update (overdue in any event) which should refresh any potentially compromised binaries. As of this writing, there have been no indications of further intrusions on the system. I should note that this particular exploit deserves everyone's attention as it's becoming fairly common. After the crack on, I took down sshd on both my Linux servers at FMP, and replaced it (I thought) with one not vulnerable to the exploit. It seems that I made a typo when setting up my configure parameters for the build, and the sshd binary I restarted after I was done was, in fact, the old, vulnerable one. Not two weeks passed before I got hit as well and had to waste a day tracking down root kits and other stuff, including the identity of the cracker who left a .bash_history in the system root directory with an ftp access pointing directly to his personal stash of cracking tools. I sent him an email from god [at] heaven <dot> org stating that he was about to lose his hosting and mail account, and a few phone calls later his hosting and his domain were indeed history. Script kiddies! Bah!

You can learn more about the SSH CRC32 attack detection code vulnerability at

The Editiod Posts

By Ron Roberts

Times are hard. This is the first of volume 18 of the CACTUS newsletter. That's eighteen years this organization has provided a focal point for open systems operating systems. Times have changed, but we still have some operating capital. Accountants call it "good will." We still have our domain, email services and a WEB page. Thanks to Lindsay Haisley, we're still online.

We have a charter, which explains how to suspend the rules. We are not tax-exempt, which is a sorrow and a blessing. The blessing is that we can change. We can amend the charter without consulting lawyers or the government. We should consider changing. Perhaps we could scale back our meetings. Perhaps we can use our spiritual muscle to help form a colocation cooperative. Maybe we could reformulate the organization to attract more open source folks.

Let's keep an open mind like our APIs!


By Luis Basto

We would like to thank Lenny Tropiano, Mike Shaw, and Bob Izenberg 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

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.
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.
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.
(John OKeefe, john [at] okeefesearch <dot> com, 512-658-9224 or 888-446-2137)
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