Capital Area Central Texas UNIX Society
CACTUS Newsletter

Volume 18, Number 2- February 2002


February Meeting Program

Mike Erwin and Scott Chrestman are scheduled to speak on computer forensics and security. Chip Rosenthal will talk about the dispute over his continued use of the domain name. The Network Appliance F210 that NetApps donated will be voted off the island if nobody claims it.

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  • January Meeting Report

    Lindsay Haisley

    The January CACTUS meeting was a busy one, and much ground was covered. Ron Roberts ran the formal meeting, and everyone present had a lot to offer.

    Our NetApps box is apparently history. As always, yesterday's state-of-the-art technology is today's boat anchor. Johnny Long, who currently has possession of the box, offered it to a anyone who could provide it with a new home - good, bad or indifferent. There were no takers, so it may eventually find its way to Goodwill. Many thanks, none the less, to the NetApps folks for giving us the opportunity to play with it. If you want the unit, contact Johnny by email.

    I brought up the issue of the Tripplite UPS for, as said UPS appears to have gone beyond reasonable hope of repair, along with its batteries. My request for authorization to buy a new APC BackUPS was tabled in the light of the generous donation of a UPS from Bob Izenberg. The UPS is an IBM - a Tripplite clone, apparently - which is currently being tested and readied for deployment. At this time, is running without a UPS.

    Luis Basto, our membership chair, reported that we currently have about 30 regular members and 5 sponsor members. This is not a lot, but CACTUS Treasurer Johnny Long tells us that CACTUS is still solvent, and that what with our current bank balance and expected income from membership renewals, we should be able to afford pizza at meetings for at least the duration of 2002.

    The main business of the evening was the annual election of CACTUS officers. Although the CACTUS bylaws prohibit any officer from serving more than two consecutive terms in the same office, the members present voted unanimously to suspend the rules and allow Johnny Long to serve a 3rd term as CACTUS Treasurer. The same decision was made regarding the nomination of Luis Basto to serve a 3rd term as our Membership Chair.

    The slate of officers elected for 2002 is as follows:

    MH Kahn also agreed to serve as our publicity chairperson, and will remain the webmaster of the CACTUS website.

    We discussed the possibility of making another bulk book order from O'Reilly, as has been done in the past. Someone pointed out that it's possible to order O'Reilly titles from at very close to the same discount (38% - 40%) as CACTUS members got on our past bulk book orders. It was decided that considering that CACTUS membership has declined since the last book order, and that Tom Painter, who managed earlier O'Reilly book orders, is still holding unclaimed books, another book order is not called for at this time.

    Ray Schafer, our former Program Chair and new President, discussed the planned visit of Eric Raymond in June. It looks as if CACTUS will be joining with other interested groups in Austin to provide a venue for Eric to speak. This should provide us with a much needed opportunity to make CACTUS known to others in the Austin technical community and expand our membership base.

    Once the formal business of the evening was over, Ron Roberts did a very nice presentation of NIS on Red Hat Linux v7.1.

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  • Our Newsletter E-mail List

    We're trying to keep the mailing list for the CACTUS newsletter up to date and make sure that everyone who's a member gets a copy of it. If you use more than one email address, our efforts may result in your getting multiple copies of the newsletter. If this is the case, you can easily unsubscribe any address at which you don't want to receive the newsletter as follows.

    Assume you're getting the newsletter at the address oh_no [at] not <dot> here <dot> gov and you don't want to receive it at this address. Send a blank email to the following address

    cactus-news-unsubscribe-oh_no=not <dot> here <dot> gov [at] lists <dot> cactus <dot> org

    Note that the address you want to unsubscribe is included in this address, with the "@" symbol replaced with an equal sign. You'll get a confirmation request sent to oh_no [at] not <dot> here <dot> gov asking if you really want to unsubscribe. Just reply to this confirmation and it's a done deal.

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  • CACTUS System News

    Lindsay Haisley

    As of Feb 17 has a working Linux 2.2 kernel. We are poised to upgrade the entire distribution to Debian testing (a.k.a. woody). Linux 2.4.17 has been compiled but needs further tweaking, and installation of this kernel will wait until the distribution has been upgraded. Full installation of software RAID for kernel 2.4.17 will follow. This will probably be done during the 1st week in March. Pending further work and study, we're back running software RAID-1 under kernel 2.0.36.
    If you have an account on the box, please be prepared for reboots on relatively short notice.

    We've rearranged our mailing lists somewhat. The list members [at] lists <dot> cactus <dot> org was originally intended as an open forum list for CACTUS members to communicate with one another, however it has languished for some years virtually unused with only a few subscribers and no traffic. We've added to it the addresses of all current members and made it a broadcast list which will be used to communicate important information to CACTUS members, and only to CACTUS members. It's separate from the newsletter list (cactus-news [at] lists <dot> cactus <dot> org) which goes out to many non-members as well.

    Watch this space next month for tips on how to use your favorite POP3 or shell e-mail client to check your CACTUS mailbox.

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  • Annual CACTUS Board Meeting Report

    The CACTUS Board of Directors met at ARL on January 31. The meeting was lively and a number of important changes were made to the way we do business under the CACTUS bylaws.


    Under the CACTUS bylaws, prior to this Board meeting, the CACTUS officers consisted of the President, Treasurer, Scribe, Program Director, Newsletter Editor, Public Relations Director and Membership Director. The Board of Directors, on the other hand, which has authority to modify the bylaws and make basic decisions on the way CACTUS operates, consisted of the President, Treasurer, Scribe, prior years President and two (additional) members-at-large.

    It was decided without objection that henceforth these two bodies shall be the same, and that all officers shall be members of the Board of Directors, so the Newsletter Editor, Membership Director and Public Relations Director are now voting members of the Board of Directors.


    Much discussion was given to the issue of what shall constitute a quorum of the Board of Directors for the purpose of amending the CACTUS bylaws. The bylaws specify that a two thirds vote of the Board shall be required for this purpose. Ron Roberts moved to change this to 50%. The final decision of the Board acknowledges changes in technology since our bylaws were written, and a procedure was established for making decisions via online meetings, such as the CACTUS officers' mailing list.

    It was decided that Board decisions relating to the CACTUS bylaws may be made by a vote of Board members online. An official proposal shall be circulated among all Board members online, and may be initiated by any Board member. Such a proposal must have 1 online second, and unless otherwise stated, a vote on the proposal shall be conducted one week after said proposal has been introduced, following discussion conducted in the same online venue. Board members may vote at any time prior to this, and a quorum online shall consist of two thirds of the current Board members. The one-week discussion period prior to a vote may be shortened or lengthened by proposal, second and vote among Board members, but shall remain at one week unless and until such a change has been approved by two thirds of the current Board.

    For Board meetings at which Board members are physically present, a quorum shall consist of 51% of the current Board members.


    Because the number of CACTUS members had fallen considerably over the past few years, the members of the Board of Directors often constitute a majority of the voting members at meetings, including the January meeting at which elections are held. The Board voted to modify the bylaws to suspend term limits for CACTUS officers unless the number of members present at an election equals or exceeds three times the number of positions to be filled. Previously, officers were prohibited from serving more than two consecutive terms in the same office.


    The motion was made and passed to authorize spending of up to $1000 to bring Eric Raymond in in June. The date of this is tenatively on or near June 11. This shall go toward his plane fare, lodging or toward any other expense required to make his visit positive and productive. Unless and until another venue is obtained, Eric's presentation is scheduled to be at ARL.

    General discussion and planning followed. CACTUS President Ray Schafer is eager to boost CACTUS membership and the Board brainstormed about various ways of getting information about CACTUS out to the local technical community. It was agreed that both for our February presentation, and for our June presentation by Eric Raymond, we need to get the word out more widely than has usually the case for CACTUS meetings. Publicity Chair MH Kahn will get in touch with Austin area technical publications and Ray Schafer will send special notices out to our membership mailing list. Additionally, extra efforts will be made by officers and others to get information in to Bob Izenberg, our newsletter editor, in time for him to publish our electronic newsletter no later than 1 week prior to our meetings.
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  • Editorial

    Bob Izenberg

    The first edition of the book now known as Robert's' Rules of Order was published 126 years ago this month. The tenth edition, published in 2000, says precious little about cell phones, computer networks or conference bridges. Yet those technologies are the methods that individuals and organizations use to communicate today. The challenge that they pose for those that employ them is "How effective is the communication?"
    The reality of a democratic society with more interest in the outcome than the process of decision-making is one that holds back both organizations and nations. General Robert's literal and intellectual successors are grappling with the problem of how to build an informed majority when (for whatever reason) the majority can't or won't attend the meetings.
    The CACTUS Board is looking at this problem, starting with the Board itself. Attendance won't be measured by being physically present at public or non-public meetings. It could be said that an organization composed of computer enthusiasts and professionals might have adopted electronic participation at meetings a little earlier. Obviously it was technically possible. Still, CACTUS treasured the sense of community that has kept it going over the years. The farcical image of the ARL lecture hall filled with nothing but tape recorders, web cams and speakerphones on the third Thursday of each month will never come to pass, but still... What if they held a meeting and nobody needed to come?
    Thus far, the CACTUS Board's exploration of electronic democracy is at the "baby steps" stage. We are our own guinea pigs for this experiment. It is our expectation that "phoning it in" will bring about a greater rather than lesser level of commitment and participation. This is not to say that you won't find most or all of the Board's happy faces at the public meetings.
    As CACTUS members and/or interested parties, you may want to see the organization do more with virtual participation in group activities. As a fr'instance, if you miss a speaker that you really wanted to catch because of a schedule conflict, would you want to see it webcast later? Tell your closest board member what would let you participate more fully in CACTUS activities. Let's see what this democracy thing is all about.

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  • Membership report for February 2002

    Luis Basto

    We would like to thank Ron Roberts, William Hill, M. H. Khan, Ray Schafer, Thomas Benjamin and George Kraft IV for renewing their memberships.

    Thank all of you once again for dropping the rules and re-electing yours truly as Membership Chairman. As I mentioned in jest at the officers' meeting, CACTUS is the only organization where officers are elected indirectly proportional to their contribution. This means I must start working harder this year :-)

    A brief check shows we have between 30-40 paying, thus voting, members in CACTUS. An exact number is not possible due to shredded documents in the database. An auditor from Arthur Andersen confirmed this and said it is close enough for government purposes.

    We've come a long way, baby

    While cleaning up the garage I came upon the April 3, 1989 issue of Unix Today!, an excellent magazine in its days. Karl Swartz had an article titled "AIX & RT: A Rock-Solid System". Karl was actually a DEC person and was not really fond of Big Blue. However, after using an RT box for a few months he became a BAB, Born Again Blue. The article mostly sang the virtues of AIX and how solid the RT PC was even though it was a bit slower than competitive workstations. It also offered "a lot of bang for the buck". The price table caught my eye. Here's a sampling:

    Model 115
    4MB RAM
    70MB disk
    720x350 mono
    Model 135
    16MB RAM
    114MB disk
    750x512 color

    But wait, you need a bit more to make it usable:

    AIX 2.2.1 $2,405
    X-Windows $204
    Mouse $204

    That should be sufficient for a standalone workstation. If you add networking, throw in a few extra thousand. And since this is an IBM box, you must buy maintenance for $1,162 per machine per year. At this rate, I can never understand why a new Beamer or Mercedes should not cost under $5000 today.


    Someday we may be able to accept direct deposit or PayPal but currently we only deal with checks and cash, preferably in small unmarked bills.

    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 .

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  • CACTUS Officers

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  • 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
    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)
    CASDNS, Inc.
    (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)

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  • 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.

    Map to the Monthly CACTUS Meeting

    The ASCII Map has the day off.