Capital Area Central Texas UNIX Society
CACTUS Newsletter

Volume 18, Number 5 - May 2002


May Meeting Program

Larry Thompson and members of RFD Associates will describe the the Argus-Systems PitBull LX product which provides e-Commerce environments with the most formidable level of protection from the inside out.

  • Return to top
  • April Meeting Report

    by Lindsay Haisley

    The meeting was reasonably well attended by current CACTUS meeting standards. All officers were present except for Newsletter editor Bob Izenberg. Bob had expressed some concern regarding the equity for our deal with Tomorrow's Technologies under which we're trading use of our portable class C network for a 1U rack space with Tomorrow's Tech. I expressed Bob's concern to the meeting, and suggested that while the deal was in Tomorrow's Tech's favor as far as the value of these resources is concerned, Mike Erwin and his comrades have been solid supporters of CACTUS, hosting faithfully for several years without complaint while we juggled our Sparc 10 between reluctant sponsors. A motion was made, seconded and passed to stand by our previous decision on the exchange.

    Membership chair Luis Basto gave a very interesting presentation and demonstration of Knoppix - a bootable, runnable Linux on a CD-ROM. Knoppix Linux boots from CD-ROM, loads the kernel and sets up part of its filesystem on a RAM disk. It will find and use swap space on a hard drive if it's available, or grap swap space on a DOS hard drive partition. It runs X (KDE desktop) if memory is available, or simple command line interface if not. It will run in CLI mode with as little as 16M of memory present. Everyone at the meeting was fairly well impressed. Knoppix is free, covered under the GNU public license, and is available from The seat of Knoppix development is in Germany and many of the online information is in German, however English translations of some pages are posted as well, enough to make it worthwhile for English speaking Linux enthusiasts to pay the site a visit.

    The main presentation of the evening was given by Jennifer Green from Veritas, who gave us a grand tour of the Veritas Foundation Suite consisting of the Veritas Volume Manager and filesystem. Veritas is an Enterprise level storage management solution with many capabilities. She presented each element of of the Veritas suite with ample graphics and capably answered many questions from members present. Those interested in pursuing a further study of Veritas can learn more at the Veritas website at

  • Return to top
  • Knoppix - a complete runnable Linux on CD-ROM

    by Luis Basto

    Achtung! Knoppix is a full blown Gnu/Linux distribution runnable from a CD without need for installation. As such, it is ideal as a Linux learning platform, a rescue system, a security scanner, or for doing presentations and demos. It is developed by Klaus Knopper, Much of the stuff is in German but there are many links in English. Since the whole package is open source under Gnu GPL, the sources can be found at

    One of its most powerful features is the automatic recognition of many types of graphic cards, sound cards, SCSI and other peripheral devices. It uses transparent decompression to pack lots of software onto a single CD. For example, the Version 2.1 which I demo'ed at the April CACTUS meeting contained over 1.7 GB of software compressed onto a 700 MB CD.

    True to most Linux distros, Knoppix is quite frugal in system requirements. It works with a 486 PC or better, can run with only 16 MB in text mode and 82 MB or more for X (KDE or Gnome), with 128 MB recommended. Since it runs from CD, it needs to have a bootable CD-ROM or DVD. For older BIOSes that do not have the CD-ROM as a bootable device, one can boot from diskette and then run from CD. I have not verified this mode. Obviously, it also needs a SVGA graphics card and a mouse for X. I suppose these are not even needed for text mode but I don't even have a 486 without a VGA card to test.

    The Knoppix kernel is based on Debian 2.4x, with KDE 2.2 as the standard desktop but Gnome can also be selected as a desktop choice. It also comes with Koffice, Konqueror, OpenOffice(TM) 6.x, and tons of other software, utilities, and development tools.

    When it boots, it automatically configures all devices that it sees, including starting up dhcpd to connect to a network or internet. It uses as much RAM as needed to boot Linux and configures the rest as ramdisk, which is configured as a /dev/shm filesystem. Therefore, it can run on any PC without need to re-partition the hard drive. However, for better performance, one may want to configure a swap, extfs, or FAT partition. Knoppix will see and will be able to use all these upon bootup. It can also see an NTFS partition as readonly, which is actually quite handy since that means it can read and use files on a Win2000 or XP system.

    After some usage, it may get a bit tedious to always boot up in the same configuration and having to open several applications before anything can be done. The website has some information on customizing a configuration or desktop and burning a custom CD. Even as it is, Knoppix is so easy to use and yours truly is lazy enough that the Version 2.1 CD is quite adequate. Perhaps my most enjoyable accomplishment is showing it to a middle school student and saw his eyes light up. He immediately asked for a CD.
    It is certainly a good early start and makes me feel like a fireman rescuing someone from the flaming tongues of Windowsdom.

  • Return to top
  • Mozilla from Source on FreeBSD

    By Gil Kloepfer

    "A pre-compiled 'package' is only as good as the system it's compiled on." This was a lesson of which I became painfully aware when I tried to install the 1.0 RC1 version of the Mozilla web browser ( on my FreeBSD system last week. To make a long story short, what was supposed to be a simple untar-into-this-directory-and-run became a
    nightmare. Several versions of shared libraries for tools upon which Mozilla was built were (for reasons unknown) being required by the Mozilla binary for FreeBSD that I downloaded from the Mozilla web site. After experimenting on a sacrificial FreeBSD 4.5 system and the FreeBSD package collection for several hours, and with only some degree of success, I decided to compile Mozilla from scratch.
    Hopefully this will give users of FreeBSD and other UNIX-based operating systems some confidence to try to compile this very complex software system on their own system.

    Step 1 - Getting the raw materials

    The Mozilla compile will take in excess of 450 megabytes of disk space, including source and object files. Be sure to have a filesystem big enough to "do the deed" before beginning. Running out of disk space during a compile like this can cause great amounts of frustration.

    As summarized in the Mozilla web site, you will need the following software (I recommend compiling the auxiliary libraries and utilities from scratch as well):

    Mozilla Source (see for the latest)
    Zip 2.3 or better (see
    GNU make 3.79.1 or better (see
    Glib 1.2.0 or better and GTK+ (see
    libIDL 0.6.3 or better (see

    For FreeBSD and the source tarball (not CVS), this is enough to get started. Linux users and those interested in further details may wish to see the UNIX build details at

    Step 2 - Get the libraries and utilities installed

    My mistake was trying to originally install precompiled packages of the above libraries. The result was more frustration. Compiling yourself isn't too hard. However, if your FreeBSD system already has these utilities/libraries installed via packages, you will overwrite these packages and confuse the package manager. The problem that resulted in this effort was likely due, in part, to having too many different versions of a particular library on the system. Decide whether or not you want to utilize the package or compile the libraries/utilities yourself. Just be aware that if you choose the latter, you may not be able to use some prepackaged utilities or libraries later.

    I built (in order) Zip, GNU make, Glib, GTK+, and libIDL. Zip is the only one without a GNU configure script. That one builds without a GNU configure script:

    {untar zip file}
    $ cd zip-2.3
    $ make -f unix/Makefile gcc-generic
    # make -f unix/Makefile install

    The other libraries build in the typical GNU fashion as:

    $ ./configure
    $ make
    # make install

    Everything built? No errors? Cool...

    One thing I did was create a link from /usr/local/bin/make to /usr/local/bin/gmake so that I wouldn't need to specify a full pathname to run GNU make. I suggest doing this, and will assume this in the text below.

    The other thing I did without RTFMing was to remove the sgid-bit to kmem from /usr/local/bin/make (chmod g-s /usr/local/bin/make). I'm sure the answer to WHY they did this is somewhere in the man pages, but it sure seemed like a security hole waiting to happen to me.

    Step 3 - Unpack and prep the lizard

    Untar the Mozilla source onto your big filesystem. In the top-level mozilla directory, you will want to create a file called .mozconfig containing the following lines:

    ac_add_options --disable-tests
    ac_add_options --disable-debug
    ac_add_options --enable-optimize="-O2 -Wl,-O2 -pipe"
    ac_add_options --without-system-nspr
    ac_add_options --without-system-zlib
    ac_add_options --without-system-jpeg
    ac_add_options --without-system-png
    ac_add_options --without-system-mng
    ac_add_options --enable-crypto

    ac_add_options --enable-reorder
    ac_add_options --disable-dtd-debug

    ac_add_options --prefix=/usr/local/mozilla

    These come courtesy of the person who did the original Mozilla compile for FreeBSD. If you have a REALLY fast machine or lots of free time, you may want to experiment with other options. These are essentially options added to the Mozilla autoconfig (./configure) script.

    Once you've got all this done, try doing a ./configure and see if the Mozilla configure script is happy. Lack of happiness can hopefully be figured out from the output of configure, or from config.log.

    Step 4 - Do the gmake thang

    You're now ready to make Mozilla from source. This took a little over 2 hours on an unloaded P3/533 system with 128MB of memory. Type "gmake" and go do something else for a while. NOTE: If you start getting lots of Makefile errors, you're probably not using GNU make.

    Step 5 - Where's the finished product?

    I was kind of surprised there wasn't a "gmake install" to put the product in /usr/local/mozilla as I would have expected. The Mozilla UNIX build web page was a help here as well. What I ultimately did was change to the dist/bin subdirectory and there was the finished product. I used GNU tar (standard with FreeBSD) and the -h option (which dereferences symlinks rather than tarring them up) to build a tarball of the bin directory and everything underneath. Then, I created /usr/local/mozilla and untarred the finished product in that location.

    Step 6 - Getting it going

    After you have it in the final location, you will need to do the following (as root) in order to get all the internal registries built:

    # /usr/local/mozilla/mozilla-config --prefix=/usr/local/mozilla
    # /usr/local/mozilla/mozilla

    The browser will display text messages noting the registry builds, and then start the browser. At this point, you can exit the browser and run Mozilla as an unprivileged user.

    Final Thoughts

    The Mozilla web site is chock-full of useful help in doing the build of the browser. Be sure to take a look there for help getting started.

    Happy browsing!

  • Return to top
  • 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.


  • Return to top
  • CACTUS System News

    by Lindsay Haisley appears to be back in the pink again. The power supply has been replaced, which seems to have solved the restarting problem. In the process of replacing the power supply, it came to my attention that the IBM Uninteruptable Power Supply .... wasn't. Either the battery, the charging circuits, or the inverter circuits had failed, and there was no backup power at all. The unit was a Tripplite, branded by IBM and rather similar to our earlier (also defunct) Tripplite UPS. A plea for advice produced a donation of a used APC BackUPS, thanks to CACTUS newsletter editor Bob Izenberg. Bob had timed the batteries in the unit as being able to provide about 20 minutes of power, which should see us through most power outages. I have not, and may not connect up the USB interface to the box since the new Linux RAID-1 under kernel 2.4 is much more robust and the interminable boot times resulting from an improper shutdown are a thing of the past. RAID-1 resyncing takes place in the background now, and normal system activity can occur while the RAID drives synchronize.

    There's been some grumbling, and a general assessment by several CACTUS officers (including yours truly) of the quality of Tripplite UPSes using descriptive terminology not appropriate for this publication. The unit sits in my old electronics pile labeled "Junk" and if anyone wants it, it's theirs for the asking. One more nice door-stop to add to your collection.

    Sometime before the end of May, the box will go to David Maynard's office to live. It'll be NATed to a private address, but not masqueraded. We'll be able to do _most_ things on the box which we would do if we had a routable address for it. Exceptions are probably bind and nesus. David has generously offered to set up DNS for us on one of his boxes with a real IP address.


  • Return to top
  • Membership report

    Some of you have received refund checks from the IRS. What better use is there but to send in a check to renew your membership. We promise to put it to good use to bring you great programs and tasty pizza. Of course you should try to come to the meetings, otherwise we will eat all your tasty pizza while watching your great programs


    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):

  • Return to top
  • CACTUS Officers

  • Return to top
  • 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.
    (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)

  • Return to top
  • 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.