Capital Area Central Texas UNIX Society
CACTUS Newsletter

Volume 19, Number 10 - October 2003


Contents:


October Meeting

The October CACTUS meeting will be held at 7:00pm (6:30pm for pizza and lively, informal discussion) on Thursday, October 16th, 2003 in the auditorium of UT Applied Research Laboratories (see below for directions to the facility).

This month, prior to the main presentation, we will vote on a proposed resolution regarding how CACTUS should respond to the recent actions of SCO. This proposal was discussed at the September meeting, and is listed again later in this newsletter.

The main presentation will be a discussion with John Quarterman (http://www.sat.quarterman.com/jsq/) of Matrix NetSystems, Inc.

September Meeting Report

by Ron Roberts

President Lindsay Haisley distributed ball caps and CDROMs from Caldera (SCO) advertising OpenLinux Workstation. Committee reports indicate that we still have money in the bank and members. Membership chair Luis Basto indicated that we have more active (paying) sponsors than we've had in several years. He mentioned the newest: Core NAP.

Core NAP was represented by Brian Achten who said that his boss Kenneth Smith was offering CACTUS a Solaris machine at Core NAP. He suggested giving members homes on a Network Appliance fileserver, which could be backed up regularly. Brian Sinclair agreed to administer the box. The membership unanimously agreed to accept this very generous offer.

Lindsay mentioned that long time board member M. H. Khan (MH) had disagreed with Lindsay's position about the FUD Buster committee's efforts to oppose the Caldera/SCO initiative against open source platforms. MH was not yet present, so Lindsay formally read his proposal and scheduled an official vote at the October meeting in order to satisfy provisions of CACTUS bylaws. Gil Kloepfer suggested that the proposal clarify what Caldera/SCO actions that we oppose.

[Editor's (Gil's) note: Actually, what I was suggesting was that M.H.'s position on the matter be presented so that people had both sides of the issue. Since M.H. wasn't present, this was difficult to do, but I do think it was covered sufficiently in the meeting discussion.]

The FUD Buster committee has met a couple of times. Chip Rosenthal had checked with the ACLU. Caldera/SCO has backed off of implementing their new policy. They have not sent anyone any bills, so no one has standing in court. Gil affirmed what Lindsay previously stated in that "SCO is basically extorting money."

Discussion moved to the budget for a new machine. Gil indicated that we could probably get a reasonable U1 box for under $500 through e-Bay.

Program chair Ray Schafer wanted to budget $1,000 to get Siva Vaidhyanathan to speak at the December meeting. Several members indicated that February might be better because December is peak travel time and attendance is not usually very good. Ray indicated that he would try to schedule the program for February.

Gil Kloepfer introduced advanced features in FreeBSD. Low-tech, eighty column, plain text handouts for this presentation are still available at http://www.kloepfer.org/cactus-20030918.txt. (Those of us still using lynx appreciate this.)

Gil's presentation was really an extension of earlier presentations about FreeBSD. He presented the differences between BSD and System V-type Unix and Linux. For instance, where's /etc/init.d? Unlike System V, BSD has only two run levels: single user and multi-user. The startup scripts are invoked by /etc/rc.

Linux releases a distribution with all the pieces in separate packages maintained by many individuals, which can be individually updated piecemeal. While convenient, this can also lead one into pre-requisite hell.

FreeBSD releases a base OS and basic utilities as a single unit maintained by a single core team that manages the release cycles. The advantage is that the released system works very well, is well-tested, consistent and dependable. The disadvantage is that it typically lags behind Linux in terms of features.

Gil demonstrated the BSD logical volume manager, vinum. He mentioned that hidden at the beginning of a slice is the second stage boot, like Windoze. Because of this, no special master boot loaders are required. The fdisk can only use four partitions (primary ones), so you run out of partitions quickly, and the BSD partitioning doesn't provide as many as can be achieved through volume management.

At one point, the keyboard locked up on Gil, who remarked that he didn't bring a sign indicating, "Technical difficulties, please stand by." He reset the machine remarking that BSD has no journaled filesystems. Despite this, BSD recovered and came up without a problem. Gil had forgotten to remove a previous entry from fstab before editing the partition table.

After eighteen minutes, Gil generated a page fault panic. To provide contrast, Gil logged on to one of his servers and showed the uptime: 457 days on a 4.3 BSD machine.

Thanks again to Gil Kloepfer for another excellent presentation.


Vote Regarding CACTUS' Position on SCO's Actions

Pursuant to the CACTUS bylaws, the following resolution is being put forth to the membership for a vote by the CACTUS president, Lindsay Haisley. The vote regarding this resolution will be officially put before the voting members of CACTUS present at the upcoming October meeting. At that time, we will either adopt or reject the resolution.

Resolved, that CACTUS is on record as being opposed to SCO's attempts to take control of Linux and to invalidate the GNU GPL. CACTUS, through it's approved working group on this issue (and any others which may be constituted in the future), shall engage in public education, public advocacy, and any other actions reasonably within our means in support of this position. This shall include, but not necessarily be limited to:


Editorials

NOTE: Editorials are written by members of CACTUS, and do not necessarily represent the views of the CACTUS organization or its officers.

"Free Speech"

I am writing this editorial on October 1, 2003. It is a historic day in that our elected officials finally took the wake-up call and adopted into law a requirement that telemarketers respect people's desire to not be bothered by telemarketing calls. As I write this editorial, the constitutionality of this law is being argued in court. Telemarketers feel that their rights to free speech are being violated.

In the August, 2003 CACTUS newsletter, I added a postscript to Lindsay Haisley's "Letter From the President" where I said the following:

Too many people are using semantics to make the law work in their favor rather than really looking at the spirit of the law and what it intended to solve. Semantics are important -- but when people start using them to produce loopholes to accomplish (in the name of law) what the original legislation was NOT meant to solve, then something is very very wrong.
I highly doubt that if the U.S. founding fathers were alive and present in this time that they would consider telemarketers, in order to push worthless crap or something I don't want, utilizing an important tool I paid for and interrupting things important in my life, as the free speech that they were trying to protect.

For years, telemarketers justified their so-called free speech rights based on the idea that someone may actually want to receive a telemarketing call. Now that the technology exists for people to speak their minds, the telemarketers retreat into twisted interpretations of the U.S. Constitution in order to further justify their actions.

If you maliciously yell "fire" in a movie theater it is no longer free speech. If you shout racially-charged remarks at someone with the intent to harm that person, it isn't free speech. When you purposely interrupt someone's life by calling them on the phone to sell them something or otherwise solicit money when that person specifically requested privacy from telemarketers, then it most certainly isn't free speech. We don't need to waste time in the court system to determine this, it's just common sense.

Apparently the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) not only lacks this common sense, but they also lack ethics as well. While the DMA contends that they encourage their members to respect the federal do-not-call registry in the interim, The Boston Globe reported on September 25, "The Direct Marketing Association and four telemarketers filed suit in January in Oklahoma City to block the federal do-not-call registry and other FTC mandates that would limit various telemarketing practices. No similar suits have been filed against state do-not-call lists." It seems that the DMA is more interested in their members being able to push their wares on people as opposed to really listening to the consumers' wishes (one of which is to not be bothered by telemarketers). The DMA doesn't fool me about the state do-not-call lists. In Texas, the consumers have to pay to register for the list, and the DMA knows it. Why should anyone need to pay money to keep someone from harassing them on the telephone? That was already tried by the telephone companies with non-published telephone numbers. Telemarketers responded with sequential autodialers and similar scams. The DMA and its members are not interested in free speech. In fact, their actions make a complete mockery of free speech.

How does this apply to the Internet and UNIX-related things? Spam: The next frontier.

In my humble opinion, there is little difference between my e-mailbox and my telephone when it comes to communication. I am essentially glued to e-mail when at work, and my friends and family use it to contact me at home. In order to not be bothered, people have implemented a myriad of complex solutions to reject the e-mail messages from spammers (I happen to use open source solutions). Yet the spammers use every technical method possible to subvert those solutions. Why? Because apparently these so-called "marketers" don't really give a damn whether or not they're stealing someone's computer resources and/or time with their spam. It's obvious that I and my employer do not want spam. It's obvious that spammers have no intention to respect these wishes regarding e-mail advertising. It's the same issue as the phone marketing one.

The first amendment to the U.S. Constitution mentions free speech in the context of being able to practice one's own religion, petition the government, or assemble peacefully, without fear of retribution or of the government drafting a law to restrict those rights. That's what it means. Anyone reading that amendment can clearly ascertain that while the intent of the authors was to not restrict the right of the people to express themselves, it does not give anyone the right to force other people (other than the government) to listen to what they have to say. Telemarketers' and spammers' free speech rights end when they infringe upon my right to not be harassed. If they can't understand that, then perhaps I should consider exercising my second amendment right to protect my freedoms. <HUMOR>Kind of gives a whole new meaning to "SpamAssassin™."</HUMOR>

* SpamAssassin is a trademark of Network Associates, Inc.

-- Gil Kloepfer, <gil [at] cactus <dot> org>


September CACTUS Membership Report

by Luis Basto

We wish to thank Core NAP as the newest corporate sponsor for CACTUS.

Core NAP provides Austin and Central Texas a very attractive choice for server colocation and high speed business Internet access. Core NAP understands that Internet connectivity is crucial to day-to-day business operations, and therefore provides the reliability, performance, and service that their customers expect and demand.

Core NAP's "class A" data center was designed and built by their own in-house engineering resources. Core NAP's data center staff is among the most experienced in Austin with over 6 years of experience working as a team. Their reliable multi-vendor dual entry SONET-based fiber optic and multiple Tier 1 backbone connectivity provides their link to the global Internet.

Core NAP offers solutions for today's most demanding colocation and access customers. Their Internet access and point-to-point data services include: T1, Bonded/Multi T (3, 6, 9 Mb/s), DS3, OC3, OC12, and GigE. Their colocation services include Custom Cage design, Full and 1/3 Lockable Cabinets, Shared Colocation Space, Web Site Hosting and Managed Servers.

Contact info:
   Web site:  www.CoreNAP.com
   Phone:  (512) 685-0000
   Kenneth Smith, 685-0010, kenneth [at] corenap <dot> com.

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):

     CACTUS
     PO BOX 9786
     AUSTIN, TX 78766-9786
You may also pay in person at the general meetings. Please direct any inquiries or address changes to membership [at] cactus <dot> org.


CACTUS Officers


CACTUS Sponsors

Significant Contributing Sponsors

Applied Research Laboratories/University of Texas at Austin (http://www.arlut.utexas.edu/)
(Gil Kloepfer, Computer Science Division (CSD), 835-3771, gil [at] arlut <dot> utexas <dot> edu)
OnRamp (http://www.onr.com/)
Internet service provider.
Outserv.net (http://www.outserv.net/)
IT operations and management solutions to small and midsized businesses.

CACTUS Sponsors

CoreNAP, L.P. (http://www.corenap.com/)
(Kenneth Smith, (512) 685-0010, kenneth [at] corenap <dot> com)
"Providing Austin and central Texas businesses and power users the best choice for server colocation and high speed Internet access."
Covad/Laserlink (http://www.laserlink.net/)
(Chip Rosenthal)
Dresser Industries - Wayne Division (http://www.wayne.com/)
(Steve Cox, steve <dot> cox [at] dresser <dot> com, (512) 338-8444)
A leading supplier of integrated retail solutions to the global petroleum and convenience store industries, including point-of-sale systems, fuel dispensers, and after-sale support services.
Journyx (http://www.journyx.com/)
Provider of workforce management software and services
Prog Corp.
(David Mallis, prog [at] cactus <dot> org, (512) 451-7191)
Develops educational materials used for in-service training, classroom teaching, and independent study. They also provides consulting services for instructional program design, development, and implementation.
VoIPing, LLC (http://www.voiping.com/)
A Central Texas privately owned and operated partnership specializing in IT Consulting and Services. (Email info [at] voiping <dot> com. Phone 512-698-VOIP (8647) or 512-698-8031)

Friends of CACTUS

Applied Formal Methods, Inc.
(Susan Gerhart, 794-9732, gerhart [at] cactus <dot> org)
Auspex Systems (http://www.auspex.com/)
Fastest reliable network fileservers.
Austin Code Works
(Scott Guthery, 258-0785, info [at] acw <dot> com)
BestRegistrar.com (http://www.bestregistrar.com/)
(Steve Locke, (800) 977-3475), swl [at] cas-com <dot> net)
A top-level domain name registrar, CORE member.
CTG
(Maurine Mecer, 502-0190 [FAX 502-0287])
Professional recruiting.
EDP Contract Services
(Mark Grabenhorst, 346-1040) Professional recruiting.
Hewlett Packard (http://www.hp.com/)
(Bill Sumrall, 338-7221)
Hounix (http://www.texascomputers.com/hounix/)
(Marilyn Harper)
Houston's Unix Users Group.
Network Appliance Corporation (http://www.netapp.com/)
(Frank Mozina, fmozina [at] netapp <dot> com)
O'Keefe Search (http://www.okeefesearch.com/)
(John O'Keefe, john [at] okeefesearch <dot> com, 512-658-9224 or 888-446-2137)
Professional recuiting.
Sailaway System Design
(Chris J Johnson, 447-5243)
Schlumberger (http://www.slb.com/)
(Kathy O'Brien, obrien [at] asc <dot> slb <dot> com)
Technical services and products in over 100 countries.
Silicon Graphics (http://www.sgi.com/)
(Don Williams, 346-9342)
Solid Systems
(Pete Farrell, 442-2222)
Sterling Infomation Group (http://www.sterinfo.com/)
(Darrell Hanshaw, 344-1005, dhanshaw [at] sterinfo <dot> com)
Sun Microsystems (http://www.sun.com/)
(Rick Taylor)
Supplier of Unix client-server computing solutions.
Texas Internet Consulting (http://www.tic.com/)
(Smoot Carl-Mitchell, 451-6176, smoot [at] tic <dot> com)
TCP/IP networking, Unix, and open systems standards.
Technow
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 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.