Capital Area Central Texas UNIX Society
CACTUS Newsletter

Volume 20, Number 3 - March 2004

Next Meeting
Copyright and Intellectual Property
Siva Vaidhyanathan
Thursday, March 18, 7:00 p.m.

Contents:


March Meeting Program

The next CACTUS meeting will be held on Thursday, March 18, 2004 at 7:00pm (doors open 6:30pm for pizza and lively, informal discussion), in the auditorium of UT Applied Research Laboratories. (See end of newsletter for directions to the facility).

The topic of the meeting will be Copyright and Intellectual Property. Our presenter will be Siva Vaidhyanathan, a noted author on intellectual property and the creative culture. I.P. issues are becoming increasingly important for computer professionals, because they affect our ability to create and innovate both within the I.T. community and our culture as a whole.

In addition to being the author of "Copyrights and Copywrongs: The Rise of Intellectual Property and How it Threatens Creativity", and "The Anarchist in the Library", Dr. Vaidhyanathan has also written for The Chronicle of Higher Education, The New York Times Magazine, MSNBC.COM, Salon.com, openDemocracy.net, and The Nation.

Dr. Vaidhyanathan is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin and currently is the Director of the undergraduate program for Communication Studies in Culture and Communication at New York University.


February Meeting Report

At the January meeting, Joe Barr, an Austin-area writer, discussed "Open Source in Austin and Texas." Over the years, Joe has covered a number issues relating to open source software in city and state government. These range from S.B. 1579 (the Texas Open Source bill) to the City of Austin Open Office pilot project.

For further information, Joe has provided us with links to articles about the issues he presented:

"Why Austin TX is considering a Microsoft enterprise license."
http://www.linuxworld.com/story/32825.htm
August 20, 2001.

"No justice from Microsoft for the Texas Dept. of Criminal Justice."
http://www.linuxworld.com/story/32746.htm
August 15, 2002.

"Open source making headway in Texas government."
http://www.linuxworld.com/story/32651.htm
March 24, 2003.

"Austin, Texas to begin Linux pilot project."
http://www.linuxjournal.com/article.php?sid=3D6974
July 2, 2003.

"City of Austin pilot proves OpenOffice.org works."
http://www.newsforge.com/article.pl?sid=3D03/12/17/1440223
December 17, 2003.

"Government open source deployments you don't hear about."
http://www.newsforge.com/article.pl?sid=3D03/12/23/0056245
December 30, 2003.

"Linux club helps firms hide from Microsoft."
http://news.zdnet.co.uk/0,39020330,39146090,00.htm
February 10, 2004.


Announcements

CACTUS Jobs List

The CACTUS Jobs mailing list can help connect hiring managers to Austin's best Unix professionals. If you are a member, subscribe by sending a blank email to jobs-subscribe [at] lists <dot> cactus <dot> org. If you are a hiring manager or recruiter, forward your job notices to jobs [at] lists <dot> cactus <dot> org. (Chip Rosenthal)

Let the World Know About Yourself

Advertise your personal achievements. Let others know about your home page and involvement with CACTUS. Get your home page linked into the CACTUS members page at http://www.cactus.org/Members/index.html. To get listed, send email to publicity [at] cactus <dot> org. (Tom Bodine)


Letter from the President

by Lindsay Haisley

Times are changing, and so is CACTUS. Issues regarding the CACTUS bylaws came up last year which were voted on, and never actually made it into the document. At the CACTUS Officers' meeting on March 1 we formalized these changes and made a couple of additional ones. The bylaws are posted to the web site at http://www.cactus.org/Policy/Bylaws.

We expanded the purpose of the group (Article II, Section A) by adding the terms "Open Source" now "Open Standards." It now reads:

This organization is formed to promote education information exchange among persons interested in Open Source, Open Standards and Open Systems embracing the Unix philosophy.

This means that Linux, the XML standard, the workings of the W3C, and such—as well as political and social issues related to Free/Open Source software—are now officially our concern.

Article IX, Section B specifies a two year term limit for officers. This limit has been waived almost every election. We have never had a problem with incumbent officers keeping new people out. Instead, our problem has finding enough good people to serve as officers. It didn't make sense to bar qualified, experienced people from further service. So, we voted to strike the term limit from the CACTUS bylaws altogether. This supersedes last year's rather numerically complex decision which kept the term limit only "unless the number of members present at an election equals or exceeds three times the number of positions to be filled." Simple seems to be better in this case.

Since we are a fairly small organization these days, we have little need for a board of directors different from our slate of elected officers, so we formalized a decision made last year that defined the current board of directors as the currently elected officers.

Last year, there were additional changes with regard to making online decisions among CACTUS officers. Unfortunately, they were never added to bylaws posted on the web site. I'll get that corrected.


From the Editor

by Chip Rosenthal

CACTUS Connections

Fifteen years ago, I started thinking about moving to Austin. I was living in Dallas at the time and thought Austin may be more to my liking. I was right.

I discovered CACTUS during one of my earliest scouting trips. CACTUS became important to e, because it provided me new connections: connections for professional advancement as well as connections for work leads.

Many of our members, myself included, are not faring too well in the current economy. When it comes to tech hiring, the prognosticators say the corner is just ahead. I hope they are right and it truly is a corner—not a cliff.

I think we, both the members and officers of CACTUS, should work to position our organization as a valuable resource for local hiring. We've got some of the best and brightest of the open systems world in our group. When you join CACTUS you make a statement: you are committed to your continued professional development. And you like pizza.

If you are a CACTUS member looking for work, sign up for our jobs list. Also, think of other ways CACTUS can facilitate your job search. Let's take on new programs to help our members.

If you work for a company that hires Unix or open systems professionals, think of the CACTUS jobs list. If you are a hiring manager, you don't have to suffer the flood of inappropriate resumes that a job board posting will bring you. The person you want could be right here. Also, let your HR department and local recruiters know about our jobs list.

See the announcements section of this newsletter for information on how to access the jobs list. If you have any other suggestions on what CACTUS can do, I'd like to hear. Drop me an email. Or come visit me. I'll be the guy at 6th and Congress holding the "Will Code System Daemons for Food" sign.


Membership Report

by Luis Basto

Let us welcome our newest sponsor to CACTUS. Jon Roland represents a business as well as a civic society. Starflight Corp. does computer consulting, management solutions, documentation, and technical writing. Further information can be gathered at http://www.the-spa.com/jon.roland/ or email to Jon at jon <dot> roland [at] the-spa <dot> com.

Jon also works with the Constitution Society, a private non-profit organization dedicated to research and public education on the principles of constitutional republican government. One can find more at http://www.constitution.org..

We also like to welcome Loyd Dreher as a new member to CACTUS and thank Ron Roberts for renewing his membership.

CACTUS 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 can also pay in person at the general meetings. Please direct any inquiries or address changes to membership [at] cactus <dot> org.


Board of Directors Meeting Report

by Ron Roberts

The CACTUS Board of Directors met on Monday, March 1st at the North by Northwest restaurant. Only Luis Basto was absent, and Chip Rosenthal was late in arriving because a previous meeting ran late.

President Lindsay Haisley expressed concern about getting timely approval for expenditures for speakers. There was an issue about the spending limit for the March speaker. Treasurer Johnny Long indicated that we have about $ 4,100 in the bank, and it's been declining slightly. The board authorized $500 for speakers for the rest of the year so that Program Chair Randy Zagar won't have to seek approval when negotiating to get future presentations.

Publicity Chair Tom Bodine asked if we need to rebuild our web site. The board did not think this necessary, but would like to provide links to related organizations such as the Central Texas Linux Users Group (CTLUG) and the Austin Linux Users Group (ALG). Lindsay noted that Chip Rosenthal had already reorganized the newsletter archive and upgraded the HTML to version 4.01.

Lindsay was also concerned about the mission statement in our by-laws. Should we just be UNIX or Open Source? Johnny Long pointed out that the last changes to the by-laws were never reflected on the web site. We made all officers members of the board of directors. Previously, members at large were not board members. Lindsay proposed to amend the mission statement in Article 2, Section A:

"This organization is formed to promote education information exchange among persons interested in Open Systems embracing the Unix philosophy."

The board unanimously approved the change to: " ... interested in Open Source, Open Standards, and Open Systems embracing the Unix philosophy." Lindsay agreed to update the web version. He edited a copy he had on his laptop.

Randy Zagar suggested setting up a Jabber messaging service on linux.cactus.org. Should it be for members only? We don't have Mailman running on the server yet, which is apparently a prerequisite for Jabber. The board indicated that some kind of authentication on the server would be required.

The board noted that Chip had added an invitation on the web site to invite readers to subscribe to the newsletter mailing list. Someone suggested that we amend the by-laws to state that CACTUS is a pizza eating organization. Lindsay promised to upgrade the CACTUS server within a week.

We emailed Chip Rosenthal at the beginning of the meeting to remind him of the meeting. No one had his phone number. Scribe Ron Roberts passed around the board contact list for updates. This list provides private phone and email contacts for board members. (This was mailed on March 9th.)

Chip proposed holding joint meetings with other organizations such as IEEE, CTLUG, etc. Randy Zagar suggested that we publish an events calendar like he provides for the Austin Electronic Freedom Foundation (EFF). Chip suggested that we have tutorials at the meetings. Chip also wants CACTUS to do more for the membership in finding jobs--perhaps maintain a registry for members. The board decided to advertise the jobs [at] lists <dot> cactus <dot> org mailing list in such a way that web-bots can't harvest the address. Publicity Chair Tom Bodine will implement this.

Randy Zagar suggested that CACTUS provide dynamic DNS for CACTUS members using keys. Lindsay suggested using IPv6. Randy suggested that the CACTUS mail server be modified to accept mail from authenticated servers. This quickly devolved into a technical discussion.

Johnny Long pointed out that we had changed the by-laws concerning officer term limits several years ago, but that the by-laws were never updated accordingly. No one could remember the exact language, but thought it to be a convoluted equation. This change was noted in the Scribes report of the board meeting in the February, 2002 newsletter.

The board deemed term limits to be obsolete by any equation. To simplify the by-laws, the board unanimously agreed to strike all language about term limits. Lindsay will update the published version.


CACTUS System News

by Lindsay Haisley

There's good news, and there's bad news.

First, the bad news. It seems that there's no such thing as an infinitely large disk drive. Sooner or later even the largest drive will fill up, and, by the standards of the day, the hard drive on isn't that large to begin with.. This is inevitable, like rain and Monday mornings.

Here's how drive space is looking on the box:

        # df
        Filesystem           1K-blocks      Used Available Use% Mounted on
        /dev/scsi/host0/bus0/target0/lun0/part1
        			295474    223545     56669  80% /
        /dev/md/0              1018232    783261    182363  82% /usr
        /dev/md/1              1018232    814529    151095  85% /var
        /dev/md/2              1018232     91754    873870  10% /usr/local
        /dev/md/3              5011977   3726906   1025628  79% /home
        tmpfs                   128440         0    128440   0% /dev/shm

It was worse! In the process of upgrading our Debian installation, I hit the ceiling in /usr and got the dreaded "No space left on device" message. So, while the Debian install waited, prompting me to decide what I wanted to do about it, I scrambled for space. I deleted an out-of-date kernel build tree and source tarball. Also, I nuked the local php documentation tree in /usr/doc. This created enough free space on this RAID array, and the update completed without any further complaints.

Please note above that /home is at 79%. This isn't yet critical—yet! We do need to watch our usage. Please don't use your CACTUS account to store large files, especially things like CD ISO images (bad, bad! BAD!!) or the very large collection of pretty pictures you don't want your spouse to see. Remove your back email and your spam collection. Please note that we still have plenty of space in /usr/local. If you have compiled utilities, or other things you might well be willing to share with other system users, we can give you access to /usr/local and you can install them there and remove the source tree from your home directory. Just let us know.

Now, the good news.

We're up-to-date on our Debian installation on linux.cactus.org. I did a full update on March 7 (for the first time in many months), and refreshed the update today, March 9. So far I haven't received a single email from anyone saying "you broke my evorgutator installation because it's not compatible with version 21 of libwhizzit." We also now have the mailman mailing list server installed, although not yet configured. The plan is to reorganize our mailing lists so as to provide better list services for CACTUS members, and part of this involves setting up some lists using mailman, which is generally considered one of the best list servers available. Setting mailman up on top of qmail is slightly tricky, so we'll be taking it by steps. This is, however, movement in the right direction and definitely a work-in-progress.

For those of you who may not know the details, linux.cactus.org runs Debian GNU/Linux, more specifically the "testing" sub-distribution of Debian. This particular flavor of Debian has the advantage of being reasonably up-to-date, and packages available are always in the process of being upgraded or improved. It's never frozen. Unlike the "unstable" sub-distribution, packages in testing have generally been banged on pretty hard by the developers and by Debian QA, and are somewhere between beta and release candidates. I've had very few problems with Debian testing, and run it on my own professional server. It's a good compromise between stability and the bleeding edge. Debian's "stable" sub-dist is notoriously behind the times. The down side of Debian testing is that it's the last place that security fixes show up. Packages with security updates get distributed to the stable sub-distribution first, generally without bumping the upstream version number. Then, as the upstream developers incorporate security fixes, they make it into Debian unstable, and finally into testing. The solution is to subscribe to the Debian security mailing list, check the Debian security website regularly, and if necessary, back-version to a stable package from the security site if a vulnerability is critical.


CACTUS Officers

President: Lindsay Haisley (fmouse at fmp.com)
Treasurer: Johnny Long (longjy at thecb.texas.gov)
Programs: Randy Zagar (jrzagar at cactus.org)
Membership: Luis Basto (basto at cactus.org)
Publicity: Thomas Bodine (tbodine at cactus.org)
Newsletter: Chip Rosenthal (chip at unicom.com)
Scribe: Ron Roberts (ronro at bga.com)
Members
at Large:
Mark Scarborough (mscar at cactus.org)
M.H. Khan (mhk at cactus.org)


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)
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."
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

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/)
(info [at] voiping <dot> com, (512) 698-8647 or (512) 698-8031)
A Central Texas privately owned and operated partnership specializing in IT Consulting and Services.

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.
Unicom Systems Development (http://www.unicom.com/)
(Chip Rosenthal, chip [at] unicom <dot> com)
Open source and Internet systems consulting.
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)


Directions to Meeting Location

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.


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