Capital Area Central Texas UNIX Society
CACTUS Newsletter

Volume 20, Number 4 - April 2004

Next Meeting
The Rocksteady Network Sharing Application
Eric White
Thursday, April 15, 7:00 p.m.


The CACTUS Newsletter is a monthly publication, distributed to our members and other interested people. Visit the CACTUS Newsletter on the web at There you will find archives of back issues, as well as instructions on how to subscribe to the email distribution.

April Meeting Program

The next CACTUS meeting will be held on Thursday, April 15, 2004 at 7:00pm (doors open 6:30pm for pizza and 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 The Rocksteady Network Sharing Application. Our presenter will be Eric White, VP of Engineering of Rocksteady Networks.

The nexus where WAN meets LAN is a critical, but oft-forgotten, transition from one network usage space to another. Vendors have long focused on optimizing backbone networks and building infrastructure, including the "last mile" of the network. However, increase end-user adoption and advances in distributed and network application usage have created a "wild west" of the last 10 feet of the network -- the data sphere in which 100% of the network user population operates, 90% of the time. Bandwidth control, traffic prioritization, user provisioning, aberrant behavior and centralized management are all aspects of the last 10 feet and are the area of research and development in which Rocksteady Networks has committed time and resources to address the emerging requirements therein.

Mr. White will give a technical presentation and demonstration of the RocksteadyNSA (Network Sharing Application) and how to tame the edge of the network. Rocksteady leverages open source and open standards to develop its commercial product for Enterprises to Service Providers. Rocksteady is a new corporate sponsor of CACTUS.


CACTUS Announcements are news and information of interest to our members. Announcements may be submitted to newsletter [at] cactus <dot> org.

Give Us Your Email

When renewing your CACTUS membership, please write your email address on your check. That way we can ensure your membership information is up-to-date. Your email address will be held in confidence and we won't spam you. Promise! (Lindsay Haisley)

Linux Fest in San Antonio

SATLUG ( and the ACCD/San Antonio College will host the Spring 2004 GNU/Linux/OSS Fest, May 10-15 in San Antonio. For more information, visit (Don Wright)

North Texas Snort Users Group

A Snort Users Group has just formed in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. Snort ( is a popular, open source intrusion detection system. The group has setup a mailing list and plans mettings. For more information visit their web site (

Book Discounts

Here is some news that may interest our members. Bookpool ( has very good discounts on some technical books. Here are a few examples:

Visit their web site for more information. (Luis Basto)

From the Editor

by Chip Rosenthal

What's New with Your Newsletter

As noted elsewhere in this newsletter, CACTUS is moving to the Mailman mailing list management system. Distribution of this newsletter will be the first big test of that system. Wish us luck!

This means there is now a convenient web interface to manage your CACTUS Newsletter subscription. People may visit to request a new subscription, as well as modify or cancel a current subscription.

While we're at it, I'd like to point out that the on-line newsletter archive has been reorganized. You may visit the archive at There, you will find back issues dating all the way back to when CACTUS started electronic distribution of the newsletter.

Finally, starting with next month's newsletter, we will begin publishing in a "Best Viewed with Internet Explorer" format. We will place a "best viewed" badge on our web pages. Visitors who attempt to access the newsletter archives with a non-preferred browser will be directed to page that urges them to upgrade. We'll be ready to go just as soon as we get the final artwork, currently being developed by Mr. Lirpa Sloof.

Letter from the President

by Lindsay Haisley

In the process of setting up mailman for CACTUS (see the System News column) I took a look at our membership roster in our membership database and did a bit of mental math, and then corresponded with Luis Basto and Johnny Long, our Membership Chair and Treasurer, respectively. Here's what I found out. During the past year, we had c.a. 31 new or renewing regular members and 4 new or renewing sponsors.

Let's do the math on this. Regular memberships bring us in $25 a year per member and sponsor memberships bring in $96.

$ python -c"print (31 * 25.00) + (4 * 96.00)"

Our income during the past year was about $1159.

Now here's where the pizza meets the steam-roller. Geeks love pizza and coke, and we're certainly no exceptions to this. Pizza at meetings, and plenty of it, has been a CACTUS tradition since our old SPARC II was New Technology. DoubleDave's has good pizza, and their prices aren't much, if any higher than their competition. CACTUS has been spending about $140 for pizza at each meeting. This doesn't count the soft drinks, which probably bring it up to $150 or so.

$ python -c"print 150.00 * 12"

Our annual outlay for pizza and beverage at meetings is in the neighborhood of $1800. We recently budgeted $500 to our programs chair to pay expenses of visiting speakers, and let's assume we want to continue to do so on an annual basis. We don't need python to do the math here. Our projected annual expenses at this point are $1800 + $500, or $2300.

Everyone gets the moral of this story by this point:

Income: $1159 / year
Expenses: $2300 / year

The CACTUS treasury has a substantial padding of several thousand dollars, however as anyone can see, this is classic deficit spending, and we're not the US government. Something is going to have to give, and in the face of such hard choices, it looks as if the monthly pizza order may have to yield. We're not going to have to chose between feeding our friends with pizza or feeding their minds with food for thought, but we're going to have to balance our budget somehow.

Let's assume that we'll have 20 people at any given meeting. A pizza gets pre-cut into 6 slices. Let's give everyone 2 slices. Python says:

$ python -c"print (20.0 * 2) / 6"

So 7 pizzas should be enough for everyone to have at least some, and not go away hungry, and we can keep our soft drink purchases where they are. I just checked with DoubleDave's and their prices for large pizza are between $12.54 and $15.14 for three of the kinds we usually order. Let's average that to $14 and figure our annual cost for pizza if we cut back to this level.

$ python -c"print 7 * 14.00 * 12"

At this rate, our membership income will cover our pizza, but not our allocation for programs, so I'm going to suggest one more remedy with a long and respectable tradition (even longer than the tradition of pizza at CACTUS meetings!) - and that's called "passing the hat". If we can take in $35 per meeting in pizza donations here's where we'll be:

$ python -c"print 1176.00 - (35.00 * 12) - 1159.00"

This is to say that after we pay for a more frugal order of pizza, and collect membership dues in a timely manner from new and renewing members, and collect at least $35 per meeting in pizza contribution, we'll have a surplus of $403 a year to spend on bringing in speakers. This is getting there! If we keep having excellent programs and getting involved in community issues, things are bound to get better.

The concept of donations for pizza is a new one at CACTUS. I don't know if it's ever been done at our meetings before, but things change. This is basically an RFC to all our members on the idea. If people think it's a good one, I'm going to shop around for a large cactus-shaped flower pot for a pizza donations container which will sit on the pizza table and be our 'official' CACTUS pizza-donations-jar. Feedback on the idea will, of course, be welcome.


Membership Report

by Luis Basto

Let us welcome our newest sponsor to CACTUS, Rocksteady Networks.

Rocksteady offers a software platform (RocksteadyNSA) that provides dynamic bandwidth management and security enforcement on a user-specific basis, enabling business-critical differentiated services at the edge of your network. These advanced management capabilities empower your company, enabling them to shape and focus bandwidth as never before.

The software built using open software and open standards resides at the edge of the network and enables proactive network management. Whether your network is wired or wireless, RocksteadyNSA gives you the ability to prioritize, segment and securely deliver business-critical services. A combination of dynamic bandwidth management and security enforcement enables advanced centralized management capabilities that will:

RocksteadyNSA is standards-based, so it complements your existing IT structure and connects seamlessly with existing backend systems. The software installs and runs on standard and scalable x86-based hardware and provides support for industry standard protocols.

Contact: Eric White, VP of Engineering, 512-427-1319,
ewhite [at] rocksteady <dot> com,

We welcome Ian Remmler as a new member to CACTUS. We thank Johnny Long, Thomas Benjamin, John Kingman, and David Crow for renewing their memberships.

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):

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.

CACTUS System News

by Lindsay Haisley

The Mailman and the Cactus

A substantial portion, if not the majority of list servers running on Linux/Unix platforms use a list server package called mailman, "the GNU Mailing List Manager." CACTUS has for years been using a package called ezmlm-idx, which is perhaps the 2nd most popular list manager. Ezmlm is tightly integrated with qmail, the MTA on Like qmail, ezmlm (originally written by qmail author Dan Bernstein) is lean and mean. It leverages qmail's speed and versatility and is definitely a first rate list manager. It's still the list manager I'd recommend where speed and performance are mission-critical.

Mailman, however, has some features which make it ideal for situations where ease of use by both subscribers and list admins is an important factor. Ezmlm is controlled either by sending mail to special addresses, of which it has a bewildering profusion, or from a collection of CLI utilities with a similarly bewildering profusion of command switches and options. It's quite versatile, but it's not trivial to set up a list. Mailman, while having a pretty fair set of both of these control interfaces, also sports a very logical and easily navigated web-based UI where list subscribers, moderators and administrators can do just about any task appropriate to a mailing list management and use. The CLI interface is still there, and as always, it's the hook to use when scripting list management tasks on Unix or Linux. I haven't seen any performance statistics, but I would suspect that for a high volume list, mailman, being written in an interpreted language (python) might have trouble keeping up with a list manager such as ezmlm which consists of a collection of compiled binaries.

CACTUS is trying to expand its use of mailing lists beyond the current two or three, and to make things easier for everyone, I've installed mailman on At this point, our jobs list has been moved over onto mailman, and our 'cactus-news' newsletter list is a move in progress, thanks to the efforts of our newsletter editor Chip Rosenthal. Our first post to our lists was a South African 4-1-9 money laundering scam/spam email submitted for moderation as a non-member post and, of course, rejected. So we know the install works as expected :-)

For any CACTUS member with web access, the URL base for our new mailman install is <>. From there, you can manage your subscription on any CACTUS list to which you're subscribed. Here's a summary of the lists currently set up or under consideration.

We have a mailing list working group set up. If you have suggestions or comments about CACTUS lists, or lists you'd like us to host, or features you'd like to see on existing lists, you can email the working group at listmasters [at] cactus <dot> org.

CACTUS Officers

President: Lindsay Haisley (fmouse at
Treasurer: Johnny Long (longjy at
Programs: Randy Zagar (jrzagar at
Membership: Luis Basto (basto at
Publicity: Thomas Bodine (tbodine at
Newsletter: Chip Rosenthal (chip at
Scribe: Ron Roberts (ronro at
at Large:
Mark Scarborough (mscar at
M.H. Khan (mhk at

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)
CoreNAP, L.P. (
(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 (
Internet service provider. (
IT operations and management solutions to small and midsized businesses.

CACTUS Sponsors

Dresser Industries - Wayne Division (
(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 (
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 (
(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 (
Fastest reliable network fileservers.
Austin Code Works
(Scott Guthery, 258-0785, info [at] acw <dot> com) (
(Steve Locke, (800) 977-3475), swl [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)
Hounix (
(Marilyn Harper)
Houston's Unix Users Group.
Network Appliance Corporation (
(Frank Mozina, fmozina [at] netapp <dot> com)
O'Keefe Search (
(John O'Keefe, john [at] okeefesearch <dot> com, 512-658-9224 or 888-446-2137)
Professional recuiting.
Rocksteady Networks, Inc. (
(Eric White, 512-427-1319, ewhite [at] rocksteady <dot> com)
Dynamic bandwidth management and security enforcement.
Sailaway System Design
(Chris J Johnson, 447-5243)
Schlumberger (
(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)
Starflight Corp. (
(Jon Roland, jon <dot> roland [at] the-spa <dot> com)
Computer consulting, management solutions, documentation, and technical writing.
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)

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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