Customizing Solaris Jumpstart Installations
Thursday, May 20, 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 http://www.cactus.org/Newsletter/. There you will find archives of back issues, as well as instructions on how to subscribe to the email distribution.
The next CACTUS meeting will be held on Thursday, May 20, 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 Customizing Solaris Jumpstart Installations. Our presenter will be Randy Zagar.
President Lindsay Haisley expressed concern about our financial solvency. Treasurer Johnny Long reported that we were still solvent, but Lindsay calculated that if we continue to spend money on outside speakers, that we would soon be unable to afford pizza.
Lindsay announced that Mailman was now installed as our new list server. Gil Kloepfer reported that he had received an automated email indicating erroneously that his membership had expired. Program chair Randy Zagar noted that Tracy Clark of the Austin Linux Users Group (ALUG) had twice approached him suggesting that they consolidate their meeting with CACTUS for one meeting per month. Tracy, who was present, extended an invitation to CACTUS members to attend ALUG meetings. ALUG has dues, but do not provide pizza at meetings. Lindsay indicated that we should maintain our separate identity, but welcome Linux enthusiasts to our meetings. Randy Zagar said that no speaker was signed up yet for the May meeting.
Randy Zagar then introduced the featured speaker, Eric White of Rock Steady Networks. Eric had worked at UT ARL previously, so he felt at home in the auditorium and already knew Randy and Gil. Rock Steady produces a Linux based product. From http://www.rocksteady.com/products/index.html:
RocksteadyNSA&trade (Network Sharing Application) is a software platform that resides at the edge of the network and enables proactive network management. Whether your network is wired or wireless, RocksteadyNSA give 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:
- Ensure high levels of service for business-critical applications
- Eliminate abusive and inappropriate behavior (AUP)
- Enforce business and network policies
- Improve user satisfaction
- Lower operational costs
Eric referred to the product as the sweet spot where the LAN meets the WAN. Rock Steady has a lot of ex-Vignette employees, though Lenny Tropiano also works there. They are very much part of the open source community, returning some source to Netfilter and other open source projects that they employ in their product.
Rock Steady tries to help service providers reduce costs. Schlumberger uses Rock Steady to remotely manage networks at international locations. Using VPN over commodity network service such as British Telecom can be quite a challenge. Eric noted that Scottish telephone server sucks.
The RockBox [TM] is an off the shelf Dell computer with two network interfaces (NICs) that serves as a gateway/firewall that arbitrates access to a network. The device is at layer three and above in the seven layer OSI model. The RockBox can detect aberrant behavior that is usually indicative of a virus or a worm. Commodity cable providers such as Time Warner haven't figured out that they are network providers yet; they see themselves as bandwidth providers. Time Warner in Kansas City uses Trip Point, but because it causes significant latency, they only turn it on when there's a problem. They don't understand their customers. Rock Steady has a patent pending on their Abnormal Behavior Detection scheme.
The product doesn't support IPv6 yet. Most all Rock Steady employees have Rock Boxes at home. "We try to eat our own dog food." Lenny Tropiano performed the demonstration connecting to his box at home. Rock Steady has also implemented Voice over IP (VIOP) in its product--because guys like Lenny already knew how to do this. So Lenny couldn't resist making a call as part of the demo.
Rock Steady uses Bugzilla (renamed Rockzilla), which is incorporated into the interface for customers to report problems. They use the FreeSwan VPN. The provide a Walled Garden so customers can limit access for children or marketeers. They also maintain a Dark Space List and provide the capability for customers to prohibit access to these areas.
After the question and answer period, Eric invited us to take home a complementary rock containing their logo and contact information. He mentioned that experience had taught him to wait until after the presentation to prevent too much rock throwing. (Though the looked authentic, were harmless squishy plastic rocks.)
Thanks to Eric White, Lenny Tropiano, and Rock Steady Networks for an excellent presention.
by Lindsay Haisley
First, I'd like to extend a big Thank You on behalf of CACTUS to David Maynard and his company OutServ.net, Inc.. OutServ already hosts our Linux box for us, and now they've gone a step further by providing us with a SSL certificate authority signing for https://secure.cactus.org. This means that members logging in to our new Membership Maintenance and Information website (see the System News column) from any browser will get straight on to our new Membership Maintenance site without the annoyance of having to deal with the usual "Untrusted Certificate" dialog. Those of you with web server admin experience will know that this is a commercial service that generally costs between $100 and $200. OutServ is a retailer for certificate signings, and has kindly given us one as part of their sponsorship of CACTUS.
The issue of pizza at meetings, and the cost of it, is still with us. Basically, as I pointed out last month, we're eating our way through our treasury, little by little. The CACTUS officers have instituted a modest increase in dues, which will help, and I've started what I hope will become a tradition of soliciting donations for pizza at our meetings. I also cut back on our pizza order at our last meeting, and will be cutting back even further at the next one. I'm hoping that the combined effect of all of these measures will bring CACTUS back into level flight, financially. Chip Rosenthal made the point in discussion on the officers' mailing list that perhaps what we really need in lieu of a dues increase is work on building our membership numbers. This is certainly true, but more members = bigger meetings = more pizza, and there we jolly well are again.
In the course of discussion on the dues issue, Member At Large MH Kahn made a few good points, which got me thinking about the whole issue of pizza at CACTUS meetings and why we have it. So why do we have pizza at meetings, and have had since IT antiquity? It seems that geeks and pizza is rather like cops and doughnuts; it's one of those lifestyle => food associations that are more cultural than they are logical, and not necessarily congruent with our mission to promote Unix, Open Source and Open Standards. MH stated, very sensibly, that "Cactus meetings are not an all-day affair. While a potable water supply [is] desirable at a meeting venue, any food and refreshments for the convenience of those that come unprepared in that respect should be a fund-raising activity. (example: ala bake-sales, or the premiums charged for inopportune snack urges at the movies and airports)."
I, for one, really appreciate the pizza at our meetings, since I have to leave my house before 6 PM to get to the meeting, and seldom have time for a proper supper. Some organizations have later meetings, 8 or 9 PM, which gives attendees the opportunity to eat before the meeting, but CACTUS meetings start with informal gab and pizza at 6:30, which is right at dinner time. I've grown used to eating my supper at CACTUS, as many other members doubtless have as well, but I certainly don't have any objection to paying for what I eat, for the privilege of hanging out with my CACTUS friends and enjoying the conversation before the formal meetings.
MH made a couple of suggestions, both directed toward making the CACTUS food budget be self-sustaining. One of these was that we agree to allocate no more than 10% of our income for food at meetings. The rest would have to be made up through donations, charging for pizza, or whatever we had to do to cover the cost. The second suggestion was that we set up an additional membership category which MH called the CACTUS "Pizza-dinner Club". Members who don't regularly attend meetings would pay minimal dues, say $10 a year, and those who wanted to eat pizza at meetings would pay an additional $25 to be part of the CACTUS Pizza-dinner Club and have the privilege of eating pizza at meetings.
My sense is that the first of these two suggestions is the most workable, and that we can achieve the goal of reducing our pizza expenditure to 10% or less of our income without mandating it. Key to this, however, is collecting enough in donations at meetings to cover most of the cost of the food. At the last meeting we took in $25 in donations. The pizza cost us about $100 and sodas a bit more. We're going to have to do better than this, and I'm sure we can. I'm going to use the bully pulpit of the president's office at meetings to talk up the pizza donations program in much the same way that Public Radio does fund raisers. Everyone will get a chance to hear, at least several times at each meeting, that the "suggested donation" for pizza is $3, and that if you want to help cover those of us who didn't bring any cash, or can't make change, put in an extra dollar or so.
So.... Happy computing and bon appétit.
by Luis Basto
We'd like to thank our sponsor, VoIPing, for renewing their corporate sponsorship.
VoIPing, LLC is a Central Texas privately owned and operated partnership specializing in IT Consulting and Services, with a strong emphasis on converged networks, Unix operating systems and Voice over IP (IP Telephony). The company is owned and operated by its partners, Brian Sinclair and Lenny Tropiano. With well over 40 years of combined experience, they've accomplished world class data center design, implementation and operations from the ground up in several local high-tech companies. They've put their expertise together to bring state-of-the-art converged networking (voice, video and data) to businesses. Projects done on time, on budget, and with strong return on investments (ROI) in mind.
Contact: (512) 698-VOIP 
Brian Sinclair, 512-426-9346, brian [at] voiping <dot> com
We also like to thank C. Unnikrishnan, Eric Jones, M.H. Khan, Bill Dodd, Tim Wood, Dee Booth, Michael Shaw, and Luis Basto for renewing their membership.
The CACTUS membership dues has remained unchanged for well over 10 years. In order to continue to bring great programs such as Eric Raymond, Siva Vaidhyanathan, etc. as well as to maintain the monthly high carbo pizza diet, we have decided to raise the membership dues. Effective as soon as you read this, or realistically after Jun. 15, 2004, the CACTUS membership dues will be:
The increase is very minimal and we hope you will agree that this is still a great value for what CACTUS provides.
To renew your membership, please send check or money order payable to CACTUS ($30/yr for regular membership and $100/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.
by Lindsay Haisley
I finally got a few round tuits together and did a bit of web programming for CACTUS which I've been planning to do for a long time. My goal in this is to make the CACTUS membership database a real resource for members rather than simply a record-keeping tool for the membership chairperson.
The starting point for the new Membership Services is https://secure.cactus.org/membership/memb_menu.php. Access to this page requires authentication. In order to log in, you'll need a shell account on linux.cactus.org. If you're a member and don't have an account, or if you have one and don't remember the password, contact Luis Basto at membership [at] cactus <dot> org and he'll help you out. Use the same system username and password you use to log in to your shell account to get to the new Member Services Menu.
Our most immediate need is to bring member contact information up to date. Many members have personal information on file in our membership database that's years out of date. Ron Roberts even had an ancient UUCP bang-path address for his current email address! This has become especially important now that we're sending out email notifications to expiring and recently expired members.
If you have a shell account on linux.cactus.org, please log in to the Membership Services page (we'll soon have a link on our main website for to it) and check out the contact information that we have on file for you. If any of it is out of date, please correct it. If you're a CACTUS member and don't have a shell account, please contact Luis Basto and get one set up. Even if you're a sponsor, and never use or need a shell account, please have Luis create one for you so that you can keep your information current.
You can also note the current status of your membership - when you joined, when your membership data was last modified, and when your membership comes up for renewal.
If you're concerned about privacy, you should note that in any event, no one but other CACTUS members will have access to your personal information. The Membership Services interface requires authentication, so it's never accessible to spam bots or casual Internet visitors. If you want even more privacy, you can select "No" for "Share my membership information with other CACTUS members" on the contact information page, and your personal information will be available only to CACTUS officers.
The new CACTUS Member Directory is the second option on the Member Services menu. This takes you to a simple directory of current CACTUS members. Here you'll find the the names, email addresses and phone numbers of all current CACTUS members who have chosen to share their information with other members. Hopefully, members will update their contact information as soon as possible, and the directory should become increasingly accurate and useful as this happens.
The Membership Services area is brand new, and although we've vetted it for security holes and bugs (and found and fixed several) there may still be unresolved issues. If you find you're unable to log in to the system, or are having trouble using it, or if you find a security hole which needs attention, please email admin [at] cactus <dot> org and I'll take a look at the problem. Many thanks to Gil Kloepfer who actually banged on the new system a bit and turned up a number of security issues which have been fixed.
|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)|
|Scribe:||Ron Roberts (ronro at bga.com)|
|Mark Scarborough (mscar at cactus.org)
M.H. Khan (mhk at cactus.org)
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.