Rich MacKinnon of the Austin Wireless City Project
Thursday, August 19, 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, August 19, 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).
Rich MacKinnon (of the Austin Wireless City Project) is scheduled to present at our August meeting. Gil Kloepfer is scheduled for September with his VoIP project.
There was no July CACTUS newsletter, so president Lindsay Haisley offered to relieve Ray Solanik of the editorship. Ray assured the membership that he would produce the newsletter. Lindsay then read a letter from the Austin Linux User Group (ALUG) concerning the proposed Infofest. Because ITEC Austin has been cancelled, several groups are trying to put together an alternative venue for 2004. After much discussion, the consensus seemed to be that there wasn't time to organize anything for this year, but we might want to participate in 2005.
Lindsay announced that the old officers [at] cactus <dot> org and admin mail lists were retired because of the high level of spam they were attracting. He has implemented new lists: officers [at] lists <dot> cactus <dot> org. Posting to these lists will be limited to CACTUS members.
Some members complained that sshd was unavailable on linux.cactus.org for most of Monday before the meeting.
Lindsay mentioned that he was trying to get Rich McKinnon of the Austin Wireless Project to present at the August CACTUS meeting. One member suggested that we get Bruce Stroustroup as a speaker. He's currently a professor at Texas A&M University, lives in Austin, and is an authority on C++. Gil Kloepfer said he was putting together a presentation on Asterisk, which is a public domain software PBX he's been running on Debian Linux.
Treasurer Johnny Long once again reported that our finances were about the same. Lindsay mentioned that they needed to get together to change banks. A discussion ensued about which banks or credit unions offered the best deal.
Program chair Randy Zagar then introduced himself to speak about customizing Solaris Jumpstart. Jumpstart is a process that installs Solaris onto a system via the nework that requires no user interaction at the console. No keyboard, mouse nor monitor is required. It also customizes the installation for system name, network configuration, and other local toolsets. Randy mentioned that the Jumpstart Technology Book from Sun Blueprint was considered to be the bible. More precisely, he pointed out that it was the old testament. The new testament is the online version of it. Jumpstart is a rapid method install many computers at a time. You can customize it by eliminating for instance, the power management package. This allows you to standardize the software configuration also. It makes emergency recovery easier as well.
Jumpstart doesn't require a Solaris server. The server only needs about five gigabytes of disk space, an NFS server, a Bootp server, and a TFTP server. The server needs to know some things about the client: the type of architecture (uname -m), the MAC hardware address of the network adaptor, and the IP address. The MAC and IP addresses go into the /etc/bootparams file. Randy noted that you should be consistent when supplying names--using the long or short forms. For instance, don't use machinename in one place, and machinename.domainname.com in another.
Configuring the jumpstart server requires installation of the Solaris OE Jumpstart Server CDROM. Then you run setup_install_server. For defining the clients, use add_install_client. For hands free install, you must answer all the usual questions such as locale type, timezone, network card, netmask, security policy, name server, etc. Generally, you can combine information common to all systems in a profile file. You can have several profiles: one for engineering, one for management, and another for the sales department. Descriptions of install type (complete distribution, software development, or desktop), package descriptions, and partition information would comprise the profile. You can further differentiate the clients by using a rules file, which could describe how to partition disks of different sizes.
Once the server is configured, the client typically performs a boot -net, which makes a bootp request. The server supplies the client with an IP. The client then requests a boot image via tftp. The server selects the image you specify for that client (identified by MAC address), and the installation occurs with out any human intervention.
Randy entertained a number of questions and comments from members who had used the Jumpstart process in different environments.
Thanks to Randy Zagar for the knowledge transfer.
by Lindsay Haisley
Once again, I'd like to thank BestRegistrar of Louisville, KY for their sponsorship gift of a registration for our cactus.org domain name. BestRegistrar has been doing this for us for a number of years now, and they're listed among our sponsors, but a reminder of how and why we continue our relationship with these folks is appropriate.
Back in the Bad Old Days of the late 90's our choice of domain name registrars was pretty simple. There was NSI, and, well, then again there was NSI. Registrations were slow, service was terrible, business practices were squirrelly and registrations were expensive. With the advent of ICANN, the DN registration business was opened up to competition and one of the first companies to get involved was a small company in Kentucky called Computer Analytical Systems. I came across these folks pretty much by accident when I was looking for alternatives to NSI. Their prices were reasonable, and above and beyond that, they were extremely pleasant, quick and helpful with any domain name registration problems I might have. After struggling with NSI for so long, the difference was like night and day. I eventually transferred almost all of my domain name registrations to them, and have never looked back.
Computer Analytical Systems adopted the name BestRegistrar for their name registration business, and have been in the business longer than just about anyone except for NSI and a few other early-birds. They're CORE SRS (Shared Registration System) participants and continue to offer exceptional service to their DN registration customers. You'll find them on the 'net at http://www.bestregistrar.com. If you run a business, they'll be happy to set up an account for you. If you want to talk to them, you can call them at (800) 977-3475. Talk to Steve Locke, who's their Main Man for DN registrations. Tell 'em CACTUS sent ya :-)
We'd like to welcome our newest corporate sponsor to CACTUS, Veraci Inc. Veraci provides enterprise-grade scheduling software in the form of affordable, web-based hosted scheduling solutions. Contact: Michael Shrivathsan, michael [at] veraci <dot> com, 244-7738 http://www.veraci.com We'd like to thank Prog, Inc. for renewing its corporate sponsorship. Prog Corp develops educational materials that address a range of ability levels and subject areas and are used for in-service training, classroom teaching, and independent study. They also provides consulting services for instructional program design, development, and implementation. Contact: David Mallis, mallis [at] cactus <dot> org, 451-7191 http://www.cactus.com/~prog Yes, we have a new member. Let's welcome Randall Bourland as the newest member to CACTUS. We would like to thank Randy Zagar, Sherry Lasikar, David Wieboldt, John Fusselman, and Davil Mallis for renewing their membership.
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. -->
Because of our change of editors on the CACTUS newsletter, July's newsletter never made it to the public eye until last week. I've been mostly out of town, so I don't have much new news, but because a couple of items in the July System News column were pretty important and I'm just going to mention them here and refer to links to the full articles in last month's newsletter online.
Once again, the /home filesystem on linux.cactus.org filled up this spring. I did a bit of rogue programming and came up with the CACTUS Prize Hog competition, the results of which are displayed in the MOTD on linux.cactus.org, visible when one logs in. I'll refer you to http://www.cactus.org/Newsletter/cn200407.html#systemnews for full details. The system seems to be working :-) We're down to only one prize hog! Thanks, everyone, for your cooperation.
I've revamped some of our lists, added a couple of new ones, and did a bit of hacking so that the officers' mailing list at is open posting for CACTUS members and moderated for non-members. If you're a member and having trouble posting to the officers, or if you want to reach the CACTUS officers (a.k.a. the Board of Directors) at their new address, please read the online article in the last newsletter (same URL as above). We've had at least a couple of very capable members who've had some trouble reaching the officers, and hopefully, getting this information out and available to all our members will solve any such problems.
|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.