Volume 22, Number 6 - June 2006
Thursday, June 15, 7:00 PM
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 e-mail distribution. We welcome newsletter submissions by our members. Please contact newsletter [at] cactus <dot> org for more information.
This month's presentation will be "Pizza Eating" by the CACTUS Membership. It has been long understood that enthusiasts of UNIX-like operating systems typically gained much energy and insight from pizza. Thus, the reason why we have pizza at our CACTUS meetings each month.
This month, we will contribute some cash to the green frog and consume pizza like the operating systems hackers we all are.
The next CACTUS meeting will be held on Thursday, June 15, 2006 at 7:00 PM (doors open at 6:30 PM for pizza and informal discussion), in the auditorium of UT Applied Research Laboratories. (See end of newsletter for directions to the facility).
There was no program scheduled for the May CACTUS meeting, so members present engaged in lively discussions on a variety of topics. Brad Knowles, who's on the development group for the Mailman list server, talked a bit about Mailman and about Usenix LOPSA (League of Professional Systems Administrators) and SAGE (Systems Administrators' Guild). There seems to be a general consensus that at some point anyone who wants to use the title of "Systems Administrator" is going to be required to be certified by obtaining a license of some sort. LOPSA and SAGE want to be in the loop when this happens and have some input into the kinds of knowledge required to obtain such a certification.
There was much talk about the various CACTUS boxes. Randy wants to move all the basic CACTUS functions, such as our lists, our website and our membership database, onto bubba.cactus.org, but bubba has issues, and periodically lapses into a cyber-coma until awakened by a reboot. Randy is on the case, and working hard to make the box stable. Randy is doing a fine job, considering that he's a physicist by training it's generally conceded that physicists don't make good system administrators.
Yours truly spent some time giving Randy the basic cook's tour of qmail and Mailman on linux.cactus.org - your basic crash course for system admins - which will help him get things in order. Brad also volunteered to give Randy any help with Mailman which he may need. For some reason, no one seems to like qmail. Could it be that this is because it hasn't had a version upgrade in perhaps 8 years or so?
Gil chided the members and the officers about not getting articles for the newsletter to him in a timely fashion. Rightly so! In a moment of true compassion, however, he observed that the old members are all a little burnt out. Most of us have held most of the officer positions (some several times!) in rotation, and New Blood is much needed.
The pizza was good, the talk lively, and no one seemed overly disappointed that we didn't have a formal presentation.
Throughout UNIX history, the cat has been the faithful companion
of the true UNIX OS user. It started from a simple command
used to concatinate files -
However, as time went on and we found ourselves spending all
night trying to crank out a new driver, build a kernel, or
write cool open source software, we found the companionship
of our cats of the feline variety helped us keep our sanity.
Some open source developers prominently feature their cats as an integral part of their development team. The FVWM window manager (http://www.fvwm.org/) is one such project. In fact, some people have surmised that FVWM is an abbreviation for Feline Virtual Window Manager, and the developers' cats (past and present) are prominently featured on their web site. Dan Langille in Ottawa, Canada, who maintains The FreeBSD Diary (http://www.freebsddiary.org/)) and FreshPorts (http://www.freshports.org/) also has more than 2 cats and discusses them in one of his FreeBSD Diary entries (http://www.freebsddiary.org/cats/). Even your CACTUS Newsletter Editor has had at least one cat around from his hacking days as a teen through the present (http://www.kloepfer.org/gc2/cats.html).
I have been volunteering at the Austin Humane Society shelter (http://www.austinhumanesociety.org/) as a "cat socializer" for the last several months. This has provided a way to get me away from the keyboard and spend some time with our furry friends. On several occasions I have asked the cats there about various bugs in the Asterisk PBX. Their response: "Meow." In many cases, this was actually more helpful than the response (or lack thereof) I have gotten from the mailing list or the local user group.
So you ask, "How can I get one of these cats?" Well,
first thing I recommend doing is asking yourself if you can commit
enough resources to the care of your cat. Providing memory and
disk space isn't enough. Your cat will need a good quality
power supply (cat food), heat sink (cat litter), and software (toys)
for it's 18-20 year life. It will also need
preventive maintenance (yearly vet visits),
anti-virus subscription (vaccinations), and occasionally
something will break that will require costly repairs upwards
of $1,000. You will also need to provide a good
which means a commitment of time, and these days it's a good
idea to chroot your cat inside of
it run all over your filesystem can subject it to wildcard
animals, malicious code, and crashes (from a car)).
If you're convinced a cat would make a good addition to your development or system administration team, June is "Adopt A Shelter Cat" month at the Austin Humane Society - the adoption fee in June is $50 for most cats & kittens, and $35 for cats that have spent a long time at the shelter. For more information and directions to the shelter, pounce on over to their web site at http://www.austinhumanesociety.org/.
CACTUS would like to thank Luis Basto, Eric Jones, Sherry Lesikar, Ian Remmler, Mark Scarborough, and Randy Zagar for renewing their memberships.
And special thanks go to Flowing Circles Engineering (and Johnny Long) for renewing their sponsorship of CACTUS.
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.
CACTUS meets on the third Thursday of each month at the Applied Research Laboratories (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. 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.
IMPORTANT: The side parking lots inside of the Pickle Research Campus will be inaccessible to the main ARL entrance until sometime in early 2007 due to building construction. Therefore, if there is no parking available near the front entrance, you will need to find alternative parking across the street from the ARL building. Please be considerate and do not use the parking right outside the Jack In The Box.
Online maps are available at:
As always, please leave the facility as you saw it when you arrived.