MUUG Monthly Meetings for 2001-02

Please note our new meeting location: The IBM offices, at 400 Ellice Ave. (between Edmonton and Kennedy). When you arrive, you will have to sign in at the reception desk, and then wait for someone to take you (in groups) to the meeting room. Please try to arrive by about 7:15 PM, so the meeting can start promptly at 7:30 PM. Don't be late, or you may not get in.

Limited parking is available for free on the street, or in a lot across Ellice from IBM, for $1.00 for the evening. Indoor parking is also available nearby, at Portage Place, for $2.00 for the evening.

Also, don't forget about our MUUG t-shirt promotion, being coordinated by Shawn Wallbridge. If you're interested in a shirt, or in submitting a design suggestion, now's the time to respond.

September 11, 2001: Linux At The Movies

Final Fantasy, Shrek, Pearl Harbor, Titanic, Lord of the Rings, and The Matrix. What do all these movies have in common? Linux. Linux was used in some way during the production of each movie. Some were rendered completely on Linux, some used Linux for specialized tasks. This presentation will cover what software is available for the budding filmmaker running Linux. And we will answer the question: "Can you make a movie entirely under Linux?"

Shawn Wallbridge is the Systems Administrator at Frantic Films, one of Canada's leading Visual Effects studios. Shawn has covered network security topics under Linux at previous MUUG meetings, and returned for the September meeting with a visually interesting presentation. Several sequences were shown on videotape, showing the various filmed and computer-generated elements that were combined to create one of the most impressive 45 seconds of visual effects in any movie to date: the explosion sequence from Swordfish.

October 9, 2001: Consolidated Storage - SAN/NAS or something else?

Although most I/T professionals agree on the benefits of consolidating storage, there is some discussion as to whether a Storage Area Network (SAN) or Network Attached Storage (NAS) is the best strategy. The answer is that it depends; but making the choice, especially in the face of new emerging technologies is difficult.

Terry Baydock, Technical Sales Specialist with the Storage Systems Group at IBM Canada Ltd., was our presenter for this session, which explained the concept of Consolidated Storage and its benefits, and explored a few of the technologies available and on the near horizon for implementing a centralized storage infrastructure. Terry's presentation was in two parts: an overview of storage networking, followed by a more in-depth look at IP storage concepts. Handouts provided were a white paper entitled Demystifying Storage Networking, and a technical overview of IBM's Enterprise Storage Server.

The meeting started with a very lively round-table discussion, which covered many topics. Those who were interested in the upcoming release of Red Hat 7.2 might be interested in this ZDnet review.

October 20-21, 2001: Linux InstallFest

This was not a regular monthly meeting, nor was it a MUUG event, although many MUUG members volunteered to help. We joined the Prairie Linux User Group (PLUG), and the Winnipeg PC User Group's Linux Forum, for the 2001 Linux InstallFest, on Saturday, October 20, and Sunday, October 21, from 1 to 6 pm on each day. The event was held at the WPCUG club house, 337-C Pembina Highway.

November 13, 2001: Mini-HOWTO's on NTP and XINETD

This month, MUUG members Kevin McGregor and Gilbert Detillieux each covered a short topic, in a mini-HOWTO format. Kevin McGregor talked about NTP, the network time protocol, and the UNIX ntpd daemon which provides both client and server support for this protocol. Gilbert Detillieux talked about xinetd (pronounced ZY-net-dee), a powerful replacement for the UNIX inetd daemon, used for launching numerous TCP and UDP based network services.

A member suggested tcpserver as another alternative to inetd. It is written by Prof. Dan Bernstein at the University of Illinois (also the author of qmail and daemontools). Although it's limited to TCP-based services, it is designed to be efficient, and handle very high connection rates.

The round-table discussion covered a wide variety of topics, from MTS service to Solaris kernel tuning. A handy web site, called Unofficial Sun Blade 100 FAQ and Information, was suggested as a good source for information on the latter topic. If that site is unavailable, a Google search will point you to other sources.

December 11, 2001: Using Kickstart to Install Red Hat Linux Systems

According to Red Hat, ``Many system administrators would prefer to use an automated installation method to install Red Hat Linux on their machines. To answer this need, Red Hat created the kickstart installation method. Using kickstart, a system administrator can create a single file containing the answers to all the questions that would normally be asked during a typical Red Hat Linux installation.''

``Kickstart files can be kept on single server system, and read by individual computers during the installation. This installation method can support the use of a single kickstart file to install Red Hat Linux on multiple machines, making it ideal for network and system administrators.''

This month, John Schulz, from Pollard Banknote Ltd., presented a quick overview of Kickstart and a demo of the install process. Presentation notes are available online. John also provided online references to a HOWTO (now a little outdated but still useful), and documents on the Red Hat 7.2 Kickstart, and the Red Hat 7.2 Kickstart Configurator GUI.

January 8, 2002: Mac OS X - A UNIX Operating System?

The presenter for this month was Douglas Hamilton, Apple Product Professional at the University of Manitoba. His presentation described the BSD-UNIX underpinnings (Darwin) which comprise Apple's latest operating system, Mac OS X, and the differences between Apple's GUI (Quartz & Aqua) running on UNIX and X-Windows. Doug provided a hand-out which contained many useful Mac OS X references. Doug's Mac OS X presentation notes are also available online.

February 12, 2002: IMP - A Web-based E-mail Solution Using Open Source Tools

Companies are being challenged daily by their employees to provide access to company information from various locations. E-mail is one such source of information and can be accessed using Web-based tools.

This presentation focussed on IMP. IMP is the Internet Messaging Program (formerly, among other things, the IMAP webMail Program), a web mail system and a component of the Horde project. IMP offers most of the features users have come to expect from their conventional mail programs, including attachments, spell-check, address books, multiple folders, and multiple-language support. John Schulz, from Pollard Banknote Ltd., was back to present this month's topic.

Presentation notes are available online. A reasonable alternative web-based e-mail solution, SquirrelMail, was also suggested by a member in attendance.

March 12, 2002: GPG - GNU Privacy Guard

GnuPG allows multiple parties to communicate over e-mail in a secure manner. Using strong cryptography, not only can it protect documents from being read by other parties, but it can verify the integrity and sender.

This talk covered the problems associated with ensuring the security of e-mail, and the use of GnuPG to solve them. Sean Walberg was our presenter for this month's topic. He was joined by Apu, Barney, and Mr. Burns as the man in the middle. Presentation notes are available online at Sean's web site.

The round-table discussion included many topics, such as a mention of the Mid-Canada Information Security Conference 2002, to be held April 25 at the Winnipeg Convention Centre, and a Red Hat bootable rescue CD from Red Hat's German Support Site (also mirrored locally ), where you can also find a tarball which contains all the goodies and helper scripts that you need to roll your own ISO CD image. A user also later brought to our attention the Linux BBC (Bootable Business Card) page, which offers an alternative bootable CD image for emergency use. Another user pointed out a Linux Orbit article on floppy-based, mini Linux distributions, which mentions a crash recovery kit for Red Hat Linux.

April 9, 2002: LTSP - Linux Terminal Server Project

The Linux Terminal Server Project (LTSP) is a set of packages that allows you to turn older Intel-based hardware into thin-client X Window stations, with support for local devices. LTSP supports most Unix or Linux based servers, and hardware for the terminals ranging from 486-level boxes with 8 Megs of RAM on up.

Scott Balneaves, who's been working with the LTSP for a while, described and demonstrated an LTSP setup in action.

May 14, 2002: OpenBSD Installation

Did your Linux machine just get hacked? Do you want to run an operating system that hasn't had a remote root exploit in four years? Try OpenBSD. It runs on Alpha, Intel, most Macs, SPARCs, and more. It has binary emulation for most UNIX operating systems including SVR4 (Solaris), FreeBSD, Linux, BSD/OS, SunOS and HP-UX.

Shawn Wallbridge from Synack Hosting and Chris Lawson and Sean Cody from Tin Foil Hat were on hand to install OpenBSD 3.0 on a machine and explaining the process. They explained the ports system, how to use it and talked a bit about packages. The presentation included answers to a lot of questions from members in attendance.

June 11, 2002: OpenBSD Network Security with pf

Continuing with last month's presentation on OpenBSD, this month Shawn, Chris and Sean were back to discuss setting up an OpenBSD firewall. They talked about pf, the new firewall built into OpenBSD 3.0. Unfortunately, due to some technical difficulties with the equipment and a late start for the presentation (due to a very lively round-table discussion), there wasn't enough time left to also discuss VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) and setting up an IPSEC VPN using OpenBSD's isakmpd. Perhaps we'll invite them back in the fall to continue this topic.

MUUG Meeting Attendees, June 2002
"Say BSD!" (Photo courtesy of John Donovan)

July 2002: No meeting this month

August 2002: No meeting this month

Please note our new meeting location: The IBM offices, at 400 Ellice Ave. (between Edmonton and Kennedy). When you arrive, you will have to sign in at the reception desk, and then wait for someone to take you (in groups) to the meeting room. Please try to arrive by about 7:15 PM, so the meeting can start promptly at 7:30 PM. Don't be late, or you may not get in.

Limited parking is available for free on the street, or in a lot across Ellice from IBM, for $1.00 for the evening. Indoor parking is also available nearby, at Portage Place, for $2.00 for the evening.

* Go to the MUUG Home Page.