MUUG Monthly Meetings for 1999-2000

Please note our meeting location: IBM Canada's offices in the TD Centre, at the corner of Portage and Main. We gather in the lobby on the main floor - please try to be there by about 7:15 PM. Steve Moffat will then take us up to the meeting room just before the meeting starts at 7:30. Don't be late, or you may not get in.

Parking is available either in the parkade behind the TD building, off Albert Street, or in the ground level lot just north of the TD building. Entrance to the lot is from Albert Street, behind the parkade. Either way, parking is a $1.25 flat rate for the evening. You purchase your ticket from a dispenser, so make sure you've got exact change - a loonie and a quarter, or 5 quarters.

September 14, 1999: VMware

Our feature presentation this month was VMware, demonstrated by Kevin McGregor. This product lets you run multiple operating systems on your PC at the same time! That's right, we don't mean just installed and sitting on your hard drive taking up space, but actually running side-by-side on your screen in full glorious colour. No more rebooting to Windows to run that one last darn program that you haven't found a Linux equivalent for.

Want to try a new Linux distribution or just a different kernel version? Or check out that Beta copy of Windows 2000 without trashing your hard drive? This is the product for you! (The preceding announcement was brought to you by Kevin, who is not in any way employed by, or affiliated with, VMware Inc.)

Kevin described the main features of VMware, some of its strengths and its limitations. He then demonstrated multiple VMware sessions running simultaneously on a Linux box, each one running a different system (Linux, DOS, Win98, WinNT Workstation and Server), and all communicating with each other using SMB-based protocols over TCP/IP on a virtual LAN.

October 12, 1999: Gnome and KDE

One thing sadly lacking from X11 for a long time was an easy to use, standard, and consistent desktop environment. A couple of open source projects that have attempted to fill that void are Gnome and KDE. In this presentation, we looked at both.

Bill Reid presented Gnome, and covered a brief history of the Gnome project, features of the Gnome environment, a demo of Gnome applications and utilities, and the configuration of the Enlightenment Window Manager. Harry Lakser presented KDE, covering a brief history of the KDE project and Qt, features of the KDE environment, and a demo of some KDE applications and utilities, especially kppp.

November 9, 1999: Current and Future Networking Technologies

Bill Reid, of the University of Manitoba, was back again for our November meeting. Bill's presentation, covered networking technologies such as Gigabit Ethernet, Quality of Service, ATM, ISDN, cable modems, ADSL, Voice over IP, VPN and optical networking. Bill also demonstrated a low-cost wireless home solution, the Aviator 2.4 wireless networking kit, based on IEEE 802.11 FHSS technology.

December 14, 1999: Play That Funky Christmas Music

This month, we once again covered a lighter topic, in keeping with the season. We looked at various programs and utilities under Linux for working with audio content. Kevin McGregor started by describing and demonstrating BladeEnc, an MP3 encoder for WAV files, and then talked about XMMS, the X Multimedia Sound system, which allows recording and playback of audio from various sources. Gilbert Detillieux focussed on a couple programs for dealing with CD digital audio content: cdparanoia, for ripping (extracting) audio tracks, and cdrdao, a program for doing Disk-At-Once recording of audio and multimedia CD-R's. Gilbert then talked about (but couldn't demonstrate), a front end application called xcdrdao, and another front end application called grip, which is a CDDB aware player that controls the ripping and encoding of selected audio tracks.

In the discussion that followed, a member mentioned another MP3 encoder, called LAME, which can do variable bit-rate encoding. There's also one called not-lame, a further refinement of LAME, and GoGo, which is based on LAME but runs much faster. Additional discussion dealt with topics like CD-R formats, and quality of different brands. Someone mentioned the CD-R FAQ as a good place to get information about this, as well as a study on CD-R quality available at CD Media World.

January 11, 2000: Amanda Saves the Day!

OK, so you've got a huge network of workstations, each with disks to backup (assuming Y2K didn't wipe them all out), and only one server with a tape drive. What can coordinate all of that? How do you schedule all the backups, so everything gets backed up frequently enough? Are there enough hours in the day? Relax! Let Amanda save the day (and your data) for you.

Amanda (the Advanced Maryland Automatic Network Disk Archiver) is not only one of the world's most contrived acronyms, it's also a very powerful, flexible, and (best of all) free piece of software which implements a client/server architecture for backing up your networked UNIX systems. In this presentation, Gilbert Detillieux described Amanda's features and architecture, shared some of his experiences with setting it up in a production environment, and demonstrated it in operation by dialing in to a site that uses Amanda for its daily backups.

One of Amanda's greatest shortcomings, its lack of good documentation (particularly a good overview and/or tutorial), is being addressed. Amanda is covered in reasonable detail in Chapter 4 of the book Unix Backup & Recovery, by O'Reilly & Associates, Inc.

February 8, 2000: InterSystems Corp. and Caché

Steve Ober, Business Development Manager with InterSystems Corporation, was our guest speakers for this month's meeting.

Caché is a post-relational database that gives you both an Object and Relational view of your data, which is hence accessible through Java, COM, ODBC, C++, Corba etc. Steve described Caché from both the developer's and system manager's perspectives, as well discussing InterSystems Corporation in general and how they deal with customers. More detailed information about Caché is available at their web site.

February 17, 2000: Linux Demo Day

In association with, a local Linux event was held to increase awareness of a low cost MS Windows alternative, and to help people get started with Linux. It was held at the Polo Park Chapters (2nd floor), at 695 Empress St., from 4:00pm to 9:00pm. There were seminars on basic Linux functions, displays of computers running linux, and givaways. It was for anyone; from a business looking to set up a network and researching the possiblities, to a home user who doesn't want to shell out for a new OS. Sponsors lined up included Caldera, SGI, Redhat, and a local sponsor, Microtrader.

This event was not affiliated in any way with MUUG, but we thought it would be of interest to the Manitoba UNIX/Linux community. For more information, check out the Linux Demo Day web site, or contact the event coordinators.

March 14, 2000: Maximum RPM, Minimum Hassle

This month, a larger than usual gathering (37 people) provided for a lively round-table discussion. Topics included availability (or lack) of 3-button mice, scroll wheel support in XFree86, Linux support for WinModems, laptops that are Linux-ready, wearable computers, and changes in the CA domain registration process. There was also a lot of discussion about various Linux distributions, including Red Hat 6.2 beta (Piglet), TurboLinux, LinuxPPC, and Alpha ports. One member, Chris Hill, offered to download any distribution people would like, using his high-speed Internet connection, and burn it to CD-R, for a reasonable cost (to cover expenses).

After the break, Gilbert Detillieux took us on a quick tour at Maximum RPM! Specifically, we looked at using the RPM (Red Hat Package Manager) utility. This program is well documented in the book Maximum RPM, which is available online at the RPM web site, in both PostScript and LaTeX source form, and in printed form from SAMS Publishing (although it may now be out of print). A site in Germany also has the text in HTML form.

In this presentation, Gilbert took us through the main features of RPM, as described in the book, starting with using the rpm command to effectively manage installed software on your Linux system, using query and verify options to check what's installed, and ending off with using rpm to build packages from scratch, including setting up a spec file. He also covered some of the new features in version 3.0, which aren't mentioned in the book. This included a look at custom --queryformat option arguments, and some popt aliases you could add to your .popt or /etc/popt file. It also included the %_topdir RPM macro (e.g. in .rpmmacros), and the BuildRoot: and Prefix: tags (in spec files), to allow non-root installs of source RPM's, builds into temporary install directories, and relocation of the binary package when installed, respectively. (Many of these new features are documented in text files in the /usr/doc/rpm-* directory on a Red Hat Linux system.)

April 11, 2000: Why Linux on a Floppy?

Kevin McGregor, MUUG's ever-informative newsletter editor, described and demonstrated a few Linux distributions that go against the current "bigger is better" trend. These are small, special-purpose distributions optimized for minimal hardware requirements, usually residing entirely on one or two floppy disks.

Why would anyone want to run an operating system from a floppy? And how much functionality can you fit on one of those, anyway? We're not talking even a Zip disk here! Kevin's presentation hopefully answered these questions and more, by showing some of the features and benefits of the various distributions.

For more information on the distributions covered at the meeting, see kernelnotes under the Small distributions category, and Linux Weekly News' Distributions page (or go to LWN's home page and click on Distributions in the Sections column on the left). Also, information on the FireBox router with Linux in Flash-ROM (which Adam Thompson mentioned) can be found at WatchGuard's web site.

May 9, 2000: Security on your Home Network: First Steps

Michael Doob, of the University of Manitoba's Math department, joined us again, to talk about home networks. First, this talk addressed the following questions: what information about internet security is already on my computer and how can I get more if necessary? Then we looked at some precautions and software available to check who's doing what. Finally we saw how to set up and configure a firewall, using ipchains with Linux 2.2 kernels.

Michael has provided some online notes for this presentation.

June 13, 2000: IBM VisualAge for Java

This month, Steve Banks from IBM in Winnipeg presented VisualAge for Java. Steve is a Computer Engineering graduate from the U of M, and a software developer with IBM. He has been using VisualAge for Java for the past year in a team-based, collaborative software development project.

Steve's presentation covered the following topics: the VisualAge development environment, the repository (the database used for revision control), the debugger, Enterprise Java Beans, WebSphere and Servlets, and Installation on Linux and Windows.

July 2000: No meeting this month

August 2000: No meeting this month

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