MUUG Monthly Meetings for 1998-99

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 8, 1998: Applied Multimedia Training Centre

This meeting, hosted by Dwayne Marling of the Applied Multimedia Training Centre, provided us with an opportunity to learn the power of Silicon Graphics (SGI), IRIX-based, 3D Animation Applications. AMTC's Animation Instructor Larry Mersereau discussed and demonstrated the latest in Computer Animation Technology as used in block-buster special effects movies like Titanic and Jurrasic Park. These features are computationally intense and rely heavily on the high-end, real-time graphics capabilities of the new SGI O2 UNIX systems. Larry's demo went in-depth on the advanced software functions of Softimage -- Dynamic Simulation, Displacement Mapping, Ray-Tracing and the use of Particles to create those incredible 3D effects.

The meeting started off with the usual lively round table discussion, which was dominated by discussion about the upcoming Linux Install Fest. The meeting ended with a door-prize draw for a copy of the O'Reilly & Associates book Linux in a Nutshell.

September 25 & 26, 1998: Linux Install Fest 1998

This was not a regular monthly meeting, but a special event, jointly hosted by MUUG, the University of Manitoba Department of Computer Science, and the Computer Science Student Association. If you're interested in Linux, you may want to find out what you missed!

A write-up of this event also appeared in the October 1998 MUUG Lines, as well as the January 1999 issue of Linux Journal (pages 82-83).

October 13, 1998: Low-cost Super-computing with Beowulf and PVM

Dr. Peter Graham, of the U of M's Computer Science department, spoke on the use of Intel x86 family processors running Linux to build a cluster parallel computer. The so-called Beowulf design approach utilizes off-the-shelf components, increasingly cheap high-speed networks, and public domain software to build computer systems capable of performing computations which were previously only feasible using extremely costly proprietary parallel machines. The results obtained using such machines are surprisingly good and the cost-performance ratio is excellent. Dr. Graham described the Beowulf software and hardware components, and talked about problems that can effectively utilize such technology.

The meeting started with the usual lively round-table discussion, and ended with a door-prize draw for two of our MUUG Online CD-Rs containing the Red Hat Linux/Intel 5.1 distribution. This particular distribution image was compiled from the free portions of Red Hat 5.1, available on our FTP mirror, and contained all the latest update packages. We will not be burning any more CD-Rs with this image, but we've made the ISO-9660 image for the CD available online for downloading, for those who may wish to burn their own copy.

November 10, 1998: Shaw@Home

This month, Mike McComb and Allan Churney from Shaw@Home provided us with a technical overview of another option for high-speed residential data communications that is being deployed in Winnipeg, the Cable Modem. Cable Modems promise a significant increase in data transfer rates over the conventional 28.8Kbps or 56Kbps modems. The presentation included a description of how a cable modem works, what happens at the subscriber and the provider ends, and the services provided by Shaw@Home. This was followed by a lively question & answer period, which covered lots of technical details, such as security issues, bandwidth and expected transfer rates, noise sensitivity and potential sources of interference.

The meeting started with the usual round-table discussion, which included such varied topics as Linux installation and setup, merging database output into TeX documents, strange X Window behaviour, and more. The meeting ended with door prize draws for t-shirts and mouse pads from Shaw@Home, and a t-shirt from O'Reilly & Associates (courtesy of Glen Ditchfield).

December 8, 1998: Play Time! (Games for UNIX and Linux)

This month, we examined the state of the art in UNIX and Linux games. Kevin McGregor, MUUG's own illustrious newsletter editor, presented a whirlwind tour of the best-of-breed games available for your home (or office!) UNIX/Linux system. There were some old stand-bys and classics including X-MAME, the Multi-Arcade Machine Emulator, which ran several of everyone's old favourites like Galaga, Asteroids, Frogger, Dig-Dug, and Gravitar. Kevin also talked about some of the more sophisticated game console emulators like the Atari 2600 VCS, and about work that's under way on Sony Playstation, NES, SNES, and Nintendo 64. Also shown or described were strategy games like FreeCiv (a Civilization II derivative) and some of the new 3D games. It was an exciting attempt by Kevin to cram all this into one short presentation.

As usual, we began with our round-table discussion, which was dominated (again) by discussions on the Millenium Bug and the hype that surrounds it. Also discussed were Netscape quirks, various ways of configuring a Linux system for PPP access, Linux ports (e.g. to the ARM processor), and various other hardware and software issues.

January 12, 1999: Linux Network Setup

OK, so you've just installed a brand-new copy of Linux on your system, and things went smoothly so far. Now what? Some of the setup issues that typically come up after you've installed Linux are network-related, such as PPP dial-up support, Ethernet network setup, BOOTP, DHCP, DNS, and so on.

Kevin McGregor gave a concise review of his experiences setting up his Red Hat Linux 5.1 system with the Shaw@Home cable Internet service. Most of his troubles and frustrations were not related to Linux, and not even directly related to the cable modem setup, but were Windows setup issues. After getting that working, the transition to networking under Linux was trivial, and simply involved enabling DHCP client support - the DHCP daemon and the corresponding server at Shaw's end did the rest.

Gilbert Detillieux provided a brief tour of the basics of setting up dial-up networking on a UNIX/Linux system, specifically PPP on Red Hat Linux, with a few side trips into various other configuration files, the syslog facility, and some of its log files.

February 9, 1999: XFree86 Setup

Due to a recent cancellation, we had to come up with a new topic on fairly short notice. We continued on the theme of post-installation setup issues, which we started with last month's presentations on network setup under Linux.

One of the most common, and potentially one of the trickiest, setup tasks under Linux is configuring the XFree86 server to work correctly - and optimally - for your graphics hardware. In this informal, interactive presentation, Gilbert Detillieux looked at some of the issues and some of the methods used to get X Window support up and running on a Linux system. This included a look at SuperProbe, the Red Hat Xconfigurator program, manual tweaking of the XF86Config file, the xvidtune utility, and finally a look at the new XF86Setup program that's included with the XFree86 distribution.

March 9, 1999: Virtual Network Computing (VNC)

VNC stands for Virtual Network Computing. It is, in essence, a remote display system which allows you to view a computing `desktop' environment not only on the machine where it is running, but from anywhere on the Internet and from a wide variety of machine architectures. The VNC protocol is completely platform independent. Servers and viewers exist for a variety of platforms. The viewer is stateless, small and simple. A viewer implemented as Java classes can be run from any Java-enabled web browser. And best of all, the software is free! (It's even available in RPM form, for various Red Hat Linux versions, on the MUUG FTP server.)

This month, Kevin McGregor presented VNC, and demonstrated the servers and viewers being run on a number of platforms, both local and remote. This included the Xvnc server, the X vncviewer, and the Java VNC viewer running in Netscape Navigator, all on an IBM ThinkPad, as well as remote VNC servers running on both a Red Hat Linux and a Windows NT system, accessed over a PPP connection.

A brief write-up on VNC appeared in the March 1998 MUUG Lines.

April 13, 1999: Network Infrastructure for E-Business

Mark Lehmann, from IBM, braved the rain and a bout of laryngitis to do this month's presentation, which focussed on trends in the Internet (what will the Service Provider Network look like over the next 5-10 years), trends in Local Area Networks (switching, ATM Backbone, Gigabit Ethernet), and technologies for the Internet such as web caching, server load balancing, and Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) using IP Security (IPSec).

Mark Lehmann is a Network Specialist in the IBM Networking Systems group. Mark has been with IBM for 13 years and has spent most of his career in the area of networking.

May 11, 1999: A Look at Solaris 7

Stephen Blight, from Sun, talked about some of the new technology that can be found in Sun's latest OS release, Solaris 7, which is available for both the SPARC and Intel x86 architectures. He also speculated on some of the directions Sun will take with the next releases, Solaris 8 (which is under development now), and Solaris 9. Stephen also provided the following interesting Solaris-related web sites:

June 8, 1999: Connecting a Home Network to the Internet

Michael Doob, from the University of Manitoba's Math department, did this month's presentation. The topic was as follows...

Upstairs/Downstairs, Inside/Outside, or
how to set up your own home network and connect it to the internet

In this presentation a minimal setup was described that allows several Linux computers to be used together in a home network. This permits the sharing of facilities such as a printer or hard disks among the computers. The network was then linked to the internet so that all machines have access through a single modem and internet account.

For the most part only standard UNIX or Linux tools were used. IP masquerading was used to connect several computers to the net through a single modem, and vnc was used to allow X Window applications to run from a masqueraded computer.

Michael provided us with a web page with his notes, for those who'd like to try this at home. The presentation prompted a lot of questions, and discussion on related networking topics, such as the Linux Router Project, where your entire system fits on a write-protected floppy.

The meeting began with a very lively round table discussion, which covered topics such as sound card configuration under Linux, installation issues with Red Hat 6.0, and a Linux emulator for Solaris/x86 called lxrun. (Various printed web pages on lxrun were circulated, including this press release and a technical overview from the Solaris Developer Connection). There was also a lot of discussion about VMware, a piece of software for Linux (and Windows NT soon) that uses the Pentium's virtual machine capability to let you run one or more ``guest'' operating systems simultaneously. (A write-up of this product also appears in the June 1999 MUUG Lines. Apparently, a new open source project, called freemware has been started, with the goal of producing something equivalent to VMware.)

July 1999: No meeting this month

August 1999: No meeting this month

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