MUUG Linux/System-Administration SIG Meetings for 1995-96

September 19, 1995: Linux Round-Table

Our first SIG meeting since May was fairly well attended (15 people), and made for a busy round-table discussion. There were many questions about setting up Linux and X, and working around bugs. There were also some general UNIX questions, and some strange problems reported.

Gilbert Detillieux announced a couple offers that have been made to the SIG, from companies providing products for the Linux market. SSC, publishers of the Linux Journal, are selling the LUG/nut CD to user groups only for a mere $6US per copy (minimum order of 5). MUUG has placed an order for 5 copies of the August edition, which we will make available to our members (we'll keep some copies for loaning out, but will be able to sell 2 or 3 copies). When future editions are announced, we'll let members know, so that you can place your order through us.

Also, Yggdrasil will be providing the Linux SIG with one free copy of each of their main products (Plug & Play Linux, The Linux Bible, and Linux Internet Archives). We will circulate them at meetings, once we receive them, and will likely add these to our ``lending library'' as well.

After the break, Gilbert presented ``Stupid Sound Tricks.'' This was a simple demo of a sound driver for Linux, which is software compatible with the driver for sound cards (like the Sound Blaster), but which can use the built-in PC speaker, or use a number of simple 8-bit D/A convertors that plug into the parallel port (schematics and parts lists are included in a document in the driver's archive).

As you might have guessed, the sound quality from the built-in speaker is pretty poor, but with a reasonable D/A convertor and appropriate amplifier, you can get acceptable sound via the parallel port (similar to the quality of an 8-bit sound card). It's an interesting option for systems (e.g. laptops) where a sound card may not be available. The driver is available via FTP.

October 17, 1995: Linux Round-Table

Another rather well-attended meeting, the October meeting also featured a very lively round-table discussion. There were general UNIX configuration questions, such as questions about setting up printer filters for the lpr spooler, SCSI configuration problems, and so on.

Linux specific topics included the current status of Slackware and various commercial distributions (such as Red Hat), discussion about ELF binary format and why it's a good thing, and reports of strange problems with various releases of the Linux 1.3 kernel.

Also, the new SIG coordinator, Doug Jackson, was introduced at this meeting. Doug will begin chairing the SIG meetings starting in November.

November 21, 1995: Installing Linux from CD-ROM

With the anticipated arrival of the SSC LUG/nut CD-ROM distribution (we have 5 copies on order), which contains both the Slackware and the Red Hat commercial Linux distributions, we thought this would be a good time to walk through the process of installing Linux, from scratch, using a CD-ROM. Unfortunately, the LUG/nut CD's had not arrived in time, so we used the Yggdrasil Plug & Play Linux, which we had recently received.

Installation was fairly easy, but was rather slow. Also, when doing only a minimal installation, symbolic links are set up to a "live" file system on the CD-ROM, so that you can access all of the software that hasn't been loaded onto your disk yet. This turns out to be necessary, in order to run the control-panel utility (X Window based), so that you can then select the packages you want loaded. The utility is very nice, and easy to use, but working off the CD-ROM in this way is terribly slow!

December 1995: No meeting this month

Please check out our Christmas Wine & Cheese, held as our general MUUG meeting for December. There will be some interesting items there for Linux fans.

We hope you enjoy the holidays, and we wish you all the best in the new year!

January 16, 1996: PPP and SLIP on Linux

In addition to the usual round-table discussion, this meeting featured a very informal how-to presentation on how to set up PPP access under Linux, by Gilbert Detillieux. The presentation included a live demo of the software (we didn't have the projection pad, so we had to gather around a 15" monitor).

The demo made use of the pppd and chat programs that come with many Linux distributions, and also diald, a dial-on-demand daemon that lets you automate bringing the network link up or down, based on network traffic. In addition, a couple monitoring tools for diald, called diald-top and pppmon, were also shown. Most of the presentation concentrated on the various scripts and configuration files that need to be set up to get all of this working and tuned right. (The software described is available from MUUG's own FTP server, or directly from sunsite.)

February 20, 1996: Setting up NCSA's httpd Server

There was a small group (of about ten people) who attended the meeting, including a couple of new faces. The meeting began, as usual, with a short, open round-table discussion.

There was also a presentation by Guy Dreger and Doug Jackson (put together on short notice... Thanks Doug!) on how to install and configure a web server, specifically NCSA httpd 1.3R (which is known to be stable under Linux). A few people were already familiar with this server, but it sparked some interesting discussion while going through the configuration details. We used a ``ground zero'' approach, starting with where to find the software, how to compile it, where to install it, etc. The whole process only took about 30 minutes.

March 19, 1996: Installing Postgres Under Linux

Presented by Kelly Kitson and Doug Jackson. This was another last-minute presentation, and showed us Postgres, an Ingres-based relational database system for UNIX with object oriented capabilities. Kelly and Doug went through an installation from scratch on a Linux system, showing how it's done, and how to test out the database.

Postgres was a student's research project, and is not a full commercial product with nice front-end tools. It also uses a non-standard, but SQL-like query language. But it is a full relational database, it's free, and some interesting tools are being developed for it.

April 16, 1996: Installing and Running Java

Sun's Java language has become a hot topic these days. (Our February general meeting featured a look at Java and HotJava.) With this meeting, we looked at specific issues involved in getting Java installed and running under Linux. This includes information you won't find at either sunsite or javasoft.

May 21, 1996: TeX and LaTeX on Linux

Presented by Michael Doob, of the University of Manitoba, Math Department. TeX and Linux have similar histories in many ways. Both are large (suites of) software, both started out as a one-man project that grew with the help of innumerable volunteers, both are available for free, or can be purchased on a CD-ROM for convenience, both are completely obtainable over the Internet, and both have had a major impact on a broad spectrum of users.

TeX is the older of the two projects, and in fact a TeX distribution (the Linux T series) was one of the earlier packages available for use with Linux (it is remarkable in itself that after a dozen years TeX remains the premier typesetting engine for mathematics). Different packages available for use with TeX have been evolving to address some of its deficiencies (which we'll talk about), and now Linux users are contributing to the TeX world. The talk focussed on a relatively new release, teTeX by Thomas Essers, which was designed to run under Linux, but is now spreading to other UNIX platforms.

The teTeX distribution is available from its maintainer's ftp site. A selected subset of those files, i.e. the one's that Michael used for the installation under linux, are available locally. Several sample files that Michael used, a teTeX FAQ, and installation instructions are also available here.

June 1996: No meeting this month

We hope you enjoy the summer, and we hope to see you again in the fall!

July 1996: No meeting this month

August 1996: No meeting this month

* Go to the MUUG Home Page.