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13 - 14 February 2002

Speakers & Presentations The names below are in alphabetical order:


The names below are in alphabetical order:

Paul Anderson, Edinburgh University

Large-scale Linux Configuration with LCFG

Abstract: This paper describes the automatic installation and configuration system currently being used to manage several hundred Linux machines in the Division of Informatics at Edinburgh University. This is a development of the LCFG system which has been used successfully for several years under Solaris. The introduction provides some background on the general problem of large-scale configuration, together with a short comparison of typical solutions, and a brief description of the original LCFG system. The specific changes required to support Linux are then discussed; in particular, the issues of installation bootstrapping, and the updaterpms program. This automatically synchronises client software packages with a specification in the central database. We describe how the system is used in practice, and how it enables us to automatically maintain large numbers of machines with very diverse and evolving configurations. Some future plans are then discussed, including a major reworking of the LCFG implementation, LDAP integration, and our intention to make the technology more widely available.

Jim Davies, University of Oxford

A Web-based Administration System

Abstract: With students scattered all over the world, Oxford University's Software Engineering Programme had an acute need for effective administration. The answer was a web-based administration system. Students and staff can log in from anywhere to submit assignments, book courses, make requests, download material and update records. This talk will explain how the system works and examine the lessons learnt, thus far, from the whole project.

Andrew Findlay, Skills 1st Ltd

LDAP and Security

Abstract: LDAP can be used as a Network Information Service, holding data such as user account information and automounter maps. Using such a network service rather than local files has obvious benefits where a number of machines are under common management. Unfortunately, the documentation on setting up LDAP in this way is rather thin, and none of it describes how to make the system really secure against attack.
This paper will describe what is possible using LDAP today, and provide some pointers for those trying to use the strong security facilities.

Jonathan Hogg (Matt Holgate & Will Partain)

The Arusha Project

Abstract: See http://ark.sourceforge.net/

The Arusha Project is an independent open-source project centered on the premise that the best hope for Unix system administration at modest-sized sites is through large-scale Internet-wide collaboration. We present a simple object model as a thinking tool, and an XML-based configuration language as a concrete notation for expressing system-administrative facts. We show how this framework allows a gentle evolution from current practices, but gets us quickly to very powerful ways of working.

Stuart McRobert, Imperial College

Faster and Faster Networks &
Update on SunSITE Northern Europe

Abstract: This talk updates previous conference presentations with news of some of the latest developments and possible future directions.

Gigabit Ethernet has seen significant market adoption and quicker than anticipated growth in many areas. Meanwhile 10 Gigabit Ethernet is coming along nicely, with IEEE standardisation progressing well and early products expected to appear very soon. Capable of operating both in the LAN and WAN, this may offer a solution for future campus network bandwidth requirements and grids, especially as demanding E-Science initiatives become more mainstream.

For the mobile user 11 Mbps Wi-Fi Wireless Ethernet has proven to be highly popular, builtin to many laptops and usable from handheld PDAs upwards. There are however some security issues worth considering. Proposals for wireless Ethernet public-access from railway stations, hotels, airports, and planes in flight have also emerged. Higher-speed wireless Ethernet (802.11a) at 5GHz will also be discussed.

Finally, the talk will close with news of a new Sun SITE Northern Europe mirror FTP archive.

Wayne Pascoe, MolemanArmy

A business case for FreeBSD

Abstract: The aim of this talk is to show how FreeBSD can benefit your business. My second aim is to give you the information you need to persuade your current and future companies that FreeBSD is a viable platform.
See http://www.molemanarmy.com/bsdcon/


Peter Polkinghorne, Kingsford Stacey Blackwell

Containing Windows

Abstract: SAMBA PDC, etc., as used in a law office environment
How to add Windows Applications in a Sun/Xterminal environment was the problem facing Kingsford Stacey Blackwell, a commercial legal practice. This talk looks at the solution adopted along with alternatives considered. The key technologies discussed will be Samba including use as a PDC, Tarantella (commercial java-based remote application access product) and rdesktop (open-source client for Windows Terminal Server RDP protocol). The design of the system including authentication and experiences will be covered.


Alain Williams, Parliament Hill Computers Ltd

Robust Production Systems: Configuration and Tracing --
Making it Easy, Getting it Right!

Abstract: There is a wide chasm between getting a program to work and getting it to the level of reliability needed in a commercial production environment. Once there failures will still occur since all inputs are unlikely to be under the control of the program designer/maintainer,also business changes elsewhere can have far reaching effects. When (not if ) something goes wrong how do you or the operation staff trace the fault? Fundamental to this is the collection of forensic information to allow them to understand what happened (note the past tense). This paper describes one approach.

It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data.
The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes.

Mike Wyer, Imperial College

Lexis Exam Invigilation System
voted Best Practical paper at Usenix LISA, Dec.2001

Abstract: How does DoC's online Exam system work? What security holes are there, and how could they be exploited to cheat in exams? Is it possible for computers to be more secure and reliable than pen and paper? Mike Wyer, systems programmer in CSG and main Lexis developer, discusses the issues and technologies involved in developing and deploying Lexis. This talk has been presented recently to the 15th LISA conference in San Diego in December where it was voted Best Practical paper.


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