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Editor's Column

(Susan Small)


The UKUUG is entering the new Millennium with a number of new recruits to the Council. They have submitted short biographies for this newsletter and would like your ideas as to what the Group should be focussing on in both the short and longer terms. With specific portfolios for each Councillor it is hoped that the UKUUG will be able to provide the services and events which you, the membership, require. However, it is vitally important to the Group's continuing success that you make your views known.

Some of your Council members recently caught up with Eric Raymond, who has been on a lecture tour of Europe, in order to discuss his involvement in our events for the year 2000. You will also find a review of his new book elsewhere in this issue.

At the time of writing this column, it had been agreed that there would be no Christmas goodie for you, in the shape of a cover CD. However, last minute emails have been flying around the ether and it may be that Andrew Macpherson will be able to perform his "Santa" role in time to include a disc. If so, the contents will be a nice surprise to unpack on Christmas morning.

My thanks as always go to the small and dedicated band of reviewers who provide us with useful snapshots of the latest books, CDs, etc. Thanks of course to Daf Tregear as well for getting the copy to me in good time.

May I wish you all whatever you wish yourselves for the Season and a trouble-free transition to the New Millennium (I get an extra day off work to give our System Administrator time to ensure everything is working smoothly. Lucky for some :-)).

Report from the Chair

(Charles Curran)

Charles With the departure of Lindsay Marshall from the Council -- thanks, Lindsay, for all your work and stirring presentations -- who had completed the maximum term, it fell to new Council to choose a new chairperson. I got the short straw!

For the second year running, most of the Council have been newly elected; there are now only two of us who have been in office slightly longer than a year. The new Council introduce themselves below.

I hope you can help us, especially with your suggestions for UKUUG activities. It may seem corny to say it, but the UKUUG is your group. We depend on each member to support and nurture the group and ensure that it has a relevance to those concerned with UNIX and open systems. Send your e-mails to ukuug-advisory@ukuug.org.

We look forward to seeing many of you at the last UNIX conference of this millennium -- well, everyone else is flogging that label -- which will be at Queens' College, Cambridge on 13-14 December. There are details elsewhere in the Newsletter and on the Web site.

New Council Members

Mike Clinch

Mike I am currently employed at Chigwell School as the ICT Technician. This post requires me to support the ICT committee with recommendations for the provision of, and upgrades to, the school network by recommendations for services and equipment with full costings. I currently look after ten buildings linked with Fibre and some 180 computers. as well as the school's PABX and Voicemail systems.

Before "retirement", I was a manager in BT. There, apart from being a UNIX systems manager for about 7 years, I did project development and management.

I have been co-opted to the council, to co-ordinate the School Focus Group. This is designed to bring to the attention of schools and Local Authorities, Open Source Software and its benefits and advantages.

Drew Durkin


Based in the north-east near Newcastle, I'm working for a company called DomainNames.com. I'm the UNIX administrator there but currently also writing web-based software to enable real-time updates by call-centre staff to customer's accounts.

I hope I can use my knowledge of running UNIX in a commercial enviroment to benefit the group. Linux, a relative newcomer to use in the commercial scene, is something I use a great deal. Whether it's at home on the desktop, or in the office as a mission critical server, I believe Linux has a great future ahead of it. We shouldn't however forget that there are many other flavours of UNIX out there, each with their own benefits (and flaws!), and should accommodate them on a whole.

Of course, I've only just appeared here on the council so as well as my own thoughts, I'm interested to see what ideas and inspirations members have for the UKUUG, and I'll try my best to help with them. Let's make the new year a good one for the UKUUG.

Happy Y2K!

Alasdair Kergon


Born and bred in Yorkshire, I'm currently employed by Sema Group in Reading and working with one of the retail banks to develop a new E-Commerce application.

In Oxford last January, I arranged a meeting to which I invited people who shared a common interest in discovering, developing and promoting Linux. Sixty people turned up and a hearty discussion ensued. Soon a name was agreed, a mailing list and web-site were set up and the Oxfordshire Linux User Group (OxLUG) began. We decided to meet at least once a month and the least inconvenient time for meetings seemed to be Sunday evening.

Thus far, people have kindly spoken to us on topics as varied as KDE, Gnome and PowerPC Beowulf on the one hand, and embedding Perl into web pages, XML and mainframes on the other! In May, OxLUG assisted the UKUUG with the successful Linux '99 conference.

Similar things are happening all over the country. The UK LUG scene is rapidly expanding -- see http://www.ukuug.org/sigs/linux/lugs.shtml and http://www.lug.org.uk/current.htm. In West Yorkshire, WYLUG ( http://www.scs.leeds.ac.uk/wylug/) is already celebrating its second birthday! Coinciding with Future Publishing's launch of the magazine Linux Answers ( http://www.linuxanswers.co.uk/), it has put on a series of events, including an InstallFest, to help and encourage people who want to know more.

SAGE-WISE -- the System Administrators' Guild for Wales, Ireland, Scotland & England -- has recently been formed and with a goal of providing a professional association for system administrators -- read more at http:/www.sage-wise.org/.

This year, the UKUUG brought you speakers that included Eric Raymond and Richard Stallman, and conferences: Linux '99, Doing E-Business and -- coming up on 13th/14th December, so Book Now! -- Internet Technologies.

What kinds of events and speakers would you like the UKUUG to organise for 2000? Would you like to take part in any particular workshops or tutorials? Do you know a good speaker? Is the existing mix of activities about right? ukuug-advisory@ukuug.org awaits your suggestions!

James Youngman

James I'm a relative newcomer to UNIX, having used it only since 1989, as an undergraduate student. I have used a variety of versions of UNIX, by number mostly commercial, but in terms of time spent mostly free ones.

These days I work as a professional UNIX developer for Logica. Logica is the UK's largest independent software consultancy. I've also lately become involved in writing and publishing; I have written parts of three books on Linux, and been a technical reviewer for five computing books, of which three were on Linux. Another is forthcoming. Plans are afoot to collaborate on writing another over the winter.

By contrast to my days spent working on UNIX, I spend my evenings working on UNIX... I am the author and maintainer of Project GNU's clone of the SCCS suite, which is called CSSC. I have contributed code to somewhere between half a dozen and a dozen other pieces of free software since starting to use UNIX, most recently GNOME.

I'm an active member of the Manchester Linux users' group and have been to both the UKUUG's Linux conferences so far. Lest it be supposed that I'm a Linux bigot, however, I should emphasize that I mostly don't use Linux in my work for Logica.

News from Owles Hall

(Jane Morrison)


Hopefully by the time you read this you will have booked your place at the Winter Conference. We are (at the time of writing) getting ready to mail out the information to all our members. The event programme looks good and with a very interesting venue - Queens' College, Cambridge, I am sure it will be very successful.

Since the UKUUG AGM held on 23rd September it has been a very busy period for the Secretariat and your new Council. UKUUG now has a new Chairman, Charles Curran and a new Treasurer, Drew Durkin. We have two new Council members, James Youngman and Alasdair Kergon plus a new co-opted member, Mike Clinch.

At the first meeting of the new Council on 20th October the following portfolios were agreed:

Simon Earthrowl has recently resigned from Council and we thank him for all his work on Council over the last couple of years.

The recent E-Commerce event at the Brewery was very successful although the number of delegates was rather disappointing.

The Council are busy working on a schedule of events for 2000 and further details will be sent to all members very shortly.

As this is the December issue Newsletter I will take this opportunity of wishing you a Very Happy Christmas and Peaceful New Year from everyone at Owles Hall.

Please note the UKUUG Secretariat office will be shut from 4.00 p.m. Thursday 23rd December until 9.00 a.m. Tuesday 4th January, 2000.

Cardiff University uses Diskless Linux Workstations to replace Dumb Terminal OPACs

(Huw Gulliver & Alan Osborne)

Over the summer, Cardiff University replaced its aging character-based library system for one with a Web interface. One of the tasks for the implementation team was replacement of the 100 plus dumb terminals provided for library patrons. The minimum requirement for their replacement was a Javascript-capable Web browser with an 800x600 256 colour display.

The solution chosen was to re-use P60/75/90 PCs running Linux. Previously these PCs were used to provide an open-access MS-DOS/WIN-3.1 service and were displaced by newer PCs running Win/NT. Each system is diskless but fitted with an Ethernet card and boot ROM and able to load MS-DOS over the network from a Novell Netware server. The feature was used together with LOADLIN.EXE to load a Linux kernel. The systems mount their file systems via NFS from one of two Linux servers.

Since these systems are dedicated for OPAC use, the systems were modified to only run the Netscape web browser. This version of Netscape was configured to only to be able to access the library catalogue.

Currently there are 130 PCs in service being served by two P90 Linux servers. A third server acts as a hot stand-by. Each server has 64MB of RAM and 100Mbps connections to the network. Performance in terms of time taken to boot up and network utilisation is similar to that observed when the same PCs run MS-DOS/WIN-3.1 from the network.

Whilst we have not done anything earth shattering we believe that using Novell servers to load the Linux kernel may be novel.

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