Questions and Answers
The next LISA conference, LISA VIII, will begin soon.
This year it
will take place September 19-23 in San Diego. The official
the conference is the 8th Usenix Systems Administration
The focus of this year's technical program is "Automation:
the Computer of the 90's." The conference itself
lasts three days,
and is preceded by two days of tutorials. One of the
fun things at
these conferences are the BOF (Birds of a Feather) sessions.
the more formal parts of the conference, the BOFs simply
together to discuss a topic of common interest. BOFs
on a first come, first served basis. The BOFs scheduled
at the time
of this writing are: WWW Installation, Maintenance,
and Assorted Topics; Tools for Sysadmin Tasks; Silicon
Majordomo; Networking ATM style; Ohio St. Univ Backup
With LISA just about to start, it is time to begin thinking
to the next system administration conference -- the
Administration, Networking, and Security Conference
(SANS IV), scheduled
for April 24-29, 1995, in Washington, DC -- particularly
are interested in presenting a paper. The topic for
the SANS IV conference
is "Tools and Techniques You Can Use Immediately."
have a good idea for a paper, you can e-mail an abstract
text) to email@example.com before November 1, 1994.
Alan Paller, the chair of the SANS IV, is working on
a salary survey
for system administrators. I believe this will be the
survey of its kind ever. Assuming you are doing good
work for your
organization, you may find such a survey useful in salary
The results of the survey will be presented at the SANS
and I will also report some of the interesting highlights
the best way for you to get the survey result is to
the survey, because everybody who participates will
get a personal
copy. The survey is shown in the sidebar, but you can
save the work
of retyping it by sending e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org,
I have set up an automatic reply. The completed surveys
be e-mailed to email@example.com. You can also send it
mail to SANS Salary Survey, 4610 Tournay Road, Bethesda,
In July yet another CERT advisory was issued for sendmail.
this should be seen as a clear warning to upgrade to
the latest version
(8.6.9), which is available by ftp from ftp.cs.berkeley.edu.
The version shipped by the vendors (anything prior to
8.6.8) is subject
to this latest vulnerability, which applies to local
than to connections from the Internet. So even if you
are not connected
to the Internet, you are vulnerable to these bugs, which
to the "d" option (which allows local users
to gain root access)
and the "-oE" option (which permits them to
read any file
on the system). Details can be found in the July CERT
is available by ftp from ftp.cert.org. If you are
running an old version of sendmail, you will need to
be prepared to
replace not only the sendmail program, but also the
file (sendmail.cf). However, if you do so, you will
advantage of being able to use Eric Allman's high level
system, based on m4. All in all, there are many good
reasons to get
started on this as soon as possible.
The latest and the last version of BSD UNIX is now available.
4.4 Lite is the last release from the now dissolved
CSRG at UC Berkeley.
Both a CD with the sources and a full set of printed
manuals are available
from O'Reilly, which has published them in cooperation
The documentation is a five-book set, with both man
and supplemental documentation. The CD is available
in an additional
A new ftp archive has come online at Purdue. The archive
available via FTP, but the creators of the archive are
to support gopher and WWW soon. The archive currently
standards, tools, and other material in 28 areas, from
through cryptography, firewalls, and software forensics,
to the computer
The collection also contains a large set of site "mirrors"
of interesting collections, many of which are linked
by topic to the
rest of the archive. You can connect to the archive
via standard ftp
to coast.cs.purdue.edu. Information about the archive
and contents is in /pub/aux; you are encouraged to look
and to read the README* files located in the various
And now for this month's questions.
Regarding the question in a recent Sys Admin about
copying between tape devices: on Suns, at least, the
command could be used:
tcopy input_device output_device
Or am I missing something here? (We use this quite often
for making second copies of 8mm tapes.)
tcopy is indeed a good substitute for the dd
command I showed in the article because the parameters
are less cryptic.
I did not discuss tcopy in the article, because I did
not know of
it at the time. However, even the tcopy will not be
copy a tape, if you have only one tape drive, which
was the original
Thanks to the reader for this input. It is always a
delight to learn
something new, and I find that UNIX gives me that opportunity
often, even after more than 10 years of active system
If your system does not have tcopy and you would like
it, you can find it in the original BSD 4.3 distribution.
can also be found on the BSD 4.4 lite distribution.
Could you please tell me where can I find a perl script
that converts a host file to dns format. The DNS and
book (from O'Reilly and Associates) mentions a program
perl that does the conversion. Do you know where I can
get this program?
The script is called h2n, and is available from
ftp.uu.net. It works well as a first approximation,
but if you have
more than one network, you may create problems by not
the DNS directly.
I recently became a system administrator for a school
system's Internet connection. I have begun subscribing
publications dealing with UNIX and the Internet, not
to mention a
buying a stack of books about 3 feet high. I subscribe
Admin and ran across your column, so I decided to pose
to you. What I am looking for is a step-by-step approach
system administration. I have nearly a dozen books on
that tell what to do, but with one or two exceptions
they don't tell
you how to do it. I have found two sources that offer
system administration training videos.
Can you recommend one of the videos or suggest anyone
else who can
provide the elementary approach that I need, at least
By way of background, I'm a librarian for grades 6-8.
After I got
our UNIX system up and running and discovered the tremendous
of information that could be found on the Internet,
I contacted the
librarians and computer coordinators in the school systems
a local call from us and invited them to dial-in to
our system. Things
appear to reaching a sort of critical mass in terms
of use and enthusiasm,
so any help you can give me in better serving my growing,
practically daily, number of users would be appreciated.
I have not personally seen any UNIX system administration
training video that I would recommend, and neither have
I ever heard
about any video that experienced sysadmin's found useful
for training new junior admins locally). In general,
you should look
for material that is prepared and presented by people
who do system
administration for a living. People who are primarily
but have done a bit of system administration on the
side do not have
the overall experience, and while they may be able to
help you out
in a tight spot today, their solutions might very well
put you in
hot water at a later time. What I can recommend is Evi
System Administration Handbook (Prentice-Hall, 1989)
and the tutorials
at either LISA or SANS conferences. Evi's book is a
few years old,
and is now a bit dated, but it is still by far the best
book on the
market. The tutorials at LISA and SANS are probably
not as polished
as what you will see from companies providing such tutorials
industry, but the instructors at LISA and SANS are people
with the problems they teach about on a daily basis.
This makes these
tutorials, at least in my opinion, superior to any commercial
I ever have heard about.
I read with interest your article on the LISA VI Conference
in the Jan/Feb issue of Sys Admin. How would I acquire
of the Paper on "Overhauling Rdist for the '90s"?
The paper was presented at the LISA VI conferences
Michael A. Cooper (firstname.lastname@example.org). Both the LISA paper
and the sources
for the new rdist are available by annonyous ftp from
usc.edu, in the directory /pub/rdist.
In your column in the January issue of Sys Admin,
you described how to set up a split name server. Under
however, the internal hosts are able to resolve addresses
hosts, but they are not able to reach them [directly,
connecting explicitly to the bastion host first -- ED].
You state correctly the situation, and whether or not
you want to be able to resolve external names on an
inside host is
a matter of preference. It is fairly simple to set up
the inside name
servers to use an internal root to achieve the result
you desire (how
to do this is described in detail in the DNS and BIND
from O'Reilly). If your firewall is built by a combination
routers and UNIX bastion hosts, then you need to have
hosts resolve external addresses anyway. Choose the
works best for you. Neither of the two seems more correct
to me, and
as always, the ultimate choice depends on local circumstances.
We have just installed a number of new SVr4 UNIX systems
in our lab, and the ls command drives me crazy by listing
files in a single column, instead of multiple columns
as it does on
our SunOS systems. How much work will it be to port
the Berkeley version
to System V?
On System V rel 4, you should be able to get the sources
and compile them using the BSD environment (you get
the BSD environment
by having /usr/ucb first in your search path on most
systems). However, before you start to do this work,
check to see
if you have the Berkeley version in /usr/ucb/ls. Also,
you use an alias for /bin/ls which adds the "-C"
(columns), your current version of ls will start to
the way you want it, at least most of the time.
Could you direct me to an FTP site that would have
sources listed in your fine magazine?
You can find Sys Admin sources at ftp.uu.net.
About the Author
Bjorn Satdeva is the president of /sys/admin, inc.,
firm which specializes in large installation system
Bjorn is also co-founder and former president of Bay-LISA,
a San Francisco
Bay Area user's group for system administrators of large
can be contacted at /sys/admin, inc., 2787 Moorpark
Ave., San Jose,
CA 95128; electronically at email@example.com; or by
at (408) 241-3111.