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Publisher's Forum

Publisher's Note: This month's forum comes to you courtesy of Larry Reznick, who serves Sys Admin both as a Contributing Editor (that is, a regular columnist) and as Consulting Editor. In the latter capacity, Larry reviews all proposals and manuscripts submitted to Sys Admin, critiquing them for focus, clarity, and fit to Sys Admin's purpose. In short, he helps make the magazine what it is. Herewith a few thoughts from Larry on this month's theme: Networks.

I was talking with a friend the other day about the networking concerns of UNIX system administrators. Dave specializes in installing network systems for high-demand facilities. Two concerns came immediately to him: security and efficiency.

Security is a significant concern with so many new people discovering Internet communications today. Systems need solid firewalls to prevent unauthorized access. Authorized users must be held accountable for their operations on the systems. Administrators must remain vigilant of cracking techniques including address-spoofing, software holes, and other vulnerabilities.

Setting aside security concerns for the moment, the next issue is efficient operation on the network. With increasing demands on the network, is the bandwidth sufficient to handle users' needs? 56K lines may be enough for some smaller installations but applications such as web servers need more. 128K ISDN may work with load analysis. T1 lines at 1.55M might be necessary. T1 lines are available in fractional 56K increments up to the 1.55M maximum. But maybe your system demands more. T3 offers 45M lines and ATM offers a minimum of 155M.

Sys Admin is looking for detailed articles on security issues, what administrators must know and what to look for, and techniques to solve the problems before they happen. We're also interested in detailed articles on network efficiency, what options are available including how to select the appropriate option, the downsides of the options, when to plan for upgrades and transitions, and what techniques are on the horizon.

Keeping with our practical focus, what do your network installations look like? What kinds of network security and efficiency problems have you solved? Other UNIX system administrators can learn from your installation, the decisions you made to get there, and the problems you solved or headed off. So think about becoming a Sys Admin contributor -- to paraphrase the recent PBS pitches: if not you, then who?

Larry Reznick
Contributing Editor