Cover V04, I03


New Messages

Subject: Customizing Calendar (Sys Admin 4.2)

This was a good article but it missed one important thing you can do.

We modified our calendar program so it recognizes all files that begin with .calendar. This allows us to create numerous .calendarXXX files, each of which is linked to the home directory of the affected parties. When calendar runs, it looks at all these files and sends the appropriate messages to the appropriate people.

There are pros and cons to this approach versus Isaacson's. With his approach the SA or some other responsible person must make the changes to any system-wide or departmental calendar file. With ours, anybody who has the file linked to their home directory can change it. There is another level which we do not use; the file could be linked but only writable by the owner. This would be very close to Isaacson.

We also use a modified PD calprog picked up from the net a number of years ago which provides some of his other options as built-ins. When I remember all the problem I had getting that to work correctly, I wish I had thought of his idea first.

The include and multi-line features are nice.

Bob Peirce

Dear Sys Admin,
Thanks for mentioning the Sun User Group's "UNIX & The Law" symposium in your November issue. This year's symposium was the glowing first of what we hope will be many annual events. The symposium was four days long. It featured two days of intensive tutorials (Monday and Thursday, the first and last days) and two days of talks, panels, and keynotes (Tuesday and Wednesday).

Some of the highlights of the symposium included Steve Jackson's keynote speech on Tuesday, and the panel "The Future of Computer Crime," moderated by futurist Bruce Sterling.

Mr. Jackson, who is the founder and editor-in-chief of Steve Jackson Games, led a lively and interactive keynote titled "Privacy, Responsibility, and Computers." He and the audience discussed the current state of laws on "search and seizure" of computers, as well as various related privacy and legal issues such as corporate access to employee e-mail and copyright in the digital era.

Later on Tuesday the attendees were treated to one of the most entertaining sessions of the symposium. Moderated by Bruce Sterling, noted author, futurist, and computer maven, the "Future of Computer Crime" panel featured three law enforcement professionals speculating what directions high-tech crime may go in over the next one, five, and fifteen years.

Of course, not all of the issues discussed were so speculative. Ed Cavasos, a Houston-based attorney and author of Cyberspace and The Law, spoke to a standing-room-only crowd of system administrators about e-mail privacy and their legal responsibilities and liabilities. The talk was so popular that the Sun User Group has decided to take it on the road, with the first stop scheduled for April in Boston, MA. This workshop is presented as part of the Sun User Group's ongoing tutorial program on a variety of technical issues, many of them of interest to system administrators.

If readers are interested in upcoming SUG tutorials, they can contact the Sun User Group at (617) 232-0514 or

Alexander Newman
Executive Director,
Sun User Group

Hi Folks:
Upon responding to a message from a reader concerning my article, "File Version Numbering" (Sys Admin 3.5), I found a typo which I didn't see when I reviewed the article prior to publishing. The vedit source code has an error in it that will prevent proper operation. Looking at the source code on page 51 of the issue, line 99 of the vedit program is the problem.

As published it reads

if [ EDIT -eq 1 ]

but it should read

if [ "$EDIT" -eq 1 ]

I apologize for any confusion which this may have caused!

Chris Hare

Dear Editor:

While Emmett Dulaney's article on filesystems ("Understanding Filesystems," Sys Admin 4.2) presented a useful introduction to an area of UNIX systems most people take for granted (and therefore fail to use to its greatest advantage), the omission of one widespread filesystem was evident.

The VERITAS File System (VxFS) is available from dozens of system vendors with their operating systems; these include the full range of open systems, from Novell's UnixWare to open servers such as AT&T GIS and Sequent to fault tolerant systems like Tandem and Stratus to mainframes like Hitachi. It is available from VERITAS for Sun's Solaris operating system, and is offered (as JFS and OnlineJFS) in Hewlett-Packard's HP-UX release 10.

VxFS offers the reliability and quick recovery benefits of journaling discussed in the article sidebar. In addition, its contiguous-extent allocation policies and direct-to-disk I/O capabilities provide commercial database applications with performance levels traditionally attainable only through raw disk interfaces, without sacrificing the administrative ease of a filesystem. It offers a "snapshot" interface to guarantee stable and consistent backups, as well as resizing and defragmentation utilities which can operate safely while the filesystem is mounted and in use, reducing administrative down-time.

Users have been reaping the benefits of VxFS reliability, performance, and on-line administration for up to five years. A review in BYTE recently referred to VxFS as "The Great Little File System"; I guess one of the things that's "littlest" about it is awareness of its existence . . .

Roger B.A. Klorese
Technical Marketing Manager
VERITAS Software

Dear Editor,
I enjoyed Larry Reznick's article on how to customize remote login menus (Jan/Feb 95), however allowing the user to maintain a local .openwin-menu for customization purposes may not be the best solution in all environments. In our case we need to provide a centralized system menu, as the applications being offered or their locations, revision levels etc. change frequently. If users maintain a local .openwin-menu, then they will never see the new items being offered at the system level, but if they wish to customize, they need that local control. We solved the problem of allowing user customization as well as maintaining a system level openwin-menu in the following manner.

We created a .openwin-extras file in the users' accounts. The user creates new additions to the openwindows menu a la Larry's instructions in this file. We then modified the .login to check for the existence of this file before starting OpenWindows. If it exists it is added to the system openwin-menu and the resulting file is written to the user's account as a local .openwin-menu. (You could also force the system openwin-menu by copying it to the user account as a local .openwin-menu every time you log in.)

Addition to .login BEFORE the call for openwindows:

# if user has customized openwin menu add it to system menu
if ( -r ~/.openwin-extras ) then
cat /usr/openwin/lib/openwin-menu ~/.openwin-extras \
> ~/.openwin-menu

We also added a refresh menu choice under utilities at the system level, so that a user could see any changes made to the menu through the .openwin-extras file without logging out and in.

Addition to .openwin-menu file:

"Utilities" MENU
"Refresh Menu"              /usr/local/reread_menufile
"Utilities" END


# This rereads the system openwin-menu file and adds any local user
# menus to it - use with an entry on the system openwin-menu , under
# utilities , Reread Menu File
/bin/cat /usr/openwin/lib/openwin-menu ~/.openwin-extras > ~/.openwin-menu

This scheme works best in an environment where your users are not logging into other machines with the same account but with a different system level openwin-menu, since your local .openwin-menu will reflect the system menu of the last machine visited. (You can always refresh your menu but this is an extra step your users may not appreciate.)

Kathryn Krenn

To the editor:
The following information about upcoming USENIX conferences may be of interest to Sys Admin readers.

For detailed program and registration information about USENIX conferences, please contact the USENIX Conference Office, 22672 Lambert Street, Suite 613, Lake Forest, CA USA 92630, +1 714 588 8649, Fax +1 714 588 9706, email:; access the USENIX Resource Center on the World Wide Web (the URL is; or, send mail to our mailserver at (in your message include the line: send conferences catalog).

USENIX Association 1995 Calendar of Symposia and Conferences

June 5-7, 1995


Sponsored by the USENIX Association, in cooperation with The Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT), IFIP WG 11.4 , and Uniforum (pending) Marriott Hotel, Salt Lake City, Utah

The goal of this symposium is to bring together security practitioners, researchers, system administrators, systems programmers, and others with an interest in computer security as it relates to networks and the UNIX operating system. This will be a three-day, single-track symposium, consisting of tutorials, refereed and invited technical presentations, and panel sessions. The keynote address, by Stephen T. Walker, Founder and President of Trusted Information Systems, Inc., will open the two days of technical sessions. The technical sessions program, in addition to presentations of refereed papers, will include invited talks, and possibly panel sessions. There will also be two evenings available for Birds-of-a-Feather sessions and Works-in-Progress Reports.

July 6-8, 1995


Sponsored by Unisys Inc. and the USENIX Association

Royal York Hotel, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

The third annual Tcl/Tk workshop will act as a focus for Tcl/Tk research, provide a mechanism for communication of research, provide a forum for discussing open issues and possible solutions, and promote collaboration within the Tcl/Tk community. The workshop will feature invited addresses by distinguished Tcl/Tk researchers, refereed paper presentations and demonstration of original non-commercial research, and informal demonstrations of commercial applications. Attendance will be limited to 150 active Tcl/Tk users. To register, please submit no more than 1/2 page describing your reason for attending the workshop. Registration requests may be submitted via email to:, via mail to: Tcl/Tk Workshop 95, c/o Unisys Canada Inc, 61 Middlefield Rd, Scarborough, Ontario, M1S 5A9, Canada, or via fax to (416) 297-2520. Upon acceptance, attendees will receive instructions for payment for the workshop of US$250, which includes a copy of the proceedings, lunches, coffee, snacks and a reception/dinner.


September 18-22, 1995


Co-sponsored by USENIX and SAGE, the System Administrators Guild

Monterey Conference Center, Monterey, California

Program Chairs: Tina Darmohray, Lawrence Livermore

National Laboratory, and Paul Evans, Synopses, Inc.

The USENIX Systems Administration (LISA) Conference is widely recognized as the leading technical conference for system administrators from sites of all sizes and kinds. The theme for this year's conference is "New Challenges," which includes such emerging issues as integration of non-UNIX and proprietary systems and networking technologies, distributed information services, network voice and video teleconferencing, and managing very complex networks. We are particularly interested in technical papers that reflect hands-on experience, describe fully implemented and freely distributable solutions, and advance the state of the art of system administration as an engineering discipline.

The conference's two-day-long tutorial program will feature full- and half-day tutorials, offering expert instruction to system administrators at all levels from novice through senior. The three days of technical sessions will consist of two parallel tracks: the first track dedicated to presentations of refereed technical papers and the second intended to accommodate invited talks, panels and Works-in-Progress sessions. Vendor representatives will demonstrate products and services at the informal table-top display.

Submissions to the Refereed Paper Track: extended abstracts due May 1, notification to authors June 5, final papers due August 1, 1995. An extended abstract is required for the referee process. If you send a full paper, you must also include an extended abstract of 2-5 pages. Please submit extended abstracts by two of the following methods: e-mail to; Fax to +1 51 548 5738; mail to LISA 9 Conference, USENIX Association, 2560 Ninth St, Suite 215, Berkeley, CA USA 94710. To discuss potential submissions, and for inquiries regarding the content of the conference program, contact the program co-chair at or at: Tina M. Darmohray, phone 510 443 4425, Fax 415 962 0842, e-mail:

Submissions to the Invited Talk Track: If you have a topic that is of general interest to system administrators, but is not suited to a traditional paper submission, please submit a proposal to the invited talk coordinator at <> or to Laura de Leon, Hewlett-Packard, +1 415 857 5605, Fax +1 415 857 5686, e-mail

A one-day, pre-LISA conference workshop "Advanced Topics in System Administration" will be held Tuesday, September 19. The workshop will focus on a discussion of the latest-breaking technical issues in the systems administration arena as introduced by participants. Attendance is limited and based on acceptance of a position paper. Potential attendees are invited to submit a proposal of at most 3 pages (ASCII). Email proposals to the workshop organizer, John Schimmel of Silicon Graphics,.to by August 1; selected participants will be notified by August 14, 1995.