The UNIX® CRONicle

September 2001

Official Publication of the STL!/unix/usr/group

UNIX® is a registered trademark of the Open Group
Linux® is a registered trademark of Linus Torvalds

Online version:

Table of Contents

Next Meeting Details

Wednesday, September 12, 2001 at 6:30 PM
Sunnen Products, 7910 Manchester
See Meeting Directions

6:30 PM Tutorial Passwords (Part 2) by Stan Reichardt
7:00 PM Announcements (Standard Introductions & Procedure)
7:05 PM Call For Help (An opportunity for you to ask technical questions of the group)
7:15 PM Break Social, off-line conversations, & book sales
7:20 PM Admittance to building may not be possible after 7:20.
7:30 PM Presentation Open Source Middleware by Rich Seibel and Steve Totten


Passwords (Part 2)
by Stan Reichardt

Passwords are the magic words that let authorized users work on computers while keeping others out. But, really, "Part Two"!? Couldn't Stan cover everything in a single tutorial?

Apparently not. For those that weren't there for Part 1, it was quite brilliant -- nothing could compare to how insightful and witty it was. For those that were there, your check is in the mail. We hope that Stan will be able to cover most of the rest of the topic in this session, and doesn't expand the series into 5 parts.

Rumor has it that Stan Reichardt has some education, that his pickup truck is licensed in at least one state, and that he is gainfully employed from time to time.

Some may recall his tales of contract work with the US Post Office and the US Army Reserve. A life time member of the NRA that seldom shoots anymore, he is quite proud of a marksmanship trophy he got in 1990. The only other thing he is personally proud of from his military service is a Bourne shell script application he wrote during his last two months with the US Army Reserve Command in Atlanta.

Stan is too cheap for the latest technical gadgets -- no PDA for him! In the Emacs vs. vi wars, he sides with the Vim folks. His brain might be able to contemplate switching to Emacs, but his fingers cannot. For the last four years, one month, and 3 days, his personal choice of Operating Systems has been Red Hat Linux.

His philosophy of life is that even though Y2K was a let down, similar opportunities happen all the time. Ask about his kitchen, and pray for US companies to realize the consulting work needed to adjust to the emergence of the Euro.

Stan was the volunteer SLUUG newsletter editor from Feb 1999 to Feb 2001. He has given various SLUUG tutorials and presentations. He acted as the "Beach Master" co-ordinator during the March 2001 St. Louis Linux Install-Fest. Currently he is the "Dictator for Life" heading up the Hazelwood Linux Users Group for "newbies" and he incessantly attends SLUUG Steering Committee meetings.

Check out Stan's personal web page at for a glimpse of his subtle sense of humor about vacations and near death. Questions and comments are welcome. Contact Stan Reichardt via email to or by phone at 314-298-1183.


Open Source Middleware: ACE and TAO
by Rich Seibel and Steve Totten

ACE and TAO are middleware products that can be used to build distributed applications. These products are in the Object-Oriented paradigm using C++. TAO (The ACE Orb) is an implementation of the OMG (Object Management Group) CORBA specification. It provides powerful capabilities to invoke methods on remote objects and handle events in a distributed hetergenous environment. TAO is based on ACE. ACE implements patterns appropriate to communications and multi-threaded applications. It provides C++ access to operating system services. The presentation will concentrate on what ACE and TAO are and what facilities they contain.

Rich Seibel is a software engineer for Object Computing Inc. Rich was trained as an electrical engineer at Purdue University in 1966. He started out maintaining computers 35 years ago and moved into software and training. He is currently working with open source middleware for distributed software using the Object-Oriented paradigm.

Steve Totten is a principal software engineer with Object Computing, Inc. Steve's academic background is in music and Earth Science. He has been a software developer since the early 1980s, starting with FORTRAN, then progressing to C and C++. Since the mid-1990s, Steve has been working with distributed object computing architectures based on CORBA. He is currently engineering manager for OCI's support programs for The ACE ORB (TAO), an open source implementation of the Object Management Group CORBA specifications.

Ideas, questions and suggestions are welcome; please contact Christine Wanta (

Next St. Louis Linux Users Group Meeting Is September 20

Presentation: Thin Clients
by J.T. Moree

The thin client model is like the mainframe model but in the PC world. Thin clients are usually machines that have little resources and simply provide access to centralized resources on one or more servers. As Linux moved into every area of computing it was adapted to replace expensive WYSE terminals and has since been modifed to make many different styles of thin clients. The main advantage of thin clients is that you can maintain all your applications and user-specific configurations on centralized servers. We will explore some of the current uses of thin clients based on Linux and demonstrate how some of them work.

You can find some info on thin clients at the Linux Terminal Server Project ( and LTSP for Schools (

J.T. Moree works with two other Linux fanatics at PC & Web Xperience, Inc. ( where they have been writing software for the web and enabling businesses to lower costs by using Free and Open Source Software. Recently they have also been installing thin client networks using Linux.

Meetings of the St. Louis Linux User Group (LUG) are held from 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM every THIRD THURSDAY of each month. Location: Indian Trails Branch - Saint Louis County Library. Meetings are free and open to everyone. Refer to for details and maps.

Comments, questions and ideas for the St. Louis Linux Users Group are welcome; please send email to

Special Promotions

Special of the Month

The September special will be:
1-4 books - 25% off
5-7 books - 30% off
8-9 books - 35% off
10+ books - 40% off
Microsoft titles - 75% off

As a bonus this month, we have 50 O'Reilly summertime fun kits to give away on a first come, first serve basis. These kits include a frisbee, a water bottle, and a beach ball.

O'Reilly Logo

The O'Reilly and Associates line of books is available at each monthly general meeting as a convenience to our members. Most months we feature special offers on titles related to that month's presentation or tutorial topic. Discounts off retail prices are offered to all attendees. Books that are not avaialable at the meetings may be ordered to be picked up at the next SLUUG general meeting.

Calendar of Events

September 3 Labor Day
September 3 (7:00pm-9:00pm) Carbondale SILUG meeting (CANCELED)
September 4 (7:00pm-11:00pm) MO Open Source Linux User Group
Culpepper's Restaurant (basement)
312 South Kirkwood Road
Kirkwood, MO
September 4 (7:00pm-9:00pm) O'Fallon SILUG meeting
O'Fallon Public Library
120 Civic Plaza
O'Fallon, IL
September 6 (7:00pm-9:00pm) Perl Mongers
5 North Jackson at Forsyth
Clayton, MO
September 6 (7:00pm-9:00pm) St. Louis Area Computer Club
Thornhill Library
12863 Willowyk Drive (off Fee Fee)
Creve Coeur, MO
September 9 Grandparents Day
September 11 (7:00pm-9:00pm) Linux Users of Central Illinois
Newbie Night
Springfield, IL
September 11 (5:30pm) Computer Consultants of St. Louis
Monthly Dinner Meeting
Cheshire Inn, 7036 Clayton Avenue
September 12 (6:30pm-9:00pm) SLUUG General Meeting Sunnen Products
7910 Manchester (at Hanley)
St. Louis, MO
September 13 (6:30pm-8:00pm) St. Louis Java Users' Group
CityPlace One Auditorium
One City Place
Creve Coeur, MO
September 17 (6:30pm-8:30pm) SLUUG Steering Committee Daugherty Systems
One City Place (2nd floor)
Creve Coeur, MO
September 20 (7:00pm-9:00pm) St. Louis Linux Users Group
Indian Trails Library
8400 Delport Drive (at Midland)
St. Louis, MO
September 22 First Day of Autumn
September 25 (7:00pm-9:00pm) Hazelwood Linux Users Group
Prarie Commons Branch Library
915 Utz Lane (between Howdershell and Dunn)
Hazelwood, MO
September 25 (7:00pm-9:00pm) Linux Users of Central Illinois
Springfield, IL
October 10 (6:30pm) SLUUG General Meeting
October 12 (2:30pm-6:30pm) Linux InstallFest Inflow
710 North Tucker, Suite 610
Downtown St. Louis
(More details on soon!)
October 15 (6:30pm) SLUUG Steering Committee
October 18 (7:00pm) St. Louis Linux Users Group
October 23 (7:00pm) Hazelwood Linux Users Group

Meeting Directions

The STL!/unix/usr/group meets the 2nd Wednesday of every month at Sunnen Products, 7910 Manchester Blvd, just east of Hanley on Manchester.

Directions From Downtown

  1. Take 40 West to the Hanley exit.
  2. Turn left (south) onto Hanley.
  3. Turn left (east) onto Manchester, then turn right ASAP into the Sunnen Products driveway.
See map at

(NOTE: A security guard from Sunnen is scheduled to be at the door from 6:20 PM to 7:20 PM to allow entry. After 7:20, the door will be unattended and attendees may not be able to enter.)

The SLUUG Steering Committee meets the Monday following the general meeting at 6:00 PM in the 2nd floor training room of Daugherty Systems, One City Place in Creve Coeur.

The St. Louis Linux Users Group meets the 3rd Thursday of every month at the Indian Trails Branch Library.

See map at


NOTE: These articles may express personal opinions and SLUUG exerts no more editorial control over such content than does a public library, bookstore, or newsstand. Any opinions, advice, statements, services, offers, or other information or content expressed herein are those of the respective authors and not necessarily supported by SLUUG. SLUUG does not guarantee the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of any content, nor its merchantability or fitness for any particular purpose.

Some Thoughts on the Sklyarov Case and the DMCA

by Jeff Walker

[NOTE: Jeff is not a member of our local users groups (he is from Denver, CO) but I felt his take on the issues were well-stated. Jeff posted this to Slashdot under the nickname room101, and was kind enough to clean it up for inclusion in our newsletter. Thanks! -- Editor]

Not that this is a particularly new viewpoint, but I will post it to be heard for what that is worth.

My first point is that the DMCA overrides many of the copyright issues that people have lived with for years and, in fact, take for granted. Issues like so-called "fair use" and expiration dates on copyrights, although tricky, are major issues that the DMCA throws out the window. I think fair use and expiration dates are required, not only because the earlier laws require it, but also because it is required for an innovative country. Without this, I think America wouldn't be what it is today.

Second, the DMCA was passed without the knowledge or consent of the people of the United States. I know that we live in a representative government where our elected officials speak for the people at large, but this particular law, and alarmingly, many like it, were passed on behalf of the recording industry, movie making industry, etc. This is not the will of the people. In fact, how can anyone say that this law benefits the people? I say that it does not. Their rights are being trampled by this abomination. In most, if not all, states, if a contract is signed that isn't beneficial to both parties, it can be easily contested as invalid. This law is similar, so I think it would be overturned in a court because it doesn't have the best interests of the American people at heart.

Third, in what way is Adobe hurt by Dmitri Sklyarov's actions? He probably would have been able to avoid incarceration, had this case not contained some of the political buzzwords like "encryption" or "hacker." In the past, when a company was guilty of lying or committing a crime, it was usually up to a private citizen (American or otherwise) to point it out before the public at large, and the judicial system would take notice. Adobe tried to tie something to a single instance of computer hardware, making it non-copyable. This is shaky legal ground without the DMCA, as it probably violates "fair use." Furthermore, the encryption used is flimsy and easily breakable. If I am betting my company on the quality of this encryption, the low quality of the Adobe product constituted a defective product. Only because it is illegal now (under the DMCA and no other law) to try to break encryption would this even have the possibility of not being broken and turned into a copyable medium. What Mr. Sklyarov did was enable people and corporations to understand the risk of using Adobe's defective eBook product. This has never been a crime, and it shouldn't be a crime. Without this type of "expose," we are in the position of the king in the children's story "The Emperor's New Clothes." We know that there are problems, but they are never fixed because no one is allowed to talk about them. Neither Adobe nor any other company has reason to improve, thus killing the innovation mentioned in the first paragraph.

Last, it is a crime to talk about encryption subversion under the DMCA. This treads on dangerous territory--free speech. Yes, there are instances where we give up free speech for the greater good (such as in the classic example where it is not OK to falsely yell "fire" in a crowded theater), but this isn't one of them. There is no greater good, only the good of a few wealthy companies, the ones that lobbied this law into existence. In fact, the criminalization of talking about this is a disservice to America. It is only through discussions among peers that real scientific advances come.

I still think a run-of-the-mill petition would be in order as well. Until we take action that the old school politicians will recognize, we are just shouting to the converted.

For more information on these issues, check out and

UNIX time 10-digit Roll-over

by Gary Meyer

On Saturday night, September 8, there may be problems calculating the time on UNIX systems.


Much like Y2K, the system time itself is NOT the problem. The problem is that some programs, particularly scripts such as perl, use a DECIMAL representation of the number of seconds and this becomes 10 digits that night. The scripts may be looking for a leading 9 or looking for a 9 digit number. Or the addition of the 10th digit may also confuse scripts that parse by character columns rather than fields.


Computations of duration of events that start before and end after 20:40 September 8 2001 might appear as a negative number or a huge number.

If the script is shifting or parsing by column, fields may be shifted by one column causing unexpected results in your script.


The time_t variable last increased from 8 to 9 digits in 1973, i.e. 27 years ago. The leading digit changed from an 8 to a 9 three years ago.


The variable time_t is a standard data type used to store the number of seconds since the standard UNIX Epoch, 00:00:00 January 1, 1970 Universal Coordinated Time (UTC).

So 31 years 251 days 1 hour 46 minutes and 40 seconds into the UNIX Epoch, time_t will go to 10 digits. (1,000,000,000 seconds)

So time_t will become a 10 digit quantity on September 9th at 1:46:40 a.m. UTC. This is Saturday September 8th 20:40:40 CDT, St. Louis time.

[Much of above 3 paragraphs excerpted from]

(I'd argue that this is about 20 or 22 seconds late due to leap seconds, but the UNIX specs say to pretend they don't exist. Geek detail.)


Stanford Baldwin noticed that the time_t is used in describing mounted disks in /etc/mttab in HP-UX. This file shows the "time of the mount" as the time_t value. If a script were to count over 9 ccharacters to get the next data, it will fail to get the correct starting after Sept 8.

Mike Knight found a problem on our SLUUG systems. We use a Perl script to manipulate data from the Xyplex terminal server. The script assumes that the time_t field is of a fixed width, so it had to be changed.

Are You an Ostrich?

by Rich Seibel

There are three myths of the internet:

  1. The Net is too international to be controlled
  2. The Net is too interconnected to control
  3. There are just too many hackers for control to be established

These are all myths. The Internet will be controlled, but by whom? If you believe these myths, then you are an ostrich. Get your head out of the sand and help to create real rules that will keep the Internet free. If we don't, Big Government and Big Business will create the rules.

Still believe these are myths? Read more about it in "Technology Review: MIT's Magazine of Innovation" Sept 2001, pages 44-51. (

Sponsor Spotlight: Graybar Electric

SLUUG has selected Graybar Electric as sponsor of the month for their donation of several RS/6000 computers. We have put one of the systems into service already as our primary web server, and will be upgrading our email server soon. We are also sharing the systems with other non-profit organizations in the St. Louis area. [More on that next month -- Editor.]

Graybar has expressed their appreciation and are grateful for the opportunity to support SLUUG through the donation of these UNIX systems.

Graybar is an employee-owned, independent wholesale distributor of electrical and data communication products. Graybar's sales in 2000 exceeded $5 billion. The company distributes approximately one million different products made by thousands of large and small manufacturers. Graybar is a major distributor of General Electric lighting products, Square D electrical products, Lucent Technologies comm/data products, and many others. Graybar's customers are primarily electrical and comm/data contractors, commercial and industrial firms, telephone companies, and power utilities. Graybar remains an independent distributor and is still one of the largest employee-owned companies in the United States. The over 10,000 employee-owners of Graybar Electric Company, Inc., and its subsidiaries are dedicated to being the leading provider of quality distribution services, and are committed to managing and operating a growing, progressive, and profitable distribution business.

You can reach Graybar on the Internet at Be sure to check out their excellent (and huge) catalog of products.


Welcome to 21st Century America, where the profits of the major record 
labels, movie houses, and publishing companies are more important than 
First Amendment rights.
 -- Bruce Schneier

Time's fun when you're having flies.
 -- Kermit the Frog
A Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer is to computing what a McDonalds
Certified Food Specialist is to fine cuisine.
 -- Unknown

EMACS is my operating system; Linux is my device driver.
 -- Unknown

It's taken us years to get to the point of having enterprise credibility.
 -- Doug Miller, director of competitive strategy for 
    Microsoft's Windows division

Kirk's mind raced as he quickly assessed his situation: the shields were 
down, the warp drive and impulse engines were dead, life support was 
failing fast, and the Enterprise was plummeting out of control toward 
the surface of Epsilon VI and, as Scotty and Spock searched frantically 
through the manuals trying to find a way to save them all, Kirk vowed, 
as he stared at the solid blue image filling the main view screen, that 
never again would he allow a Microsoft operating system to control his 
 -- Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest 2001 winner in Science Fiction,

Special Interest Groups (SIGs)

As our membership grows, we have had some inquiries about the possibility of having Special Interest Groups in several areas. If you are interested in starting or participating in a SIG for System Administration, Networking, C, Object Oriented Programming, a specific vendor, etc., please call Dave Mills at 314-997-1104 extension 351, or contact any officer of the group.

St. Louis Linux Users Group

Visit the St. Louis Linux Users Group home page ( for the latest meeting details.
Indian Trails Library
8400 Delport Drive (at Midland)
(314) 428-5424
Follow 170: Exit Page east to North-South Rd., go left on North-South Rd. to Midland, go left on Midland one block to Delport, the Library is on your left (see map at ).

For more information on the St. Louis Linux Users Group, refer to the web page at or contact Craig Buchek (

St. Louis UNIX Users Group Steering Committee

The SLUUG Steering Committee meets the Monday following the general 2nd Wednesday meeting at 6:00 PM in the 2nd floor training room of Daugherty Systems, One City Place in Creve Coeur. The guard can direct you to the meeting location. Anyone is welcome to attend. If you would like to become more involved in the planning of SLUUG, feel free to join us at the next Steering Committee meeting. Meetings usually last 1.5 to 2 hours.



For more information about sponsoring the St. Louis UNIX Users Group, contact Ed Wehner, send

SLUUG on the World Wide Web

The St. Louis UNIX Users Group maintains a WWW page at Visit us to learn more about who we are and what we do, visit other UNIX user groups' WWW pages, sign up for a SIG, or just to browse.

SLUUG Administration is volunteer based.

SLUUG is looking for volunteers to help with presentations, web page development, managing corporate sponsorships, and many other tasks. If you would like to help out contact Gary Meyer at


We publish other user group meeting schedules on a reciprocal basis. If you are a member of another non-profit group, please inform them of our policy and invite them to exchange meeting information by, or call any of the SLUUG officers.


      Board of Directors Gary Meyer
Rich Seibel
Ed Wehner
Dave Mills
Craig Buchek
      BBS Questions Gary Meyer
      Corporate Sponsors Ed Wehner
      O'Reilly Book Sales Susan Hurst
Home: (314) 822-9314
Cell: (314) 486-3261
      Presentations Christine Wanta
      Newsletter Editor Craig Buchek
Home: (314) 426-5780
Cell: (314) 374-5780
      Contributing Editor Stan Reichardt
Home: (314) 298-1183
      Steering Committee Info     Gary Meyer
Home: (314) 781-8644
      Secretary Tony Zafiropoulos
      Treasurer Mike Kriz
      Linux Users Group Chair Craig Buchek
Home: (314) 426-5780
Cell: (314) 374-5780

Submitting Articles to the SLUUG CRONicle

If you would like to submit an article to the CRONicle of general interest to the members of the St. Louis UNIX Users Group, send your info or complete article to The deadline for article submissions is the second last day of the month.

SLUUG Mailing Address

The St. Louis UNIX Users Group has a P.O. box. All official correspondence with SLUUG should be sent to:
        St. Louis UNIX Users Group
        P.O. Box 411302
        Creve Coeur Post Office
        St. Louis, MO   63141-9998