MUUG Monthly Meetings for 2004-05


Please note our meeting location: The IBM offices, at 400 Ellice Ave. (between Edmonton and Kennedy). When you arrive, you will have to sign in at the reception desk, and then wait for someone to take you (in groups) to the meeting room. Please try to arrive by about 7:15pm, so the meeting can start promptly at 7:30pm. Don't be late, or you may not get in. (But don't come too early either, since security may not be there to let you in before 7:15 or so.)

Limited parking is available for free on the street, or in a lot across Ellice from IBM, for $1.00 for the evening. Indoor parking is also available nearby, at Portage Place, for $2.00 for the evening.

September 14, 2004: Let's build a highly available web server!

How do you put together a redundant fail-over linux cluster suitable for use with Apache and MySQL? How do you solve the problem of real time data replication when you have a database that is doing frequent updates? Why MySQLs built-in replication doesn't work!

And, and a bonus, lets have it do some load balancing as well. After all, no sense having that second machine sitting there doing nothing, right? And all this for less than $3000.00. John Lange was our presenter for this topic, which included a demo of the cluster failover, using the actual production servers! Talk about a feat of derring-do!

Tools used included Linux-HA (for heartbeat and failover support), DRBD (for data replication), openMosix (optional, for load balancing), MySQL and Apache. John's presentation slides are available online, in OO Impress source and PDF formats.

October 12, 2004: Linux-Based Thin-Client Technologies

By centralizing your computing resources and using any of a variety of thin-client technologies, you can realize savings in both cost and labour. Adam Thompson demonstrated some of the thin-client technologies available today, especially those that allow diskless operation. PXES in particular was highlighted, due to its ease of deployment. LTSP was also demonstrated. (LTSP had also been covered earlier by Scott Balneaves, at the April 2002 MUUG meeting.)

November 9, 2004: Building a Transparent Bridging Firewall with OpenBSD

Shawn Wallbridge provided a presention on how to create a transparent bridging firewall with OpenBSD 3.6. Shawn demonstrated setting up the firewall, and showed how to use OpenBSD's pf firewall to monitor bandwidth usage. He also showed some Perl code for getting the usage numbers into a MySQL database, where they could be used to compute statistics, plot results, etc.

Mel Seder, sporting his red fedora Sadly, the same evening, Mel Seder passed away at the age of 60. Our sympathies are with Mel's family and friends. Mel had been a MUUG member for several years, and was an enthusiastic supporter of Linux and Open Source. That enthusiasm was evident whenever he wore his distinctive red fedora hat, which also made him easy to spot in a crowd. We'll miss you, Mel!

Mel's funeral took place at Shaarey Zedek Synagogue, on November 11, 2004. Rabbi Chaya Green presided, and gave a beautiful eulogy.

December 14, 2004: Migrating from Red Hat to Debian Linux

Red Hat/Fedora has much to recommend it, but if you're looking to try and expand your horizons a bit, Debian's a good candidate to try! Scott Balneaves, from Legal Aid Manitoba, gave a quick overview of installing Debian, the different "flavours" (i.e. stable, testing and unstable), and an overview of the commands and files you're used to on Red Hat, and where to find them on Debian, so you can get yourself kickstarted with a little less reading. Scott also did a demo of a simple Debian installation, from a USB memory stick, and showed how you go about installing and upgrading packages.

January 11, 2005: RAID On a Budget

We've all heard people talk about disaster recovery and business continuity plans. One of the steps to building a strong IT environment is using redundancy to reduce the downtime a business could face at the worst possible time.

John Schulz presented an overview of various RAID (redundant array of independent disks or redundant array of inexpensive disks) solutions he has worked with. The focus was on low to mid end OEM or "build your own" solutions where cost per GB is an important factor. John's presentation notes are available online.

February 8, 2005: Revolution OS

Since our scheduled presenter (that would be Shawn) had an unexpected business trip, we showed the documentary Revolution OS. (Steve even supplied the popcorn.) Revolution OS tells the inside story of the hackers who rebelled against the proprietary software model and Microsoft to create GNU/Linux and the Open Source movement. There are interviews with Linus Torvalds, Richard Stallman, Bruce Perens, Eric Raymond, Brian Behlendorf, Michael Tiemann, Larry Augustin, Frank Hecker, and Rob Malda (from Slashdot). For more information on Revolution OS, visit the website at www.revolution-os.com.

With a smaller crowd than usual, and a generous supply of door prizes this month, everyone who entered the draw walked away with a prize! Gilbert Detillieux provided (as a door prize item) a letter-sized print of a phantogram he produced, which is a special kind of stereoscopic (3D) image. This particular phantogram, called MUUG's Mugs, was done as a kind of tribute to our favourite user group, and featured a collection of old TUUG and MUUG newsletters, coffee mugs, and a paperweight, that had been collected over the group's 18+ years of existence. (The phantogram generated a fair bit of interest, and questions during the round-table session. Gilbert later did a presentation on making these, at the April meeting.)

March 8, 2005: MythTV

Shawn Wallbridge presented MythTV. MythTV turns your PC running Linux into a personal video recorder, like a Tivo, with some neat features. Shawn showed how to get it all set up with the least amount of effort using KnoppMyth, a Knoppix based MythTV installer. Shawn's presentation notes are available online.

April 12, 2005: Digital Stereo Photography and Phantograms

Stereoscopic (3D) photography is almost as old as photography itself. However, when working with film and photo-chemical processing, getting good results was tricky and time-consuming. Digital cameras and computer-based processing have made the task much easier, and have also opened up the field to interesting new possibilities. The phantogram (technically a stereoscopic anamorphosis) is a relatively new form of stereo photograph, which makes use of the latest image manipulation tools, but is based on techniques and principles that have been around for centuries. The results can be quite impressive, and lifelike.

In this presentation, Gilbert Detillieux described some of the principles of stereo photography and phantogram production, as well as demonstrating this using open-source tools such as The GIMP, and freeware such as AnaBuilder (which is Java-based, and platform independent). The presentation also discussed some of the legal issues facing those working in this medium, due to two US patents that have been granted recently, which cover some of the fundamental processes involved.

Gilbert's presentation notes are available online. Gilbert would also like to thank Dennis Wiens, a stereo photographer from Portage La Prairie, for bringing along samples of his own phantograms, one of his stereo camera rigs, some literature, and enough 3D glasses for everyone present at the meeting!

May 10, 2005: The Xen Hypervisor

You may have heard about Virtual Machine Managers (VMMs) such as VMware or Microsoft's Virtual PC, and now Xen. What are they? How do they work? How do they differ from each other? And more importantly, what can they do for you? Kevin McGregor shed some light on these topics at the May 10th meeting.

June 14, 2005: Open Source on the Linksys WRT54G

Bill Reid demoed the Linksys WRT54G wireless router running Open Source firmware. Linksys used Linux to create their firmware and released the source. Many versions of the firmware are now available. Bill demoed the firmware version from Sveasoft. He also demoed the OpenWRT Linux distro for the WRT54G and the Open Source PBX Asterisk running on OpenWRT.

Bill also showed us a couple of IP phones: the wireless WiSIP and the (Linksys) Sipura 841. (The latter is available in Canada from The Voxilla Store.) Bill used both phones connected via Asterisk, running on both his Linux server at home, and the WRT54G.

July 2005: No meeting this month

August 2005: No meeting this month

Please note our meeting location: The IBM offices, at 400 Ellice Ave. (between Edmonton and Kennedy). When you arrive, you will have to sign in at the reception desk, and then wait for someone to take you (in groups) to the meeting room. Please try to arrive by about 7:15pm, so the meeting can start promptly at 7:30pm. Don't be late, or you may not get in. (But don't come too early either, since security may not be there to let you in before 7:15 or so.)

Limited parking is available for free on the street, or in a lot across Ellice from IBM, for $1.00 for the evening. Indoor parking is also available nearby, at Portage Place, for $2.00 for the evening.