Distribution Upgrades

David enjoys having it all his way—free meds, burning CDs and more.

As I write this it looks like all the players have weighed in with their new distribution offerings. I've checked out my favorites and found them all wanting, but still a site better than those from the past. This time, though, I've noticed what I would consider a lot more griping and general discontent than before among the user community. I always figured new releases were a time of rejoicing that someone else went to the trouble of upgrading everything for me. Last time around I seem to recall a lot of whining about the distros installing with everything in the world turned on (Telnet, FTP, etc.). The distros heard this and tightened down. Now I hear the same gripe, only this time it's because nothing (or almost nothing) is turned on by default. Guess some things just never change. But I for one am enjoying the moment, discovering where the engineers squirreled away all the scripts and configuration files this time. It'll soon be old hat. And when I've got the half-dozen distros I'm running here down pat, I guess I'll just have to go check out the other 112-plus. I feel like a kid at Burger King, having it all my way. Gee, it's great to be running Linux.

FreeMED freemed.org

The FreeMED program is striving for ISO9000 compliance with a complete package for a medical practice or hospital. It's not there yet, lacking several major features, but looks good, performs well and is quite easy to install. For security, just drop this into your secure web document root and go. Requires: web server w/ PHP4 and MySQL support, MySQL server, phpwebtools, web browser.

EthStatus ethstatus.calle69.net

If you want to monitor the status of one or more Ethernet interfaces in a system, this small utility is for you. It will show you, both graphically and in numbers, what your interface is doing and even whether it's up or down. The author has included a small utility to set up startup at boot. But even if you don't have one of the distributions mentioned, you can set it up. Output can be sent to an unused VT for monitoring at any time by anyone. Requires: libncurses, glibc.

Sysmon sysmon.org

If you have a lot of systems you need to watch, Sysmon can handle them all fairly easily. Designed for a NOC (network operations center), you set up one system as your monitoring station running the sysmon dæmon, and you can check it via the sysmon client from anywhere on your network. The most difficult part is the configuration, which isn't well documented, so novices may find setup daunting. Requires: libresolv, libnsl, libncurses, glibc.

wavemon jm-music.de/projects.html

If any of you use a wireless network, you are almost certainly aware of the paucity of tools for these cards. Well, for those using the WaveLAN or similar, at least one tool is available. While wavemon isn't a panacea; it's a start. It works for a myriad of cards, including the Lucent Orinoco and many others. Now, if some tool would just allow this card to be used under Linux as an access point. Requires: libm, libncurses, glibc.

popaccess ftp.innercite.com/pub/popaccess

I know many administrators face the problem of allowing only certain authorized individuals access to their mail server without making it a relay for low-life spammers. But when your road warriors are traveling, or, like me, you have folks who access the server from all over the world, you need something. What I liked about popaccess is that it's all in one file, not three or four. Configuration is simple and it works. Requires: Perl, perl module IO::Seekable.

SimpleCDR ogre.rocky-road.net/cdr.shtml

I have nothing against xcdroast. I also have nothing against X. But sometimes working from a TTY is faster or easier, so often I do. SimpleCDR works in most any environment but is particularly well suited to a VT. It won't burn your CD any faster, but you don't need to fire up X to use it. Requires: libncurses, libstdc++, libm, glibc.

multiCD multicd.rmdashrf.org

Sometimes, you just need to create multiple CDs. Most systems I've worked on would require several CDs if you wanted to use them for backups. multiCD was made just for that purpose. Even as it's burning one CD, it can be creating the next so that burning can continue uninterrupted. For obvious reasons, this won't work on a slow system. Requires: Perl.

IC-RADIUS radius.innercite.com

If you require a RADIUS server, for whatever purpose, you'll at least want to take a look at IC-RADIUS. Once installed, all administration is performed through a web browser (though you'll want a secure server to perform remote administration). You can create groups, users, view statistics and more. Network logins via dialup are very fast. Requires: MySQL, libmysqlclient, libm, libcrypt, libnsl, libz, glibc.

Until next month.

David A. Bandel (dbandel@pananix.com) is a Linux/UNIX consultant currently living in the Republic of Panama. He is coauthor of Que Special Edition: Using Caldera OpenLinux.

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