From the Editor

An overview of the current issue.

Does Linux need a road map? In the bad old days, there used to be a marketing document called a “road map”. Information technology vendors would come down from on high and declare that during some quarter of next year, they would allow customers to start doing some task with their product, so customers should buy stuff now and it will work sometime in the future.

The theme of this issue is system administration, so here's a better road map for you. Go to maps.yahoo.com, and fill in 327 Ley Road, Fort Wayne, Indiana, USA. That's the address of Midwest Tool & Die, where our authors Craig Swanson and Matt Lung work. As you might expect, MTD is the very model of a modern manufacturer, with an ISO 9002 ce.pngication and a quality award from the State of Indiana, but they're also doing something that just might make it worth the 35 hours and 42 minutes Yahoo says it will take to get there from Silicon Valley. They're drawing their own road map.

Three years ago, MTD faced the need for a shared company directory and addressed it with OpenLDAP, Samba and other customer-friendly software (page 48). Instead of following a top-down road map from a single vendor, they made things work their way. Although one of MTD's secret weapons is a close working relationship with nearby engineering powerhouse Purdue University, companies are following similar strategies both in-house and in partnership with IT services firms large and small.

Here in Silicon Valley, it's starting to become apparent that the main reason for the so-called tech downturn is that all this stuff just started working. When your file server is fast and reliable, your client systems are capable, and the operating system is stable, you don't need to upgrade in search of a fix. Now that “tech” isn't a money pit you have to struggle with, you can really start to get some use out of it, and that's only a downturn if your business is selling flakiness. For those of us who actually get some use out of systems, it's a win.

LDAP is a central directory that doesn't put harsh demands on other server software and works with pretty much anything. Of course, the more stuff you put on your company LDAP server, the worse it is when it goes down. Jay Allen and Cliff White explain a simple way to keep LDAP going, no matter what happens to the master server (page 58).

If you're new to system administration and interested in who ran what, when—whether for security, improving service to the users or some other reason—check out Keith Gilbertson's article on page 66. Process accounting is an old-school UNIX feature, and it might just be on the certification exam.

No matter how much attention HTTP gets, FTP refuses to die, and Mick Bauer explains how to protect your inside FTP server from the outside on page 32. There's plenty of other good stuff in this issue, so wash the whiteboard, grab your business requirements and draw your own road map.

Don Marti is editor in chief of Linux Journal and number eight on pigdog's list of “things to say when you're losing a technical argument”.

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