2001 03 08

                    LINUX NEWS
            Thursday, March 8, 2001


1) Sean’s Notes

2) Linux News

SuSE 7.1 - A First Look
The Little Engine that Could
Get 'yer BOFH Gear Here
IBM Puts on the Tux

3) Linux Resources

Security Features in 2.4
More Uses of TCP Wrappers
The e-smith Server and Gateway: A Perl Study
BOFH Archive
UNIX System Administration Handbook

4) App o’ the week

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1) Sean's Notes
In operating systems like Windows NT, a lot of the action is
hidden from you.  Sure, you can get a list of processes from
the Task Manager, even its memory usage and CPU time, but if
you want some real details, you have to grab some extra
utilities from places like sysinternals.com.

UNIX, on the other hand, will give you all the information
you need and more.

A process is really an instance of a program.  The editor I
am typing this in is a process.  It was started from the
shell, which is another process.  That shell was started...
you get the point.  Each process has a name, a priority, a
number, and a whole whack of other attributes.

A process is identified by its process ID, or PID for short.
Typing "ps -ef" will show you all the running processes.
Here is one such entry from the list

root       874   805  0 Mar05 pts/1    00:00:00 ssh poochie

Starting from the left, you can see the owner of the process,
namely root.  The process id is next, which is 874.  What's
PPID though?  That's the Parent Process ID, ie. the process
that invoked this one.  So what would that be?

% ps -ef | grep 805
sean       805   794  0 Mar05 pts/1    00:00:00 -csh

Hmm... owned by sean, with process id 805 and parent 794.

sean       794     1  0 Mar05 ?      00:00:04 gnome-terminal

And finally parent is process #1.  Discussion of process 1
(init) will have to wait for another day, so let's get back
to the other fields.  'C' is the CPU usage value used for

TTY is the terminal (a throwback to "Teletype").  Users
interact with terminal devices.  If you look at the process
tree above, you'll see that gnome-terminal has no TTY, but
its child, -csh, does.  Following that logic, you can see
that I typed in "ssh poochie" to my shell in my gnome-
terminal, to get process 874.

The second from last field is the CPU time the process has
used.  Remember that we're in a multi-tasking operating
system, so even though everything looks like it has the full
attention of the CPU, it's really taking turns with all the
other processes.  gnome-terminal has taken up 4 seconds of
CPU time, and the other two haven't yet taken up a second.

Of course, the last field is the name of the command.  This
is changeable, so you can't rely on it 100%.

So, from the "ps -ef" listing, you can figure out a few
things.  Processes that have a TTY associated with them are
talking via the keyboard with the user.  If it is listed as
'?', then it's more than likely running in the background.
Processes with a high CPU time may have busy loops, or other
hangs.  Older versions of syslogd would chew CPU, and thus,
show up very clearly in a ps listing.

The date (STIME) of a process is also helpful.  Daemons that
start up per connection (anything run out of inetd, sendmail,
httpd) that have children with old STIMES may be stuck.  It's
unlikely that someone has been FTPing to your site for the
past week!

My apologies to the readers that joined between February 22
and March 1. I had written a two part article last week, but
the second part wouldn't have made much sense without the
first.  I've archived it for you here:


Thanks to the reader that pointed this out!  As always, feel
free to email me with your comments, or post questions on
the various boards on Brainbuzz.com.

Long live the Penguin,


Visit The Linux Newsletter Board

2) Linux News

SuSE 7.1 - A First Look
SuSE, a distribution from Germany, has become popular with a
lot of people. This review shows what's new and great in the
latest version. It's one of the first released distributions
with the 2.4 kernel, BTW.


The Little Engine that Could
With the decline in prices and the insane increase in speed,
PCs have taken the digital effects world by storm. Come see
how Linux is making inroads into this industry because of its
ease of administration and increasingly available software.


Get 'yer BOFH Gear Here
Show your users that you won't take any flak from them by
wearing some BOFH gear. Don't know what BOFH is? Check out
the "BOFH Archive" below. The phrase "What's your username?"
will never mean the same thing again!


IBM Puts on the Tux
I'm looking forward to seeing this one on TV... IBM is
going for a 60's style psychedelic ad featuring the Linux
penguin. The rest of this article shows some impressive
numbers-- 144% growth in IBM Linux server sales in Asia
during 2000, and a global growth of 24%, which beat
Microsoft's 20%.


3) Linux Resources

Security Features in 2.4
Linuxsecurity.com has come out with another great article on
new features in Linux 2.4. This time, Dave Wreski talks about
"capabilities", which are fine-grained permissions designed
to reduce reliance on the root account. The second half of
this article is about the cryptographic features available
to plug in to the kernel, such as encrypted file systems.


More Uses of TCP Wrappers
TCP wrappers are great for controlling who can and can't
connect to your TCP-based services. Access control is just
the beginning, though. This article takes an in-depth look
at how the wrappers work, and explores a couple of extra
goodies that you may not know the wrappers have in them.


The e-smith Server and Gateway: A Perl Study
e-smith is a pretty cool distribution of Linux, which builds
appliance-like boxes with a great web interface. The web
interface itself is a great example of what Perl can do,
and this article gets behind the scenes with some great
design tips.


BOFH Archive
Maybe you're wondering what the BOFH is. Maybe you've heard
about it but haven't read the stories. Maybe you're a BOFH
looking for some pointers. Here is a site with links to all
the BOFH info anyone could ever want.


UNIX System Administration Handbook
If you manage more than a few UNIX machines, with several
users, then you want this book. It's targeted towards
Solaris, Linux, FreeBSD, and HP/UX, and contains essential
information on keeping everything running in top shape. An
all-in-one reference for the system administrator, you'll
be keeping this one close at hand to help solve your UNIX


4) App o' the week
The Apache Toolbox takes care of downloading and compiling
various modules into your web server. Download this 46K
script, navigate the menus, and tell it to start compiling.
Presto! It will download the modules you asked for, and build
them into an Apache source tree. A simple "make install" in
that directory later, and you've got a new web server.


(C) 2001 BrainBuzz.com. All Rights Reserved.


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