2002 07 18

                    LINUX NEWS
      Resources & Links From www.CramSession.com
                  July 18, 2002


1) Sean’s Notes

2) Linux News

Going for the RHCE?
Symantec to Acquire SecurityFocus

3) Linux Resources

Which is Better, ext3 or ReiserFS
What's in /etc/sysconfig?
Crazy Perl Tricks
NetSaint vs Big Brother

4) App o’ the Week

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1) Sean's Notes

You don't have to register a domain in order to play with
DNS. Having a DNS server for your local LAN can be helpful,
both in a corporate setting, and at home. Today, we're going
to set up DNS with our own top level domain (TLD).

.com is an example of a TLD. When you look up
www.cramsession.com, your resolver hits the root servers
looking for "cramsession". It gets a referral to
Cramsession's nameservers, who know all about the
cramsession domain (often called a zone). They then return
the answer to "www.cramsession.com".

We can create our own TLD, perhaps called "linux".
Unfortunately, the world won't know about it, but in a
private network, everyone can make use of it. Thus, you can
have "www.linux", or "payroll.linux", all in the privacy of
your own network.

Most distributions have BIND, so I'll let you install it
from a package rather than going through the install with
you. Two reasons - there are few options so it's rather
boring. The second reason is that if you use package
management, you can rely on your distribution to provide
updates (you do check regularly, right?)

/etc/named.conf controls most of what BIND does. The first
thing we have to do is define a new zone for our "linux" TLD:

zone "linux" IN {
	type master;
	file "db.linux";

Be careful with the semi-colons. named.conf is very picky
about syntax.

What we've done here is created an Internet zone (that's
the IN) called "linux". "type master" means that it's going
to be the one with the actual zone files. The file directive
tells BIND where to look for the zone file. Unless you fully
qualify the file, it's relative to /var/named.

The next thing is to define /var/named/db.linux:

\@ IN SOA @ postmaster.linux. (
	200207181	; serial YYYYMMDD#
	3H		; refresh
	15M		; retry
	1W		; expiry
	1D	)	; minimum

Every zone must have an SOA record, which stands for "Start
Of Authority". The important stuff there is the line marked
'serial'. It identifies the zone at a particular point in
time. Whenever you make a change, update the serial. Remove
nameservers cache this information, and the serial lets them
know the latest revision. I prefer to embed the date in the
serial, and appending a single digit in case I make multiple
updates in a day. It just helps when debugging, so I know
the last time it was modified. The other numbers are various

The "postmaster.linux" is supposed to be the email address
of the administrator, with the @ replaced by a .. Feel free
to put a throwaway one in there, it harks back to the days
when you could trust people out on the Internet. The @'s in
the SOA record are expanded to "linux." by the name server.
Rather than typing it in for every zone you create, you can
use this as a standard header.

The next records that go into your zone file identify your
nameservers. In an internal environment, it's likely that
they're already known anyway, but it's good practice:

	IN	NS	linux.

( is the address of my internal name server,
substitute as appropriate)

Like directories, the name server files have a concept of
relative paths. We are currently in the "linux." zone. The
trailing dot means "STOP!". If you leave off the trailing
dot, the name server appends the zone if you leave it off.
So, if you ever see something like:

linux name server linux.linux.

--it's a clue that you forgot that dot.

On the left side, I've got

<blank>  IN  NS linux.

That blank gets "linux." tacked on to the end of it.
Similarly, we could have done--

linux.  IN  NS linux.

However, relying on the nameserver to add in the extra
stuff saves you a lot of typing later.

At this point, you could fire up named, and you'd have a
fully functioning nameserver for the linux tld for your own
private use. Not very useful without the other records,

'A' records define hosts. If were a web server,
I could point www.linux to it:

www	IN	A

Update your serial, and restart the name services. (You
might notice there is no . at the end of the IP address.
'A' records expect an IP address on the right hand side,
and will not implicitly append the domain)

# host www.linux
www.linux has address

Just to be correct, we defined linux. as our name server,
but we haven't defined an A record for it:

linux.	IN	A

--which gives us a hostname of "linux".


--has a great tutorial on the various types of records you
can place within your zone.

Creating your own TLD is an easy way to learn DNS without
having to register your own domain. It's also a great thing
for companies, a url like http://payroll.mycorp is quite
distinguishable as an internal URL, and easier to remember.

The techniques we used here today are also the exact same
that are used when you want to register a domain on the
Internet. Just substitute our "linux" for your "whatever.tld"
and you're off to the races!

Long live the Penguin,


2) Linux News

Going for the RHCE?
Here's a poll on the Red Hat Linux Certified Engineer board.
Are you planning on taking the RHCE exam? Why or why not?


Here's some more information, including a link to the
online store, for the Walmart Linux PCs.


Symantec to Acquire SecurityFocus
Not sure how I feel about this one... Security Focus has
long been a great source of security information, including
the famous BugTraq list, and a great jobs list. I hope that
being bought out by a vendor doesn't compromise their


3) Linux Resources

Which is Better, ext3 or ReiserFS?
ext3 and ReiserFS are two popular journalled filesystems for
Linux. Each has their own distinct advantages, and both make
claims to be the fastest. Here's some objective performance
tests. Note, though, the author used some settings on both
filesystems that you'd only want to use if your hard drive
controller is battery backed -- not always realistic, and
defeats part of the purpose of having a journalled filesystem.


What's in /etc/sysconfig?
One of my favourite features of Red Hat is that most
everything can be configured out of /etc/sysconfig, making
automation with scripts that much easier. Though I find
looking at the init scripts the best way to find out what
variables to set, this web page has a good listing of what
files and variables are available.


Crazy Perl Tricks
This perl article illustrates an interesting concept --
serving web pages out of a tarball. I'm trying to think of a
practical use for it, but it's educational to say the least.


NetSaint vs Big Brother
Both NetSaint and Big Brother are programs to monitor
services and boxes on your network, and to alert you if
there are problems. This document is a very good comparison
of both programs.


4) App o' the Week
It's an Open Source version of Civilization. It's got
network play, and looks pretty good! They just released
1.13.0, a major milestone for the project.


(C) 2002 BrainBuzz.com, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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