GM 19991022

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Minutes of ProgSoc Meeting, 22nd October 1999


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                  LOANER CDs

Progsoc has some copies of Debian Slink and Red Hat 6.1 (both intel)
which we can loan out. I also am preparing some Red Hat 6.0 for Alpha.
People interested in borrowing CDs should contact the exec, if there is
enough interest we will get more.

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                  UNION STUFF AND FUTURE OF PROGSOC TREASURER

The union are slowly pushing us into delivering them more detailed financial
documentation. So far we have delivered this years details (finally) but
they haven't got back to us on it yet. Next year will (probably, depending on
the final decision of the union board) require us to submit a budget showing
our admin expenses, a list of members and any projects we wish to undertake.
So far no solid details are available as to exactly what particulars are 
required but they will definitely require more work than previous years.
Without suitable documentation, we get no money from the Union. With suitable
documentation they promise to cover admin expenses (and at some future stage
might even define what exactly is an admin expense) plus they promise to
contribute to projects on a case-by-case basis (at this stage no details
as to how much contribution for what purpose, hopefully over time a library
of previous projects will be developed to provide some basis).

We will probably also need a register of who owns which machines in the Progsoc
room and where they came from. Effectively, this implies an increased workload
on our treasurer. In the past the treasurer has always been a difficult
position. The exec are all volunteers so the Union believes that no cost is
incurred in making them work harder. What happens is that the treasurer does
very little, our documentation is not up to scratch and we get no money out
of the Union. This situation was borderline this year and is set to get worse.

SOME IDEAS:

*  Make the treasurer a paid position, pay them only when they can get money
   out of the Union. This idea didn't seem popular on the night...

*  Outsourse the admin paperwork. Hire a bookkeeper to write up whatever,
   count the beans, figure out what the Union are looking for, etc. Tack the
   bookkeepers expense onto the budget as an ``admin'' expense and ask the
   Union to pay for it.

*  Automate the administration -- fill in the blanks budget, project proposal
   etc, all based on a CGI or something. It can email completed postscript
   back to the user who can print out the documentation. Other UTS clubs may
   also like to use this facility. This will be difficult to set-up but easy
   to maintain after that. We could even offer to pay someone to write all
   the scripts (and ensure it fits the Union specification, etc, etc) but this
   would only be a one-off expense.

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                  ALPHA-LINUX FOR PROGSOC

It seems unlikely that Progsoc will be able to afford a powerful Alpha
in the near future but at the moment we can at least lay claim to a gutless
Multia which currently does boot, has memory, has no hard drive, no keyboard
and works only on a monitor LOANED from engineering.

We have a 2G SCSI drive with no box, we could...
  -- fit it internal:
         I have a suitable power connector lead a home which I could donate.
         It would run hot unless we do something funky with fans like I did
         with my Multia.
         The final machine would have no external SCSI port (cable has 1 plug)
  -- setup the drive as external:
         We need a SCSI box and SCSI cable (all small Honda plugs)
         We have suitable SCSI terminator (hmm do we?)
         This would run cooler (but still hotter than comfortable)

We currently have facilities for doing Multia OS install from the network.

At the moment no one is actively working on this...

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                  SUTEKH

The machine sutekh.progsoc.uts.edu.au was upgraded to Potato by Anand.
It is the second fastest machine in the room, only a handful of people
are using it, it doesn't mount remote home directories and you can't
read mail. If you want a local home directory on sutekh, ask me. If you
want to sit and read mail, that is OK you can use ftoomsh for that.
Some things seem broken after the upgrade, telnet-ssl used to work <shrug>.
Anyone with particular problems should talk to Anand or me, my circuit
analysis stuff works, backups still work.

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                  PROGSOC HARDWARE UPGRADES -- FUTURE DIRECTION

First priority: hub

   Our current hub is on loan from Steve, an offer from Rahul for a new
   hub (actually an old hub, but one we can keep) should be acted upon soon.

Second propirty: box of 10 4G DAT tapes.

   Someone should buy these, we need more backup tapes.

Third priority: camera for surveillance of the progsoc room

   * Can use USB -- cameras are cheap, low frame rate, colour is available
                 -- drivers for Linux are very new and unstable (wo could help)

   * Can use PAL -- needs both camera and a capture card (double cost or more)
                 -- higher frame rates are achievable, colour is available
                 -- drivers for Linux are more established

   Either way we will have to write a bit of software, something to put
   snapshots up on the WWW would be good, also some logging. Possibly
   compression, background subtraction, lighting normalisation, many
   possibilities could be explored once the basic system is running.

Fourth priority: Network improvements

   A decent switching hub would be nice, maybe 8 or 16 ports.
   Minimum would be 8 ports, 16 ports would be comfortable.
   Dispater could run at 100Mbps if other machines could be upgraded
   Ftoomsh will never get past 10Mbps but has two ports, with careful
   splitting of traffic ftoomsh could be more efficient (e.g. direct link
   to nfs discs on Jubilex on one port, general internet on the other).

   Our current main limitation is the bottleneck in routing to the outside
   world (i.e. through scooby into SoCS). This limitation will never be
   lifted because SoCS don't want us capable of using more bandwidth than
   we already are.

Fifth priority: CD Burner

   See if Progsoc members are interested in getting their home directories,
   and selections from the ftp server burnt onto CD. See how much interest
   there is in loaner CDs. For internal Progsoc archival backup, CD could
   be better than DAT tape because it should last longer -- do we have anything
   we want to archive for a long time?
   
Sixth priority: Faster machine

   Anton still wants an Ultra-SPARC. I doubt it will be much faster than 
   dispater but it would give us access to a bit more CPU and would help
   Anton with SPARC-linux development. It is also a 64 bit CPU so might be
   better than dispater for some jobs (I still contend that the memory
   bandwidth is the most critical and neither the piddly caches nor fatter
   registers actually help the problem). Would any other progsoc users find
   a use for a faster machine?

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                  FTP SERVER

Our ftp server is full. It is a slowish SPARC-linux machine that has been 
very stable and hardworking. Someone needs to take stock of our current
ftp archive and look at:

   * What are we mirroring that nearby mirrors are also mirroring?
   * How much of it is getting used?

We have logs of ftp and http access, we need someone to write a summary
program for the http logs (ftp logs are already summarised). We also
need someone to read the summary and think about things.

Finally, we can add more SCSI disc to the ftp server, we still have spare
discs around the place.

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                  PROJECTS

* Test the ext3 journalling file system on one of the progsoc machines
  (preferably not ftoomsh). This would prove stability of this file system.

* Software RAID for Jubilex (could incorporate ext3) to allow more NFS
  mountable discspace in Progsoc.

* TFM updating goes to Rahul (mailing list at tfl@nospam.progsoc.uts.edu.au,
  subscribe by sending to tfl-request@nospam.progsoc.uts.edu.au,)

* MP3 stream for 2SER. Christian is interested, should be a useful demo
  of free streaming software, will hog bandwidth so I don't suggest it be
  anything more than something to show that it works.

* IPV6 address space. Sutekh now supports IPV6 and is acting as a tunnel
  for experimental IPV6 routing. There was an earlier progsoc message giving
  more detail such as address space, etc.

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                  ACTIVITY

* Industrial Tourism seems somewhat interesting, still no confirmed details.

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                  WEB PAGE ADMIN

Some commercial web pages have come to our attention, so far nothing has
been done about them. They really shouldn't be there but we have no policy
as to what to do about them or who should be doing it. I'm tempted to just
lock the account and archive up the home directory. Do any members have a
problem with this? I really can't see them being of benefit to most UTS
students or to Progsoc as a whole.

In addition we have Union club web pages, I feel we should leave them
alone but we really must come to an official conclusion as to what our
stand is on Union club web pages. The Union are getting a server of their
own, naturally it will never be as good as ours so clubs will be tempted
to stay with us. Is it in our interests to be competing with the Union in
this way? For now we just let the users decide which server they want to
put their web page.

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