Minutes of AGM 13/10/02

The Mad Hatter Hotel, London. 2:30pm


Dfuse (Andy Stiff), David Barton, Steve Dicks, Andy Henson, Ian Westbrook, Machinemaid (Mark), Jahingo (x3), Michael Bluett, Jonathan Baker-Bates, Peter Hawkins


Richard Dallaway, Satnam Loyal, Alan Truelove

Minutes from the Previous Meeting and Matters Arising

JBB to buy an SSL certificate for Alice.

JBB had totally forgotten to do this. Since some members said they'd use it if a certificate were in place, we resolved to buy one, and buy it from Jahingo.

Action: JBB and Stuart Clarke to do the deed.

All other matters from the last AGM have been dealt with.



Drunk by almost all in attendance.


The subscription for 2003 was set at 120.00 + VAT per member. Peter had previously recommended 95.00 + VAT, but those present thought we should put in a bigger contingency pending the possible upgrade of Alice to a RAID configuration and other outgoings proposed.


Ian raised the issue of overall load on Edith. The average processor and memory usage is small, but is very peaky while performing batch operations.

Since we are not experiencing sustained slow-downs, and the issue of bandwidth use does not now seem to be as important as it once was, we agreed there was little we could do besides attempting to control rogue processes, from which we have occasionally suffered in the past.

We are also running two JVMs and servlet engines (Resin and Tomcat). We should retire Resin by shutting it down.

Action: JBB to look into a way of killing off/neutralising rogue processes.
Action: Steve to retire Resin.

List Mirroring

We discussed how we could mirror the members mailing list between the machines, but got bogged down in details. The desire to do this in some way still stands, however.

Action: JBB to experiment by copying relevant mailman prefs over to Alice and see if a mirror can be created on lists.hatters.org.uk.
Action: JBB to also mirror the Hatters website, or at least the members contact pages, etc.


Stuart raised the issue of replacing sendmail with a MTA designed to be used by those without the benefit of degrees in computer science, and suggested Postfix.

It was agreed that while Sendmail is indeed complex to the point of gibbering insanity, we didn't think it was causing us any problems, particularly as our use of the "quick scripts" and members config files make it reasonable to maintain.

Alice Upgrade

Now that Edith has been successfully upgraded to RedHat 7.3 and 36G of disk space, thoughts now turn to an upgrade for Alice.

It was noted that JBB has the two 9.1G disks removed from Edith, but if they are to be installed in Alice we will need to buy ribbon converters for them.

It was further noted that Alice has a single 9.1G drive that has been spinning for almost four years. The issue of converting Alice to RAID was therefore discussed. We decided that hardware RAID was preferable to software RAID, and that we could try RAID 5 with our 3 x 9.1G drives, thereby gaining a slight disk reading performance boost.

Action: JBB to research ribbon converters and RAID controller prices.

Use of RedHat

We discussed the idea of switching to a different distribution (e.g. Gentoo) on Alice. The reason being that RedHat's long-term direction may not be to our liking.

It was agreed that since Edith and Alice should be kept as similar as possible to ease migration of applications between boxes, then both must run the same distribution. It was resolved to park the issue until the next upgrade.

Subscription to the RedHat Network

Stuart recommended we subscribe to the RedHat Network in order to get reliable downloads of updates, and other perks such as preferential information. Subscription is about 40 per year.

Since use of the automated update tool, Up2Date (similar to Microsoft's Auto Update) is free for a single machine, it was agreed to try this.

Action: Stuart to install and run Up2Date.
Action: JBB to subscribe to the RHN.


We had a general security discussion, and the possibility of TCP-wrapping SSH was raised. It appears, however, that there are people on dynamic Ips or roaming across networks, so this is not practical.

Members are however free to IP-wrap FTP accounts, since Pure-FTP allows this at user level.

Action: JBB to re-install portsentry and logcheck on Edith.

Terminal Server

This issue was re-visitied from the last AGM. Since telnet is now enabled from a limited number of fixed IP addresses, the need to have a TS may not be as pressing. Having access to one may also open up other security issues. It was agreed to therefore park this issue.


Ian asked what would happen if a database was maliciously removed. During discussion of this hypothetical, it was decided to extend the backup incrementals from one to two months.

Action: JBB to extend to two months.


Michael said he will be installing AOLServer and Postgresql on Edith.

Stuart asked if we should be upgrading MySQL. No conclusion was reached.

Action: Stuart to investigate new versions of MySQL.

Edith's Old RAM

Andy Henson said that he still has the old RAM from Edith's upgrade earlier in the year. In accordance with Section 1, Clause 9 of The Rules, it was agreed to donate this to a state-funded academic facility, and for this to be of Andy's choosing.

Action: Andy to put RAM in the post to unsuspecting IT master.

Jonathan then thanked all those in attendance and closed the meeting at 4:30pm

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Last modified: 16/10/2002