From:"Sys Admin News" <>  
Subject: Sys Admin Magazine -- October 31, 2003 News and Reviews
Date: Fri, 31 Oct 2003 09:19:19 -0800

                 Sys Admin Magazine -- News and Reviews
                           October 31, 2003


In this feature article, Cameron Laird explores Expect, a 
language with constructs for arithmetic, file reading and writing, 
branching, looping, and more.  

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Expect Success 
by Cameron Laird 

Expect occupies a place in systems administrators' toolboxes much 
like that of marking pencils for carpenters, or axes for firemen: 
it hasn't changed in years, it's small and inexpensive, it's 
utterly unglamorous, there are substitutes that make it possible 
to live without it, but it makes a big difference in the situations 
that call for it. 

Exploring Expect is the book that documents Expect. Incredibly, 
it remains in its first edition, materially unchanged since author 
and Expect inventor Don Libes first published it almost a decade 
ago. While Expect is a full-fledged, general-purpose programming 
language -- a superset of Tcl, in fact -- its value is most apparent 
when there's a requirement "for dealing with crappy interfaces," in 
Libes' words. An abundance of applications have intractable or 
inconvenient interfaces, so there's plenty of need for Expect. 

Here's an example of what Expect can do for you: suppose you need 
to reset all the passwords for a collection of users, or update 
the passwords to new randomized values, or ... well, you get the 
idea. This is just the sort of chore that turns up in the daily 
life of a systems administrator. It's also typical in that it's 
far more challenging than it first appears. Your instinct should 
be to write a script that invokes passwd to make each change. The 
problem with that is that passwd is unscriptable, at least in 
conventional terms. You cannot successfully redirect input to passwd 
the way most Unix programs encourage. 

Expect to the rescue -- To read the complete article, visit:


	Sys Admin Call for Papers

Sys Admin magazine is looking for systems administrators who have 
a common problem in an uncommon way and want to share their solution 
with the only people in the world who will understand it: other systems 
administrators. Each issue has a theme, but we’re always interested in 
useful articles on any subject related to managing AIX, BSD, HP-UX, 
Linux, Mac OS X, Solaris, and other UNIX/Linux variants. 

* Enterprise Administration -- We’re looking for practical, high-end 
discussions of storage, clustering, security, and advanced networking 
solutions based on your expertise and 

* Open Source -- We’re looking for original uses of classic tools such 
as Apache, Samba, and MySQL; custom solutions built from open source 
components; and descriptions of useful open source utilities. 

* Scripting -- Describe how you improved your life with the perfect 
shell, PHP, Python, or Tcl/Tk script. 
Sys Admin is currently seeking proposals for the following themes: 

Theme                        Proposals Due

Performance Tuning           11/3/03 
Storage                      12/1/03 
Remote Access                1/5/04 
Networking                   2/2/04 
Clustering                   3/1/04 
Database                     4/1/04 
Enterprise Security          5/3/04 
Backup & Recovery            6/1/04 
Server Management            7/1/04 
Software Tools               8/2/04 

For more detailed information, refer to the author guidelines on our 
Web site:
Send proposals to Rikki Endsley, Managing Editor: 


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