Originally Published: Tuesday, 14 November 2000 Author: Sean Jewett
Published to: interact_articles_lugs/Articles Page: 1/1 - [Std View]

Nashville LUG does Phreaknic v4.0

Sean Jewett reports in with his take on Phreaknic 4.0, sponsored by Sheergenius, Michael Chaney Consulting, Netcentral and the rampant volunteerism of NLUG, the Nashville Linux User Group. Enjoy!

The sign on the door said "Root us and tell us how you did it, please" (sic). With the gauntlet laid down, the Rootwars at Phreaknic v4.0 had officially begun. The weekend of November 3rd through the 5th marked the fourth annual Phreaknic convention held in Nashville, Tennessee. Put on by members of se2600, the entire convention is run by a team of volunteers from not only Nashville, but Atlanta, Memphis, Bowling Green- Ky, and other various points throughout the Southeast.

The name Phreaknic is a play on the now famous spring break held every year in Atlanta. With a private network topology that tests nearly every limit of the 10/100baseT Ethernet standard, the net connect to your room is considered hostile. Root or be rooted. It is a time and a place to try out new ideas and theories. Likewise, it is a chance to see how up to snuff you are at securing your system. Your only assurance is the air gap firewall, and many people will try to find a way around that one too.

Phreaknic 4 (PN4) also marked the third year the Nashville Linux User Group (NLUG) participated. In previous years, NLUG held an installfest on the Saturday of the convention. However, with better space and more facilities, the con organizers graciously allowed NLUG to maintain a room for the entire weekend. NLUG took full advantage of the room.

Starting Friday, planning, setup, and general mayhem ensued all day. While there was no external net connection at the convention, NLUG members Paul Boniol and Howard White made sure all of the latest distros for several platforms were accounted for. Holland Griffis was there with iMac in tow as Steven "Critch" Critchfield was sporting AMD's latest offering. While a few people got their "retro gaming on" with my Apple II's, Brett Miller hacked up a connection between his Tandy Model 100 via a serial link to his Linux box. Those that attempted to sleep Friday found very little rest. A few people decided to stay up the entire night. Why not, as Hacksec again sold Penguin Mints. The highlight of Friday for everyone was the arrival of Emmanuel Goldstein.

Ten AM on Saturday was to be the start of the installfest. Although there were a few glitches in getting the fest started, it turned out to be one of the more popular events at PN4. Then again, the gracious donation of Krispy Kreme Donuts by NLUG listserv host Netcentral sealed the popularity of the NLUG room. Still, later in the day there were times where the room was too packed to move. As the madness ensued, one lady jumped for joy as Windows came off her laptop and Mandrake was installed. Timball and Tilghman were hacking LinuxPPC on a Power Mac as Izaac from the SetiLeague graciously helped out in attempting to install NetBSD on my 68k Mac. The Mac won... NetBSD decided it did not like the IDE drive in the LC580. Unfortunately, NLUG did not have Linux for a 68k Mac.

Five PM marked the end of the installfest but not the end of fun in the NLUG room. Quite a few people ran for dinner as the aforementioned donuts (and Penguin Mints) were the only food they had all day. Upon their return, Jeff "j3ff" Henry had setup a projector and was screening "The Matrix" while con panels such as "Secure Network Design" finished up. It would not be a Phreaknic without a loss of power. We were assured by the hotel that the extra circuits installed for a hair dryer convention would be more than enough for our computers (as it was a problem at the previous location). The circuits proved enough, however the lock to the utility room did not. It was an unfortunate incident and thankfully no damage (to man or machine) was done.

Sunday marked the aftermath. Time to clean up, assess what took place, and get some well deserved rest. NLUG realized that they had fun. A lot of fun. So much so, they want to do it again. NLUG is discussing with some other LUG's what it might take to have an entire weekend of Linux in Nashville. By the end of Phreaknic, NLUG made contact with members from the Clarksville LUG (CLLUG), Western Kentucky University LUG (WKULUG), Knoxville LUG (KLUG), St. Louis Unix Users Group (SLUUG) and the Columbia Linux Users Group (COLLUG).

Although some of the crazier hacks NLUG had planned did not come to fruition, their weekend at Phreaknic 4 was a success. It would have not happened without the support from Netcentral, Sheergenius and Michael Chaney Consulting. In addition, NLUG had a variety of support from its various members that helped make the entire weekend fun. Finally, hats off to the organizers of Phreaknic. Although there were areas needing improvement, the larger con and its challenges have a solid foundation upon which to build an even bigger and better convention.