Meeting Minutes for 2010-10-06

buildscc | 06 Oct 2010 | | meeting-minutes

Builds Meeting 5

10/06/2010 6:30pm


Kyle Brogle

Valerie Young

Russell Shomberg

John-Nicholas Furst

Kyle Brogle

Patrick Ehrlicher

Kyle Brogle

Additional topics

Chris Woodall

John-Nicholas Furst

Kyle Brogle

Meeting Ended 7:06 pm

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Currently, the only way to achieve automatic, reliable configuration of Linux machines for BU networks and services is BU Linux. While BU Linux is effective in this sense, it has shortcomings, mainly that it is CentOS-based (which some people don’t like), and that it requires installing a completely new operating system, instead of just being able to install the config on top of an existing setup. To address these concerns, I propose an alternate system, tentatively entitled “debDog”, which is a collection of debian packages that install and/or configure essential software for use on the Boston University network. It is modular, allows for deeper customization, and is installable on top of an existing debian-based distro.

The System

Let’s get this out of the way right here: the inspiration for this project is MIT’s Project Debathena ( While using debathena on the MIT campus, I was amazed at how easy it was to install, configure, and use. If you poke around their site, you’ll notice that their system was so solid that MIT IS&T started using it on all the public clusters.

But I digress. The packages are currently using CDBS (Common Debian Build System) along with Config-Package-Dev (MIT-developed system for using divert commands to install configs on a machine).

The Packages Have a Home

Current packages live in Using git is easy…github has directions if you’re not familiar (you’re also welcome to email Kyle).

When we have a set of packages that we have tested individually, it will be time to test them as a group. For this, I can use my PPA on Launchpad.

Also, the BU Linux Users Group expressed interest in hosting a PPA for us to use for this when we go into more of an open beta/release mode. (They’re pretty awesome).

List of Packages Written (Ready for testing)

  • bu-printing-config
    • adds all myprint printers to the machine to facilitate easy printing.
  • bu-kerberos-config
    • modifies krb5.conf so that you can pull tickets from the bu kerberos realm.
  • bu-afs-config
    • configures afs to allow access to BU afs cell(s), allowing you to run site-licensed software, among other things.

List of Packages Currently Being Worked On (help welcome)

  • bu-nss-config
    • configures nsswitch.conf so that BU databases (LDAP) can be used to obtain information (
    • may be problematic, due to how BU’s Active Directory servers store indexID as part of the cn, and not as a separate field.
  • bu-pam-config
    • configures pam so that requests to log in/ssh/su/etc can be done with kerberos credentials
    • if anyone knows more than Kyle about dealing with pam, especially from a security standpoint (he doesn’t know much), help would be appreciated.
  • bu-login
    • metapackage to allow logging into the local computer with kerberos accounts. Will include bu-nss-config and bu-pam-config, among others.
  • add-bu-user
    • shameless re-package of a utility written for BU Linux :)


  • Put feature/package requests here.

Interested Parties

This project is gaining momentum. Since p = mv, we should add more packages and keep accelerating -_- Add your name below if this interests you.

  1. Kyle Brogle
  2. John-Nicholas Furst
  3. Jeff Crowell
  4. Kenny Kalenderian
  5. Russell Shomberg
  6. Mikhail Andreev


Tesla Coil

What is a Tesla Coil?

On the technical side of things a Tesla coil is a pair of resonant RC circuits that operate at voltages high enough to create arcs. The idea is that there are two coils of wire called the primary and the secondary that act as inductors for their respective circuits. A large toroid acts as the capacitor for the secondary circuit as well as a site for the arcs to discharge. A large bank of capacitors connects to the primary coil forming the primary circuit. The primary and secondary circuits are designed so that they have the same resonance frequency and will transfer power between one and the other.

Project Goals

  • Construct a small working Tesla coil
  • Experiment with attaching a keyboard to Tesla coil
  • Build a large scale Tesla coil to amaze friends and crush enemies
  • profit

Build Order

There’s a lot of online documentation about how to put one together a coil. One site is linked below and it walks through design specs using a sensible progression from a desired arc length. Using this site I’ve done a few calculations for a coil designed around a 6 diameter secondary coil.


Most of the materials can be found easily on McMaster Carr, but the one thing thats holding up calculations is acquiring a high voltage transformer either from a microwave or a neon sign. Otherwise, major materials as follows:

  • copper wire (secondary coil)
  • aluminum ducting (toroid)
  • copper tubing (primary coil)
  • capacitors (primary circuit)
  • Hi V transformer
  • other assorted odds and ends to be accounted for

Walk-through mentioned above

Somewhere else

Some equations on a strangely religious site.


If you’re interested in helping out or want to lend expertise, sign up below or let me know.

Patrick Ehrlicher

Mikhail Andreev