Trade Commission frees directory source code

Trade Commission frees directory source code



Free to a good home: source code for an online directory service.

The liberated code, written in Java, once powered the Federal White Pages, a phone directory of federal employees located at directory.gov. The project, run by the International Trade Commission and a committee of small federal agencies, offered contact information for more than 450,000 federal employees from 22 agencies. After the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, program managers shuttered the site because of security concerns.

John Unekis, senior program manager for the commission's office of information systems, offered the source code during a talk at a monthly meeting of a Columbia, Md.-based Linux Users Group. The source code could be modified or used as a template to build another Web-based directory service for phone numbers, e-mail addresses and other information, Unekis said.

Unekis was giving a talk about the open-source version of the Lightweight Directory Access Protocol, called OpenLDAP. LDAP is an industry standard that defines protocols to access and update directories. LDAP-based directories can be accessed'usually through port 389 via an application protocol interface'by Web browsers, e-mail readers and many commercial authentication services. The OpenLDAP package provides a free implementation of LDAP. It is included in most Linux distributions.

For the White Pages, each participating agency supplied a master LDAP-formatted list of employees. Since LDAP is an open standard, it did not matter what application generated the list, Unekis said, as long as it adhered to the LDAP standard. For instance, IBM Lotus Notes/Domino and Microsoft Exchange both use LDAP. LDAP makes use of the Lightweight Directory Interchange Format, which is an ASCII-based schema that defines commonly used data elements. The White Pages used LDIF tags for employee name, phone number and title.

The Federal White Pages ran on a 1.2-GHz Intel Pentium-based server, running Red Hat Linux, with three 8G hard drives, 384M of RAM and the Gnu database manager system. This configuration could handle 10 look-ups per second, or three record additions or changes per second, Unekis said.

The code can be run from the Tomcat software, which generates a Web page and evokes a server-side Java program to do a lookup on the OpenLDAP database. In addition to shedding light on ways of serving LDAP information, the source code could also be used as an example of how to use Tomcat to allow users to tap Java-based programs, Unekis said. Tomcat is an open-source extension of the Apache Web server software.

The get a copy of the code, e-mail Unekis at junekis@usitc.gov.

About the Author

Joab Jackson is the senior technology editor for Government Computer News.

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