Frequently Asked Questions about CAIA
This page is continually under construction, and provides various bits of information for new and old members of CAIA.
File storage and backups
Setting up new machines
Accessing the lab network
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Primary file store and compute hosts
Our web server and ssh gateway to the outside Internet is caia.swin.edu.au, a 600MHz PIII running FreeBSD 4.6
www.caia.swin.edu.au and caia.caia.swin.edu.au are aliases for caia.swin.edu.au.
Our internal file server and compute server is mordor.caia.swin.edu.au, a 2.66Ghz P4 running FreeBSD 4.9 with 2GB RAM and dual 250GB drives in a RAID 1 (mirrored) configuration. All user accounts are on this machine. Access to mordor is either via ssh login or WinNT file shares.
SAMBA support for WinNT file sharing
Swinburne ITS does not support WinNT file sharing across their switched-ethernet/VLAN domains (officially we use Novell Netware). However, within CAIA we use SAMBA to export mordor.caia.swin.edu.au home directories as WinNT file shares.
You'll need to log into mordor (as a unix user, using ssh from another unix box or, e.g., PuTTY from a WIndows box) and run smbpasswd in order to initially setup your Windows file sharing password before accessing mordor as a Windows file server. The workgroup will show up as CAIA, and mordor.caia.swin.edu.au will be (naturally) "mordor".
Your mordor home directory is shared as: \\mordor\<username>
File backup strategy
Incremental backups of all user accounts on mordor occur once an hour during the day. One set of backups goes to a separate machine in the same lab, another set of backups goes to a dedicated backup file server in a different building. Both backup servers run FreeBSD.
There are three levels of incremental backups - hourly, daily, and weekly. Users ssh'd into mordor can directly access past versions of their /home/<user> directory at /backups/mordor/XXX/home/<user> where XXX is:
- system.N [N = 0, 1, .... 6 for the past 7 hours of incremental backups done at 45 minutes past the hour. N=0 is the most recent]
- system.day.N [N = 0, 1, .... 6 for the past 7 days of incremental backups, done at 3:15am each day]
- system.week.N [N = 0, 1, .... 6 for the past 7 weeks of incremental backups, each done at 3:30am Saturday]
Hourly backups are at 45 minutes past the hour between 10:45am and 1:45am. The daily backup is a snapshot of system.1 as of 3:15am (i.e. the user's home directories as of 12:15am). The weekly backup is a snapshot of system.1 as of 3:30am on Saturday morning.
/backups/mordor on mordor is an NFS-mount to the remote machine on which these backups physically reside. This allows users on mordor to have direct access to their backups without manual intervention by system administrators. (See also, CAIA Technical Report 020927A.)
Setting up a CV on caia
On the public website our CVs are expected to be at http://caia.swin.edu.au/cv/<username>
To achieve this, create a ~/public_html/cv directory on mordor, and inside this directory there should be (at minimum) an index.html file. The contents of each user's ~/public_html/cv are copied over to caia's http://caia.swin.edu.au/cv/ every 30 minutes (on the hour and half hour).
Creating your public CV is as simple as writing an index.html, placing it into your ~/public_html/cv directory on mordor, and waiting.
FreeBSD is supported in our lab environment. It is a free, complete, and open-source version of Unix. FreeBSD provides a flexible and proven platform for prototyping advanced networking protocols and services. In addition, FreeBSD's Linux-binary compatibility means most user-space applications compiled for Linux will run out of the box. And perhaps most importantly for budding entrepreneurs, FreeBSD source is released under the "BSD" license. Unlike GPL, the BSD license allows derivative works to be commercialized (without releasing the source modifications) or released openly as the authors see fit.
Installation from floppies and NFS
FreeBSD is available for installation over the local network. You can see which releases of FreeBSD are available under http://mordor.caia.swin.edu.au/cdroms (look for folders starting with 'freebsd')
- Become familiar with the installation instructions from chapter 2 of the online FreeBSD documentation. Pay special attention to instructions for creating two boot floppies and subsequently installing over NFS.
- Create two boot floppies (see chapter 2.2.6 of the online docs), and boot the target machine (first the KERN floppy then MFSROOT floppy)
- When prompted, the NFS mount location is mordor.caia.swin.edu.au:/cdroms/freebsdXX (or 126.96.36.199:/cdroms/freebsdXX if you have DNS problems), where XX represents the desired distribution ("410" for FreeBSD 4.10, "53" for FreeBSD 5.3, etc)
Once you're up and running the primary installation of FreeBSD you can NFS-mount other disks with:
- Disk2: /sbin/mount mordor.caia.swin.edu.au:/cdroms/freebsdYY <your_local_mount_point2>
A selection of pre-compiled FreeBSD packages can be found under <your_local_mount_point>/packages and installed with pkg_add <package.tgz>, or by running /stand/sysinstall configPackages and specifying the NFS mount location of the disk from which you want to grab and install packages.
The original ISO images for various FreeBSD releases are also available from mordor.caia.swin.edu.au via http:
[The NFS server on mordor.caia.swin.edu.au will only serve requests that come from the following internet networks 136.186.4/24, 136.186.229/24 and 136.186.230/24. HTTP access to the ISOs and CDROMs is limited to 136.186.229/24.]
Configuring a new FreeBSD machine
We have a shell script that will simplify the creation of CAIA-friendly FreeBSD workstations by performing a range of post-installation configuration, including installing XFree86/KDE, Acrobat, Mozilla and OpenOffice. All the script requires is that you've completed a basic install of FreeBSD 4.x or 5.x (configured the timezone, set the clock, root password, etc) and your FreeBSD machine has IP access to mordor.caia.swin.edu.au.
Downdload the script at ftp://mordor.caia.swin.edu.au/pub/caia_configs/newbox.sh and execute it as root.
./newbox.sh will pull all the files it requires from caia.swin.edu.au as it goes. A couple of important consequences of running newbox.sh include:
- A top level directory /packages_caia will be created with a link to packages in the FreeBSD CDROM set (hosted on mordor.caia.swin.edu.au)
- The 'lp' printer will point to the networked laserprinter in room AS327
- Your machine will be running the NFS automounter service, and will use it to automount directories from mordor.caia.swin.edu.au
- If you request, the kernel will be rebuilt to include the pcm sound driver
You can re-run newbox.sh at any time - it will skip the steps that were successfully done the previous time it was executed.
- newbox.sh nopackages [do not create /packages_caia even if it doesn't exist]]
- newbox.sh redopackages [forceably re-create /packages_caia even if it already exists]
- newbox.sh doagp [load the Intel video card AGP kernel module at boot time]
- newbox.sh addsound [recompiled the kernel to include pcm audio driver support]
Secure access to lab network
Secure access to the lab network is provided through a secure shell (ssh) service on caia.swin.edu.au - contact Grenville for an account. Ssh clients are available from OpenSSH.org, and are included in current FreeBSD and Linux distributions. You should not need to manually install ssh unless you're running a Windows platform.
Ssh is preferred for all situations where you might have used telnet in the past, inside or outside the CAIA network. Scp (rcp over ssh) is the preferred method for file transfers inside and outside the CAIA network (caia.swin.edu.au and mordor.caia.swin.edu.au do not support any telnet, rsh, rcp, etc...)
- General source of open source ssh implementations
- ssh clients for Windows
- A local copy of PuTTY (ssh for Win2K)
- A local copy of WinSCP (scp for Win2K)
X11 under Windows (Cygwin/XFree86)
The open source (and free) implementation of XFree86 under Cygwin allows X11 clients on other machines in CAIA to be accessed from your Windows desktop. We do not have local copies here, but the network-based installation runs quite smoothly. Go to the Cygwin/XFree86 page and click on the "Install now" link.
VNC (Virtual Network Computing) allows you to remotely access a Windows desktop as a window on a local X11 server, or access an remote X11 desktop through a window on a local Windows machine. VNC was developed by AT&T Labs (Cambridge, UK) [shut down as of April 2002 and relocated here]. We've got local copies of version 3.3.3.
The latest FreeBSD server and client is available in the Packages and Ports collections - as root you can run:
- pkg_add -r vnc
Older precompiled Win32 and Linux server/client are also available locally:
- Win32: ftp://mordor.caia.swin.edu.au/pub/vnc/vnc-3.3.3r9_x86_win32.zip
- Linux: ftp://mordor.caia.swin.edu.au/pub/vnc/vnc-3.3.3r2_x86_linux_2.0.tgz
A local copy of the online documentation is at ftp://mordor.caia.swin.edu.au/pub/vnc/vnc_docs/index.html, which contains pretty much all the info you need get started.