Frequently Asked Questions for people inside CAIA

 

This page is continually under construction, and provides various bits of information for new and old members of CAIA.

Policies File storage and backups
Setting up new machines
Accessing the lab network
Other

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Travel (particularly for conferences)

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Lab security

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Templates for tech reports and talks

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Primary file store and compute hosts

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SAMBA support

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File backup strategy

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Network bootable tools

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Install FreeBSD on lab machines


Local FreeBSD source repositories

Install PCBSD

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Configure Printing

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Secure (ssh) access to lab network

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Install VNC on Win32 and unix machines

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Setting up a CV on caia

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X11 under Windows

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Accessing website statistics

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Updating CAIA Website Content


Primary file store and compute hosts

Our web server and ssh gateway to the outside Internet is caia.swin.edu.au, a FreeBSD 'jail' host.

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
. All user accounts are on this machine. Access to mordor is either via ssh login or WinNT file shares.


SAMBA support

Within CAIA we use SAMBA to export mordor.caia.swin.edu.au home directories as Windows 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>           (where <username> is your unix login)


File backup strategy

Incremental backups of all user accounts on mordor occur once an hour during the day. Backups go to two separate machines running FreeBSD 8.x, eight x 2TByte drives in a RAID-Z2 configuration (two drives may fail without loss of data).

While logged into mordor itself, you can find the most recent version of your home directory at

  • /backups_bydate/mordor/home/<username>

Every hour a local snapshot is taken on the backup servers, and kept under

  • /backups_bydate/mordor/.zfs/snapshot/<date_time>/home/<username>

where "<date_time>" is in the form YYMMDD_HHMM (year, month, day, hour and minute of the desired snapshot -- e.g. the 8pm snapshot of March 8th 2011 would be 110308_2000)

After ~48hrs the hourly snapshots are deleted, but we keep midnight snapshots for two weeks. After two weeks we delete the midnight snapshots except those occurring on day 7, 14, 21, or 28 of the month. We delete all snapshots that are over ten weeks old. To some degree these time boundaries are arbitrary -- the main goal is to keep hourly snapshots for a smallish period of time (allowing people to recover from accidental deletion during a work day) while not keeping too many copies of older snapshots.

/backups_bydate/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 CAIA Technical Report 020927A for a discussion of the previous scheme CAIA used between 2002 and 2010)

Setting up a CV on caia

On the public website our CVs are located at http://caia.swin.edu.au/cv/<username>

You set up your CV page by creating a ~/public_html/cv directory on mordor, and creating inside this directory an index.html file. The contents of each user's ~/public_html/cv directory on mordor are copied over to caia's http://caia.swin.edu.au/cv/ every 30 minutes (on the hour and half hour).

Please inform me the first time you create your
~/public_html/cv directory on mordor so I can ensure your account is being updated properly. After that, you can make changes anytime you like.

A sample index.html can be retrieved from here that contains the necessary header, side-bar and footer inclusions.

Network bootable tools

Many types of motherboards support 'network boot' (or 'pxeboot') capabilities. On the CAIA network a machine using pxeboot will receive an IP address from our local DHCP server, and then be directed to load and launch gpxelinux.0 from pxeboot.caia.swin.edu.au.

The pxeboot'ing machine will then be offered a collection of basic tools via a simple on-screen menu. As of November 2011 these tools include memtest86+, clonezilla, DBAN (BootAndNuke) and network bootable versions of FreeBSD 8. (If you are inside our intranet, poke around here to see what's on offer.)

This service is intended for development or experimental purposes only -- once your machine is functioning correctly, please switch to using a static IP address as assigned by the Centre Director.

Installing FreeBSD

FreeBSD sees frequent use 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. FreeBSD also includes Linux-binary compatibility libraries, so many user-space applications compiled for Linux will run with minimal tweaking. Perhaps most importantly for budding entrepreneurs, FreeBSD source is released under the "BSD" license. This allows derivative works to be commercialised (without releasing the source modifications) or released openly as the authors (you) see fit.

  • Become familiar with the installation instructions from chapter 2 of the online FreeBSD documentation. Pay special attention to instructions for creating an installation CD or DVD from a binary CD or DVD image file.

ISO images for various FreeBSD releases (required to burn your own installer CD or DVD) are available via http:

Note: The NFS server on archive.caia.swin.edu.au will only serve requests that come from the following internet networks 136.186.228/24, 136.186.229/24 and 136.186.230/24. HTTP access to the ISOs and CDROMs is limited to 136.186.228/24 and 136.186.229/24.

After booting from an installer CD or DVD you may chose to continue the installation direct from the local CD or DVD, or pull the required content over the network (if the CD drive noise annoys you).
  • The local NFS mount location is archive.caia.swin.edu.au:/cdroms/freebsd/XX where XX represents the desired distribution. For example, archive.caia.swin.edu.au:/cdroms/freebsd/FreeBSD-8.1-RELEASE-i386-dvd1 would be the path to the i386 version of FreeBSD 8.1 installer DVD, etc. See http://archive.caia.swin.edu.au/cdroms/freebsd for other locally available releases.

Once you're up and running the primary installation of FreeBSD you can NFS-mount other disks with:  

  •  /sbin/mount archive.caia.swin.edu.au:/cdroms/freebsd/XX  <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.

Local FreeBSD repositories

In addition to the FreeBSD ISOs, we host a read-only mirror of the FreeBSD project's SVN (subversion) source code and Ports collection repositories. This allows much faster svn checkouts and updates for local projects.

The source repositories can be found at https://svn.caia.swin.edu.au/os/freebsd_src/

The Ports repository can be founds at:  https://svn.caia.swin.edu.au/os/freebsd_ports/

Installing PCBSD

PCBSD is a complete desktop OS based on FreeBSD, offering support for KDE, GNOME, LXDE and a variety of other desktop managers. It sees moderate use in the lab as an alternative desktop environment to Windows or Linux.

ISO images (required to burn your own installer CD or DVD), USB images and (in some cases) pre-built VirtualBox images are available locally at http://archive.caia.swin.edu.au/isos/pcbsd

Note#1: The NFS server on archive.caia.swin.edu.au will only serve requests that come from the following internet networks 136.186.228/24, 136.186.229/24 and 136.186.230/24. HTTP access to the ISOs and CDROMs is limited to 136.186.228/24 and 136.186.229/24.

Note#2: PCBSD 9.1 is the last release that supports both i386 and amd64 architectures. From PCBSD 9.2 onwards only amd64 (x64) architectures will be supported.


Printing to the CAIA Print Server

CAIA has its own CUPS print server located at http://printserver.caia.swin.edu.au:631/. This server shares the local Lab printer as well as other printers in the local photocopy room.

If you are running FreeBSD or Linux (which use CUPS), you only need to add the following line in /etc/cups/client.conf:

ServerName printserver.caia.swin.edu.au

All printers shared by the printserver will be available locally, to applications, such as Acrobat, which do not use the desktop manager's printer interface. You may need to restart the applications before they recognise the new server.

To set Gnome to use the CAIA CUPS server (for Gnome applications), go to System->Administration->Printing and select Server from the top menu, and then Connect..., and type printserver.caia.swin.edu.au into the text box. The printer EN603_Cannon in the photocopy room can print double sided.

If using Windows, browse to http://printserver.caia.swin.edu.au:631/ (without going through the Swinbure proxy server) and select printers, then select the printer you would like to add.

Copy the URL from your browser window, and create a new printer with the Add Printer Wizard. When prompted, paste the URL you copied as the printer URL. Proceed to select a suitable driver and finish the wizard. If you are adding the Canon Photocopier, the correct driver is available at \\archive.caia.swin.edu.au\isos\ghost\application_setup_files\canon....

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...)

X11 under Windows (Cygwin/X)

The open source (and free) implementation of X11 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/X page and click on the "Install now" link.


Installing VNC

VNC (Virtual Network Computing [note: wikipedia link -- may not always be trustworthy]) 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, archived here and commercialised here].

There are a number of VNC server and client applications available for most operating systems. Check out: ssvnc, TightVNCUltraVNC or RealVNC (free edition)

Accessing Website Statistics

Comprehensive usage statistics of this website are available to those inside CAIA. AWstats web based statistics for www.caia.swin.edu.au can be accessed here.

(Note: Statistics will not be accessable if you are using the Swinburne proxy).


Last Updated: Sunday 8-Sep-2013 19:55:12 EST | Maintained by: Grenville Armitage (garmitage@swin.edu.au) | Authorised by: Grenville Armitage (garmitage@swin.edu.au)