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DAVROM CONSULTING Newsletter - Issue # 06 - Dated: Fri Dec 7 10:31:40 EST 2001

From the desk of David Clark

Well here comes Christmas again and another year will shortly come to a close.

Now is normally a time where things are supposed to slow down and with the
decreased number of users on servers, now is a good time to do some
down-time maintenance and get to those tasks that you have put off since
the year dot.

Last issue I talked about VisionFS and Samba and just wish to correct
something. The current versions of SCO OpenServer no longer ship with
VisionFS as part of the bundled software. You can find Samba for OpenServer
at the Skunkware website: http://www.caldera.com/skunkware

Most of our work so far has still been primarily with SCO OpenServer which
is still being purchased and installed by customers out there. We are also
providing our Internet Gateway Server as a robust solution for companies
wishing to have a quality connection to the Internet, of course the gateway
is running Linux. Go to: http://www.davrom.com/internetgw.html

To all the readers of the DAVROM CONSULTING newsletter, on behalf of
Rose-Marie and myself, we would like to wish everyone a very blessed and
Merry Christmas.


I would like to thank the reader for their time in reading this newsletter.

David.M.Clark



E-mail or URL

If you are like me you probably get more e-mail than you can poke a stick
at so I have been toying with the idea of offering readers of the DAVROM
CONSULTING newsletter the ability to receive just the http URL link to the
newsletter in the e-mails we send instead of the entire e-mailed newsletter.
This works well as your e-mail is lighter and you can read the newsletter
through your web browser instead.

If you would like to receive just the URL via e-mail so you can click on the
latest newsletter link to go to the newsletter via web browser, please let
me know.

The current and previous newsletters can be accessed via:

http://www.davrom.com/newsletter.html



Backups at OpenServer 5 sites

I have recently been to a few OpenServer sites where they are only backing
up their data or parts of the system. One site in particular I had to
rebuild from scratch as they only backed up their data. While backing up
data is essential, not backing up the application programs and the root
filesystem that holds the users, printers, networking and other system
modifications can cause considerable down-time.

The ideal is to have a 'cpio' backup of the entire system running every
night to a local tape drive in the actual server itself. This reduces the
restore/rebuild time in the event of a server failure as well as giving you
considerable fall-back should one or more of the media tapes be damaged.

To find out if you are running 'cpio' under OpenServer you can type:

dtype /dev/rStp0

and:

cpio -itvcB
where "rStp0" is the default SCSI tape drive. You can also use "/dev/rct0"
as well in most cases depending on how there hardware was configured.

You should see words to the effect of "old cpio format". If it says 'tar'
format then you are using a utility that under SCO does not backup
everything (or more correctly, cannot restore everything).

If the output of 'dtype' shows "unrecognised data" then the backup may
still be 'cpio' but was dumped to tape in compressed format. To check this
please type:

dd if=/dev/rStp0 | compress -d | cpio -itvcB | head

Better backup strategies are essential as well as having the correct backup
type. Consider off-site storage of backup tapes, say one per week. It can
even just go home in someone's briefcase or purse - just so long as it is
not geographically in the same place as the server.

DAVROM CONSULTING uses 'dmctape' for server backups as it uses 'cpio' and
offers diagnostics of the tape backup process as well. There is no warranty
offered on 'dmctape' as it uses the UNIX shell environment which may be
affected by conditions external to the script language - but it does use
'cpio' and does raise alarms if it believes there are errors.

Lone-Tar from Cactus is one of the best backup utilities that you can
purchase. It offers a 'tar'-like syntax and has a menu driven option on the
emergency boot floppies to step you through a crash recovery.

With the quieter time of the year upon us, perhaps it is time to review
your backups.

Linux servers can use 'cpio' as well but there are a host of others
utilities out there as well such as "dump" (old UNIX dump utility) and
"amanda". Lone-Tar is also available on the Linux platform.

I shy people away from remote backup products like ARCServe on NT
platforms. For reduced down-time and ease of restoration you need a local
tape drive in the UNIX server running its own backup program each evening.
If you have a group of UNIX servers then these can backup over the network
to each others tape drives and hard disks.

Remember, Thou shalt do thy backups daily.



In the News

Some quick news items.

Caldera released in November, their Caldera Volution Messaging Server which
is an Internet standards-based mail and calendaring server for Caldera
OpenLinux and Open UNIX platforms. Fully integrates with mail clients and
is aimed to provide a better server end to MS Outlook Products, Netscape
and other clients.

RedHat announced it will collaborate with IBM to deliver software solutions
and the related services and support for the entire IBM eServer product
line.

RedHat 7.2 is now available and the new main feature is jounalised
filesystems - which basically means it updates the filesystem as in a clean
state more regularly during operation - this means if the power goes out or
the server crashes, you have a greatly lessened chance of losing files on the
system.



Netscape Messenger

If you are looking for a fully featured e-mail front end then I can
certainly recommend Netscape Messenger, which you get for "free" with
Netscape Communicator (also for free). In-house at DAVROM CONSULTING we run
Netscape 4.76 on RedHat (my desktop) and Netscape 4.78 on our WindowsME PC
(Rose-Marie's desktop). The files, such as the address books, can be shared
between the two environments so swapping between operating systems doesn't
matter.

Netscape 6 is also available and can run with its new look and feel or can
run in the old 4.x classic desktop. I have stayed with 4.x as I found 6 a bit
more taxing on resources and it has also changed its file locations/directory
layout. I will review 6.1 soon though.

Netscape Messenger completely integrates with the other modules of Netscape
Communicator which are Navigator (web browser), Composer (web page creator)
and Radio (on-line radio - I don't use this one). Messenger also provides
Internet news reading from news feeds under Messenger as well.

Netscape also have their on-line messaging much like ICQ and you can host
your web page with them as well (11MB for free).

The e-mail is fully web enabled and offers a very simple to use mailbox
storage system. If you are looking for the Outlook alternatives, I can
certainly recommend Netscape as a fully integrated, robust front end to
your web needs. In the past I have run Eudora on Windows which is also a
great product but I keep coming back to Netscape.


Tech Tip


If you work with reading the archives produced by both SCO OpenServer and
Linux and in this case, RedHat, you will find that the 'cpio' archives
created on OpenServer need a specific switch to be read on RedHat.
To read a 'cpio[ archive produced on OpenServer you need to do the following:

cpio -H odc -itvBdum
To actually restore the archive:

cpio -H odc -ivBdum
Oddly enough, the "-H odc" means old Posix.1 format (SVR4) and using the
"c" (ASCII headers) option between the two does not work.

The 'tar' command is portable between the two environments.



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