2001 03 29

                    LINUX NEWS
            Thursday, March 29, 2001


1) Sean’s Notes

2) Linux News

2.2.18 Kernel Exploit (Local)
Tux in Space
How Perl Creates Orders for the Air Force
Red Hat Acquires Planning Technologies, Inc.

3) Linux Resources

Install a Hard Drive in 5 Steps
Free Database Hosting
Solaris Jumpstart
Solaris 8 Essential Reference
RAID Upgrade

4) App o’ the week

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1) Sean's Notes
Last week I made a big goof when I wrote that RAID-0 was
called mirroring.  In fact, RAID-1 is mirroring (which stores
data on two drives simultaneously), and RAID-0 is striping
(in which data is stored over two drives in a non-redundant
fashion). Take 2x9G drives.  RAID-1 will give you a 9G drive
set that can withstand the loss of one of the drives.  RAID-0
will give you a 18G drive set that will break if one of the
component drives goes to that big spindle in the sky, but
should have better performance than just one 18G drive.

While I'm on the subject of RAID, I'll show you how to set
up software RAID on your Linux box.  The first thing you'll
need is a couple of drives.  You'll probably want to
partition them into just one partition, we'll call them hdb1
and hdc1 for now. When you're in partitioning them, set them
as type "fd" (the 't' option in fdisk).

has further information on partitioning hard drives.

By default, all RAID configuration goes in /etc/raidtab.
The format is typical of most UNIX programs.  Each RAID
device starts with

raiddev   /dev/mdX

where X is the device number.  Start from 0 and go from
there.  After that, give some more information about the raid

# raid-level (0,1,5,linear)
raid-level    0
# store RAID info on the drive too, so the kernel doesn't
# necessarily have to reference /etc/raidtab
persistent-superblock 1
# chunk size specifies how many K are used per stripe
chunk-size 64

As you can see from above, we're creating a RAID-0 device
(striping). Now, we specify how many drives form the array,
how many spares are available, and then assign drives to
those jobs.  Here, we've got two drives and no spares:

nr-raid-disks  2
nr-spare-disks 0
# device and raid-disk must be paired, with device first
# hdb1 is therefore the first drive in the array (zero indexed!)
device /dev/hdb1
raid-disk 0
# hdc1 is the second drive in the array
device /dev/hdc1
raid-disk 1

If you had a spare disk hdd1 (not much use in raid-0) you
would have changed nr-spare-disks to 1, and added

device /dev/hdd1
spare-disk 0

Now that raidtab is defined, it's time to build the RAID set.

# mkraid /dev/md0

Warning!  You'll lose everything on those drives!  We're
creating a fresh drive here!

Check the status of the drive:

# cat /proc/mdstat
Personalities : \[raid0]
read_ahead 1024 sectors
md0 : active raid0 hdd1\[1] hdc1\[0]
      3313088 blocks 32k chunks

unused devices: <none>

(That's from my system, so some of the numbers are different)

At this point, you have a drive (/dev/md0) that's like a
real hard drive. May as well put a filesystem on it:

# mke2fs /dev/md0

This week's resource section also has a link on how to set
up a new hard drive, the procedure there can be followed to
make this volume a permanent addition to your system.

You stop the RAID volume via

# raidstop /dev/md0
(the filesystem has to be unmounted)

and start it up again

# raidstart /dev/md0

Most distributions auto detect the presence of RAID and will
do the raidstart for you.  If not, you'll have to put it in
your config files.

A couple of warnings.  Don't do this on your root partition
without some extra research.  Remember that this will destroy
existing data, so don't do this to an existing partition.
I haven't covered reconstruction, so if you plan to rely on
this do some more reading to find out what to do when a drive
does die!


Linux software RAID is very versatile.  Changing this
configuration to a mirror is pretty easy.  You can also
build RAID devices out of other RAID devices, such as
mirroring two stripe sets (or striping two mirrors).

Long live the Penguin,


Visit The Linux Newsletter Board

2) Linux News

2.2.18 Kernel Exploit (Local)
A bug has been found in kernels up to 2.2.18 involving a
race condition in some system calls. The result is that a
local user can get root if they can run a setuid program.
Ouch. If you know a bit of C, the exploit itself is a
worthwhile read.


Tux in Space
One of NASA's divisions has funded a two year project to
build a version of Linux suitable for use in space vehicles.
It's using part of RedHat's embedded software toolkits.
The article brings forward some interesting things about
the restrictions, such as limited transmission windows.


How Perl Creates Orders for the Air Force
By creating a web based order system, an Air Force group
was able to save between 900-1500 man hours per year, and
improve efficiency and service.


Red Hat Acquires Planning Technologies, Inc.
RedHat announced that it has acquired Planning Technologies,
Inc., an Atlanta-based Professional Consulting Service
company that specializes in infrastructure consulting for a
wide array of clients, including enterprise, service
providers and government.


3) Linux Resources

Install a Hard Drive in 5 Steps
Installing a hard drive under Linux is a bit different than
in Windows just due to the nature of the OS. Like all other
things in Unix, there are some decisions to be made,
commands to be run, and config files to edit. Read on to
find out the details.


Free Database Hosting
Ever wanted to start learning SQL and databases like MySQL
and PostgreSQL, but didn't have the ability to get the
server running? This site offers free database hosting (just
MySQL for now, others to come)! Now you can have a database
without the trouble of administering it.


Solaris Jumpstart
Jumpstart is a Solaris tool that allows you to set up a lot
of machines at once. If you thought Kickstart (RedHat's
version) was hard, Jumpstart will make your head spin.
Having an example worked out for you will help out
immensely, so here you go.


Solaris 8 Essential Reference
This book is designed to be the ideal reference for Solaris
users who know what they want to do, but just need to know
how to do it. It's a great reference book for people who
work with SUN's operating system on a daily basis.


RAID Upgrade
As it turns out, many IDE controllers can be easily converted
into hardware RAID controllers by some software upgrades and
perhaps a touch of solder. Most chipsets are used in both the
IDE controller and RAID version, so it makes sense that the
manufacturer would just make one board and cripple the RAID
functionality (ala 486SX FPU's). If your controller or
motherboard is listed here, you might just be able to go RAID.


4) App o' the week
Remember the old Sierra games like Leisure Suit Larry,
King's Quest, and Police Quest? You probably have them
kicking around somewhere, just waiting to be played again.
Rather than the traditional VMWare or WINE methods of
playing DOS/Windows games, this group of people created
FreeSCI, an emulator for Sierra games.


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