File server setup

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Martin
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File server setup

Postby Martin » Fri Mar 07, 2008 2:02 pm

We need an effective file server setup, somewhere people can save their documents to and trust that they will not be lost.

This is crucial. It is an artist facility. It is a business need. Without it we are at the mercy of failing hard drives and laptop coffee accidents.

Requirements:

- User accounts with password access and storage quotas.
- Easy and fast access from both Forest computers and laptops.
- Automated, safe backups.

Where do things stand with the existing server machine? Are user accounts set up on it?

Where in the building should the server live? It could be any nook or cranny we can get power and network to, but it must be secure.
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chombee
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Postby chombee » Fri Mar 21, 2008 10:44 am

Yeah we need this, the new action room computers are filling up with files all over the desktop, and people are all sharing the one user account and complaining that other people keep changing the user preferences, especially for printing. Could we set up user accounts such that people can use the same username to login to any machine and see the same preferences and files? Does anyone know how to do that? I know it is possible but have never done it. I'll ask the ubuntu list right now.

I think we may be short on people with the time to do this. But, maybe we should try to arrange a date when a few of us can meet up and get it done. Say on a Sunday? I think a week on Sunday would work for me. Who else can make it?

I am not sure where the server has gone. It's been moved. Anyone know?

The old blue computer from the office is up in the action room now, maybe we can get rid of windows on this and use it as a server?

We may need to buy hard drives for this. The plan was to buy two good hard drives for the server and use one to backup the other.
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Martin
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Postby Martin » Tue Apr 01, 2008 8:41 pm

Sorry chombee, I missed your reply on this somehow.

The old dual-P3 Infoseed server is in the action room.

The blue computer is going to the cave, with a 20GB drive from one of the old ex-Infoseed action room machines. Its original drives from when it was in the office, which contain a lot of stuff it would be bad to lose but may be corrupt, are safely in storage.

I'd suggest that we buy two new drives, say 250GB each, for this. These should be different models from different manufacturers to eliminate the likelihood of simultanous failure.

Maybe these:

http://www.dabs.com/productview.aspx?Quicklinx=4TJH
http://www.dabs.com/productview.aspx?Quicklinx=4SDB

If we're using the old Infoseed server it'll need a SATA PCI card:

http://www.dabs.com/productview.aspx?Quicklinx=3Z2L

Total cost just over £90.

I'm afraid I really don't have much time to work on setting this up but if someone else can take it on I am happy to advise and guide.

This would be just under two months' computer budget, and would need to go through the Cafe & Events meeting as computers come under that WG.
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chombee
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Postby chombee » Wed Apr 02, 2008 12:23 am

Can't commit any time to this right now either, I may have a spare day on a weekend soon but can't really foresee it in advsance. I think this one may lie dormant for a while until someone has time to pick it up. I second Martin's options for buying though.
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James
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Postby James » Sat Apr 26, 2008 10:01 am

chombee wrote:Yeah we need this, the new action room computers are filling up with files all over the desktop, and people are all sharing the one user account and complaining that other people keep changing the user preferences, especially for printing. Could we set up user accounts such that people can use the same username to login to any machine and see the same preferences and files? Does anyone know how to do that? I know it is possible but have never done it. I'll ask the ubuntu list right now.


On linux, user account sharing is done by NIS. I would be slightly weary of this because it can be a central point of failure. When you have NIS working, you just sort out some kind of network file server so people have the same preferences.

Did you get any better answers?
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chombee
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Postby chombee » Sun Apr 27, 2008 2:17 pm

No it looks like you're onto it. Do you know how to setup this NIS stuff?

I was talking to Erik Chakravarty, who's a computing consultant who's helped out a bit at the forest before. We thought that perhaps you just make a shared /home partition on the server, shared with NFS (which is not the same as NIS) or whatever, and then mount that shared partition as /home on each client machine. Very simple. At the time it seemed like it would work, but now I realise there would be more details, as there must be an encrypted file somewhere with all the user account names and passwords and you'd have to share that too.
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James
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Postby James » Sun Apr 27, 2008 8:34 pm

I did NIS 5 years ago, I'll have to refresh myself.

With NIS you would also use NFS with /home shared as you describe.

I will have to read carefully, if I remember rightly there wasn't much security built in and we are on a wide open network (laptops and wifi).

But file server - could start this with user accounts, /home/X directories and some kind of file sharing now, and add NIS and client mounting later ...
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chombee
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Postby chombee » Sun Apr 27, 2008 8:46 pm

The easiest kind of file sharing to setup is SSH. Give each user an account on the server, then from any client they can login to their server account over SSH and browse the files graphically. You just need to instal openssh server on the server and openssh client on the clients, no setup needed. For a client to connect, you go to Places->Connect To Server.
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I've had it with you. If I had an image of a laser gun I would absolutely position it right here in my hand...
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James
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Postby James » Mon Apr 28, 2008 10:41 pm

That can do SSH? nice.

That's a good start then. It won't store our preferences, but at least we will have a central place to store our files and it will be secure.
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Martin
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Postby Martin » Tue Apr 29, 2008 7:06 am

Remote storage in user accounts on the server is the only thing we need I think. For client machines it's easiest if they all just log in as forest. I don't think people will want to log out and log in all the time, it just creates more ways to set things wrong. Also this means we can use stock ubuntu installations, people get the same level of service from their laptops, and if the network or server goes down, people can still work locally as they currently do.
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chombee
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Postby chombee » Tue Apr 29, 2008 11:07 am

Well if all we want is remote accounts on the server SSH will do the trick. GNOME programs in general, the file browser, the text editor, the PDF viewer, etc., can work over SSH, though for some programs you will doubtless have to copy the file locally to work on it then copy it back (I'm thinking of OpenOffice).

It is even possible to make a desktop icon for this so people don't have to figure out how to use the Connect To Server dialog. I was outlining this in another thread a while ago. The only problem I saw was that GNOME will automatically ask to save your password when you connect to your SSH account, and we would simply have to trust people to say No.

We could wipe any saved passwords at login if we were resetting the forest user account every time as we've talked about before, but people could still leave their passwords stored until someone restarts the machine.
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I've had it with you. If I had an image of a laser gun I would absolutely position it right here in my hand...
Ha! I have a real laser absolutely positioned in my hand!

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swithun
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Postby swithun » Sun May 04, 2008 12:11 pm

Looks like the SATA PCI card didn't arrive. So there wasn't much installing done today. But opening up the case of the proposed server, there isn't designated space for a second drive. If we want to do things properly, having drives loose in the box isn't great. We could look for a different box - it can't be hard to find one as good as/better than the old Infoseed box.
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