Someone want to give me a clue?

Someone want to give me a clue?

Post by Derek Zean » Wed, 18 Jun 1997 04:00:00



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I'm coming from the DOS/WIN/NT world (helped administer some minis in college
running HP-UX and VMS, but that was a long time ago).

A local "good cause" is in need of some info-systems-type help, and I'm going to
volunteer my time.  They have NO money, but they really need some custom
programming done (read: lots of information needs to be compiled and maintained
for each patient, and they don't have an effective way to do that).

They also need a reliable way to share some common databases between a
half-dozen workstations, and their current network goes down *way* too often.  I
think placing the common DB on a Linux box might be the answer (not planning on
making the network aware of the Linux box -- just the handful of machines that
will need to interact with it)

The goal is to put the server up, turn off the monitor, and have the thing
function without complaint for months.  I can probably talk someone into running
backups (or changing tapes at pre-determined times), but there's no way that
anyone has the time to learn how to fiddle with the system once it's set up.

With that in mind:

1) I like the way NT Server can be set to mirror disks, and run stripe sets.
Which versions of Linux/BSD/Whatever offer a comparable level of support?

2) Is remote administration possible?  Built in?

3) The simplest solution (using my current set of tools) would be to run fat
clients, and just keep a common database on a file server.  Any problems with
this solution?  Client-server is NOT needed here, but just out of curiosity: are
there any good, cheap SQL servers available for Linux?

Ideally, I'd like to be able to
o program the software
o pass around a set of install disks
o put Linux and a network card in a spare computer
o Configure the clients so they can find the Linux server
o and leave the thing alone.  Let someone there swap tapes once a week, and have
the server implement RAID to make it that much more durable.

But like I said, I'm not too familiar with Linux (though I've already bought the
LSL sampler disk and I intend to put in MANY hours learning this thing).  What
am I missing?

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Someone want to give me a clue?

Post by Frank C. Ea » Wed, 18 Jun 1997 04:00:00




>A local "good cause" is in need of some info-systems-type help, and I'm going to
>volunteer my time.  They have NO money, but they really need some custom
>programming done (read: lots of information needs to be compiled and maintained
>for each patient, and they don't have an effective way to do that).

Been there, done that one.  Linux's a good bet on this sort of thing.

Quote:>They also need a reliable way to share some common databases between a
>half-dozen workstations, and their current network goes down *way* too often.  I
>think placing the common DB on a Linux box might be the answer (not planning on
>making the network aware of the Linux box -- just the handful of machines that
>will need to interact with it)

Why not make the network aware of the Linux box?  I'll go one further-
why not make the Linux box the server for their network.  Samba and
Mars-NWE do a WONDERFUL job of servering to Linux, Win95, and NT
boxes.  If you set it up this way, then you could have reliable access
for all- and, have more likely than not, a more stable network.

Quote:>The goal is to put the server up, turn off the monitor, and have the thing
>function without complaint for months.  I can probably talk someone into running
>backups (or changing tapes at pre-determined times), but there's no way that
>anyone has the time to learn how to fiddle with the system once it's set up.

Well, once it's set up, uptimes are usually measured in months in the
case of a well configured Linux box.  So, in at least theory, the
system could be set up that way and have an account someone logs into
that performs a system backup to tape- or at least have a crontab
entry that starts up one at like, say, midnight.

Quote:>1) I like the way NT Server can be set to mirror disks, and run stripe sets.
>Which versions of Linux/BSD/Whatever offer a comparable level of support?

The OS support in Linux for this is minimal at this time- Linux relies
more on the hardware to perform those sort of tasks; however, in my
personal opinion, the support in hardware is more reliable and is less
taxing on overall system performance.  

Quote:>2) Is remote administration possible?  Built in?

Not only possible, it's most likely better.  If the machine has a
modem line, it can be set up in a myriad of ways- including offering a
simple terminal login all the way to providing PPP and X based
functionalities.  Some of the ways (Like a terminal login) are built
in, some of them are obtainable on the 'net or via an archives CD set.

Quote:>3) The simplest solution (using my current set of tools) would be to run fat
>clients, and just keep a common database on a file server.  Any problems with
>this solution?  Client-server is NOT needed here, but just out of curiosity: are
>there any good, cheap SQL servers available for Linux?

PostgreSQL is a fully ANSI SQL compliant server and is for FREE (One
should note that the commercialized implementation (To my knowlege,
identical to the free version), Illustra was bought by Informix
recently.  Rumor has it that it is the basis for their "datablade"
technology.).  As for the solution you're describing, no, I see no
problems whatsoever.

Quote:>Ideally, I'd like to be able to
>o program the software
>o pass around a set of install disks
>o put Linux and a network card in a spare computer
>o Configure the clients so they can find the Linux server
>o and leave the thing alone.  Let someone there swap tapes once a week, and have
>the server implement RAID to make it that much more durable.

Sounds like a plan to me.  One thing about this list of items...

IMNSHO, you should have a hardware card implement the RAID.  OS based
RAID personally gives me the heebie-geebies; a hardware based solution
works with many OSes and is only one piece that can go wrong if things
go to hell in a handbasket on you.  Software only RAID is based off of
the OS' disk access routines (or is part of it)- adds at least one
more part to go wrong.  Not to mention that you're asking the OS to do
that extra task of dealing with multiple writes which slows down the
OS AND leaves it more open to not getting out the last write to the
mirror/parity/data drive, thus wasting all the advantages that the
RAID was supposed to buy you.

Quote:>But like I said, I'm not too familiar with Linux (though I've already bought the
>LSL sampler disk and I intend to put in MANY hours learning this thing).  What
>am I missing?

You've got the first good start- thing is, you'll probably need one of
the Linux archives disk sets before it's all said and done.

--
Frank C. Earl
Earl Consulting Services
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1. Would someone give me a clue about partitioning a new disk

Ok... call me stupid....  but...

I just added a scsi drive (Seagate 2GB Barracuda) on an Adaptec 2940
controller to a working freebsd system.  I have no problem doing a
newfs on the entire drive, but I can't seem to figure out how to
partition it into smaller pieces and be able to run newfs on those
pieces.

I have tried using /stand/sysinstal. I can do the low level
partitioning, and that seems to work.  But newfs can't find any
partitions. (I've tried /dev/rsd0a, /dev/rsd0s1, /dev/rsd0s1a,
/dev/rsd0s1e, <insert your favorite combo of [a-z0-3]*>) So, I tried
labelling (also from sysinstall), but it complains about a lot of
things (no /, no usr, ... )

Is there a sequence of steps somewhere I should be following?  This
would seem like a real good section for the handbook.

Thanks in advance.

--
Stephen Corbesero                     Systems Manager and Adjunct Lecturer
19 Memorial Drive West, EECS Dept.   "What are we going to do tonight, Brain?"
Lehigh Univ., Bethlehem, PA 18015    "The same thing we do every night, Pinky,"

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