Friday, June 23, 2006

Finding the SUN - The birth of a Sun Fire T2000 Sun Server - Day 5

Day five found me with a plan attack to get things moving.

3 hours of manual reading last night revealed that I had a fundamental misunderstanding of console command. I was viewing it as a command which launched a mini application whereas it is more along the lines of a toggle between the System console interface and an information printout of what the server is doing. When I thought it had hung what was actually happening was that it was simply not reporting any errors or diagnostic information.

I was also having problems logging in on telnet as root on the main server login which was giving me all manner of frustrations.

A word with people far more knowledgeable about these things than me revealed this as a security measure which prevents root logging in via telnet.

The solution was therefore to create a new user from SC and then telnet in and log in to as this user and then run the 'su' command to make changes to the IP setup using 'ifconfig'.

The only fly in the ointment was that I had been unable to find a mini network hub capable of stacking with others to give me the full number of network ports I required, but my logic told me that if I had inadvertently configured two ports to have the same IP address that as long as I only connected one at a time, I should still be able to telnet to it and my experiences yesterday proved that I could.

Unfortunately today when I telnet into the Network SC port I can see it, replacing the cable to the network card I configured doesn’t seem to result in anything. Ping proves that the port is not broadcasting and all packets are lost. Nothing has changed and even a reset reveals no change. I have no idea currently why this worked yesterday and not today. Could it possibly be that telnet attempts using root somehow disable the port if it is tried too many times? I honestly cannot think of any other reason.

All in all this gives me something of a problem because I don’t know how to configure it without first accessing it. There must be a way, I just don’t know what it is. Looks like its back to the books.

Later:

At the time of writing the piece above I was well and truly stuck, but a breakthrough came along with a bit of luck.

Whilst flaying about blindly on my system console and switching between SC and console I was suddenly confronted with a Login prompt. Thinking about it now I do get what the console command does and my woes would have been sorted out a lot sooner if I had got this. The console is the same as any other terminal with the exception that it displays diagnostic information, consequently whilst trying to enter a command I suddenly got a Login prompt and all became clear to me.

I was then able to get in and use ifconfig to work out what wasn't working. Now I knew that in a unix system everything is basically a file which relates to a device and in order to work, the device has to first be initialised and loaded before it can be given settings at which point it works. It therefore wasn't surprising to find that the problem with the network card was that it wasn't initialised. I'm not sure how it had managed to get uninitialised but I’m guessing if there was some kind of conflict or error during a reset then that could have done it. Anyway what I was then able to do was search out the commands to initialise the card and then to give it its new settings.

I tested it and low and behold I could connect to the network card. The problem still remained though that I couldn’t log in as root over telnet. Going back to the system console I then decided to create a new user . I checked and the user was created and then used the passwd command to set a password.

Success! I was able to telnet in as the user. Taking Graeme's advice again I decided to setup secure shell access by first editing /etc/ssh/sshd_config to set PermitRootLogin yes . Naturally this first required a refresh of commands for the vi text editor

Another check meant that I could ssh as root to the server and telnet as the new user.

This means that I am finishing my first week with a T2000 with a working base system. People with experience of these things will no doubt achieve the same thing in a single day but as I said in the first of these posts, I am far from being a techie and have never had any kind of machine as big as this before so to be in this position at the end of week one is a major achievement in my book. I have definitely cocked up but I'm kinda on top of where I’ve cocked up and by cocking up I’ve been able to learn what went wrong and how to fix it. All experience whether good or bad is good.

Now on to application setup.

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