Archive for the ‘System Administration’ Category

Getting Console and Graphical hardware system information on Linux with cpuinfo, neofetch, CPU-X (CPU-Z Unix alternative), I-nex and inxi

Tuesday, September 17th, 2019


Earlier I've wrote extensive article on how to get hardware information on Linux using tools such as dmidecode, hardinfo, lshw, hwinfo, x86info and biosdecode but there are few other hardware reporting tools for Linux worthy to mention that has been there for historical reasons such as cpuinfo as we as some new shiny ones such as neofetch (a terminal / console hardware report tool as well the CPU-X and I-Nex  which is Linux equivalent to the all known almost standard for Windows hardware detection CPU-Z worthy to say few words about.

1. cpuinfo


Perhaps the most basic tool to give you a brief information about your Processor type (model) number of Cores and Logical Processors is cpuinfo

I remember cpuinfo has been there since the very beginning on almost all Linux distributions's repository, nowadays its popularity of the days when the kings on the Linux OS server scenes were Slackware, Caldera OpenLinux and Redhat 6.0 Linux and Debian 3.0  declined but still for scripting purposes it is handy small proggie.

To install and run it in Debian  / Ubuntu / Mint Linux etc.:


aptitude install -y cpuinfo





2. neofetch


The next one worthy to install and check is neofetch (a cross-platform and easy-to-use system information
 command line script that collects your Linux system information and display it on the terminal next to an image, it could be your distributions logo or any ascii art of your choice.)

The cool thing about neofetch is besides being able to identify the System server / desktop hardware parameters, it gives some basic info about number of packages installed on the system, memory free and in use, used kernel and exact type of System (be it Dell PowerEdge Model XX, IBM eSeries Model / HP Proliant Model etc.


neofetch info generated on my home used Lenovo Thikpad T420

neofetch info from running current machine

neofetch even supports Mac OS X and Windows OS ! 🙂

To install neofetch on Mac OS X:

/usr/bin/ruby -e "$(curl -fsSL"

or via Mac ported packages using brew

brew install neofetch


neofetch is even installable on Windows OS that has the scoop command line installer tool installer manager with below PowerShell code in cmd.exe (Command line):

powershell Set-ExecutionPolicy RemoteSigned -scope CurrentUser
iex (new-object net.webclient).downloadstring('')
scoop install git
scoop install neofetch


By the way Scoop was quite a finding for me and it is pretty handy to install plenty of useful command line Linux / UNIX tools, such as curl, wget, git etc. in the same easy straight forward way as a standard yum or apt-get on Windows (without explicitly installing things as GnuWin and CygWin).

3. CPU-X graphical user interface hardware report Linux GUI alternative to Windows CPU-Z

The packages for CPU-X are a bit outdated and even though there are rpm packages for Fedora, OpenSuSE and .deb package for Debian for Debian, Ubuntu and ArchLinux (pacman), there is no up to date version for Debian 10 and the package builds distributed for different Linux distros are a bit outdated.

Thus to install CPU-X on any Linux distribution it is perhaps best to use the portable version (static binary) of CPU-X.
It is currently available on

To install latest portable version of CPU-X


mkdir CPU-X
cd CPU-X

tar -zxvvf CPU-X_v3.2.4_portable.tar.gz
-rwxr-xr-x yohan/users 4563032 2019-01-13 22:15 CPU-X_v3.2.4_portable.bsd64
-rwxr-xr-x yohan/users 5484968 2019-01-13 22:15 CPU-X_v3.2.4_portable.linux64


cp -rpf CPU-X_v3.2.4_portable.linux64 /usr/local/bin/
ln -sf /usr/local/bin/CPU-X_v3.2.4_portable.linux64 /usr/local/bin/cpu-x

Next run as superuser (root)

hipo@jeremiah:~$ su -c 'cpu-x'


As seen from below screenshots cpu-x reports a lot of concrete specific hardware data on:

  • Processor
  • Motherboard
  • Memory
  • System
  • Graphic card
  • Performance







CPU-X can be installed also on FreeBSD very easily by just installing from BSD port tree sysutils/cpu-x/
It is also said to work on other *BSDs, NetBSD, OpenBSD Unixes but I guess this will require a manual compilation based on FreeBSD's port Makefile.

4. I-Nex another GUI alternative to CPU-Z for UNIX / Linux

I-Nex is even more useful for general hardware reporting as it reports many hardware specifications not reported by CPU-X such as Battery type and Model Name  (if the hardware report is on a laptop), info on USB devices slots or plugged USB devices brand and specifications, the available Network devices on the system (MAC Addresses) of each of it, Installed and used drivers on Hard Disk (ATA / SATA / SCSI / SSD), HW Sector size, Logical Block size, HDD Sectors count and other specific Hard Drive data as well as information on available Audio (Sound Blaster) devices (HDA-Intel), used Codecs, loaded kernel ALSA driver, Video card used and most importantly indicators on Processor reported CPU (temperature).


To install I-nex

Go to or any of the mirror links where it resides and install the respective package, in my case, I was doing the installation on Debian Linux, so fetched current latest amd64 package which as of moment of writting this article is i-nex_7.6.0-0-bzr977-20161012-ubuntu16.10.1_amd64.deb , next installed it with dpkg

dpkg -i i-nex_7.6.0-0-bzr977-20161012-ubuntu16.10.1_amd64.deb


As the package was depending on some other .deb packages, which failed to install to install the missing ones I had to further run

apt –fix-broken install




I-Nex thermal indicators about CPU temperature on a Linux Desktop notebook








There are other Hardware identification report tools such as CUDA-Z that are useful to check if you have Nvidia Video Card hardware Installed on the PC to check the status of CUDA enabled GPUs, useful if working with nVidia Geforce, Quadro, Tesla cards and ION chipsets.

If you use it however be aware that CUDA-Z is not compatible with 3rd-party linux drivers for NVidia so make sure you have the current official Nvidia version.


5. Inxi full featured system information script


Inxi is a 10000 lines mega bash script that fetches hardware details from multiple different sources in /proc /sys and from commands on the system, and generates a beautiful looking console report that non technical users can read easily.



inxi -Fx




Each of the pointed above tools has different method of collection of Hardware information from various resources e.g. – kernel loaded modules, dmesg, files like /proc/meminfo /proc/version /proc/scsi/scsi /proc/partitions.
Hence some of the tools are likely to report more info than otheres, so in case if some information you need regarding the system plugged in hardware is missing you can perhaps obtain it from another program. Most Linux distribution desktop provided GNOME package are including Hardinfo gui tool, but in many cases above mentioned tools are likely to add even more on info on what is inside your PC Box.
If you're aware of others tools that are useful not mentioned here please share it.

What is inode and how to find out which directory is eating up all your filesystem inodes on Linux, Increase inode count on a ext3 ext4 and ufs filesystems

Tuesday, August 20th, 2019


If you're a system administrator of multiple Linux servers used for Web serving delivery / Mail server sysadmin, Database admin or any High amount of Drives Data Storage used for backup servers infra, Data Repository administrator such as Linux hosted Samba / CIFS shares, etc. or using some Linux Hosting Provider to host your website or any other UNIX like Infrastructure servers that demands a storage of high number of files under a Directory  you might end up with the common filesystem inode depletion issues ( Maximum Inode number for a filesystem is predefined, limited and depending on the filesystem configured size).

In case a directory stored files end up exceding the amount of possible addressable inodes could prevent any data to be further assiged and stored on the Filesystem.

When a device runs out of inodes, new files cannot be created on the device, even though there may be plenty free space available and the first time it happened to me very long time ago I was completely puzzled how this is possible as I was not aware of Inodes existence  …

Reaching maximum inodes number (e.g. inode depletion), often happens on Busy Mail servers (receivng tons of SPAM email messages) or Content Delivery Network (CDN – Website Image caching servers) which contain many small files on EXT3 or EXT4 Journalled filesystems. File systems (such as Btrfs, JFS or XFS) escape this limitation with extents or dynamic inode allocation, which can 'grow' the file system or increase the number of inodes.


Hence ending being out of inodes could cause various oddities on how stored data behaves or communicated to other connected microservices and could lead to random application disruptions and odd results costing you many hours of various debugging to find the root cause of inodes (index nodes) being out of order.

In below article, I will try to give an overall explanation on what is an I-Node on a filesystem, how inodes of FS unit could be seen, how to diagnose a possible inode poblem – e.g.  see the maximum amount of inodes available per filesystem and how to prepare (format) a new filesystem with incrsed set of maximum inodes.


What are filesystem i-nodes?


This is a data structure in a Unix-style file system that describes a file-system object such as a file or a directory.
The data structure described in the inodes might vary slightly depending on the filesystem but usually on EXT3 / EXT4 Linux filesystems each inode stores the index to block that contains attributes and disk block location(s) of the object's data.
– Yes for those who are not aware on how a filesystem is structured on *nix it does allocate all stored data in logical separeted structures called data blocks. Each file stored on a local filesystem has a file descriptor, there are virtual unit structures file tables and each of the inodes that are a reference number has a own data structure (inode table).

Inodes / "Index" are slightly unusual on file system structure that stored the access information of files as a flat array on the disk, with all the hierarchical directory information living aside from this as explained by Unix creator and pioneer- Dennis Ritchie (passed away few years ago).


Simplified explanation on file descriptors, file table and inode, table on a common Linux filesystem

Here is another description on what is I-node, given by Ken Thompson (another Unix pioneer and father of Unix) and Denis Ritchie, described in their paper published in 1978:

"    As mentioned in Section 3.2 above, a directory entry contains only a name for the associated file and a pointer to the file itself. This pointer is an integer called the i-number (for index number) of the file. When the file is accessed, its i-number is used as an index into a system table (the i-list) stored in a known part of the device on which the directory resides. The entry found thereby (the file's i-node) contains the description of the file:…
    — The UNIX Time-Sharing System, The Bell System Technical Journal, 1978  "


What is typical content of inode and how I-nodes play with rest of Filesystem units?

The inode is just a reference index to a data block (unit) that contains File-system object attributes. It may include metadata information such as (times of last change, access, modification), as well as owner and permission data.


On a Linux / Unix filesystem, directories are lists of names assigned to inodes. A directory contains an entry for itself, its parent, and each of its children.



Structure of inode table-on Linux Filesystem diagram (picture source

  • Information about files(data) are sometimes called metadata. So you can even say it in another way, "An inode is metadata of the data."
  •  Inode : Its a complex data-structure that contains all the necessary information to specify a file. It includes the memory layout of the file on disk, file permissions, access time, number of different links to the file etc.
  •  Global File table : It contains information that is global to the kernel e.g. the byte offset in the file where the user's next read/write will start and the access rights allowed to the opening process.
  • Process file descriptor table : maintained by the kernel, that in turn indexes into a system-wide table of files opened by all processes, called the file table .

The inode number indexes a table of inodes in a known location on the device. From the inode number, the kernel's file system driver can access the inode contents, including the location of the file – thus allowing access to the file.

  •     Inodes do not contain its hardlink names, only other file metadata.
  •     Unix directories are lists of association structures, each of which contains one filename and one inode number.
  •     The file system driver must search a directory looking for a particular filename and then convert the filename to the correct corresponding inode number.

The operating system kernel's in-memory representation of this data is called struct inode in Linux. Systems derived from BSD use the term vnode, with the v of vnode referring to the kernel's virtual file system layer.

But enough technical specifics, lets get into some practical experience on managing Filesystem inodes.

Listing inodes on a Fileystem

Lets say we wan to to list an inode number reference ID for the Linux kernel (files):


root@linux: # ls -i /boot/vmlinuz-*
 3055760 /boot/vmlinuz-3.2.0-4-amd64   26091901 /boot/vmlinuz-4.9.0-7-amd64
 3055719 /boot/vmlinuz-4.19.0-5-amd64  26095807 /boot/vmlinuz-4.9.0-8-amd64

To list an inode of all files in the kernel specific boot directory /boot:


root@linux: # ls -id /boot/
26091521 /boot/

Listing inodes for all files stored in a directory is also done by adding the -i ls command flag:

Note the the '-1' flag was added to to show files in 1 column without info for ownership permissions


root@linux:/# ls -1i /boot/
26091782 config-3.2.0-4-amd64
 3055716 config-4.19.0-5-amd64
26091900 config-4.9.0-7-amd64
26095806 config-4.9.0-8-amd64
26091525 grub/
 3055848 initrd.img-3.2.0-4-amd64
 3055644 initrd.img-4.19.0-5-amd64
26091902 initrd.img-4.9.0-7-amd64
 3055657 initrd.img-4.9.0-8-amd64
 3055760 vmlinuz-3.2.0-4-amd64
 3055719 vmlinuz-4.19.0-5-amd64
26091901 vmlinuz-4.9.0-7-amd64
26095807 vmlinuz-4.9.0-8-amd64


To get more information about Linux directory, file, such as blocks used by file-unit, Last Access, Modify and Change times, current External Symbolic or Static links for filesystem object:

root@linux:/ # stat /etc/
  File: /etc/
  Size: 16384         Blocks: 32         IO Block: 4096   catalog
Device: 801h/2049d    Inode: 6365185     Links: 231
Access: (0755/drwxr-xr-x)  Uid: (    0/    root)   Gid: (    0/    root)
Access: 2019-08-20 06:29:39.946498435 +0300
Modify: 2019-08-14 13:53:51.382564330 +0300
Change: 2019-08-14 13:53:51.382564330 +0300
 Birth: –


Within a POSIX system (Linux-es) and *BSD are more or less such, a file has the following attributes[9] which may be retrieved by the stat system call:

   – Device ID (this identifies the device containing the file; that is, the scope of uniqueness of the serial number).
    File serial numbers.
    – The file mode which determines the file type and how the file's owner, its group, and others can access the file.
    – A link count telling how many hard links point to the inode.
    – The User ID of the file's owner.
    – The Group ID of the file.
    – The device ID of the file if it is a device file.
    – The size of the file in bytes.
    – Timestamps telling when the inode itself was last modified (ctime, inode change time), the file content last modified (mtime, modification time), and last accessed (atime, access time).
    – The preferred I/O block size.
    – The number of blocks allocated to this file.


Getting more extensive information on a mounted filesystem

Most Linuxes have the tune2fs installed by default (in debian Linux this is through e2fsprogs) package, with it one can get a very good indepth information on a mounted filesystem, lets say about the ( / ) root FS.

root@linux:~# tune2fs -l /dev/sda1
tune2fs 1.44.5 (15-Dec-2018)
Filesystem volume name:   <none>
Last mounted on:          /
Filesystem UUID:          abe6f5b9-42cb-48b6-ae0a-5dda350bc322
Filesystem magic number:  0xEF53
Filesystem revision #:    1 (dynamic)
Filesystem features:      has_journal ext_attr resize_inode dir_index filetype needs_recovery sparse_super large_file
Filesystem flags:         signed_directory_hash
Default mount options:    (none)
Filesystem state:         clean
Errors behavior:          Continue
Filesystem OS type:       Linux
Inode count:              30162944
Block count:              120648960
Reserved block count:     6032448
Free blocks:              13830683
Free inodes:              26575654
First block:              0
Block size:               4096
Fragment size:            4096
Reserved GDT blocks:      995
Blocks per group:         32768
Fragments per group:      32768
Inodes per group:         8192
Inode blocks per group:   512
Filesystem created:       Thu Sep  6 21:44:22 2012
Last mount time:          Sat Jul 20 11:33:38 2019
Last write time:          Sat Jul 20 11:33:28 2019
Mount count:              6
Maximum mount count:      22
Last checked:             Fri May 10 18:32:27 2019
Check interval:           15552000 (6 months)
Next check after:         Wed Nov  6 17:32:27 2019
Lifetime writes:          338 GB
Reserved blocks uid:      0 (user root)
Reserved blocks gid:      0 (group root)
First inode:              11
Inode size:              256
Required extra isize:     28
Desired extra isize:      28
Journal inode:            8
First orphan inode:       21554129
Default directory hash:   half_md4
Directory Hash Seed:      d54c5a90-bc2d-4e22-8889-568d3fd8d54f
Journal backup:           inode blocks

Important note to make here is file's inode number stays the same when it is moved to another directory on the same device, or when the disk is defragmented which may change its physical location. This also implies that completely conforming inode behavior is impossible to implement with many non-Unix file systems, such as FAT and its descendants, which don't have a way of storing this invariance when both a file's directory entry and its data are moved around. Also one inode could point to a file and a copy of the file or even a file and a symlink could point to the same inode, below is example:

$ ls -l -i /usr/bin/perl*
266327 -rwxr-xr-x 2 root root 10376 Mar 18  2013 /usr/bin/perl
266327 -rwxr-xr-x 2 root root 10376 Mar 18  2013 /usr/bin/perl5.14.2

A good to know is inodes are always unique values, so you can't have the same inode number duplicated. If a directory is damaged, only the names of the things are lost and the inodes become the so called “orphan”, e.g.  inodes without names but luckily this is recoverable. As the theory behind inodes is quite complicated and is complicated to explain here, I warmly recommend you read Ian Dallen's Unix / Linux / Filesystems – directories inodes hardlinks tutorial – which is among the best academic Tutorials explaining various specifics about inodes online.


How to Get inodes per mounted filesystem


root@linux:/home/hipo# df -i
Filesystem       Inodes  IUsed   IFree IUse% Mounted on


dev             2041439     481   2040958   1% /dev
tmpfs            2046359     976   2045383   1% /run
tmpfs            2046359       4   2046355   1% /dev/shm
tmpfs            2046359       6   2046353   1% /run/lock
tmpfs            2046359      17   2046342   1% /sys/fs/cgroup
/dev/sdb5        1221600    2562   1219038   1% /usr/var/lib/mysql
/dev/sdb6        6111232  747460   5363772  13% /var/www/htdocs
/dev/sdc1      122093568 3083005 119010563   3% /mnt/backups
tmpfs            2046359      13   2046346   1% /run/user/1000

As you see in above output Inodes reported for each of mounted filesystems has a specific number. In above output IFree on every mounted FS locally on Physical installed OS Linux is good.

Here is an example on how to recognize a depleted Inodes on a OpenXen Virtual Machine with attached Virtual Hard disks.

linux:~# df -i
Filesystem         Inodes     IUsed      IFree     IUse%   Mounted on
/dev/xvda         2080768    2080768     0      100%    /
tmpfs             92187      3          92184   1%     /lib/init/rw
varrun            92187      38          92149   1%    /var/run
varlock            92187      4          92183   1%    /var/lock
udev              92187     4404        87783   5%    /dev
tmpfs             92187       1         92186   1%    /dev/shm


Finding files with a certain inode

At some cases if you want to check all the copy files of a certain file that have the same i-node pointer it is useful to find them all by their shared inode this is possible with simple find (below example is for /usr/bin/perl binary sharing same inode as perl5.28.1:


ls -i /usr/bin/perl
23798851 /usr/bin/perl*


 find /usr/bin -inum 435308 -print


Find directory that has a large number of files in it?

To get an overall number of inodes allocated by a certain directory, lets say /usr /var


root@linux:/var# du -s –inodes /usr /var
566931    /usr
56020    /var/

To get a list of directories use by inode for a directory with its main contained sub-directories sorted from 1 till highest number use:

du -s –inodes * 2>/dev/null |sort -g


Usually running out of inodes means there is a directory / fs mounts that has too many (small files) that are depleting the max count of possible inodes.

The most simple way to list directories and number of files in them on the server root directory is with a small bash shell loop like so:

for i in /*; do echo $i; find $i |wc -l; done

Another way to identify the exact directory that is most likely the bottleneck for the inode depletion in a sorted by file count, human readable form:

find / -xdev -printf '%h\n' | sort | uniq -c | sort -k 1 -n

This will dump a list of every directory on the root (/) filesystem prefixed with the number of files (and subdirectories) in that directory. Thus the directory with the largest number of files will be at the bottom.


The -xdev switch is used to instruct find to narrow it's search to only the device where you're initiating the search (any other sub-mounted NAS / NFS filesystems from a different device will be omited).


Print top 10 subdirectories with Highest Inode Usage


Once identifed the largest number of files directories that is perhaps the issue, to further get a list of Top subdirectories in it with highest amount of inodes used, use below cmd:


for i in `ls -1A`; do echo "`find $i | sort -u | wc -l` $i"; done | sort -rn | head -10


To list more than 10 of the top inodes used dirs change the head -10 to whatever num needed.

N.B. ! Be very cautious when running above 2 find commands on a very large filesystems as it will be I/O Excessive and in filesystems that has some failing blocks this could create further problems.

To omit putting a high I/O load on a production filesystem, it is possible to also use du + very complex regular expression:

cd /backup
du –inodes -S | sort -rh | sed -n         '1,50{/^.\{71\}/s/^\(.\{30\}\).*\(.\{37\}\)$/\1…\2/;p}'

Results returned are from top to bottom.


How to Increase the amount of Inodes count on a new created volume EXT4 filesystem

Some FS-es XFS, JFS do have an auto-increase inode feature in case if their is physical space, whether otheres such as reiserfs does not have inodes at all but still have a field reported when queried for errors. But the classical Linux ext3 / ext4 does not have a way to increase the inode number on a live filesystem. Instead the way to do it there is to prepare a brand new filesystem on a Disk / NAS / attached storage.

The number of inodes at format-time of the block storage can be as high as 4 billion inodes. Before you create the new FS, you have to partition the new the block storage as ext4 with lets say parted command (or nullify the content of an with dd to clean up any previous existing data on a volume if there was already existing data:

parted /dev/sda

dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/path/to/volume

  then format it with this additional parameter:


mkfs.ext4 -N 3000000000 /dev/path/to/volume


Here in above example the newly created filesystem of EXT4 type will be created with 3 Billion inodes !, for setting a higher number on older ext3 filesystem max inode count mkfs.ext3 could be used instead.

Bear in mind that 3 Billion number is a too high number and if you plan to have some large number of files / directories / links structures just raise it up to your pre-planning requirements for FS. In most cases it will be rarely anyone that want to have this number higher than 1 or 2 billion of inodes.

On FreeBSD / NetBSD / OpenBSD setting inode maximum number for a UFS / UFS2 (which is current default FreeBSD FS), this could be done via newfs filesystem creation command after the disk has been labeled with disklabel:


freebsd# newfs -i 1024 /dev/ada0s1d


Increase the Max Count of Inodes for a /tmp filesystem


Sometimes on some machines it is necessery to have ability to store very high number of small files (e.g. have a very large number of inodes) on a temporary filesystem kept in memory. For example some web applications served by Web Server Apache + PHP, Nginx + Perl-FastCGI are written in a bad manner so they kept tons of temporary files in /tmp, leading to issues with exceeded amount of inodes.
If that's the case to temporary work around you can increase the count of Inodes for /tmp to a very high number like 2 billions using:


mount -o remount,nr_inodes=<bignum> /tmp

To make the change permanent on next boot if needed don't forget to put the nr_inodes=whatever_bignum as a mount option for the temporary fs to /etc/fstab

Eventually, if you face this issues it is best to immediately track which application produced the mess and ask the developer to fix his messed up programs architecture.




It was explained on the very common issue of having maximum amount of inodes on a filesystem depleted and the unpleasent consequences of inability to create new files on living FS.
Then a general overview was given on what is inode on a Linux / Unix filesystem, what is typical content of inode, how inode addressing is handled on a FS. Further was explained how to get basic information about available inodes on a filesystem, how to get a filename/s based on inode number (with find), the well known way to determine inode number of a directory or file (with ls) and get more extensive information on a FS on inodes with tune2fs.
Also was explained how to identify directories containing multitudes of files in order to determine a sub-directories that is consuming most of the inodes on a filesystem. Finally it was explained very raughly how to prepare an ext4 filesystem from scratch with predefined number to inodes to much higher than the usual defaults by mkfs.ext3 / mkfs.ext4 and *bsds newfs as well as how to raise the number of inodes of /tmp tmpfs temporary RAM filesystem.

How to start / Stop and Analyze system services and improve Linux system boot time performance

Friday, July 5th, 2019

This post is going to be a very short one and to walk through shortly to System V basic start / stop remove service old way and the new ways introduced over the last 10 years or so with the introduction of systemd on mass base across Linux distributions.
Finally I'll give you few hints on how to check (analyze) the boot time performance on a modern GNU / Linux system that is using systemd enabled services.

1. System V and the old days few classic used ways to stop / start / restart services (runlevels and common wrapper scripts)


The old fashioned days when Linux was using SystemV / e.g. no SystemD used way was to just go through all the running services with following the run script logic inside the runlevel the system was booting, e.g. to check runlevel and then potimize each and every run script via the respective location of the bash service init scripts:


root@noah:/home/hipo# /sbin/runlevel 
N 5


Or on some RPM based distros like Fedora / RHEL / SUSE Enterprise Linux to use chkconfig command, e.g. list services:

~]# chkconfig –list

etworkManager  0:off   1:off   2:on    3:on    4:on    5:on    6:off
abrtd           0:off   1:off   2:off   3:on    4:off   5:on    6:off
acpid           0:off   1:off   2:on    3:on    4:on    5:on    6:off
anamon          0:off   1:off   2:off   3:off   4:off   5:off   6:off
atd             0:off   1:off   2:off   3:on    4:on    5:on    6:off
auditd          0:off   1:off   2:on    3:on    4:on    5:on    6:off
avahi-daemon    0:off   1:off   2:off   3:on    4:on    5:on    6:off

And to start stop the service into (default runlevel) or respective runlevel:


~]#  chkconfig httpd on

~]# chkconfig –list httpd
httpd            0:off   1:off   2:on    3:on    4:on    5:on    6:off



~]# chkconfig service_name on –level runlevels


Debian / Ubuntu and other .deb based distributions with System V (which executes scripts without single order but one by one) are not having natively chkconfig but instead are famous for update-rc.d init script wrapper, here is few basic use  of it:

update-rc.d <service> defaults
update-rc.d <service> start 20 3 4 5
update-rc.d -f <service>  remove

Here defaults means default set boot runtime for system and numbers are just whether service is started or stopped for respective runlevels. To check what is your default one simply run /sbin/runlevel

Other useful tool to stop / start services and analyze what service is running and which not in real time (but without modifying boot time set for a service) – more universal nowadays is to use the service command.

root@noah:/home/hipo# service –status-all
 [ + ]  acpid
 [ – ]  alsa-utils
 [ – ]  anacron
 [ + ]  apache-htcacheclean
 [ – ]  apache2
 [ + ]  atd
 [ + ]  aumix

root@noah:/home/hipo# service cron restart/usr/sbin/service command is just a simple wrapper bash shell script that takes care about start / stop etc. operations of scripts found under /etc/init.d

For those who don't want to tamper with too much typing and manual configuration there is an all distribution system V compatible ncurses interface text itnerface sysv-rc-conf which could make your life easier on configuring services on non-systemd (old) Linux-es.

To install on Debian distros:

debian:~# apt-get install sysv-rc-conf

debian:~# sysv-rc-conf

SysV RC Conf desktop on GNU Linux using sysv-rc-conf systemV and systemd

2. SystemD basic use Start / stop check service and a little bit of information
for the novice

As most Linux kernel based distributions except some like Slackware and few others see the full list of Linux distributions without systemd (and aha yes slackw. users loves rc.local so much – we all do 🙂  migrated and are nowadays using actively SystemD, to start / stop analyze running system runnig services / processes

systemctl – Control the systemd system and service manager

To check whether a service is enabled

systemctl is-active application.service

To check whether a unit is in a failed state

systemctl is-failed application.service

To get a status of running application via systemctl messaging

# systemctl status sshd
● ssh.service – OpenBSD Secure Shell server Loaded: loaded (/lib/systemd/system/ssh.service; enabled; vendor preset: enabled) Active: active (running) since Sat 2019-07-06 20:01:02 EEST; 2h 3min ago Main PID: 1335 (sshd) Tasks: 1 (limit: 4915) CGroup: /system.slice/ssh.service └─1335 /usr/sbin/sshd -D юли 06 20:01:00 noah systemd[1]: Starting OpenBSD Secure Shell server… юли 06 20:01:02 noah sshd[1335]: Server listening on port 22. юли 06 20:01:02 noah sshd[1335]: Server listening on :: port 22. юли 06 20:01:02 noah systemd[1]: Started OpenBSD Secure Shell server.

To enable / disable application with systemctl systemctl enable application.service

systemctl disable application.service

To stop / start given application systemcl stop sshd

systemctl stop tor

To reload running application

systemctl reload sshd

Some applications does not have the right functionality in systemd script to reload configuration without fully restarting the app if this is the case use systemctl reload-or-restart application.service

systemctl list-unit-files

Then to view the content of a single service unit file:

:~# systemctl cat apache2.service
# /lib/systemd/system/apache2.service
Description=The Apache HTTP Server

ExecStart=/usr/sbin/apachectl start
ExecStop=/usr/sbin/apachectl stop
ExecReload=/usr/sbin/apachectl graceful



systemd's advancement over normal SystemV services it is able to track and show dependencies
of a single run service for proper operation on other services

:~# systemctl list-dependencies sshd.service


● ├─system.slice
● └─
●   ├─dev-hugepages.mount
●   ├─dev-mqueue.mount
●   ├─keyboard-setup.service
●   ├─kmod-static-nodes.service
●   ├─proc-sys-fs-binfmt_misc.automount
●   ├─sys-fs-fuse-connections.mount
●   ├─sys-kernel-config.mount
●   ├─sys-kernel-debug.mount
●   ├─systemd-ask-password-console.path
●   ├─systemd-binfmt.service



You can also mask / unmask service e.g. make it temporary unavailable via systemd with

sudo systemctl mask nginx.service

it will then appear as masked if you do list-unit-files

If you want to change something on a systemd unit file this is done with

systemctl edit –full nginx.service

In case if some modificatgion was done to systemd service files e.g. lets say to
/etc/systemd/system/apache2.service or even you've made a Linux system Upgrade recently
that added extra systemd service config files it will be necessery to reload all files
present in /etc/systemd/system/* with:

systemctl daemon-reload

Systemd has a target states which are pretty similar to the runlevel concept (e.g. runlevel 5 means graphical etc.), for example to check the default target for a system:

One very helpful feature is to restart systemd but it seems this is not well documented as of now and though this might work after some system package upgrade roll-outs it is always better to reboot the system, but you can give it a try if restart can't be done due to application criticallity.

To restart systemd and its spawned subprocesses do:

systemctl daemon-reexec


root@noah:/home/hipo# systemctl get-default

 to check all targets possible targets

root@noah:/home/hipo# systemctl list-unit-files –type=target
UNIT FILE                 STATE              static          static           static     static         static       disabled            static          static               disabled              static              static          static  

you can put the system in Single user mode if you like without running the good old well known command:

/sbin/init 1 

command with

systemctl rescue

You can even shutdown / poweroff / reboot system via systemctl (though I never did that and I don't recommend) 🙂
To do so use:

systemctl halt
systemctl poweroff
systemctl reboot

For the lazy ones that don't want to type all the time like crazy to configure and manage simple systemctl set services take a look at chkservice – an ncurses text based menu systemctl management interface

As chkservice is relatively new it is still not present in stable Stretch Debian repositories but it is in current testing Debian unstable Buster / Sid – Testing / Unstable distribution and has installable package for Ubuntu / Arch Linux and Fedora

Picture Source

chkservice linux help screen

3. Analyzing and fix performance boot slowness issues due to a service taking long to boot

The first very useful thing is to know how long exactly all daemons / services got booted
on your GNU / Linux OS.

linux-server:~# systemd-analyze 
Startup finished in 4.135s (kernel) + 3min 47.863s (userspace) = 3min 51.998s

As you can see it reports both the kernel boot time and userspace (surrounding services
that had to boot for the system to be considered fully booted).

Once you have the system properly booted you have a console or / ssh access

root@pcfreak:/home/hipo# systemd-analyze blame
    2min 14.172s tor@default.service
    1min 40.455s docker.service
     1min 3.649s fail2ban.service
         58.806s nmbd.service
         53.992s rc-local.service
         51.458s systemd-tmpfiles-setup.service
         50.495s mariadb.service
         46.348s snort.service
         34.910s ModemManager.service
         33.748s squid.service
         32.226s ejabberd.service
         28.207s certbot.service
         28.104s networking.service
         23.639s munin-node.service
         20.917s smbd.service
         20.261s tinyproxy.service
         19.981s accounts-daemon.service
         18.501s loadcpufreq.service
         16.756s stunnel4.service
         15.575s oidentd.service
         15.376s dev-sda1.device
         15.368s courier-authdaemon.service
         15.301s sysstat.service
         15.154s gpm.service
         13.276s systemd-logind.service
         13.251s rsyslog.service
         13.240s lpd.service
         13.237s pppd-dns.service
         12.904s NetworkManager-wait-online.service
         12.540s lm-sensors.service
         12.525s watchdog.service
         12.515s inetd.service

As you can see you get a list of services time took to boot in secs and you can
further debug each of it to find out why it boots so slow (netwok / DNS / configuration isssue whatever).

On a servers it is useful to look up for some processes slowing it down like gdm.service etc.


Close up words rant on SystemD vs SysemV


A lot could be ranted on what is better systemd or systemV. I personally hated systemd since day since I saw it being introduced first in Fedora / CentOS linuxes and a bit later in my beloved desktop used Debian Linux.
I still remember the bugs and headaches with systemd's intruduction as it is with all new the early adoption of technology makes a lot of pain in the ass.
Eventually systemd has become a standard and with my employment as a contractor through Itelligence GmBH for SAP AG I now am forced to work with systemd daily on SLES 12 based Linuces and I was forced to get used to it. 
But still there is my personal preference to SystemV even though the critics of slow boot etc.but for managing a multitude of Linux preinstalled servers like Virtual Machines and trying to standardize a Data Center with Tens of Thousands of Linuxes running on different Hypervisors VMWare / OpenXen + physical hosts etc. systemd brings a bit of more standardization that makes it a winner.

Check the count and monitor of established / time_wait TCP, UDP connections on Linux and Windows with netstat command

Wednesday, February 6th, 2019


For me as a GNU / Linux sysadmin it is intuitive to check on a server the number of established connections / connections in time_wait state and so on .

I will not explain why this is necessery as every system administrator out there who had a performance or network issues due to server / applications connection overload or have been a target of Denial of Service (DoS)
or Distributed Denial of Service attacks (DDoS)  
is well aware that a number of connections in different states such as SYN_ACK /  TIME_WAIT or ESTABLISHED state could be very nasty thing and could cause a productive application or Infrastructure service to be downed for some time causing from thousands of Euros to even millions to some bussinesses as well as some amount of data loss …

To prevent this therefore sysadmins should always take a look periodically on the Connection states on the adminned server (and in this number I say not only sys admins but DevOps guys who are deploying micro-services for a customer in the Cloud – yes I believe Richard Stallman is right here they're clouding your minds :).

Even though cloud services could provide a very high amount of Hardware (CPU / Memory / Storage) resources, often for custom applications migrating the application in the Cloud does not solve it's design faults or even problems on a purely classical system administration level.


1. Get a statistic for FIN_WAIT1, FOREIGN, SYNC_RECV, LAST_ACK, TIME_WAIT, LISTEN and ESTABLISHED  Connections on GNU / Linux


On GNU / Linux and other Linux like UNIXes the way to do it is to grep out the TCP / UDP connection type you need via netstat a very useful cmd in that case is:


root@pcfreak:~# netstat -nat | awk '{print $6}' | sort | uniq -c | sort -n
      1 established)
      1 FIN_WAIT1
      1 Foreign
      1 SYN_RECV
      3 LAST_ACK
      4 FIN_WAIT2
      8 TIME_WAIT
     45 LISTEN


2. Netstat 1 liner to Get only established and time_wait connections state 


Other ways to check only TCP ESTABLISHED connections on Linux I use frequently are:


root@pcfreak:~# netstat -etna|grep -i establi|wc -l



Or to get whole list of connections including the ones who are about to be esatablished in FIN_WAIT2, TIME_WAIT, SYN_RECV state:


root@pcfreak:~# netstat -tupen |wc -l


3. Other Linux useful one liner commands to track your connection types

netstat -n -p | grep SYN_REC | sort -u

List out the all IP addresses involved instead of just count.

netstat -n -p | grep SYN_REC | awk '{print $5}' | awk -F: '{print $1}'


List all the unique IP addresses of the node that are sending SYN_REC connection status.

netstat -ntu | awk '{print $5}' | cut -d: -f1 | sort | uniq -c | sort -n


Use netstat command to calculate and count the number of connections each IP address makes to the server.

netstat -anp |grep 'tcp\|udp' | awk '{print $5}' | cut -d: -f1 | sort | uniq -c | sort -n


List count of number of connections the IPs are connected to the server using TCP or UDP protocol.

netstat -ntu | grep ESTAB | awk '{print $5}' | cut -d: -f1 | sort | uniq -c | sort -nr


Check on ESTABLISHED connections instead of all connections, and displays the connections count for each IP.


netstat -plan|grep :80|awk {'print $5'}|cut -d: -f 1|sort|uniq -c|sort -nk 1


Show and list IP address and its connection count that connect to port 80 on the server. Port 80 is used mainly by HTTP web page request.

Examples are taken from this nice blog post


4. Check the count of esatblished connections on M$ Windows


As I'm forced to optimize a couple of Microsoft Windows DNS servers which are really slow to resolve the
The logical question for me was how the Established and TIME_WAIT state connections then could be checked on Windows OS, after a quick investigation online I've come up with this:


C:\Users\admin> netstat -nao | find /i "estab" /c




C:\Users\admin> netsatt -nao | find /i "time_wait" /c



If you're used to Linux watch command, then to do same on Windows OS (e.g. check the output of netstat) command every second
and print output use:


netstat –an 1 | find “3334”


Below commands will show stats for services listening on TCP port 3334

To find out which process on system sends packets to remote destination:


netstat –ano 1 | find “Dest_IP_Addr”


The -o parameter outputs the process ID (PID) responsible for the connection.
then if you need further you can find the respective process name with tasklist< cmd.
Another handy Windows netstat option is -b which will show EXE file running as long as
the related used DLL Libraries which use TCP / UDP .

Other useful netsatat Win example is to grep for a port and show all established connections for it with:


netstat –an 1 | find “8080” | find “ESTABLISHED”


5. Closure

Hopefully this article will give you some idea on what is eating your bandwidth connections or overloading your GNU / Linux – Windows systems. And will point you to the next in line logical thing to do optimization / tuning
settings to be made on your system for example if Linux with sysctl – see my previous relater article here

I'll be intested to hear from sysadm colleagoes for other useful ways to track connections perhaps with something like ss tool (a utility to investigate sockets).
Also any optimization hints that would cause servers less downtime and improve network / performance thouroughput is mostly welcome.


Export / Import PuTTY Tunnels SSH Sessions from one to another Windows machine howto

Thursday, January 31st, 2019


As I've started on job position – Linux Architect in last November 2018 in Itelligence AG as a contractor (External Service) – a great German company who hires the best IT specialists out there and offers a flexible time schedules for emploees doing various very cool IT advanced operations and Strategic advancement of SAP's Cloud used Technology and Services improvements for SAP SE – SAP S4HANA and HEC (HANA Enterprise Cloud) and been given for work hardware a shiny Lenovo Thinkpad 500 Laptop with Windows 10 OS (SAP pre-installed), I needed to make some SSH Tunnels to machines to (Hop Station / Jump hosts) for that purpose, after some experimenting with MobaXterm Free (Personal Edition 11.0) and the presumable limitations of tunnels of the free client as well as my laziness to add the multiple ssh tunnels to different ssh / rdp / vnc etc. servers, finally I decided to just copy all the tunnels from a colleague who runs Putty and again use the good old Putty – old school Winblows SSH Terminal Client but just for creating the SSH tunnels and for rest use MobaXterm, just like in old times while still employe in Hewlett Packard. For that reason to copy the Tunnels from my dear German Colleague Henry Beck (A good herated collegue who works in field of Storage dealing with NetApps / filer Clusters QNap etc.).

Till that moment I had no idea how copying a saved SSH Tunnels definition is possible, I did a quick research just to find out this is done not with Putty Interface itself but, insetead through dumping Windows Putty Stored Registry records into a File, then transfer to the PC where Tunnels needs to be imported and then again (either double click the registry file) to load it, into registry or use Windows registry editor command line interface reg, here is how:

1. Export


Run cmd.exe (note below command) 

requires elevated Run as Administrator prompt:

Only sessions:

regedit /e "%USERPROFILE%\Desktop\putty-sessions.reg" HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\SimonTatham\PuTTY\Sessions

All settings:

regedit /e "%USERPROFILE%\Desktop\putty.reg" HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\SimonTatham


If you have powershell installed on machine, to dump

Only sessions:


reg export HKCU\Software\SimonTatham\PuTTY\Sessions ([Environment]::GetFolderPath("Desktop") + "\putty-sessions.reg")

All settings:

reg export HKCU\Software\SimonTatham ([Environment]::GetFolderPath("Desktop") + "\putty.reg")

2. Import

Double-click on the 


 file and accept the import.


Alternative ways:



require elevated command prompt:

regedit /i putty-sessions.reg regedit /i putty.reg


reg import putty-sessions.reg reg import putty.reg

Below are some things to consider:

Note !do not replace 


 with your username.


Note !: It will create a 


 file on the Desktop of the current user (for a different location modify path)


Note !: It will not export your related (old system stored) SSH keys.

What to expect next?


The result is in Putty you will have the Tunnel sessions loadable when you launch (Portable or installed) Putty version.
Press Load button over the required saved Tunnels list and there you go under


Connection SSH -> Tunnels 


you will see all the copied tunnels.


Automatic network restart and reboot Linux server script if ping timeout to gateway is not responding as a way to reduce connectivity downtimes

Monday, December 10th, 2018


Inability of server to come back online server automaticallyafter electricity / network outage

These days my home server  is experiencing a lot of issues due to Electricity Power Outages, a construction dig operations to fix / change waterpipe tubes near my home are in action and perhaps the power cables got ruptered by the digger machine.
The effect of all this was that my server networking accessability was affected and as I didn't have network I couldn't access it remotely anymore at a certain point the electricity was restored (and the UPS charge could keep the server up), however the server accessibility did not due restore until I asked a relative to restart it or under a more complicated cases where Tech aquanted guy has to help – Alexander (Alex) a close friend from school years check his old site here – helps a restart the machine physically either run a quick restoration commands on root TTY terminal or generally do check whether default router is reachable.

This kind of downtime issues over the last month become too frequent (the machine was down about 5 times for 2 to 5 hours and this was too much (and weirdly enough it was not accessible from the internet even after electricity network was restored and the only solution to that was a physical server restart (from the Power Button).

To decrease the number of cases in which known relatives or friends has to  physically go to the server and restart it, each time after network or electricity outage I wrote a small script to check accessibility towards Default defined Network Gateway for my server with few ICMP packages sent with good old PING command
and trigger a network restart and system reboot
(in case if the network restart does fail) in a row.

1. Create reboot-if-nwork-is-downsh script under /usr/sbin or other dir

Here is the script itself:


# Script checks with ping 5 ICMP pings 10 times to DEF GW and if so
# triggers networking restart /etc/inid.d/networking restart
# Then does another 5 x 10 PINGS and if ping command returns errors,
# Reboots machine
# This script is useful if you run home router with Linux and you have
# electricity outages and machine doesn't go up if not rebooted in that case


run_ping () {
for i in $(seq 1 10); do
    ping -c 5 $GATEWAY_HOST


reboot_f () {
if [ $? -eq 0 ]; then
        echo "$(date "+%Y-%m-%d %H:%M:%S") Ping to $GATEWAY_HOST OK" >> /var/log/reboot.log
    /etc/init.d/networking restart
        echo "$(date "+%Y-%m-%d %H:%M:%S") Restarted Network Interfaces:" >> /tmp/rebooted.txt
    for i in $(seq 1 10); do ping -c 5 $GATEWAY_HOST; done
    if [ $? -eq 0 ] && [ $(cat /tmp/rebooted.txt) -lt ‘5’ ]; then
         echo "$(date "+%Y-%m-%d %H:%M:%S") Ping to $GATEWAY_HOST FAILED !!! REBOOTING." >> /var/log/reboot.log

    # increment 5 times until stop
    [[ -f /tmp/rebooted.txt ]] || echo 0 > /tmp/rebooted.txt
    n=$(< /tmp/rebooted.txt)
        echo $(( n + 1 )) > /tmp/rebooted.txt
    # if 5 times rebooted sleep 30 mins and reset counter
    if [ $(cat /tmprebooted.txt) -eq ‘5’ ]; then
    sleep 1800
        cat /dev/null > /tmp/rebooted.txt


You can download a copy of script here.

As you see in script successful runs  as well as its failures are logged on server in /var/log/reboot.log with respective timestamp.
Also a counter to 5 is kept in /tmp/rebooted.txt, incremented on each and every script run (rebooting) if, the 5 times increment is matched

a sleep is executed for 30 minutes and the counter is being restarted.
The counter check to 5 guarantees the server will not get restarted if access to Gateway is not continuing for a long time to prevent the system is not being restarted like crazy all time.

2. Create a cron job to run every 15 minutes or so 

I've set the script to re-run in a scheduled (root user) cron job every 15 minutes with following  job:

To add the script to the existing cron rules without rewriting my old cron jobs and without tempering to use cronta -u root -e (e.g. do the cron job add in a non-interactive mode with a single bash script one liner had to run following command:


{ crontab -l; echo "*/15 * * * * /usr/sbin/ 2>&1 >/dev/null; } | crontab –

I know restarting a server to restore accessibility is a stupid practice but for home-use or small client servers with unguaranteed networks with a cheap Uninterruptable Power Supply (UPS) devices it is useful.


Time will show how efficient such a  "self-healing script practice is.
Even though I'm pretty sure that even in a Corporate businesses and large Public / Private Hybrid Clouds where access to remote mounted NFS / XFS / ZFS filesystems are failing a modifications of the script could save you a lot of nerves and troubles and unhappy customers / managers screaming at you on the phone 🙂

I'll be interested to hear from others who have a better  ideas to restore ( resurrect ) access to inessible Linux server after an outage.?

Prevent rsync cronjob to run multiple times via cronjob on Linux

Wednesday, November 21st, 2018


Today I had a report of a server whose Load Avarage keeps at the high level of 86, the machine runs on a bare metal rock solid hardware and even with such high Loads of the kernel it runs fine, but due to the I/O overhead the SANs red from a remote NetApp storage device started to be sluggish and hence it needed to be reviewed, thus I jumped in via the hop station (jump host) into the server.

1. Short investation on root cause for high server load

After a short investigation, I've found an rsync job set by someone on a cron job to be routinely run every 30 minutes, thus the old scheduled rsync, which seemed to run multiple times on the server (about 50 processes) of same rsync (file system synchronization was running) and as expected the storage was saddled with mutiple Input / Output requests.

The root cron job was like that:

server:~# crontab -u root -l |grep -i rsync
/usr/bin/rsync -ax /var/www/htdocs/directory_to_synchronize / /srv/www/synch_back/directory_to_synchrnize

A process list showed the following high number of running mirrored rsyncs:


server:~# ps axuwwf | grep -i rsync | wc -l


2. The Fix – Set Rsync to only via cron only in case if it is not already running in background

In order to fix it, I had to kill all current running rsync (here luckily only same single instance of rsync was running, but generally I was cautious to check no other rsync jobs are running – otherwise I would have mistakenly killed some other rsync job ongoing …)

Then I set the following new cron job one liner quick shell script that does the job to assign a pid file that is created before rsync and deleted after rsync completion.

if [ ! -e /tmp/repo_dba_sync.lock ]; then touch /tmp/repo_dba_sync.lock; /usr/bin/rsync -ax /var/www/htdocs/directory_to_synchronize / /srv/www/synch_back/directory_to_synchrnize ; trap 'rm -f /tmp/repo_dba_sync.lock; fi' EXIT  >/dev/null 2>&1

The cron job looked like so:


*/30 * * * * if [ ! -e /tmp/repo_dba_sync.lock ]; then touch /tmp/repo_dba_sync.lock; /usr/bin/rsync -ax /var/www/htdocs/directory_to_synchronize / /srv/www/synch_back/directory_to_synchrnize ; trap 'rm -f /tmp/repo_dba_sync.lock; fi'  EXIT >/dev/null 2>&1

Just in case if you're wondering
a trap should be used to verify that the lock file is removed when the script is exited for any reason.
This way the lock file will be removed even if the script exits before the end of the script.

An alternative and more simple ways to do it is via:

pgrep rsync > /dev/null || rsync -ax /var/www/htdocs/directory_to_synchronize / /srv/www/synch_back/directory_to_synchrnize


Or if you don't want to use bash's:

if []; then; fi

condition but still use a file lock the flock command can be used like so:

flock -n lock_file -c "rsync …"

Ansible Quick Start Cheatsheet for Linux admins and DevOps engineers

Wednesday, October 24th, 2018


Ansible is widely used (Configuration management, deployment, and task execution system) nowadays for mass service depoyments on multiple servers and Clustered environments like, Kubernetes clusters (with multiple pods replicas) virtual swarms running XEN / IPKVM virtualization hosting multiple nodes etc. .

Ansible can be used to configure or deploy GNU / Linux tools and services such as Apache / Squid / Nginx / MySQL / PostgreSQL. etc. It is pretty much like Puppet (server / services lifecycle management) tool , except its less-complecated to start with makes it often a choose as a tool for mass deployment (devops) automation.

Ansible is used for multi-node deployments and remote-task execution on group of servers, the big pro of it it does all its stuff over simple SSH on the remote nodes (servers) and does not require extra services or listening daemons like with Puppet. It combined with Docker containerization is used very much for later deploying later on inside Cloud environments such as Amazon AWS / Google Cloud Platform / SAP HANA / OpenStack etc.


0. Instaling ansible on Debian / Ubuntu Linux

Ansible is a python script and because of that depends heavily on python so to make it running, you will need to have a working python installed on local and remote servers.

Ansible is as easy to install as running the apt cmd:


# apt-get install –yes ansible

The following additional packages will be installed:
  ieee-data python-jinja2 python-kerberos python-markupsafe python-netaddr python-paramiko python-selinux python-xmltodict python-yaml
Suggested packages:
  sshpass python-jinja2-doc ipython python-netaddr-docs python-gssapi
Recommended packages:
The following NEW packages will be installed:
  ansible ieee-data python-jinja2 python-kerberos python-markupsafe python-netaddr python-paramiko python-selinux python-xmltodict python-yaml
0 upgraded, 10 newly installed, 0 to remove and 1 not upgraded.
Need to get 3,413 kB of archives.
After this operation, 22.8 MB of additional disk space will be used.

apt-get install –yes sshpass


Installing Ansible on Fedora Linux is done with:


# dnf install ansible –yes sshpass


On CentOS to install:

# yum install ansible –yes sshpass

sshpass needs to be installed only if you plan to use ssh password prompt authentication with ansible.

Ansible is also installable via python-pip tool, if you need to install a specific version of ansible you have to use it instead, the package is available as an installable package on most linux distros.

Ansible has a lot of pros and cons and there are multiple articles already written on people for and against it in favour of Chef or Puppet As I recently started learning Ansible. The most important thing to know about Ansible is though many of the things can be done directly using a simple command line, the tool is planned for remote installing of server services using a specially prepared .yaml format configuration files. The power of Ansible comes of the use of Ansible Playbooks which are yaml scripts that tells ansible how to do its activities step by step on remote server. In this article, I'm giving a quick cheat sheet to start quickly with it.

1. Remote commands execution with Ansible

First thing to do to start with it is to add the desired hostnames ansible will operate with it can be done either globally (if you have a number of remote nodes) to deploy stuff periodically by using /etc/ansible/hosts or use a custom host script for each and every ansible custom scripts developed.

a. Ansible main config files

A common ansible /etc/ansible/hosts definition looks something like that:


# cat /etc/ansible/hosts

Host to execute on can be also provided via a shell variable $ANSIBLE_HOSTS
b) is remote hosts reachable / execute commands on all remote host

To test whether hour hosts are properly configure from /etc/ansible/hosts you can ping all defined hosts with:


ansible all -m ping


This makes ansible try to remote to remote hosts (if you have properly configured SSH public key authorization) the command should return success statuses on every host.


ansible all -a "ifconfig -a"

If you don't have SSH keys configured you can also authenticate with an argument (assuming) all hosts are configured with same password with:


ansible all –ask-pass -a "ip all show" -u hipo –ask-pass


If you have configured group of hosts via hosts file you can also run certain commands on just a certain host group, like so:


ansible <host-group> -a <command>

It is a good idea to always check /etc/ansible/ansible.cfg which is the system global (main red ansible config file).

c) List defined host groups

ansible localhost -m debug -a 'var=groups.keys()'
ansible localhost -m debug -a 'var=groups'

d) Searching remote server variables


# Search remote server variables
ansible localhost -m setup -a 'filter=*ipv4*'



ansible localhost -m setup -a 'filter=ansible_domain'



ansible all -m setup -a 'filter=ansible_domain'



# uninstall package on RPM based distros
ansible centos -s -m yum -a "name=telnet state=absent"
# uninstall package on APT distro
ansible localhost -s -m apt -a "name=telnet state=absent"



2. Debugging – Listing information about remote hosts (facts) and state of a host


# All facts for one host
ansible -m setup
  # Only ansible fact for one host
-m setup -a 'filter=ansible_eth*'
# Only facter facts but for all hosts
ansible all -m setup -a 'filter=facter_*'

To Save outputted information per-host in separate files in lets say ~/ansible/host_facts


ansible all -m setup –tree ~/ansible/host_facts


3. Playing with Playbooks deployment scripts


a) Syntax Check of a playbook yaml


ansible-playbook –syntax-check

b) Run General Infos about a playbook such as get what a playbook would do on remote hosts (tasks to run) and list-hosts defined for a playbook (like above pinging).


ansible-playbook –list-hosts

To get the idea about what an yaml playbook looks like, here is example from official ansible docs, that deploys on remote defined hosts a simple Apache webserver.

– hosts: webservers
    http_port: 80
    max_clients: 200
  remote_user: root
  – name: ensure apache is at the latest version
      name: httpd
      state: latest
  – name: write the apache config file
      src: /srv/httpd.j2
      dest: /etc/httpd.conf
    – restart apache
  – name: ensure apache is running
      name: httpd
      state: started
    – name: restart apache
        name: httpd
        state: restarted

To give it a quick try save the file as webserver.yml and give it a run via ansible-playbook command

ansible-playbook -s playbooks/webserver.yml


The -s option instructs ansible to run play on remote server with super user (root) privileges.

The power of ansible is its modules, which are constantly growing over time a complete set of Ansible supported modules is in its official documenation.


There is a lot of things to say about playbooks, just to give the brief they have there own language like a  templates, tasks, handlers, a playbook could have one or multiple plays inside (for instance instructions for deployment of one or more services).

The downsides of playbooks are they're so hard to write from scratch and edit, because yaml syntaxing is much more stricter than a normal oldschool sysadmin configuration file.
I've stucked with problems with modifying and writting .yaml files and I should say the community in #ansible in was very helpful to help me debug the obscure errors.

yamllint (The YAML Linter tool) comes handy at times, when facing yaml syntax errors, to use it install via apt:

# apt-get install –yes yamllint

a) Running ansible in "dry mode" just show what ansible might do but not change anything

ansible-playbook playbooks/PLAYBOOK_NAME.yml –check

b) Running playbook with different users and separate SSH keys


ansible-playbook playbooks/your_playbook.yml –user ansible-user
ansible -m ping hosts –private-key=~/.ssh/keys/custom_id_rsa -u centos


c) Running ansible playbook only for certain hostnames part of a bigger host group


ansible-playbook playbooks/PLAYBOOK_NAME.yml –limit "host1,host2,host3"

d) Run Ansible on remote hosts in parallel

To run in raw of 10 hosts in parallel

# Run 10 hosts parallel
ansible-playbook <File.yaml> -f 10            

e) Passing variables to .yaml scripts using commandline

Ansible has ability to pre-define variables from .yml playbooks. This variables later can be passed from shell cli, here is an example:

# Example of variable substitution pass from command line the var in varsubsts.yaml if present is defined / replaced ansible-playbook playbooks/varsubst.yaml –extra-vars "myhosts=localhost gather=yes pkg=telnet"


4. Ansible Galaxy (A Docker Hub) like large repository with playbook (script) files


Ansible Galaxy has about 10000 active users which are contributing ansible automation playbooks in fields such as Development / Networking / Cloud / Monitoring / Database / Web / Security etc.

To install from ansible galaxy use ansible-galaxy

# install from galaxy the geerlingguy mysql playbook
ansible-galaxy install geerlingguy.mysql

The available packages you can use as a template for your purpose are not so much as with Puppet as Ansible is younger and not corporate supported like Puppet, anyhow they are a lot and does cover most basic sysadmin needs for mass deployments, besides there are plenty of other unofficial yaml ansible scripts in various github repos.

How to make Reverse SSH Tunnel to servers behind NAT

Thursday, October 11th, 2018


Those who remember the times of IRC chatting long nights and the need to be c00l guy and enter favorite IRC server through a really bizarre hostname, you should certainly remember the usefulness of Reverse SSH Tunnels to appear in IRC /whois like connecting from a remote host (mask yourself) from other IRC guys where are you physically.

The idea of Reverse SSH is to be able to SSH (or other protocols) connect to IPs that are situated behind a NAT server/s.
Creating SSH Reverse Tunnel is an easy task and up to 2 simple SSH commands

To better explain how SSH tunnel is achieved, here is a scenario:

A. Linux host behind NAT IP: (Destination host)
B. (Source Host) of Machine with External Public Internet IP through which SSH Tunnel will be established to

1. Create SSH Revere SSH from Destination to Source host (with Public IP)

Connect to the remote machine which has a real IP address and make port of the reverse SSH connection open (remove any firewall), lets say port 23000.

ssh -R 23000: -oPort=33

NB! On destination and source servers make sure you have enabled in /etc/ssh/sshd_config

AllowAgentForwarding yes
AllowTCPForwarding yes
PermitTunnel yes


2. Connect from Source IP to Destination through the established SSH tunnelling



Connecting to through ssh on 23000 will connect you to the back machine with the unreal IP address.

ssh local-username@ -p 23000

ssh -L 19999:localhost:19999 middleman@

If you want other server with hostname to access the Reverse SSH Tunneled server you can do it via external IP which in my case is

From just do:

 ssh username@


A text diagram of SSH Tunnel looks something like that:

Destination ( <- |NAT| <- Source ( <-


Above examples should work not only on Linux but on NetBSD / OpenBSD / FreeBSD or any other UNIX system with a modern SSH client installed.