Posts Tagged ‘servers’

Rsync copy files with root privileges between servers with root superuser account disabled

Tuesday, December 3rd, 2019

 

rsync-copy-files-between-two-servers-with-root-privileges-with-root-superuser-account-disabled

Sometimes on servers that follow high security standards in companies following PCI Security (Payment Card Data Security) standards it is necessery to have a very weird configurations on servers,to be able to do trivial things such as syncing files between servers with root privileges in a weird manners.This is the case for example if due to security policies you have disabled root user logins via ssh server and you still need to synchronize files in directories such as lets say /etc , /usr/local/etc/ /var/ with root:root user and group belongings.

Disabling root user logins in sshd is controlled by a variable in /etc/ssh/sshd_config that on most default Linux OS
installations is switched on, e.g. 

grep -i permitrootlogin /etc/ssh/sshd_config
PermitRootLogin yes


Many corporations use Vulnerability Scanners such as Qualys are always having in their list of remote server scan for SSH Port 22 to turn have the PermitRootLogin stopped with:

 

PermitRootLogin no


In this article, I'll explain a scenario where we have synchronization between 2 or more servers Server A / Server B, whatever number of servers that have already turned off this value, but still need to
synchronize traditionally owned and allowed to write directories only by root superuser, here is 4 easy steps to acheive it.

 

1. Add rsyncuser to Source Server (Server A) and Destination (Server B)


a. Execute on Src Host:

 

groupadd rsyncuser
useradd -g 1000 -c 'Rsync user to sync files as root src_host' -d /home/rsyncuser -m rsyncuser

 

b. Execute on Dst Host:

 

groupadd rsyncuser
useradd -g 1000 -c 'Rsync user to sync files dst_host' -d /home/rsyncuser -m rsyncuser

 

2. Generate RSA SSH Key pair to be used for passwordless authentication


a. On Src Host
 

su – rsyncuser

ssh-keygen -t rsa -b 4096

 

b. Check .ssh/ generated key pairs and make sure the directory content look like.

 

[rsyncuser@src-host .ssh]$ cd ~/.ssh/;  ls -1

id_rsa
id_rsa.pub
known_hosts


 

3. Copy id_rsa.pub to Destination host server under authorized_keys

 

scp ~/.ssh/id_rsa.pub  rsyncuser@dst-host:~/.ssh/authorized_keys

 

Next fix permissions of authorized_keys file for rsyncuser as anyone who have access to that file (that exists as a user account) on the system
could steal the key and use it to run rsync commands and overwrite remotely files, like overwrite /etc/passwd /etc/shadow files with his custom crafted credentials
and hence hack you 🙂
 

Hence, On Destionation Host Server B fix permissions with:
 

su – rsyncuser; chmod 0600 ~/.ssh/authorized_keys
[rsyncuser@dst-host ~]$

 

For improved security here to restrict rsyncuser to be able to run only specific command such as very specific script instead of being able to run any command it is good to use little known command= option
once creating the authorized_keys

 

4. Test ssh passwordless authentication works correctly


For that Run as a normal ssh from rsyncuser

On Src Host

 

[rsyncuser@src-host ~]$ ssh rsyncuser@dst-host


Perhaps here is time that for those who, think enabling a passwordless authentication is not enough secure and prefer to authorize rsyncuser via a password red from a secured file take a look in my prior article how to login to remote server with password provided from command line as a script argument / Running same commands on many servers 

5. Enable rsync in sudoers to be able to execute as root superuser (copy files as root)

 


For this step you will need to have sudo package installed on the Linux server.

Then, Execute once logged in as root on Destionation Server (Server B)

 

[root@dst-host ~]# grep 'rsyncuser ALL' /etc/sudoers|wc -l || echo ‘rsyncuser ALL=NOPASSWD:/usr/bin/rsync’ >> /etc/sudoers
 

 

Note that using rsync with a ALL=NOPASSWD in /etc/sudoers could pose a high security risk for the system as anyone authorized to run as rsyncuser is able to overwrite and
respectivle nullify important files on Destionation Host Server B and hence easily mess the system, even shell script bugs could produce a mess, thus perhaps a better solution to the problem
to copy files with root privileges with the root account disabled is to rsync as normal user somewhere on Dst_host and use some kind of additional script running on Dst_host via lets say cron job and
will copy gently files on selective basis.

Perhaps, even a better solution would be if instead of granting ALL=NOPASSWD:/usr/bin/rsync in /etc/sudoers is to do ALL=NOPASSWD:/usr/local/bin/some_copy_script.sh
that will get triggered, once the files are copied with a regular rsyncuser acct.

 

6. Test rsync passwordless authentication copy with superuser works


Do some simple copy, lets say copy files on Encrypted tunnel configurations located under some directory in /etc/stunnel on Server A to /etc/stunnel on Server B

The general command to test is like so:
 

rsync -aPz -e 'ssh' '–rsync-path=sudo rsync' /var/log rsyncuser@$dst_host:/root/tmp/


This will copy /var/log files to /root/tmp, you will get a success messages for the copy and the files will be at destination folder if succesful.

 

On Src_Host run:

 

[rsyncuser@src-host ~]$ dst=FQDN-DST-HOST; user=rsyncuser; src_dir=/etc/stunnel; dst_dir=/root/tmp;  rsync -aP -e 'ssh' '–rsync-path=sudo rsync' $src_dir  $rsyncuser@$dst:$dst_dir;

 

7. Copying files with root credentials via script


The simlest file to use to copy a bunch of predefined files  is best to be handled by some shell script, the most simple version of it, could look something like this.
 

#!/bin/bash
# On server1 use something like this
# On server2 dst server
# add in /etc/sudoers
# rsyncuser ALL=NOPASSWD:/usr/bin/rsync

user='rsyncuser';

dst_dir="/root/tmp";
dst_host='$dst_host';
src[1]="/etc/hosts.deny";
src[2]="/etc/sysctl.conf";
src[3]="/etc/samhainrc";
src[4]="/etc/pki/tls/";
src[5]="/usr/local/bin/";

 

for i in $(echo ${src[@]}); do
rsync -aPvz –delete –dry-run -e 'ssh' '–rsync-path=sudo rsync' "$i" $rsyncuser@$dst_host:$dst_dir"$i";
done


In above script as you can see, we define a bunch of files that will be copied in bash array and then run a loop to take each of them and copy to testination dir.
A very sample version of the script rsync_with_superuser-while-root_account_prohibited.sh 
 

Conclusion


Lets do short overview on what we have done here. First Created rsyncuser on SRC Server A and DST Server B, set up the key pair on both copied the keys to make passwordless login possible,
set-up rsync to be able to write as root on Dst_Host / testing all the setup and pinpointing a small script that can be used as a backbone to develop something more complex
to sync backups or keep system configurations identicatial – for example if you have doubts that some user might by mistake change a config etc.
In short it was pointed the security downsides of using rsync NOPASSWD via /etc/sudoers and few ideas given that could be used to work on if you target even higher
PCI standards.

 

Howto debug and remount NFS hangled filesystem on Linux

Monday, August 12th, 2019

nfsnetwork-file-system-architecture-diagram

If you're using actively NFS remote storage attached to your Linux server it is very useful to get the number of dropped NFS connections and in that way to assure you don't have a remote NFS server issues or Network connectivity drops out due to broken network switch a Cisco hub or other network hop device that is routing the traffic from Source Host (SRC) to Destination Host (DST) thus, at perfect case if NFS storage and mounted Linux Network filesystem should be at (0) zero dropped connectios or their number should be low. Firewall connectivity between Source NFS client host and Destination NFS Server and mount should be there (set up fine) as well as proper permissions assigned on the server, as well as the DST NFS should be not experiencing I/O overheads as well as no DNS issues should be present (if NFS is not accessed directly via IP address).
In below article which is mostly for NFS novice admins is described shortly few of the nuances of working with NFS.
 

1. Check nfsstat and portmap for issues

One indicator that everything is fine with a configured NFS mount is the number of dropped NFS connections
or with a very low count of dropped connections, to check them if you happen to administer NFS

nfsstat

 

linux:~# nfsstat -o net
Server packet stats:
packets    udp        tcp        tcpconn
0          0          0          0  


nfsstat is useful if you have to debug why occasionally NFS mounts are getting unresponsive.

As NFS is so dependent upon portmap service for mapping the ports, one other point to check in case of Hanged NFSes is the portmap service whether it did not crashed due to some reason.

 

linux:~# service portmap status
portmap (pid 7428) is running…   [portmap service is started.]

 

linux:~# ps axu|grep -i rpcbind
_rpc       421  0.0  0.0   6824  3568 ?        Ss   10:30   0:00 /sbin/rpcbind -f -w


A useful commands to debug further rcp caused issues are:

On client side:

 

rpcdebug -m nfs -c

 

On server side:

 

rpcdebug -m nfsd -c

 

It might be also useful to check whether remote NFS permissions did not changed with the good old showmount cmd

linux:~# showmount -e rem_nfs_server_host


Also it is useful to check whether /etc/exports file was not modified somehow and whether the NFS did not hanged due to attempt of NFS daemon to reload the new configuration from there, another file to check while debugging is /etc/nfs.conf – are there group / permissions issues as well as the usual /var/log/messages and the kernel log with dmesg command for weird produced NFS client / server or network messages.

nfs-utils disabled serving NFS over UDP in version 2.2.1. Arch core updated to 2.3.1 on 21 Dec 2017 (skipping over 2.2.1.) If UDP stopped working then, add udp=y under [nfsd] in /etc/nfs.conf. Then restart nfs-server.service.

If the remote NFS server is running also Linux it is useful to check its /etc/default/nfs-kernel-server configuration

At some stall cases it might be also useful to remount the NFS (but as there might be a process on the Linux server) trying to read / write data from the remote NFS mounted FS it is a good idea to check (whether a process / service) on the server is not doing I/O operations on the NFS and if such is existing to kill the process in question with fuser
 

linux:~# fuser -k [mounted-filesystem]
 

 

2. Diagnose the problem interactively with htop


    Htop should be your first port of call. The most obvious symptom will be a maxed-out CPU.
    Press F2, and under "Display options", enable "Detailed CPU time". Press F1 for an explanation of the colours used in the CPU bars. In particular, is the CPU spending most of its time responding to IRQs, or in Wait-IO (wio)?
 

3. Get more extensive Mount info with mountstats

 

nfs-utils package contains mountstats command which is very useful in debugging further the issues identified

$ mountstats
Stats for example:/tank mounted on /tank:
  NFS mount options: rw,sync,vers=4.2,rsize=524288,wsize=524288,namlen=255,acregmin=3,acregmax=60,acdirmin=30,acdirmax=60,soft,proto=tcp,port=0,timeo=15,retrans=2,sec=sys,clientaddr=xx.yy.zz.tt,local_lock=none
  NFS server capabilities: caps=0xfbffdf,wtmult=512,dtsize=32768,bsize=0,namlen=255
  NFSv4 capability flags: bm0=0xfdffbfff,bm1=0x40f9be3e,bm2=0x803,acl=0x3,sessions,pnfs=notconfigured
  NFS security flavor: 1  pseudoflavor: 0

 

NFS byte counts:
  applications read 248542089 bytes via read(2)
  applications wrote 0 bytes via write(2)
  applications read 0 bytes via O_DIRECT read(2)
  applications wrote 0 bytes via O_DIRECT write(2)
  client read 171375125 bytes via NFS READ
  client wrote 0 bytes via NFS WRITE

RPC statistics:
  699 RPC requests sent, 699 RPC replies received (0 XIDs not found)
  average backlog queue length: 0

READ:
    338 ops (48%)
    avg bytes sent per op: 216    avg bytes received per op: 507131
    backlog wait: 0.005917     RTT: 548.736686     total execute time: 548.775148 (milliseconds)
GETATTR:
    115 ops (16%)
    avg bytes sent per op: 199    avg bytes received per op: 240
    backlog wait: 0.008696     RTT: 15.756522     total execute time: 15.843478 (milliseconds)
ACCESS:
    93 ops (13%)
    avg bytes sent per op: 203    avg bytes received per op: 168
    backlog wait: 0.010753     RTT: 2.967742     total execute time: 3.032258 (milliseconds)
LOOKUP:
    32 ops (4%)
    avg bytes sent per op: 220    avg bytes received per op: 274
    backlog wait: 0.000000     RTT: 3.906250     total execute time: 3.968750 (milliseconds)
OPEN_NOATTR:
    25 ops (3%)
    avg bytes sent per op: 268    avg bytes received per op: 350
    backlog wait: 0.000000     RTT: 2.320000     total execute time: 2.360000 (milliseconds)
CLOSE:
    24 ops (3%)
    avg bytes sent per op: 224    avg bytes received per op: 176
    backlog wait: 0.000000     RTT: 30.250000     total execute time: 30.291667 (milliseconds)
DELEGRETURN:
    23 ops (3%)
    avg bytes sent per op: 220    avg bytes received per op: 160
    backlog wait: 0.000000     RTT: 6.782609     total execute time: 6.826087 (milliseconds)
READDIR:
    4 ops (0%)
    avg bytes sent per op: 224    avg bytes received per op: 14372
    backlog wait: 0.000000     RTT: 198.000000     total execute time: 198.250000 (milliseconds)
SERVER_CAPS:
    2 ops (0%)
    avg bytes sent per op: 172    avg bytes received per op: 164
    backlog wait: 0.000000     RTT: 1.500000     total execute time: 1.500000 (milliseconds)
FSINFO:
    1 ops (0%)
    avg bytes sent per op: 172    avg bytes received per op: 164
    backlog wait: 0.000000     RTT: 2.000000     total execute time: 2.000000 (milliseconds)
PATHCONF:
    1 ops (0%)
    avg bytes sent per op: 164    avg bytes received per op: 116
    backlog wait: 0.000000     RTT: 1.000000     total execute time: 1.000000 (milliseconds)


nfs-utils disabled serving NFS over UDP in version 2.2.1. Arch core updated to 2.3.1 on 21 Dec 2017 (skipping over 2.2.1.) If UDP stopped working then, add udp=y under [nfsd] in /etc/nfs.conf. Then restart nfs-server.service.
 

4. Check for firewall issues
 

If all fails make sure you don't have any kind of firewall issues. Sometimes firewall changes on remote server or somewhere in the routing servers might lead to stalled NFS mounts.

 

To use properly NFS as you should know as a minimum you need to have opened as ports is Port 111 (TCP and UDP) and 2049 (TCP and UDP) on the NFS server (side) as well as any traffic inspection routers on the road from SRC (Linux client host) and NFS Storage destination DST server.

There are also ports for Cluster and client status (Port 1110 TCP for the former, and 1110 UDP for the latter) as well as a port for the NFS lock manager (Port 4045 TCP and UDP) but having this opened or not depends on how the NFS is configured. You can further determine which ports you need to allow depending on which services are needed cross-gateway.
 

5. How to Remount a Stalled unresponsive NFS filesystem mount

 

At many cases situation with remounting stalled NFS filesystem is not so easy but if you're lucky a standard mount and remount should do the trick.

Most simple way to remout the NFS (once you're sure this might not disrupt any service) – don't blame me if you break something is with:
 

umount -l /mnt/NFS_mnt_point
mount /mnt/NFS_mnt_point


Note that the lazy mount (-l) umount opt is provided here as very often this is the only way to unmount a stalled NFS mount.

Sometimes if you have a lot of NFS mounts and all are inacessible it is useful to remount all NFS mounts, if the remote NFS is responsive this should be possible with a simple for bash loop:

for P in $(mount | awk '/type nfs / {print $3;}'); do echo $P; echo "sudo umount $P && sudo mount $P" && echo "ok :)"; done


If you cd /mnt/NFS_mnt_point and try ls and you get

$ ls
.: Stale File Handle

 

You will need to unmount the FS with forceful mount flag

umount -f /mnt/NFS_mnt_point
 

Sum it up


In this article, I've shown you a few simple ways to debug what is wrong with a Stalled / Hanged NFS filesystem present on a NFS server mounted on a Linux client server.
Above was explained the common issues caused by NFS portmap (rpcbind) dependency, how to its status is fine, some further diagnosis with htop and mountstat was pointed. I've pointed the minimum amount of TCP / UDP ports 2049 and 111 that needs to be opened for the NFS communication to work and finally explained on how to remount a stalled NFS single or all attached mount on a NFS client to restore to normal operations.
As NFS is a whole ocean of things and the number of ways it is used are too extensive this article is just a general info useful for the NFS dummy admin for more robust configs read some good book on NFS such as Managing NFS and NIS, 2nd Edition – O'Reilly Media and for Kernel related NFS debugging make sure you check as a minimum ArchLinux's NFS troubleshooting guide and sourceforge's NFS Troubleshoting and Optimizing NFS Performance guides.

 

Install and use personal Own Cloud on Debian Linux for better shared data security – OwnCloud a Free Software replacement for Google Drive

Thursday, August 23rd, 2018

owncloud-self-hosted-cloud-file-sharing-and-storage-service-for-gnu-linux-howto-install-on-debian

Basicly I am against the use of any Cloud type of service but as nowadays Cloud usage is almost inevitable and most of the times you need some kind of service to store and access remotely your Data from multiple devices such as DropBox, Google Drive, iCloud etc. and using some kind of infrastructure to execute high-performance computing is invitable just like the Private Cloud paid services online are booming nowdays, I decided to give a to research and test what is available as a free software in the field of Clouding (your data) 🙂

Undoubfully, it is really nice fact that there are Free Software / Open Source alternatives to run your Own personal Cloud to store your data from multiple locations on a single point.

The most popular and leading Cloud Collaboration service (which is OpenSource but unfortunately not under GPLv2 / GPV3 – e.g. not fully free software) is OwnCloud.

ownCloud is a flexible self-hosted PHP and Javascript based web application used for data synchronization and file sharing (where its remote file access capabilites are realized by Sabre/Dav an open source WebDav server.
OwnCloud allows end user to easily Store / Manage files, Calendars, Contacts, To-Do lists (user and group administration via OpenID and LDAP), public URLs can be easily, created, the users can interact with browser-based ODF (Open Document Format) word processor , there is a Bookmarking, URL Shortening service integrated, Gallery RSS Feed and Document Viewer tools such as PDF viewer etc. which makes it a great alternative to the popular Google Drive, iCloud, DropBox etc.

The main advantage of using a self-hosted Cloud is that Your data is hosted and managed by you (on your server and your hard drives) and not by some God knows who third party provider such as the upmentioned.
In other words by using OwnCloud you manage your own data and you don't share it ot on demand with the Security Agencies with CIA, MI6, Mussad … (as it is very likely most of publicly offered Cloud storage services keeps track on the data stored on them).

The other disadvantage of Cloud Computing is that the stored data on such is usually stored on multiple servers and you can never know for sure where your data is physically located, which in my opinion is way worse than the option with Self Hosted Cloud where you know where your data belongs and you can do whatever you want with your data keep it secret / delete it or share it on your demand.

OwnCloud has its clients for most popular Mobile (Smart Phone) platforms – an Android client is available in Google Play Store as well as in Apple iTunes besides the clients available for FreeBSD OS, the GNOME desktop integration package and Raspberry Pi.

For those who are looking for additional advanced features an Enterprise version of OwnCloud is also available aiming business use and included software support.

Assuming you have a homebrew server or have hired a dedidacted or VPS server (such as the Ones we provide) ,Installing OwnCloud on GNU / Linux is a relatively easy
task and it will take no more than 15 minutes to 2 hours of your life.
In that article I am going to give you a specific instructions on how to install on Debian GNU / Linux 9 but installing on RPM based distros is similar and straightfoward process.
 

1. Install MySQL / MariaDB database server backend
 

By default OwnCloud does use SQLite as a backend data storage but as SQLite stores its data in a file and is becoming quickly slow, is generally speaking slowre than relational databases such as MariaDB server (or the now almost becoming obsolete MySQL Community server).
Hence in this article I will explain how to install OwnCloud with MariaDB as a backend.

If you don't have it installed already, e.g. it is a new dedicated server install MariaDB with:
 

server:~# apt-get install –yes mariadb-server


Assuming you're install on a (brand new fresh Linux install – you might want to install also the following set of tools / services).

 

server:~# systemctl start mariadb
server:~# systemctl enable mariadb
server:~# mysql_secure_installation


mysql_secure_installation – is to finalize and secure MariaDB installation and set the root password.
 

2. Create necessery database and users for OwnCloud to the database server
 

linux:~# mysql -u root -p
MariaDB [(none)]> CREATE DATABASE owncloud CHARACTER SET utf8;
MariaDB [(none)]> GRANT ALL PRIVILEGES ON owncloud.* TO 'owncloud'@'localhost' IDENTIFIED BY 'owncloud_passwd';
MariaDB [(none)]> FLUSH PRIVILEGES;
MariaDB [(none)]> \q

 

3. Install Apache + PHP necessery deb packages
 

As of time of writting the article on Debian 9.0 the required packages for a working Apache + PHP install for OwnCloud are as follows.

 

server:~# apt-get install –yes apache2 mariadb-server libapache2-mod-php7.0 \
openssl php-imagick php7.0-common php7.0-curl php7.0-gd \
php7.0-imap php7.0-intl php7.0-json php7.0-ldap php7.0-mbstring \
php7.0-mcrypt php7.0-mysql php7.0-pgsql php-smbclient php-ssh2 \
php7.0-sqlite3 php7.0-xml php7.0-zip php-redis php-apcu

 

4. Install Redis to use as a Memory Cache for accelerated / better performance ownCloud service


Redis is an in-memory kept key-value database that is similar to Memcached so OwnCloud could use it to cache stored data files. To install latest redis-server on Debian 9:
 

server:~# apt-get install –yes redis-server

5. Install ownCloud software packages on the server

Unfortunately, default package repositories on Debian 9 does not provide owncloud server packages but only some owncloud-client packages are provided, that's perhaps the packages issued by owncloud does not match debian packages.

As of time of writting this article, the latest available OwnCloud server  version package for Debian is OC 10.

a) Add necessery GPG keys

The repositories to use are provided by owncloud.org, to use them we need to first add the necessery gpg key to verify the binaries have a legit checksum.
 

server:~# wget -qO- https://download.owncloud.org/download/repositories/stable/Debian_9.0/Release.key | sudo apt-key add –

 

b) Add owncloud.org repositories in separete sources.list file

 

server:~# echo 'deb https://download.owncloud.org/download/repositories/stable/Debian_9.0/ /' | sudo tee /etc/apt/sources.list.d/owncloud.list

 

c) Enable https transports for the apt install tool

 

server:~# apt-get –yes install apt-transport-https

 

d) Update Debian apt cache list files and install the pack

 

server:~# apt-get update

 

server:~# apt-get install –yes owncloud-files

 

By default owncloud store file location is /var/www/owncloud but on many servers that location is not really appropriate because /var/www might be situated on a hard drive partition whose size is not big enough, if that's the case just move the folder to another partition and create a symbolic link in /var/www/owncloud pointing to it …


6. Create necessery Apache configurations to make your new self-hosted cloud accessible
 

a) Create Apache config file

 

server:~# vim /etc/apache2/sites-available/owncloud.conf

 

 

Alias /owncloud "/var/www/owncloud/"

<Directory /var/www/owncloud/>
Options +FollowSymlinks
AllowOverride All

<IfModule mod_dav.c>
Dav off
</IfModule>

SetEnv HOME /var/www/owncloud
SetEnv HTTP_HOME /var/www/owncloud

</Directory>

b) Enable Mod_Dav (WebDAV) if it is not enabled yet

 

server:~# ln -sf ../mods-available/dav_fs.conf
server:~# ln -sf ../mods-available/dav_fs.load
server:~# ln -sf ../mods-available/dav.load
server:~# ln -sf ../mods-available/dav_lock.load

c) Set proper permissions for /var/www/owncloud to make upload work properly

 

chown -R www-data: /var/www/owncloud/


d) Restart Apache WebServer (to make new configuration affective)

 

 

server:~# /etc/init.d/apache2 restart


7. Finalize  OwnCloud Install
 

Access OwnCloud Web Interface to finish the database creation and set the administrator password for the New Self-Hosted cloud
 

http://Your_server_ip_address/owncloud/

By default the Web interface is accessible in unencrypted (insecure) http:// it is a recommended practice (if you already don't have an HTTPS SSL certificate install for the IP or the domain to install one either a self-signed certificate or even better to use LetsEncrypt CertBot to easily create a valid SSL for free for your domain

 

installing-OwnCloud-Web-Config-User-Pass-interface-Owncloud-10-on-Debian-9-Linux-howto

Just fill in in your desired user / pass and pass on the database user / password / db name (if required you can set also a different location for the data directory from the default one /var/www/owncloud/data.

Click Finish Setup and That's all folks!

owncloud-server-web-ui-interface

OwnCloud is successfully installed on the server, you can now go and download a Mobile App or Desktop application for whatever OS you're using and start using it as a Dropbox replacement. In a certain moment you might want to consult also the official UserManual documentation as you would probably need further information on how to manage your owncloud.

Enjoy !

No space left on device with free disk space / Why no space left on device while there is plenty of disk space on drive – Running out of Inodes

Tuesday, November 17th, 2015

no_space_left-on-device-while-there-is-disk-space-running-out-of-file-inodes-unix_linux_file_system_diagram.gif

 

On one of the servers, I'm administrating the websites started showing some Mysql database table corrup errors like:
 

 

Table './database_name/site_news_list_com' is marked as crashed and last (automatic?) repair failed

The server is using Oracle MySQL server community stable edition on Debian GNU / Linux 6.0, so I first thought during work the server crashed either due to some bug issue in MySQL or it crashed due to some PHP cron job that did something messy. Thus to solve the crashed tables, tried using mysqlcheck tool which helped pretty fine, at many times whether there were database / table corruptions. I've run the following set of mysqlcheck commands with root (superuser) in a bash shell after logging in through SSH:

:

server:~# /usr/bin/mysqlcheck –defaults-extra-file=/etc/mysql/debian.cnf \–check –all-databases -u root -p`grep -i password /root/.my.cnf |sed -e 's#password=##g'`>> /var/log/cronwork.log
server:~# /usr/bin/mysqlcheck –defaults-extra-file=/etc/mysql/debian.cnf –analyze –all-databases -u root -p`grep -i password /root/.my.cnf |sed -e 's#password=##g'`>> /var/log/cronwork.log
server:~# /usr/bin/mysqlcheck –defaults-extra-file=/etc/mysql/debian.cnf \–auto-repair –optimize –all-databases -u root -p`grep -i password /root/.my.cnf |sed -e 's#password=##g'`>> /var/log/cronwork.log
server:~# /usr/bin/mysqlcheck –defaults-extra-file=/etc/mysql/debian.cnf \–optimize –all-databases -u root -p`grep -i password /root/.my.cnf |sed -e 's#password=##g'`>> /var/log/cronwork.log


In order for above commands to work, I've created the /root/.my.cnf containing my root (mysql CLI) mysql username and password, e.g. file has content like below:

 

[client]
user=root
password=MySecretPassword8821238

 

Btw a good note here is its generally a good idea (if you want to have consistent mysql databases) to automatically execute via a cron job 2 times a month, I've in root cronjob the following:

 

crontab -u root -l |grep -i mysqlcheck
04 06 5,10,15,20,25,1 * * /usr/bin/mysqlcheck –defaults-extra-file=/etc/mysql/debian.cnf \–check –all-databases –silent -u root -p`grep -i password /root/.my.cnf |sed -e 's#password=##g'`>> /var/log/cronwork.log 07 06 5,10,15,20,25,1 * * /usr/bin/mysqlcheck –defaults-extra-file=/etc/mysql/debian.cnf –analyze –all-databases –silent -u root -p`grep -i password /root/.my.cnf |sed -e 's#password=##g'`>> /var/log/cronwork.log 12 06 5,10,15,20,25,1 * * /usr/bin/mysqlcheck –defaults-extra-file=/etc/mysql/debian.cnf \–auto-repair –optimize –all-databases –silent -u root -p`grep -i password /root/.my.cnf |sed -e 's#password=##g'`>> /var/log/cronwork.log 17 06 5,10,15,20,25,1 * * /usr/bin/mysqlcheck –defaults-extra-file=/etc/mysql/debian.cnf \–optimize –all-databases –silent -u root -p`grep -i password /root/.my.cnf |sed -e 's#password=##g'`>> /var/log/cronwork.log


Strangely I got a lot of errors that some .MYI / .MYD .frm temp files, necessery for the mysql tables recovery can't be written inside /home/mysql/database_name

That was pretty weird and I thought there might be some issues with permissions, causing the inability to write, due to some bug or something so I went straight and checked /home/mysql/database_name permissions, e.g.::

 

server:/home/mysql/database_name# ls -ld soccerfame
drwx—— 2 mysql mysql 36864 Nov 17 12:00 soccerfame
server:/home/mysql/database_name# ls -al1|head -n 10
total 1979012
drwx—— 2 mysql mysql 36864 Nov 17 12:00 .
drwx—— 36 mysql mysql 4096 Nov 17 11:12 ..
-rw-rw—- 1 mysql mysql 8712 Nov 17 10:26 1_campaigns_diez.frm
-rw-rw—- 1 mysql mysql 14672 Jul 8 18:57 1_campaigns_diez.MYD
-rw-rw—- 1 mysql mysql 1024 Nov 17 11:38 1_campaigns_diez.MYI
-rw-rw—- 1 mysql mysql 8938 Nov 17 10:26 1_campaigns.frm
-rw-rw—- 1 mysql mysql 8738 Nov 17 10:26 1_campaigns_logs.frm
-rw-rw—- 1 mysql mysql 883404 Nov 16 22:01 1_campaigns_logs.MYD
-rw-rw—- 1 mysql mysql 330752 Nov 17 11:38 1_campaigns_logs.MYI


As seen from above output, all was perfect with permissions, so it should have been something else, so I decided to try to create a random file with touch command inside /home/mysql/database_name directory:

 

touch /home/mysql/database_name/somefile-to-test-writtability.txt touch: cannot touch ‘/scr1/data/somefile-to-test-writtability.txt‘: No space left on device


Then logically I thought the /home/mysql/ mounted ext4 partition got filled, because of crashed SQL database or a bug thus, checked with disk free command df whether there is enough space on server:

server:~# df -h
Filesystem Size Used Avail Use% Mounted on
/dev/md1 20G 7.6G 11G 42% /
udev 10M 0 10M 0% /dev
tmpfs 13G 1.3G 12G 10% /run
tmpfs 32G 0 32G 0% /dev/shm
tmpfs 5.0M 0 5.0M 0% /run/lock
tmpfs 32G 0 32G 0% /sys/fs/cgroup
/dev/md2 256G 134G 110G 55% /home

Well that's weird? Obviously only 55% of available disk space is used and available 134G which was more than enough so I got totally puzzled why, files can't be written.

Then very logically, I thought it might be that /home directory has remounted as read only, because the SSD memory disk on server is failing and checked for errors in dmesg, i.e.:

 

server:~# dmesg|grep -i error


Also checked how exactly was partition mounted, to check whether it is (RO) read-only:

 

server:~# mount -l|grep -i /home
/dev/md2 on /home type ext4 (rw,relatime,discard,data=ordered)


Now everything become even more weirder, as obviously the disk continued to be claiming no space left on device, while in reality there was plenty of disk space.

Then after running a quick research on the internet for the no space left on device with free disk space, I've come across this great superuser.com thread which let me realize the partition run out of inodes and that's why no new file inodes could be assigned and therefore, the linux kernel is refusing to write the file on ext4 partition.

For those who haven't heard of Linux Partition Inodes here is link to Wikipedia and a quick quote:

 

In a Unix-style file system, the inode is a data structure used to represent a filesystem object, which can be one of various things including a file or a directory. Each inode stores the attributes and disk block location(s) of the filesystem object's data.[1] Filesystem object attributes may include manipulation metadata (e.g. change,[2] access, modify time), as well as owner and permission data (e.g. group-id, user-id, permissions).[3]
Directories are lists of names assigned to inodes. The directory contains an entry for itself, its parent, and each of its children.


Once I understood it is the inodes, I checked how many of them are occupied with cmd:

 

server:~# df -i /home
Filesystem Inodes IUsed IFree IUse% Mounted on
/dev/md2 17006592 17006592 0 100% /home


You see, there were 0 (zero) free file inodes on server and that was the reason for no space left on device while there was actually free disk space

To clean up (free) some inodes on partition, first thing I did is to delete all old logs which were inside /home and files I positively know not to be necessery, then to find which directories allocating most innodes used:

 

server:~# find . -xdev -type f | cut -d "/" -f 2 | sort | uniq -c | sort -n


If you're on a regular old fashined IDE Hard Drive and not SSD or you have too much files inside this command will take really long …:

Therefore a better solution might be to frist:

a) Try to find root folders with large inodes count:

for i in /home/*; do echo $i; find $i |wc -l; done
Try to find specific folders:


You should get output like:

 

/home/new_website
606692
/home/common
73
/home/pcfreak
5661
/home/hipo
33
/home/blog
13570
/home/log
123
/home/lost+found
1

b) Then once you know the directory allocating most inodes, run the command again to see the sub-directories with most files (eating) partition innodes:

 

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

 

One usual large folder which could free you some nodes is the linux source headers, but in my case it was simply a lot of tiny old logs being logged on the system for few years in the past without cleaning:

After deleting the log dirs and cache folder in my case /home/new_website/{log,cache}:

server:~# rm -rf /home/new_website/log/*
server:~# rm -rf /home/new_website/cache/*

 

 

a) Then, stopping Apache webserver to check prevent Apache to use MySQl databases while running database repair and restaring MySQL:
 

server:~# /etc/init.d/apache2 stop Restarting MySQL server
..
server:~# /etc/init.d/mysql restart
..


b) And re-issuing MySQL Check / Repair / Optimize database commands:
 

 

mysqlcheck –defaults-extra-file=/etc/mysql/debian.cnf \–check –all-databases -u root -p`grep -i password /root/.my.cnf |sed -e 's#password=##g'`>> /var/log/cronwork.log

mysqlcheck –defaults-extra-file=/etc/mysql/debian.cnf –analyze –all-databases -u root -p`grep -i password /root/.my.cnf |sed -e 's#password=##g'`>> /var/log/cronwork.log

mysqlcheck –defaults-extra-file=/etc/mysql/debian.cnf \–auto-repair –optimize –all-databases -u root -p`grep -i password /root/.my.cnf |sed -e 's#password=##g'`>> /var/log/cronwork.log

mysqlcheck –defaults-extra-file=/etc/mysql/debian.cnf \–optimize –all-databases -u root -p`grep -i password /root/.my.cnf |sed -e 's#password=##g'`>> /var/log/cronwork.log

c) And finally starting the Apache Webserver again:
 

server:~# /etc/init.d/apache2 start


Some innodse got freed up:
 

server:~# df -i /home Filesystem Inodes IUsed IFree IUse% Mounted on
/dev/md2 17006592 16797196 209396 99% /home


And hooray by God's Grace and with help of prayers of The most Holy Theotokos (Virgin) Mary, websites started again !

Adding another level of security to your shared Debian Linux webhosting server with SuPHP

Tuesday, April 7th, 2015

suphp_improve-apache-security-protect-against-virus-internal-server-infections-suphp-webserver-logo

There are plenty of security schemes and strategies you can implement if you're a Shared Web Hosting company sysadmin however probably the most vital one is to install on Apache + PHP Webserver SuPHP module.

# apt-cache show suphp-common|grep -i descrip -A 4

Description: Common files for mod suphp Suphp consists of an Apache module (mod_suphp for either Apache 1.3.x or Apache 2.x) and a setuid root binary (suphp) that is called by the Apache module to change the uid of the process executing the PHP interpreter to the owner of the php script.

So what SuPHP actuall  does is to run separate CPanel / Kloxo etc. Users with separate username and groupid permissions coinciding with the user present in /etc/passwd , /etc/shadow files existing users, thus in case if someone hacks some of the many customer sites he would be able to only write files and directories under the user with which the security breach occured.

On servers where SuPHP is not installed, all  systemusers are using the same UserID / GuID to run PHP executable scripts under separate domains Virtualhost which are coinciding with Apache (on Debian / Ubuntu  uid, gid – www-data) or on (CentOS / RHEL / Fedora etc. – user apache) so once one site is defaced  exploited by a worm all or most server websites might end up infected with a Web Virus / Worm which will be trying to exploit even more sites of a type running silently in the background.  This is very common scenarios as currently there are donezs of PHP / CSS / Javasripts / XSS vulnerability exploited on VPS and Shared hosting servers due to failure of a customer to update his own CMS  scripts / Website  (Joomla, Wordpress, Drupal etc.) and the lack of resource to regularly monitor all customer activities / websites.

Therefore installing SuPHP Apache module is essential one to install on new serverslarge hosting providers as it saves the admin a lot of headache from spreading malware across all hosted servers sites ..
Some VPS admins that are security freaks tend to also install SuPHP module together with many chrooted Apache / LiteSpeed / Nginx webservers each of which running in a separate Jailed environment.

Of course using SuPHP besides giving a improved security layer to the webserver has its downsides such as increased load for the server and making Apache PHP scripts being interpretted a little bit slower than with plain Apache + PHP but performance difference while running a site on top of SuPHP is often not so drastic so you can live it up ..

Installing SuPHP on a Debian / Ubuntu servers is a piece of cake, just run the as root superuser, usual:
 

# apt-get install libapache2-mod-suphp


Once installed only thing to make is to turn off default installed Apache PHP module (without SuPHP compiled support and restart Apache webserver):
 

# a2dismod php5 …

# /etc/init.d/apache2 restart


To test the SuPHP is properly working on the Apache Webserver go into some of many hosted server websites DocumentRoot

And create new file called test_suphp.php with below content:

# vim test_suphp.php
<?php
system('id');
?>

Then open in browser http://whatever-website/test_suphp.php assuming that system(); function is not disabled for security reasons in php.ini you should get an User ID, GroupID bigger than reserved system IDs on GNU / Linux e.g. ID > UID / GID 99

Its also a good idea to take a look into SuPHP configuration file /etc/suphp/suphp.conf and tailor options according to your liking 

If different hosted client users home directories are into /home directory, set in suphp.conf

;Path all scripts have to be in

docroot=/home/


Also usually it is a good idea to set 

umask=0022 

Check your Server Download / Upload Internet Speed from Console on Linux / BSD / Unix howto

Tuesday, March 17th, 2015

tux-check-internet-network-download-upload-speed-on-linux-console-terminal-linux-bsd-unix
If you've been given a new dedicated server from a New Dedicated-Server-Provider or VPS with Linux and you were told that a certain download speed to the Server is guaranteed from the server provider, in order to be sure the server's connection to the Internet told by service provider is correct it is useful to run a simple measurement console test after logging in remotely to the server via SSH.

Testing connection from Terminal is useful because as you probably know most of Linux / UNIX servers doesn't have a GUI interface and thus it is not possible to test Internet Up / Down Bandwidth through speedtest.net.
 

1. Testing Download Internet Speed given by ISP / Dedi-Server Provider from Linux Console

For the download speed (internet) test the historical approach was to just try downloading the Linux kernel source code from www.kernel.org with some text browser such as lynx or links count the seconds for which the download is completed and then multiple the kernel source archive size on the seconds to get an approximate bandwidth per second, however as nowdays internet connection speeds are much higher, thus it is better to try to download some Linux distribution iso file, you can still use kernel tar archive but it completed too fast to give you some good (adequate) statistics on Download bandwidth.

If its a fresh installed Linux server probably you will probably not have links / elinks and lynx text internet browers  installed so install them depending on deb / rpm distro with:

If on Deb Linuz distro:

 

root@pcfreak:/root# apt-get install –yes links elinks lynx

 

On RPM Based Linuz distro:
 

 

[root@fedora ~]# yum install -y lynx elinks links

 

Conduct Internet  Download Speed with links
root@pcfreak:/root# links https://www.kernel.org/pub/linux/kernel/v3.x/linux-3.19.1.tar.xz

check_your_download_speed-from-console-linux-with-links-text-browser

(Note that the kernel link is current latest stable Kernel source code archive in future that might change, so try with latest archive.)

You can also use non-interactive tool such as wget curl or lftp to measure internet download speed

To test Download Internet Speed with wget without saving anything to disk set output to go to /dev/null 

 

root@pcfreak:~# wget -O /dev/null http://pc-freak.net/~hipo/hirens-bootcd/HirensBootCD15/Hirens.BootCD.15.0.zip

 

check_bandwidth_download-internet-speed-with-wget-from-console-non-interactively-on-linux

You see the Download speed is 104 Mbit/s this is so because I'm conducting the download from my local 100Mbit network.

For the test you can use my mirrored version of Hirens BootCD

2. Testing Uplink Internet speed provided by ISP / Server Provider from Linux (SSH) Console

To test your uplink speed you will need lftp or iperf command tool.

 

root@pcfreak:~# apt-cache show lftp|grep -i descr -A 12
Description: Sophisticated command-line FTP/HTTP client programs
 Lftp is a file retrieving tool that supports FTP, HTTP, FISH, SFTP, HTTPS
 and FTPS protocols under both IPv4 and IPv6. Lftp has an amazing set of
 features, while preserving its interface as simple and easy as possible.
 .
 The main two advantages over other ftp clients are reliability and ability
 to perform tasks in background. It will reconnect and reget the file being
 transferred if the connection broke. You can start a transfer in background
 and continue browsing on the ftp site. It does this all in one process. When
 you have started background jobs and feel you are done, you can just exit
 lftp and it automatically moves to nohup mode and completes the transfers.
 It has also such nice features as reput and mirror. It can also download a
 file as soon as possible by using several connections at the same time.

 

root@pcfreak:/root# apt-cache show iperf|grep -i desc -A 2
Description: Internet Protocol bandwidth measuring tool
 Iperf is a modern alternative for measuring TCP and UDP bandwidth performance,
 allowing the tuning of various parameters and characteristics.

 

To test Upload Speed to Internet connect remotely and upload any FTP file:

 

root@pcfreak:/root# lftp -u hipo pc-freak.net -e 'put Hirens.BootCD.15.0.zip; bye'

 

uploading-file-with-lftp-screenshot-test-upload-internet-speed-linux

On Debian Linux to install iperf:

 

root@pcfreak:/root# apt-get install –yes iperf

 

On latest CentOS 7 and Fedora (and other RPM based) Linux, you will need to add RPMForge repository and install with yum

 

[root@centos ~]# rpm -ivh  rpmforge-release-0.5.3-1.el7.rf.x86_64.rpm

[root@centos ~]# yum -y install iperf

 

Once having iperf on the server the easiest way currently to test it is to use
serverius.net speedtest server –  located at the Serverius datacenters, AS50673 and is running on a 10GE connection with 5GB cap.

 

root@pcfreak:/root# iperf -c speedtest.serverius.net -P 10
————————————————————
Client connecting to speedtest.serverius.net, TCP port 5001
TCP window size: 16.0 KByte (default)
————————————————————
[ 12] local 83.228.93.76 port 54258 connected with 178.21.16.76 port 5001
[  7] local 83.228.93.76 port 54252 connected with 178.21.16.76 port 5001
[  5] local 83.228.93.76 port 54253 connected with 178.21.16.76 port 5001
[  9] local 83.228.93.76 port 54251 connected with 178.21.16.76 port 5001
[  3] local 83.228.93.76 port 54249 connected with 178.21.16.76 port 5001
[  4] local 83.228.93.76 port 54250 connected with 178.21.16.76 port 5001
[ 10] local 83.228.93.76 port 54254 connected with 178.21.16.76 port 5001
[ 11] local 83.228.93.76 port 54255 connected with 178.21.16.76 port 5001
[  6] local 83.228.93.76 port 54256 connected with 178.21.16.76 port 5001
[  8] local 83.228.93.76 port 54257 connected with 178.21.16.76 port 5001
[ ID] Interval       Transfer     Bandwidth
[  9]  0.0-10.2 sec  4.05 MBytes  3.33 Mbits/sec
[ 10]  0.0-10.2 sec  3.39 MBytes  2.78 Mbits/sec
[ 11]  0.0-10.3 sec  3.75 MBytes  3.06 Mbits/sec
[  4]  0.0-10.3 sec  3.43 MBytes  2.78 Mbits/sec
[ 12]  0.0-10.3 sec  3.92 MBytes  3.18 Mbits/sec
[  3]  0.0-10.4 sec  4.45 MBytes  3.58 Mbits/sec
[  5]  0.0-10.5 sec  4.06 MBytes  3.24 Mbits/sec
[  6]  0.0-10.5 sec  4.30 MBytes  3.42 Mbits/sec
[  8]  0.0-10.8 sec  3.92 MBytes  3.03 Mbits/sec
[  7]  0.0-10.9 sec  4.03 MBytes  3.11 Mbits/sec
[SUM]  0.0-10.9 sec  39.3 MBytes  30.3 Mbits/sec

 

You see currently my home machine has an Uplink of 30.3 Mbit/s per second, that's pretty nice since I've ordered a 100Mbits from my ISP (Unguaranteed Bandwidth Connection Speed) and as you might know it is a standard practice for many Internet Proviers to give Uplink speed of 1/4 from the ISP provided overall bandwidth 1/4 would be 25Mbi/s, meaning my ISP (Bergon.NET) is doing pretty well providing me with even more than promised (ordered) bandwidth.

Iperf is probably the choice of most sysadmins who have to do regular bandwidth in local networks speed between 2 servers or test  Internet Bandwidth speed on heterogenous network with Linux / BSDs / AIX / HP-UX (UNIXes). On HP-UX and AIX and other UNIXes for which iperf doesn't have port you have to compile it yourself.

If you don't have root /admin permissions on server and there is python language enterpreter installed you can use speedtest_cli.py script to test internet throughput connectivity
speedtest_cli uses speedtest.net to test server up / down link just in case if script is lost in future I've made ownload mirror of speedtest_cli.py is here

Quickest way to test net speed with speedtest_cli.py:

 

$ lynx -dump https://raw.github.com/sivel/speedtest-cli/master/speedtest_cli.py > speedtest_cli.py
$ chmod +x speedtest_cli.py
python speedtest_cli.py

speedtest_cli_pyhon_script_screenshot-on-gnu-linux-test-internet-network-speed-on-unix

WordPress Security: Fix WordPress wp-config.php improper permissions to protect your sites from Database password steal / Website deface

Thursday, March 12th, 2015

wordpress-security-Fix-wordpress-wp-config-improper-permissions-to-protect-your-sites-from-Database-pass-steal
Keeping WordPress Site / Blog and related installed plugins up-to-date
is essential to prevent an attacker to hack into your Site / Database and deface your site, however if you're a company providing shell access from Cpanel / Plesk / Kloxo Panel to customers often customers are messing up permissions leaving important security credential files such as wp-config.php (which is storing user / pass credentials about connection to MySQL / PostgreSQL to have improper permissions and be world readable e.g. have permissions such as 666 or 777 while in reality the WordPress recommended permissions for wp-config.php is 600. I will skip here to explain in details difference between file permissions on Linux as this is already well described in any Linux book, however I just will recommend for any Share hosting Admin where Wordperss is hosted on Lighttpd / Apache Webserver + Some kind of backend database to be extra cautious.

Hence it is very useful to list all your WordPress sites on server wp-config.php permissions with find like this:

 

find /  -iname 'wp-config.php' -print1;

 

I find it a generally good practice to also automatically set all wp-config.php permissions to 600 (6= Read / Write  permissions only for File Owner  user 0 = No permissions for All groups, 0 = No Permissions for all non-owner users)

If find command output gives you some file permissions such as:
 

ls -al /var/www/wordpress-bak/wp-config.php
-rw-rw-rw- 1 www-data www-data 2654 jul 28  2009 wp-config.php

 

E.g. file permission has 666 permissions (Readable for all users), then it is wise to fix this with:
 

chmod 600 /var/www/wordpress-bak/wp-config.php


It is generally a very good practice to run also a chmod 600 to each and every found wp-config.php file on server:
 

find /  -iname 'wp-config.php' -print1 -exec chmod 600 '{}' \;


Above command will also print each file to whcih permission is set to Read / Write for Owner (this si done with -print1 option).

It is a good practice for shared hosting server to always configure a root cronjob to run above find chmod command at least once daily (whenever server hosts 50 – 100 wordpress+ more sites).
 

crontab -u root -l | { cat; echo “05 03 * * * find /  -iname 'wp-config.php' -print1 -exec chmod 600 '{}' \; } | crontab – 


If you don't have the 600 permissions set for all wp-config.php files this security "backdoor" can be used by any existing non-root user to be read and to break up (crack)  in your database and even when there are Deface bot-nets involved to deface all your hosted server wordpress sites.

One of my servers with wordpress has just recently suffered with this little but very important security hole due to a WordPress site directory backup  with improper permissions which allowed anyone to enter MySQL database, so I guess there are plenty of servers with this hidden vulnerability silently living.

Many thanks to my dear friend (Dimitar PaskalevNomen for sharing with me about this vulnerability! Very important note to make here is admins who are using some security enhancement modules such as SuPHP (which makes Apache webserver to run Separate Website instances with different user), should be careful with his set all wp-config.php modules to Owner, as it is possible the wp-config.php owner change to make customer WP based websites inaccessible.

Another good security measure to  protect your server WordPress based sites from malicious theme template injections (for both personal own hosted wordpress based blog / sites or a WordPress hosting company) is to install and activate WordPress Antivirus plugin.

Speed up WordPress / Joomla CMS and MySQL server on Linux with tmpfs ram file system / Decrease Website pageload times with RAM caching

Wednesday, March 4th, 2015

speed-up-accelerate-wordpress-joomla-drupal-cms-and-mysql-server-with-tmpfs_ramfs_decrease-pageload-times-with-ram-caching
As a WordPress blog owner and an sys admin that has to deal with servers running a lot of WordPress / Joomla / Droopal and other custom CMS installed on servers, performoing slow or big enough to put a significant load on servers
and I love efficiency and hardware cost saving is essential for my daily job, I'm constantly trying to find new ways to optimize Customer Website (WordPress) and rest of sites in order to utilize better our servers and improve our clients sites speed (and hence satisfaction). 

There is plenty of little things to do on servers but probably among the most crucial ones which we use nowadays that save us a lot of money is tmpfs, and earlier (ramfs) – previously known as shmfs).
TMPFS is a (Temporary File Storage Facility) Linux kernel technology based on ramfs (used by Linux kernel initrd / initramfs on boot time in order to load and store the Linux kernel in memory, before system hard disk partition file systems are mounted) which is heavily used by virtually all modern popular Linux distributions. 

Using ramfs (cramfs variation – Compressed ROM filesystem) has been used to store different system environment kernel and Desktop components of many Linux environment / applications and used by a lot of the Linux BootCD such as the most famous (Klaus Knopper's) KNOPPIX LiveCD and Trinity Rescue Kit Linux (TRK uses /dev/shm which btw can be seen on most modern Linux distros and is actually just another mounted tmpfs).
If you haven't tried Live Linux yet try it out as me and a lot of sysadmins out there use some kind of LiveLinux at least few times on yearly basis  to Recover Unbootable Linux servers after some applied remote Updates as well as for Rescuing (Save) Data from Linux server failing to properly boot because of hard disk (bad blocks) failures. As I said earlier TMPFS is also used on almost any distribution for the /dev/ filesystem which is kept in memory.

You can see which tmpfs partitions is used on your Linux server with:

 

debian-server:~# mount |grep -i tmpfs
tmpfs on /lib/init/rw type tmpfs (rw,nosuid,mode=0755)
udev on /dev type tmpfs (rw,mode=0755)
tmpfs on /dev/shm type tmpfs (rw,nosuid,nodev)

 

Above is an output from a standard Debian Linux server. On CentOS 7 standard mounted tmpfs are as follows:

 

[root@centos ~]# mount |grep -i tmpfs
devtmpfs on /dev type devtmpfs (rw,nosuid,seclabel,size=1016332k,nr_inodes=254083,mode=755)
tmpfs on /dev/shm type tmpfs (rw,nosuid,nodev,seclabel)
tmpfs on /run type tmpfs (rw,nosuid,nodev,seclabel,mode=755)
tmpfs on /sys/fs/cgroup type tmpfs (rw,nosuid,nodev,noexec,seclabel,mode=755)

 

[root@centos ~]# df -h|grep -i tmpfs
devtmpfs                 993M     0  993M   0% /dev
tmpfs                   1002M   92K 1002M   1% /dev/shm
tmpfs                   1002M  8.8M  993M   1% /run
tmpfs                   1002M     0 1002M   0% /sys/fs/cgroup

The /run tmpfs mounted directory is also to be seen also on latest Ubuntus and Fedoras and is actually the good old /var/run ( where applications keep there pids and some small app related files) stored in tmpfs filesystem stored in memory.

If you're wondering what is /dev/shm and why it appears mounted on every single Linux Server / Desktop you've ever used this is a special filesystem shared memory which various running programs (processes) can use to transfer data quick and efficient between each other to preven the slow disk swapping. People using Linux for the rest 15 years should remember /dev/shm has been a target of a lot of kernel exploits as historically it had a lot of security issues.

While writting this article I've just checked about KNOPPIX developed amd just for info as of time of writting this distro has already 1000+ programs on CD version and 2600+ packages / application on DVD version.
Nowadays Knoppix is mostly used mostly as USB Live Flash drive as a lot of people are dropping CD / DVD use (many servers doesn't have a CD / DVD Drive) and for USB Live Flash Linux distros tmpfs is also key technology used as this gives the end user an amazing fast experience (Desktop applications run much fasten on Live USBs when tmpfs is used than when the slow 7200 RPM HDDs are used).

Loading big parts of the distribution within RAM (with tmpfs from Linux Kernel 2.4+ onwards) is also heavily used by a lot of Cluster vendors in most of Clustered (Cloud) Linux based environemnts, cause TMPFS gives often speeds up improvements to x30 times and decreases greatly I/O HDD. FreeBSD users will be happy to know that TMPFS is already ported and could be used on from FreeBSD 7.0+ onward.

In this small article I will give you example use on how I use tmpfs to speed up our WordPress Websites which use WP Caching plugins such as W3 Total Cache and WP Super Cache
and Hyper Cache / WP Super Cache disk caching and MySQL server as a Database backend.
Below example is wordpress specific but since it can be easily applied to JoomlaDrupal or any other CMS out there that uses mySQL server to make a lot of CPU expensive memory hungry (LEFT JOIN) queries which end up using a slow 7200 RPM hard disk.


 

1. Preparing tmpfs partitions for WordPress File Cache directory
 

If you want to give tmpfs a test drive, I recommend you try to create / mount a 20 Megabyte partition. To create a tmpfs partition you don't need to use a tool like mkfs.ext3 / mkfs.ext4 as TMPFS is in reality a virtual filesystem that is mapped in the server system physical RAM (volatile memory). TMPFS is very nice because if you run out of free RAM system starts a combination of RAM use + some Hard disk SWAP 
The great thing about TMPFS is it never uses all of the available RAM and SWAP, which would not halt your server if TMPFS partition gets filled, but instead you will start getting the usual "Insufficient Disk Space", just like with a physical HDD parititon. RAMFS cares much less about server compared to TMPFS, because if RAMFS is historically older.

ramfs file systems cannot be limited in size like a disk base file system which is limited by it’s capacity, thus ramfs will continue using memory storage until the system runs out of RAM and likely crashes or becomes unresponsive. This is a problem if the application writing to the file system cannot be limited in total size, so in my opinion you better stay away from RAMFS except you have a good idea what you're doing. Another disadvantage of RAMFS compared to TMPFS is you cannot see the size of the file system in df and it can only be estimated by looking at the cached entry in free.

Note that before proceeding to use TMPFS or RAMFS you should know besides having advantages, there are certain serious disadvantage that if the server using tmpfs (in RAM) to store files crashes the customer might loose his data, therefore using RAM filesystems on Production servers is best to be used just for caching folders which are regularly synchronized with (rsync) to some folder to assure no data will be lost on server reboot or crash.

Memory of fast storage areas are ideally suited for applications which need repetitively small data areas for caching or using as temporary space such as Jira (Issue and Proejct Tracking Software) Indexing  As the data is lost when the machine reboots the tmpfs stored data must not be data of high importance as even scheduling backups cannot guarantee that all the data will be replicated in the even of a system crash.

To test mounting a tmpfs virtual (memory stored) filesystem issue:
 

mount -t tmpfs tmpfs -o size=256m /mnt/tmpfs


If you want to test mount a ramfs instead:

 

 mount -t ramfs -o size=256m ramfs /mnt/ramfs

 

debian-server:~#  mount |grep -i -E "ramfs|tmpfs"
tmpfs on /lib/init/rw type tmpfs (rw,nosuid,mode=0755)
udev on /dev type tmpfs (rw,mode=0755)
tmpfs on /dev/shm type tmpfs (rw,nosuid,nodev)
tmpfs on /mnt/tmpfs type tmpfs (rw,size=256m)
ramfs on /mnt/ramfs type tmpfs (rw,size=256m)

 

Once mounted tmpfs can be used in the same way as any ext4 / reiserfs filesystem. In the same way to make mounts permanent, its necessery to add a line to /etc/fstab

To illustrate better a tmpfs use case on my blog running WordPress with W3TotalCache (W3TC) plugin cache folder in /var/www/blog/wp-content/w3tc to get advantage of tmpfs to store w3tc files.

a) Stop Apache

On Debian
 

debian-server:~# /etc/init.d/apache stop


On CentOS 
 

[root@centos ~]# /etc/init.d/httpd stop


b) Move w3tc dir to w3tc-bak

 

debian-server:~# cd /var/www/blog/wp-content/
debian-server:~# mv w3tc w3tc-bak

 

c) Create w3tc directory
 

debian-server:/var/www/blog/wp-content# mkdir w3tc
debian-server:/var/www/blog/wp-content# chown -R www-data:www-data w3tc


d) Add tmpfs record to /etc/fstab

My W3TC Cache didn't grow bigger than 2Gigabytes so I create a 2Giga directory for it by adding following in /etc/fstab 
 

debian-server:~# vim /etc/fstab

 

tmpfs /var/www/blog/wp-content/w3tc tmpfs defaults,size=2g,noexec,nosuid,uid=33,gid=33,mode=1755 0 0


You might also want to add the nr_inodes (option) to tmpfs while mounting. nr_inodes is the maximum inode for instance. Default is half the number of your physical RAM pages, (on a machine with highmem) the number of lowmem RAM page, some common option that should work is nr_inodes=5k, if you're unsure what this option does you can safely skip it 🙂

e) Mount new added tmpfs folder

Then to mount the newly added filesystem issue:
 

mount -a


Or if you're on a CentOS / RHEL server use httpd Apache user instead and whenever you have docroot and wordpress installed.

 

[root@centos ~]# chown -R apache:apache: w3tc


If you're using Apache SuPHP use whatever the UID / GID is proper.

On CentOS you will need to set proper UID and GID (UserID / GroupID), to find out which ones to to use check in /etc/passwd:
 

[root@centos ~]# grep -i apache /etc/passwd
apache:x:48:48:Apache:/var/www:/sbin/nologin


f) Move old w3tc cache from w3tc-bak to w3tc

 

debian-server:/var/www/blog/wp-content# mv w3tc-bak/* w3tc/

 

g) Start again Apache

On Debian:

 

debian-server:~# /etc/init.d/apache2 start

 


On CentOS:
 

[root@centos~]# /etc/init.d/httpd start

h) Keeping w3tc cache site folder synced

As I said earlier the biggest problem with caching (the reason why many hosting providers) and site admins refuse to use it is they might loose some data, to prevent data loss or at least mitigate the data loss to few minutes intervals it is a good idea to synchronize tmpfs kept folders somewhere to disk with rsync.

To achieve that use a cronjob like this:
 

debian-server:~# crontab -u root -e
*/5 * * * * /usr/bin/ionice -c3 -n7 /usr/bin/nice -n 19 /usr/bin/rsync -ah –stats –delete /var/www/blog/wp-content/w3tc/ /backups/tmpfs/cache/ 1>/dev/null


Note that you will need to have the /backups/tmpfs/cache folder existing, create it with:

 

debian-server:~# mkdir -p /backups/tmpfs/cache


You will also need to add a rsync synchronization from backupped folder to tmpfs (in case if the server gets accidently rebooted because it hanged or power outage), place in

/etc/rc.local

 

ionice -c3 -n7 nice -n 19 rsync -ahv –stats –delete /backups/tmpfs/cache/ /var/www/blog/wp-content/w3tc/ 1>/dev/null


(somewhere before exit 0) line
 

0 05 * * * /usr/bin/ionice -c3 -n7 /bin/nice -n 19 /usr/bin/rsync -ah –stats –delete /var/www/blog/wp-content/w3tc/ /backups/tmpfs/cache/ 1>/dev/null

 

 

2. Preparing tmpfs partitions for MySQL server temp File Cache directory


Its common that MySQL servers had to serve a lot of long and heavy SQL JOIN Queries mostly by related posts WP plugins such as (Zemanta Related Posts) and Contextual Related posts though MySQLs are well optimized  to work as much as efficient using mysql tuner (tuning primer) still often SQL servers get a lot of temp tables created to disk (about 25% to 30%) of all SQL queries use somehow HDD to serve queries and as this is very slow and there is file lock created the overall MySQL performance becomes sluggish at times to fix (resolve) that without playing with SQL code to optimize the slow queries the best way I found is by using TMPFS as MySQL temp folder.

To do so I create a TMPFS usually the size of 256 MB because this is usually enough for us, but other hosting companies might want to add bigger virtual temp disk:

a) Add tmpfs new dir to /etc/fstab

In /etc/fstab add below record with vim editor:
 

debian-server:~# vim /etc/fstab

 

tmpfs /var/mysqltmp tmpfs rw,gid=111,uid=108,size=256M,nr_inodes=10k,mode=0700 0 0

 

Note that the uid / and gid 105 and 114 are taken again from /etc/passwd

On Debian

debian-server:~# grep -i mysql /etc/passwd
mysql:x:108:111:MySQL Server,,,:/var/lib/mysql:/bin/false


On CentOS
 

[root@centos ~]# grep -i mysql /etc/passwd
mysql:x:27:27:MySQL Server:/var/lib/mysql:/bin/bash


b) Create folder /var/mysqltmp or whenever you want to place the tmpfs memory kept SQL folder

 

debian-server:~# mkdir /var/mysqltmp
debian-server:~# chown mysql:mysql /var/mysqltmp

 

debian-server:~# mount|grep -i tmpfs
tmpfs on /lib/init/rw type tmpfs (rw,nosuid,mode=0755)
udev on /dev type tmpfs (rw,mode=0755)
tmpfs on /dev/shm type tmpfs (rw,nosuid,nodev)
tmpfs on /var/www/blog/wp-content/w3tc type tmpfs (rw,noexec,nosuid,size=2g,uid=33,gid=33,mode=1755)
tmpfs on /var/mysqltmp type tmpfs (rw,gid=108,uid=111,size=256M,nr_inodes=10k,mode=0700)


c) Add new path to tmpfs created folder in my.cnf 

Then  edit /etc/mysql/my.cnf

 

debian-server:~# vim /etc/mysql/my.cnf

[mysqld]
#
# * Basic Settings
#
user        = mysql
pid-file    = /var/run/mysqld/mysqld.pid
socket      = /var/run/mysqld/mysqld.sock
port        = 3306
basedir     = /usr
datadir     = /var/lib/mysql
tmpdir      = /var/mysqltmp

 

On CentOS edit and change tmpdir in same way within /etc/my.cnf


d) Finally Restart Apache and MySQL to make mysql start using new set tmpfs memory kept folder

On Debian:
 

debian-server:~# /etc/init.d/apache2 stop; /etc/init.d/mysql restart; /etc/init.d/apache2 start

On CentOS:
 

[root@centos ~]# /etc/init.d/httpd stop; /etc/init.d/mysqld restart; /etc/initd/httpd start


Now monitor your server and check your pagespeed increase for me such an optimization usually improves site performance so site becomes +50% faster, to see the difference you can test your website before applying tmpfs caching for site and after that by using Google PageInsight (PageSpeed) Online Test. Though this example is for MySQL and WordPress you can easily adopt the same for Joomla if you have Joomla Caching enabled to some folder, same goes for any other CMS such as Drupal that can take use of Disk Caching. Actually its a small secret of many Hosting providers that allow clients to create sites via CPanel and Kloxo this tmpfs optimizations are already used for sites and by this the provider is able to offer better website service on lower prices. VPS hosting providers also use heavy caching. A lot of people are using TMPFS also to accelerate Sites that have enabled Google Pagespeed as Cacher and accelerator, as PageSpeed module puts a heavy HDD I/O load that can easily stone the server. Many admins also choose to use TMPFS for  /tmp, /var/run, and /var/lock directories as this leads often to significant overall server services operations improvement.
Once you have tmpfs enabled, It is a good idea to periodically monitor your SWAP used space with (df -h), because if you allocate bigger tmpfs partitions than your physical memory and tmpfs's full size starts to be used your machine will start swapping heavily and this could have a very negative performance affect.
 

debian-server:~# df -h|grep -i tmpfs
tmpfs            3,9G     0   3,9G   0% /lib/init/rw
tmpfs            3,9G     0   3,9G   0% /dev/shm
tmpfs            2,0G  1,4G   712M  66% /var/www/blog/wp-content/w3tc
tmpfs            256M     0   256M   0% /mnt/tmpfs
tmpfs            256M  236K   256M   1% /var/mysqltmp

The applications of tmpfs to accelerate services is up to your imagination, so I will be glad to hear from other admins on any interesting other application or problems faced while using TMPFS.

 Enjoy! 🙂