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NPG backups runs from the dedicated backup server: Lentil, which has 4 hot-swappable drive bays, generally containing SATA drives.

To put in a new (fresh) drive:

  1. Locate the oldest disk.
  2. Make sure it is not mounted.
  3. Open the appropriate drive door and slide out drive.
  4. Put new drive in. (there are 4 screws holding the drive in place).
  5. Slide it back in. Take note which Linux drive it registers as: /dev/sdb or /dev/sdc or /dev/sdd or /dev/sde
    NOTE: The order does NOT correspond with the slots, and this order can change after a reboot!
  6. Run /usr/local/bin/ <disk no> <device>
    I.E: /usr/local/bin/format_archive_disk.p 29 /dev/sde[1]
  7. Check that the drive is available: ls /mnt/npg-daily/29

Current Backup System

Newer backups do something involving hard-linking files that haven't changed between backup sessions. Seems like a good idea, but we need to learn exactly how it works. (It's a poor-man's version of the Apple Time-Machine.) For old backups in the new format, consolidation works by putting all the data from each backup session into one place, overwriting with the newest data. Nobody's going to look for a specific version of a file they had in 2004 that only existed for three days, so this method is relatively safe, in terms of data retention.

The script that does the backing-up is /usr/local/bin/ and the script that periodically runs it and sends out a notification e-mail is /etc/cron.daily/rsync_backup. determines what disk to put the backup onto, etc.

Here is a nice little guide on incremental, hardlinked backups via rsync. He sets up some nice little tricks with NFS mounts so that users can access their stuff read-only for any backup that's actually stored. We should do this.

On lentil, pre-HDD-change, perl was obliterated at 0:16:00 on 2007-6-21. This date is BEFORE we started even looking at perl stuff. Its filesize was 0 bytes. A quick fix was to overwrite the 0-byte lentil perl binary with a copy of improv's perl binary. Using rpm to force reinstall perl-5.8.5 from yum's cache restored the correct version. The cause was later found to be due to the drive going bad.

rsync documentation

Client Configuration

An important aspect of the current backup system is that it requires ssh to get through to the node you want to backup. The rsync program uses ssh to pull data from the node. This requires a special setup for ssh on each node to allow this to happen. Each node has a file /etc/rsync-backup.conf that controls what is backed up for that node. The backup system then executes a remote command: rsync --server --daemon --config=/etc/rsync-backup.conf . on the node. In the ssh configuration file (/root/.ssh/authorized_keys) the node has a special line for allowing this command to be executed by Lentil. Don't forget to have the file /etc/rsync-backup.conf on each machine, and to have something meaningful in it. /root/debug_rsync is also needed.

Important to note

  • Do NOT use disks smaller than 350 GB for backup!!, since those will not even fit one copy of what needs to be backed up.
  • The link /mnt/npg-daily-current must exist and point to an actual drive.

Legacy Backups

The really old amanda-style backups are tar'ed, gzip'ed, and have weird header info. Looking at the head of them gives instructions for extraction. A script was written to extract and consolidate these backups. Shrinks hundreds of gigs down to tens of gigs, and zipping that shrinks it further. Very handy for OLD files we're not going to look at ever again.

Amanda backup consolidator

# This script was designed to extract data from the old tape-style backups
# and put the data in an up-to-date (according to the backups) directory
# tree. We can then, either manually or a different script, tar that into a
# comprehensive backup. This should be quite a bit more space-efficient than
# incrementals.
# -----------------------------
# My first attempt at a "smart" bash script, and one that takes input.
# Probably not the best way to do it, but it works!
# ~Matt Minuti
if [ -z $1 ]
	echo "Syntax: [string to seach for]"
	echo "This script searches /mnt/tmp for files containing the"
	echo "given string, and does the appropriate extraction"
				# Test to see if destination directory exists
if [ -d /mnt/tmp2/$1 ]		#
then				#
	echo "Directory /mnt/tmp2/$1 already exists."
	mkdir /mnt/tmp2/$1	# If it doesn't, make it!
NPG=$( ls /mnt/tmp/ )		# Set where to look for backup tree
for i in $NPG; do		# Cycle through the folders in order to...
	cd /mnt/tmp/$i
	cd ./data/
	FILES=$( ls )		# Get a listing of files
	for j in $( echo "$FILES" | grep "\.$1" ) ; do	
		echo "Extracting file $j from $( pwd ) to /mnt/tmp2/$1"
		dd if=$j bs=32k skip=1 | /usr/bin/gzip -dc | /bin/tar -xf - -C /mnt/tmp2/$1
	done	# The above for statement takes each matching file and extracts
done		# it to the desired location.

An example of how I've been using it is I have an amanda backup drive on /mnt/tmp, and an empty drive (or one with enough space) on /mnt/tmp2. Running einstein will go into each folder in /mnt/tmp, looking for anything with a name containing "einstein," and doing the appropriate extraction into /mnt/tmp2/einstein. The effect is extracting the oldest backups first, and then overwriting with newer and newer partial backups, ending finally with the most up-to-date backup in that amanda set. I then tar and bzip the resultant folder structure to save even more space.

Emergency Backup

An easy way to make a backup of, say, lentil when its root drive is dying, is to use the program dd_rescue from a rescue disc, to copy the drive contents to another. The backup can then be mounted as a loopback device to access its contents.

This came in handy in the case of a certain computer, say, lentil. We forgot to copy the autofs scripts and ssh keys, but it wasn't a big deal since we just mounted the drive image and bam! Everything was nice.