COMP8440: Lab Setup (2018)
The COMP8440 course will use the lab machines in N111. You will need to follow the instructions below to setup your own machine and to regularly backup your machine using the "Backup System" link on your desktop.
Each machine in the N111 lab has two additional disk "partitions" with an initial copy of the "master" image for FOSSD 2018, based on the Ubuntu 17.10 (Artful Aardvark) Linux distribution, and a boot partition.
For the first (initial) setup, you will need to log into the machine whilst it is booted in the normal (CSIT) lab environment. That is the default boot environment, which can also selected using the 'net' option during bootup
Open a terminal and type the command "/courses/comp8440/bin/setup_fossd_system". You will be prompted for your login password (to allow you "superuser" access).
Then you will be prompted for a passphrase for the encrypted filesystem, twice. You can press the "Enter" key each time to use the default FOSSD passphrase for the encrypted filesystem (written up on the whiteboard in the lab), or you can make up a new passphrase - but don't forget it! If you forget your passphrase then all your work will be lost, and cannot be recovered.
Then you may be prompted for your login password one last time before the system initialises the partition with the Ubuntu Artful image we have prepared. As a part of this initialisation, an account will be created for you in this image.
When that is complete, you can reboot your machine and then select "fossd" from the network boot prompt which will boot into the encrypted filesystem. You will be prompted for the passphrase you have chosen for the encrypted filesystem. It is very important that you do not forget this passphrase!
Please use the same machine for all COMP8440 labwork, so that you are least likely to disturb another students machine.
FOSSD Lab Environment
The "standard environment" that we have prepared for each FOSSD lab machine includes a standard Ubuntu desktop environment with a couple of customisations:
- There is a "Terminal" icon in the task bar so that you can quickly get a shell (commandline) prompt
- There is a "Backup System" icon (see below)
FOSSD Lab Server
A dedicated file server has been set up for the FOSSD course for 2018. This server has the DNS name "fossd.anu.edu.au" and is accessible from most anywhere on the Internet. You can log into this server from anywhere using Secure SHell (ssh), using your standard ANU UniID and associated password. Please do not run large (CPU-intensive) jobs on this machine as it will be used heavily during the course for backups etc.
Also, although this server has more or less unrestricted access to the Internet, please do not use this to run peer-to-peer applications (unless that is a part of your chosen Open Source project) or in any other way abuse access to this machine and it's Internet connection.
Backing up your work
As a part of the Ubuntu software image we have prepared for you, there is an icon on the desktop "Backup System". Double clicking on that icon will backup your entire system image (including any new packages you have installed and your home directory). You may be prompted for your password on the FOSSD lab server.
Restoring your environment
In case of emergency, you can restore your system environment even when you are booted into the FOSSD system by running the following command in a terminal:
This should not be needed during normal operation.
Make sure you have saved any work you are currently editing etc. and have "Backup System" your system!. After running the restore command, you should reboot your machine.
You can also restore your environment onto another system (even one that someone else may have been using - so please be considerate and be careful!). Boot your lab machine using the "net" image and then follow the instructions as for an Initial Setup (above). If you change your encrypted filesystem passphrase, you will get a fresh install, which will take longer and will destroy any work already on the machine (including someone elses).
Changing your filesystem passphrase
If you want to change the filesystem passphrase on a running system, use this command:
You will be prompted for your old passphrase.
Note that if you forget your passphrase there is nothing we can do to recover it. You will have lost all the work you have done since your last backup.
In summary, these are the commands you need to know:
- To install a FOSSD system, boot to the normal CSIT environment and click on the "FOSSD Setup" icon
- To copy everything from a running FOSSD system to the server, double click on the "Backup System" icon
- To restore from the server to your local FOSSD system, overwriting all your local files, run "sudo /comp8440/bin/restore_fossd_system"
- To change your encrypted filesystem passphrase, use "sudo /comp8440/bin/change_passphrase"
Remember to Backup!!
You MUST backup your work regularly (using the "Backup System" icon on your desktop) as there is a possibility of hardware failure, software failure, accidental deletion and someone overwriting your encrypted filesystem. You have been warned (again!).
The course will utilise the N111 lab in the CSIT building. This lab has 29 machines each with 3.4GHz CORE i7 CPUs, 16GB RAM, a 256GB SSD and a 24" integrated LCD monitor (may be upgraded since last checked). The machines are networked onto a single VLAN with 1Gbps ethernet.
The machines in the lab are normally used by CS courses with a software image based on Ubuntu Artful Aardvark (17.10) Linux (from October, 2017). The machines are set to "network boot" and obtain their software image from a lab server. This image is not suitable for use by this course as it does not allow students to add their own packages, nor to gain superuser access in normal use.
The challenge has been to provide a lab environment where students can "own" the software installation on "their" machine in the lab, to be able to save that image to the course server and to be able to quickly restore it to another machine in the event of a hardware failure. We also need to be able to get the machines running with their normal image in a timely fashion as other classes will need to use the machines after the intensive part of our course is complete.
To solve this requirement, we have set up an additional disk partition on each of the lab machines and set up additional network boot options to allow an encrypted filesystem on this partition to be the main (root) filesystem whilst the machines are being used by this course. The encrypted filesystem should prevent other lab users from accidentally or deliberately interfering with each FOSSD students setup.
To speed up the installation for the first lab, we have pre-installed Ubuntu 17.10.