Saturday, July 18, 2015

Rsync, Ssh as Root, and Solaris

In my distant past, I dabbled in a bit of Unix system administration.  (How distantly in the past?  SunOS 4.2.  Yeah, I'm old.)

This year, my department lost its system administrator and the decision was made not to replace him. So I and a co-worker (who has also dabbled) are now responsible for administering a lab with 50+ machines, most of them Linux, Windows, and Solaris, but with a scattering of other Unixes like AIX, HP-UX, and FreeBSD.

To make our lives easier, I took the probably inadvisable step of using SSH shared keys to allow our primary file server to log into all other Unix machines as root without password.  (Yes, I know - this allows an intruder who gains root access to our main file server to have root access to all other Unix systems in the lab.  However, understand that the main file server is the only system that particularly *needs* to be secure; the other systems are primarily for testing.  And I don't allow root access in the opposite direction, from test system to file server.)

Anyway, one thing I use this for is to back up selected system areas, like /etc, using rsync.  I was successfully using rsync to back up /etc on most of our test systems, but it wasn't working on Solaris.  A bit of detective work revealed the following (run from our main file server):

    # ssh SolarisBox let | grep PATH

This, in spite of the fact that root's .profile set PATH to include /usr/local/bin, which is where rsync lives on our Solaris boxes.  Turns out that on Solaris, .profile is only executed for interactive shells.  I needed to edit /etc/default/login and add:

    SUPATH=desired path

Et voilà!  (Like my Unicode there?)  Backups achieved.

Don't worry, I don't imagine that I'm any kind of expert at system administration.  I won't be posting much on the subject.  :-)

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