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Standby machine for disaster recovery restore ?

Standby machine for disaster recovery restore ?
« on: November 08, 2018, 10:58:15 AM »
Hi all,

I use SME 9.2 for our office email and keeping a little data in the i-bays.  It's a small setup of say 5 users with a few years email.

It's sitting on an oldish PC and works very well, however I'd like to have an 'easy' disaster recovery plan in place.  I've set up a 'twin' machine of the same type and specification (Both Dells of the same model) with the idea that I should be able to switch on the spare machine and restore directly from the NAS back ups I run.  This machine has SME9.x plus the same contribs. 

If a recovery is required it's certain that the install on the spare machine will be out of date, so an update process will be needed at some point in the process. This is something I'd usually do from the web based /server-manager/ and copy paste the contribs update commend from the alert email.  Ideally I'd do this post restore.

My question is, is this plausible ?

I'm out of office a fair bit so need to try and get something in place that's relatively easy to do should I not be around.

Thanks for your thoughts

Best

David




Offline ReetP

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Re: Standby machine for disaster recovery restore ?
« Reply #1 on: November 08, 2018, 12:35:03 PM »
It depends on how much down time you are prepared to suffer.

If you only turn on the back up machine periodically you will have to wait for it to boot, run updates, and the restore from your backups,k and can you do that all remotely ??

That will take as long as it takes.

If you want a faster restore then run the backup machine as an Affa backup. You can dictate how often it runs backups, and if the main machine goes down you can 'Rise' the Affa box in minutes. It means the machine is on and you can update it as you go. You can shell in and access/rise at a command prompt if required - that may not be so easy with your proposed method.

(I think some people actually have the Affa box on a timer to wake it, run a backup, and put it to sleep again, if you don't want it running 24/7 - question is whether you can wake it remotely when you need to do a restore)

You pays your money and you takes your choice....
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Offline brianr

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Brian j Read
(retired, for a second time, still got 3 installations though)
.........

Offline mmccarn

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Re: Standby machine for disaster recovery restore ?
« Reply #3 on: November 08, 2018, 12:48:21 PM »
Affa
I have not used it for years, but Affa was practically magical for this use case when I did use it:
- Full system backup (including snapshots) maintained on a second system
- One line command to convert the backup system into a running clone of the active server for disaster recovery

Properly configured, all you need is remote access to the network to convert the backup server into the "live" server.

Restore during setup
If your situation can handle the recovery time, you could schedule a regular backup of the primary SME server to a USB drive, then practice regular system restores from "bare metal" (boot the install disk, restore during setup).  You would need to identify and document separate backup procedures anything for that is not included in this process, since it is possible to add software or web apps to your SME server that are not included in the USB backup by default.

Roll your own
You can also create your own manual backup using rsync or scp.  I still use a variation of smeclone.sh script in Bug  5701 to migrate a SME server to new hardware.  That script is intended for upgrading rather than backup -- but it includes notes that may be useful if you want to roll your own disaster recovery system.

Re: Standby machine for disaster recovery restore ?
« Reply #4 on: November 08, 2018, 05:39:24 PM »
Thanks All,

Simplicity probably trumps reduced down time, especially if it's something I can do remotely say via a logmein style login to one of the client machines here.

In the past I have restored the system 'long hand' and have notes to that,  but it would be nice to have something less reliant on me being physically present in place.

One of the problems I recall with turning on the backup box 'as is' is that it shares the same IP as the 'live' one which causes issues, but I guess if I am only pulling down updates that can be changed, as long as it's in the correct ip range. 

Affa seems to offer some options - I'll have a read.

Re: Standby machine for disaster recovery restore ?
« Reply #5 on: November 09, 2018, 02:47:01 PM »
Affa looks a good solution :)

My main concern is be that by Linux skills could be graded at 'script kiddy' level and the set up looks relatively complex.

If I understand it correctly it's a case of setting up a fresh SME server with the required contribs and installing Affa as per here:

https://wiki.contribs.org/Affa#tab=For_SME9

The Rise function looks straight forward, I think my concern will be setting up the backup so that everything gets backed up.

What do you reckon ?

Offline ReetP

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Re: Standby machine for disaster recovery restore ?
« Reply #6 on: November 09, 2018, 06:02:27 PM »
It's not that bad, and if you ask nicely you'll get some help ;-)

It really is one of the outstanding features of SME, and it really should have a bigger name for itself - it would be nice to do a panel for it. The time to rise it is measured in a few minutes.

Particularly as you don't have much data you can easily test it. Just disconnect the new backup affa box before you do a 'rise' so you don't end up with two identical machines on the network :-)

So, the wiki page looks bad but it isn't really, though it is well worth gently reading through a few times just to get your bearings.

Essentially:

Code: [Select]
yum install smeserver-affa --enablerepo=smecontribs
Code: [Select]
mkdir /var/affa
Reboot

Add in your contribs at some point.

Code: [Select]
touch /etc/affa/backup-smeserver.conf
Add your remote server details - just swap the IP address to match

Add in extra dirs  you want included eg dehydrated/letsencrypt

Make sure your remote server to back up has ssh enabled and you can login with a password to send the ssh key (test first)

Test run your backup - the fisrt will take a while. Thereafter it will be very quick as it only copies the changed files.

That's about it - tweak away.....

NB. Make sure you have enough disk space for all the 'Keeps'

You can go back and pull individual files from each backup if needed which is handy when they delete something they later wanted...... :-)

Enjoy.
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Re: Standby machine for disaster recovery restore ?
« Reply #7 on: November 12, 2018, 06:11:33 PM »
ReetP Thank you.

I'll have a play and see how I get on. I may indeed ask for some help  8-)

Just for clarification, when you say "Add in your contribs at some point." do you mean install them afresh via yum or include them in some way in the Affa backup ?

Quote
Make sure your remote server to back up has ssh enabled and you can login with a password to send the ssh key (test first)

I think more reading required but I'll have a go and ask here later with the inevitable questions.

Thank you again :)





 


Offline ReetP

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Re: Standby machine for disaster recovery restore ?
« Reply #8 on: November 12, 2018, 06:24:48 PM »
When you set up your affa box, at some point add in any of your existing contribs so they are there ready in case you 'Rise' it. You can do that any time.

If you read the manual and have a go, no one will mind helping answer sensible questions :-)
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Re: Standby machine for disaster recovery restore ?
« Reply #9 on: November 13, 2018, 01:24:07 PM »
When you set up your affa box, at some point add in any of your existing contribs so they are there ready in case you 'Rise' it. You can do that any time.

If you read the manual and have a go, no one will mind helping answer sensible questions :-)

Thanks. I will do :)

Re: Standby machine for disaster recovery restore ?
« Reply #10 on: November 29, 2018, 04:43:58 PM »
A quick update.

I fired up the 'spare' machine and ran the

Code: [Select]
yum clean all
yum update

commend as it had not been on for 12 months or so. It turned out that I hadn't installed any contribs so I quickly added these (Roundcube, diskusage and fetchmail) to match my production server.

Affa installed, I added and amended the config file by swapping the IP addresses as above, sent the key and now seem to have completed a back up.

It really is very easy and the documentation page on the money. My biggest problem was working out how to create and edit the config file  :lol:

A couple of questions -

Do I need to set up a cron job to schedule repeat runs of the job, or does the config take care of this ?

Reading the notes, it looks like I can test the machine with a 'Raise', and then a 'Undo-rise'.   Once undone it would seem it reverts to being a back-up box with no further action needed ?


Thanks again for everyone's comments on this.

Offline ReetP

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Re: Standby machine for disaster recovery restore ?
« Reply #11 on: November 29, 2018, 05:30:47 PM »
Yes make sure you keep your affa box reasonably up to date.

I'll try and modify the 'edit conf file' to clarify (I can see it says 'touch' to create, but not how to edit !)

You don't need to setup a cron as Affa does that for you.

Make sure you set your time schedule in the conf file as per the notes:

Code: [Select]
mcedit /etc/affa/my_server.conf
Or

Code: [Select]
nano /etc/affa/my_server.conf
Quote
TimeSchedule   HHMM   yes   2230   

The time the job will run. Use exactly 4 digits, no colon, no point.
Important: Using the proper format HHMM is essential. Badly formatted TimeSchedule will cause strange Perl errors. Multiple runs can be achieved by repeating the line for each run time.

So like this:

Code: [Select]
TimeSchedule 0601
TimeSchedule 1001
TimeSchedule 2001

Then make the jobs with this (it has some double documentation I'll fix)

Quote
affa --make-cronjobs
Configures the cronjobs as scheduled in the jobs records. By default this command will by executed by 'cronjobs' every 15 minutes. So you don't need to run this command manually, you can also just wait max. 15 minutes before your updates job configurations become effective.

You can use this to check jobs:

Quote
affa --configcheck
Checks the syntax and values in all configuration files found in /etc/affa/. Run this command after modifying the configuration. Lower/Upper case errors in property names are corrected automatically.

Yes, Rise and Undo-Rise should work but YMMV :-)

Please test and let us know if you have any issues.
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Re: Standby machine for disaster recovery restore ?
« Reply #12 on: November 29, 2018, 06:07:06 PM »
ReetP.  Thank you.

Yes, it was trying to edit in touch which confused me, although in fairness the page does say to use an editor such as nano.

I'll work through your notes and test out the install.  The current TimeSchedule setting, copied form the example is:

Code: [Select]
TimeSchedule=0630 which passes the configcheck, the difference to your example above being the '='.  I'll check to see if it's backed up again tomorrow morning.

I checked the admin email account on the back up and there is an alert from affa:
Code: [Select]
*
* The following packages are installed on (production server IP),
* but they are missing on this backup host:
*
libmcrypt-2.5.8-9.el6
perl-Data-Uniqid-0.12-2.el6
perl-TermReadKey-2.30-13.el6
perl-File-Copy-Recursive-0.38-4.el6
perl-Parse-RecDescent-1.965-1.el6
php-mcrypt-5.3.3-5.el6
perl-Test-Pod-1.40-1.el6
perl-Unicode-String-2.09-12.el6
php-pear-Mail-mimeDecode-1.5.5-1.el6
perl-Mail-IMAPClient-3.37-1.el6
perl-NTLM-1.09-1.el6
perl-IO-Tee-0.64-1.el6
imapsync-1.684-1.el6

*
* The following packages are installed on both,
* the source (Production Server IP) and on this backup host,
* but the version does not match:
*
gpg-pubkey-xxxxxxxxx-xxxxxx
sqlite-3.7.17-9.el6.sme

I assume it may be legacy stuff as they are not RPMs\Contribs I've knowingly installed as stand alone items. Is it reasonable to ignore ?

On the time schedule, I'll want to keep the existing daily back up arrangement to NAS for now so I guess best to try and avoid an over lap. Belt and Braces and all that. 

« Last Edit: November 29, 2018, 06:18:34 PM by david000 »

Offline janet

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Re: Standby machine for disaster recovery restore ?
« Reply #13 on: November 29, 2018, 11:01:48 PM »
david

Yes Affa backup server (with rise function) works great, the backup server can even be at a remote location for added security. Watch out for data transfer/speed limits & time it takes to complete a backup. If you have Gigabytes worth of files changing, then backup can take a long time & maybe even exceed monthly bandwidth allowance.

If the backup server is local (on LAN) no problems.

One word of warning/catch22 issue, is that if your sme server acts as gateway, & it goes down/fails, then you may not have remote access via ssh or whatever to do rising etc from a remote location.
ie if your sme server is down then you will not have incoming internet access for remote control & configuration etc.

You can create a step by step set of instructions for the most technically literate person to follow, &/or you can talk them through the steps over the phone.

Nothing worse than a server going down when you are away on holiday so be well prepared & test test test beforehand to make sure it all really works.
Please search before asking, an answer may already exist.
The Search & other links to useful information are at top of Forum.

Offline ReetP

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Re: Standby machine for disaster recovery restore ?
« Reply #14 on: November 29, 2018, 11:09:17 PM »
Good points well made :-)

The first sync is the longest. After that it only syncs changes so should be much faster.
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Re: Standby machine for disaster recovery restore ?
« Reply #15 on: November 30, 2018, 09:59:11 AM »
the backup server can even be at a remote location for added security.
If the backup server is local (on LAN) no problems.

Good point. I can pop it in a different building which should add a little more security but that's on the LAN should should be OK speed wise.

Quote
One word of warning/catch22 issue, is that if your sme server acts as gateway, & it goes down/fails, then you may not have remote access via ssh or whatever to do rising etc from a remote location.

It's not the gateway but your comment is a good reminder regarding testing the remote access element.

Any thoughts on the missing packages report ?

Offline ReetP

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Re: Standby machine for disaster recovery restore ?
« Reply #16 on: November 30, 2018, 11:51:26 AM »
Any thoughts on the missing packages report ?

Install them on the affa box. They should sit there quietly doing not a lot until required.

Alternatively you need to install them when you do a rise.
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Re: Standby machine for disaster recovery restore ?
« Reply #17 on: November 30, 2018, 12:08:58 PM »
Install them on the affa box. They should sit there quietly doing not a lot until required.

Alternatively you need to install them when you do a rise.

It turns out that in my notes, I missed that I'd installed another contrib (IMAPsync) and that I think accounts for the missing elements.

I see I have RPMCheck=yes in the config file so is it reasonable to think that it will trigger an email on the next backup (it didn't this morning) or is it a case of stopping and starting the job again ?
« Last Edit: November 30, 2018, 12:51:30 PM by david000 »

Re: Standby machine for disaster recovery restore ?
« Reply #18 on: November 30, 2018, 04:46:57 PM »
Where I am struggling is to get the email alerts delivered onto the production mail server.

The 
Code: [Select]
affa --mailtest backup-smeserver works fine pretty much whatever settings I'm using, however when I trigger
Code: [Select]
affa --send-status

the emails are bouncing.

Code: [Select]
<info@mycompany.co.uk>:
Connected to IP HERE  but sender was rejected.
Remote host said: 550 <root@backup.local> sender rejected - invalid domain (no MX or A record)

I've spent the afternoon trying an assortment of variations on the email set up on the backup server but without much success.   I've tried using the local address for one of the accounts on the production server but not having much luck.  I'd have thought it possible to email the the production server without going out to the ISP ? 




Offline ReetP

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Re: Standby machine for disaster recovery restore ?
« Reply #19 on: November 30, 2018, 05:11:46 PM »
You have given affa a fake domain so the mails will get rejected.

You need to whitelist the IP address in your main server or use some other method to convince your main server to receive mail from the affa box.
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Re: Standby machine for disaster recovery restore ?
« Reply #20 on: December 03, 2018, 03:39:51 PM »
You have given affa a fake domain so the mails will get rejected.

You need to whitelist the IP address in your main server or use some other method to convince your main server to receive mail from the affa box.

I've just realised after 2 days of phaffing that the blindingly obvious solution is to have the production server simply collect mail from the admin mail box of the back-up server...    :lol:
« Last Edit: December 03, 2018, 03:49:43 PM by david000 »

Offline ReetP

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Re: Standby machine for disaster recovery restore ?
« Reply #21 on: December 03, 2018, 06:15:41 PM »
LOL. The simplest ones are the best :-)
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Re: Standby machine for disaster recovery restore ?
« Reply #22 on: December 06, 2018, 12:50:15 PM »
A quick question on Contribs and RPMs to try and resolve the missing RPMs question.

The missing ones are:

Code: [Select]
libmcrypt-2.5.8-9.el6
php-mcrypt-5.3.3-5.el6
php-pear-Mail-mimeDecode-1.5.5-1.el6

all from the @stephdl repository.   My guess is that this is a hang over from the RoundCube installation. I suspect that my production round cube used the @stephdl where as the affa uses the @smecontribs and the difference stem from there.

My question is, as I've have installed the Roundcube Contrib, will the Rise command use that code,  or is it more complicated than that ?

I've yet to try a test 'Rise', but soon.

Offline mmccarn

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Re: Standby machine for disaster recovery restore ?
« Reply #23 on: December 06, 2018, 01:23:17 PM »
...
I suspect that my production round cube used the @stephdl where as the affa uses the @smecontribs
...

If true, you can verify that you have the correct versions on the backup server using yum info and comparing the output:
Code: [Select]
yum info libmcrypt php-mcrypt php-pear-Mail-mimeDecode

And you could reinstall the packages on the live server from smecontribs to eliminate the error using:
Code: [Select]
yum --disablerepo=stephdl --enablerepo=smecontribs reinstall libmcrypt php-mcrypt php-pear-Mail-mimeDecode

Re: Standby machine for disaster recovery restore ?
« Reply #24 on: December 06, 2018, 02:24:50 PM »
If true, you can verify that you have the correct versions on the backup server using yum info and comparing the output:
Code: [Select]
yum info libmcrypt php-mcrypt php-pear-Mail-mimeDecode

Thanks - I've done that on both machines. On the production server all 3 are listed Installed but 2 (php-pear-Mail-mimeDecode & libmcrypt) are in Red (which I assume is bad in some way) ?

The Backup server only lists php-mcrypt as "available".    (I'm not 100% sure of the implications for this)

Quote
And you could reinstall the packages on the live server from smecontribs to eliminate the error using:
Code: [Select]
yum --disablerepo=stephdl --enablerepo=smecontribs reinstall libmcrypt php-mcrypt php-pear-Mail-mimeDecode

But does it then follow that I can install the packages on the affa backup using:

Code: [Select]
yum --enablerepo=stephdl install libmcrypt php-mcrypt php-pear-Mail-mimeDecode
Which should align the installs ?



Offline mmccarn

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Re: Standby machine for disaster recovery restore ?
« Reply #25 on: December 07, 2018, 05:46:14 AM »
I think the red indicates that the package is installed but the source repository is not enabled.

Yes, you could install the contribs from stephdl (if they're still there) on the backup server.

I prefer 'smecontribs' to 'stephdl' for no particular reason.  I have a vague memory of an objective announced when SME 7 came out to make sure that all contribs are available from smecontribs... but that's ~10 years ago...


Offline ReetP

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Re: Standby machine for disaster recovery restore ?
« Reply #26 on: December 07, 2018, 11:02:11 AM »
It is better to use smecontribs over a personal repo as contribs is unlikely to go anywhere any time soon, whereas we have no control over personal repos which could disappear overnight.

You can then log bugs here which should get looked at.

Personally I'd prefer that as many private repos as possible were pulled into smecontribs so users only really had to get them from one place.

It means anyone here with dev access can then maintain them if they need patches - I can't work on a package in someone elses private repo.

Yes, I run my own repo which I did early on as I had no dev access and was not very competent. It was a good place to test and I still run a few personal bits from there that aren't worth importing to Contribs, or I use for testing prior to import to Contribs. Anything I had there that was worthwhile is now in Contribs itself.

I now know if I get run over by a truck tomorrow it will still be there :-)


Note the referred RPMs are available:

libmcrypt php-mcrypt php-pear-Mail-mimeDecode

Installed Packages
Name        : php-mcrypt
Arch        : x86_64
Version     : 5.3.3
Release     : 5.el6
From repo   : smeos


Installed Packages
Name        : libmcrypt
Arch        : x86_64
Version     : 2.5.8
Release     : 9.el6
From repo   : epel

php-pear-Mail-mimeDecode.noarch 0:1.5.5-1.el6
Is in epel
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Re: Standby machine for disaster recovery restore ?
« Reply #27 on: December 07, 2018, 12:26:43 PM »
I'm half minded to uninstall Roundcube from the production box and reinstall from the SME repro and see if that resolves the issue.

Is it reasonable to think that uninstall will remove the old RPMs, or leave them just in case there are more dependencies ?

I can't help thinking that the RPMs must be part of a contrib install and if I could ID which one, I'll be sorted.

 

Offline ReetP

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Re: Standby machine for disaster recovery restore ?
« Reply #28 on: December 07, 2018, 12:46:21 PM »
Reading this page there was no reason to have the Stephdl repo, unless you were on v8...

https://wiki.contribs.org/RoundCube

This is all you needed:

Code: [Select]
yum install smeserver-roundcube --enablerepo=smecontribs
Before long you are going to get yourself in a complete muddle.

So before you try ripping things up, go back to the start. What did you do, and why??
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Re: Standby machine for disaster recovery restore ?
« Reply #29 on: December 07, 2018, 03:46:52 PM »
Reading this page there was no reason to have the Stephdl repo, unless you were on v8...

I did make the upgrade from V8 back in the day.

Looking back, based on message dates, the original v8 install was Nov 2013 while it looks like I went over to v9 in May 2015. 

Quote
Before long you are going to get yourself in a complete muddle.  So before you try ripping things up, go back to the start. What did you do, and why??

According to my old notes which have some install info, both Roundcube and Fetchmail were from the stephdl repro, but it's possible there were others.

I think what I'm trying to understand is, is it better to

1. Amend the production box so that it no longer uses the stephdl repro, and hopefully at the same time resolve the missing RPMs. My hope is that by installing say Roundcube and Fetchmail from the sme repro, the process will remove unwanted repro's.

2. Just add the missing RPMs to the affa box and call it quits.

or maybe both ?

My instinct is that getting the production box correct makes sense but I may just end up creating problems for myself  :lol:








Offline ReetP

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Re: Standby machine for disaster recovery restore ?
« Reply #30 on: December 08, 2018, 02:22:42 AM »
Get your prod box right first.

You should be able to remove and then reinstall the contribs from the smecontribs repo. You then know you have the right versions.

Make sure you have no relevant custom templates that might affect it.

After that sort Affa.
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Re: Standby machine for disaster recovery restore ?
« Reply #31 on: December 10, 2018, 10:27:50 AM »
Get your prod box right first.

Thank you.  I'll look at it this week and see if I can get it finalised.

Re: Standby machine for disaster recovery restore ?
« Reply #32 on: December 15, 2018, 09:12:59 PM »
A quick update. 

On the production server I uninstalled and installed roundcube and fetchmail, specifying the smecontribs repro in the examples above. However some packages were still pointing back to the stephdl repro so I reinstalled those as well. With hindsight perhaps I should have used the "--disablerepo=stephdl" command.

Anyway, this didn't resolve the missing packages on the backup so I've installed them by hand, so now when I run 

Code: [Select]
/sbin/e-smith/audittools/newrpms  The items on the production box are noted on the backup, and both using either the smecontribs or epel repros.

Fingers crossed that both boxes should now the the same...

The one issue is that if I run a yum info command on the new roundcube and fetchmail, they are noted in Red.  Do I need to explicitly or permanently enable the smecontibs repro with a command ?

Re: Standby machine for disaster recovery restore ?
« Reply #33 on: December 19, 2018, 02:42:12 PM »
Another quick question,   The Missing RPMs email is clear except for :

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* The following packages are installed on both,
* the source 172.16.16.75 and on this backup host,
* but the version does not match:
*
gpg-pubkey-f5194398-527516a9

I've tried
Code: [Select]
yum info gpg-pubkey but is not finding anything. A quick read up suggests that it's indicative of a missing package. I have 12 of these on the production box but only 11 on the backup.

the output from
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/sbin/e-smith/audittools/newrpms  shows the same packages on the backup as the production (backup has more).  Is there any other way to check on installed packages ?
« Last Edit: December 19, 2018, 05:00:49 PM by david000 »

Offline TerryF

  • grumpy old man
  • *
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Re: Standby machine for disaster recovery restore ?
« Reply #34 on: December 19, 2018, 11:15:31 PM »
Is there any other way to check on installed packages ?

Couple of ways..

# yum list installed
can list package multiple times

# rpm -qa
--
qui scribit bis legit

Re: Standby machine for disaster recovery restore ?
« Reply #35 on: December 20, 2018, 01:10:24 PM »
Couple of ways..

# yum list installed
can list package multiple times

# rpm -qa

Thank you.