New CSC Machine

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Firmware Updates

Vendors such as Dell provide firmware updates that should be applied before putting new machines into service. Even if the machine's warranty has expired, security updates are still made available.

It is recommended to use the following sequence when updating firmware on the Dell PowerEdge servers ([1]):

  1. iDRAC
  2. Lifecycle Controller
  3. BIOS
  4. Diagnostics
  5. OS Driver Pack
  6. RAID
  7. NIC
  8. PSU
  9. CPLD
  10. Other update

For consumer grade hardware, go to the motherboard vendor's website and find the way to upgrade the firmware.


  • Put the TFTP image in place (if dist-arch pair installed before, you may skip this).

e.g. extract to caffeine:/srv/tftp/oneiric-amd64

  • Force network boot in the BIOS. This may be called "Legacy LAN" or other such cryptic things. If this doesn't work, boot from CD or USB instead.

It is preferred to use the "alternate" Ubuntu installer image, based on debian-installer, instead of the Ubiquity installer. This installer supports software RAID and LVM out of the box, and will generally make your life easier. If installing Debian, this is the usual installer, so don't sweat it.

  • Most of our newer servers (e.g. PowerEdge R815) need non-free firmware in order to boot. This means that if you are using a new netboot image, it is highly recommended to include the entire non-free firmware bundle in the boot image. See [2] for more information.
  • For office terminals, create a boot USB (via dd, for example) and boot from USB.



At least in expert mode, you can choose a custom mirror (top of the countries list) and give the path for mirror directly. This will make installation super-fast compared to installing from anywhere else.

Please install to LVM volumes, as this is our standard configuration on all machines where possible. It allows more flexible partitioning across available volumes. Since GRUB 2, even /boot may be on LVM; this is the preferred configuration for simplicity, except when legacy partitioning setups make this inconvenient.

You may enable unattended upgrades, but do not enable Canonical's remote management service or any such nonsense. This is mostly a straightforward Debian/Ubuntu install.

After Installing

Add the machine's name to ~git/public/hosts.git, and run the ansible playbook ( to distribute the updated hosts file to all machines.


If you did not during installation, change all references in /etc/apt/sources.list to use mirror instead of the usual mirrors.

Also add support for the CSC packages. Add the following to /etc/apt/sources.list.d/csclub.list (or copy from another host):

deb <distribution> main contrib non-free
deb-src <distribution> main contrib non-free

You'll also need the CSC archive signing key (if curl is not installed, install it).

curl -s > /etc/apt/trusted.gpg.d/csclub.asc

In order to make debian use packages in our repository by default, set our repository to the highest priority. Create /etc/apt/preferences.d/99-csclub:

Package: *
Pin: origin
Pin-Priority: 1001

You should now run apt-get update to reflect these changes.

For unattended upgrades in the future, install the unattended-upgrades package and copy /etc/apt/apt.conf from another host.


Note that debian 11 will use NetworkManager or /etc/interfaces by default if you install a desktop environment, which doesn't seem to do DHCPv6 nicely. For simplicity and consistency across machines, we will use systemd-networkd. First stop and disable NetworkManager:

systemctl disable --now NetworkManager.service networking.service
apt autoremove NetworkManager

Then, create a network configuration file at /etc/systemd/network/

# Check the interface name using `ip a`

# DHCP for IPv4 should work just fine
# IPv6 doesn't seem to work properly. Manually set them here

Then start and enable systemd-networkd.service. Also remember to specify the campus DNS at /etc/resolve.conf. You can copy it from another CSC machine.

Kerberos keys

If this is a reinstall of an existing host, copy back the SSH host keys and /etc/krb5.keytab from its former incarnation. Otherwise, create a new Kerberos principal and copy the keytab over, as follows (run from the host in question):

kadmin -p sysadmin/admin   # or any other admin principal; the password for this one is the usual root password
addprinc -randkey host/[hostname]
ktadd host/[hostname]

This will generate a new principal (you can skip this step if one already exists) and add it to the local Kerberos keytab.



Install packages that we will need:

apt install krb5-user nfs-common nslcd sudo-ldap
# This package are automatically installed already, but we need to install our version so that NFS can connect to our crappy NetApp server
apt install --reinstall libk5crypto3

The following config files are needed to work in the CSC environment (examples given below for an office terminal; perhaps refer to another host if preferred). /etc/nsswitch.conf

# /etc/nsswitch.conf
# Example configuration of GNU Name Service Switch functionality.
# If you have the `glibc-doc-reference' and `info' packages installed, try:
# `info libc "Name Service Switch"' for information about this file.

passwd:         files systemd ldap
group:          files systemd ldap
shadow:         files ldap
gshadow:        files ldap
sudoers:        files ldap

hosts:          files dns
networks:       files

protocols:      db files
services:       db files
ethers:         db files
rpc:            db files


# LDAP Defaults

# See ldap.conf(5) for details
# This file should be world readable but not world writable.

BASE    dc=csclub, dc=uwaterloo, dc=ca
URI     ldaps:// ldaps://


TLS_CACERT      /etc/ssl/certs/ca-certificates.crt
TLS_CACERTFILE  /etc/ssl/certs/ca-certificates.crt

SUDOERS_BASE ou=SUDOers,dc=csclub,dc=uwaterloo,dc=ca

Also make /etc/sudo-ldap.conf a symlink to the above. On debian, install sudo-ldap package too. /etc/nslcd.conf

# /etc/nslcd.conf
# nslcd configuration file. See nslcd.conf(5)
# for details.

# The user and group nslcd should run as.
uid nslcd
gid nslcd

# The location at which the LDAP server(s) should be reachable.
uri ldaps://
uri ldaps://

# The search base that will be used for all queries.
base dc=csclub, dc=uwaterloo, dc=ca

# The LDAP protocol version to use.
#ldap_version 3

# The DN to bind with for normal lookups.
#binddn cn=annonymous,dc=example,dc=net
#bindpw secret

# The DN used for password modifications by root.
#rootpwmoddn cn=admin,dc=example,dc=com

# SSL options
#ssl off
tls_reqcert demand
tls_cacertfile /etc/ssl/certs/ca-certificates.crt

# The search scope.
#scope sub

map group member uniqueMember


  default_realm = CSCLUB.UWATERLOO.CA
  forwardable = true
  proxiable = true
  dns_lookup_kdc = false
  dns_lookup_realm = false
  allow_weak_crypto = true

    kdc =
    kdc =
    admin_server =
(rest omitted for brevity, see any CSC machine)

Notably, allow_weak_crypto is currently needed to mount /users (/music and /scratch is sec=sys and thus will always mount, even when krb5 is down and/or broken). Otherwise, you will get a mysterious "permission denied" error (even though the server claims to have authenticated the mount successfully).

Furthermore, the lines dns_lookup_kdc and dns_lookup_realm have been added - they are needed to stop the KDC from throwing its arms in the air and giving up if IST's DNS servers ever explode - an event that has happened in the recent past far more often than I'd like it to.

Change all lines in /etc/pam.d/common-* to have minimum_uid=10000 so that Kerberos won't interfere with local users. Note that pam configs are notably different on syscom-only hosts. Look at an existing syscom-only host to see the difference.

Alter /etc/default/nfs-common

# Alter these lines:
# -l for gssd is to allow legacy crypto suites

to enable statd, and more importantly gssd (needed for Kerberos NFS mounts). Start rpc-statd.service and rpc-gssd.service manually for now.

Add /users, /music and /scratch to /etc/fstab (as appropriate for the machine's role), make their mount points and mount them. Note that /scratch are sec=sys whereas /music and /users is sec=krb5p (with exceptions granted on a case-by-case basis for servers only, office terminals are always sec=krb5p for security reasons).

To allow single sign-on as root (primarily useful for pushing files to all machines simultaneously), put the following in /root/.k5login:


Also copy the following files from another CSC host:

  • /etc/ssh/ssh_config and /etc/ssh/sshd_config (for single sign-on)
  • /etc/ssh/ssh_known_hosts (to remove hostkey warnings within our network)
  • /etc/hosts (for host tab completion and emergency name resolution)
  • /etc/resolv.conf (to use IST's nameservers and search csclub/uwaterloo domains. Only required if you are not using /etc/network/interfaces to configure DNS)


On an office terminal, copy /etc/pulse/ from another office terminal.

If this is to be the machine that actually plays audio (currently nullsleep), the setup is slightly more complicated. You'll need to set up MPD and PipeWire to receive connections, and store the PulseAudio cookie in ~audio, with appropriate permissions so that only the audio group can access it. If this is a new audio machine, you'll also need to change on all office terminals to point to it.


Change the root password to the specified password in the usual place. If it's an office terminal, change the local user's password to the one specified in the usual place.

Prevent suspend and hibernation (Office Terminal)

Set AllowSuspend, AllowHibernation, AllowSuspendThenHibernate and AllowHybridSleep all to no in /etc/systemd/sleep.conf, and reboot.


You probably already created the host in the University IPAM system beforehand. If not, please do so.

Please also add the host to the Machine List here on the Wiki.

Munin (System Monitoring)

If the new machine is not a container, you probably want to have it participate in the Munin cluster. Run apt-get install munin-node to install the monitoring client, then edit the file /etc/munin/munin-node.conf. Look for a line that says allow ^127\.0\.0\.1$ and add the following on a new line immediately below it: allow ^129\.97\.134\.51$ (this is the IP address for munin.csclub). Save the file, then /etc/init.d/munin-node restart and update-rc.d munin-node defaults.

Then, ssh into munin.csclub and edit the file /etc/munin/munin.conf and add the following lines to the end:

addr 129.97.134.###
use_node_name yes

Prometheus (System Monitoring)

We are currently using Prometheus to monitor our systems. On the new machine, install prometheus-node-exporter and stunnel.

Change /etc/default/prometheus-node-exporter to this:


and start prometheus-node-exporter.service.

Then set up stunnel. Create /etc/stunnel/prometheus-node-exporter.conf with this content:

setuid = stunnel4
setgid = stunnel4
pid = /var/run/stunnel4/

debug = 7

accept =
connect =
CAfile = /etc/stunnel/tls/server.crt
cert = /etc/stunnel/tls/node.crt
key = /etc/stunnel/tls/node.key
verifyPeer = yes

Copy /etc/stunnel/{node.crt, node.key, server.crt} from prometheus:/opt/prometheus/tls or the same location on other machines.

Finally, start stunnel4.service.

If it's a new machine, you'll also need to add it to the list of monitoring at prometheus:/opt/prometheus/prometheus.yml. Add it under a suitable label (or create a new label) in 'node_exporter' job.

New Distribution

If you're adding a new distribution, there a couple of steps you'll need to take in updating the CSClub Debian repository on sodium-benzoate/mirror.

The steps to add a new Debian release (in the examples, jessie) is as follows, modify as necessary:

Step 0: Create a GPG key

Use "gpg --gen-key" or something like that. Skip this if you already have one.

Step 1: Add to Uploaders

The /srv/debian/conf/uploaders file on mirror contains the list of people who can upload. Add your GPG key id to this file. Use "gpg --list-secret-keys" to find out the key ID. You also need to import your key into the mirror's gpg homedir as follows:

gpg --export $KEYID | sudo env GNUPGHOME=/srv/debian/gpg gpg --import

You only need to do this step once.

Step 2: Add Distro

Add a new section to /srv/debian/conf/distributions:

Origin: CSC
Label: Debian
Codename: jessie
Architectures: alpha amd64 i386 mips mipsel sparc powerpc armel source
Components: main contrib non-free
Uploaders: uploaders
Update: dell chrome
SignWith: yes
Log: jessie.log
 --changes notifier

And update the Allow line in /srv/debian/conf/incoming:

Allow: jessie>jessie oldstable>squeeze stable>wheezy lucid>lucid maverick>maverick oneiric>oneiric precise>precise quantal>quantal

Step 3: Update from Sources


sudo env GNUPGHOME=/srv/debian/gpg /srv/debian/bin/rrr-update

If all went well you should see the new distribution listed at

Step 4: CSC Packages

Now that we've got our new distribution set up we need to generate our packages and have them uploaded. Namely, ceo and libpam-csc. For libpam-csc:

Get the package:

git clone
cd libpam-csc

Update change log:

EMAIL=[you] NAME="Your Name" dch -i

Update as necessary, i.e:

libpam-csc (1.10jessie0) jessie; urgency=low

  * Packaging for jessie.

 -- Your Name <[you]>  Thu, 10 Oct 2013 22:08:48 -0400

Build! (You may need to install various dependencies, which it will yell at you if you don't have.)

debuild -kYOURKEYID

Yay, it built now let's upload it to the repo. The build process which create a PACKAGE.changes file in the parent directory (replace PACKAGE with the actual package name).

Copy the dupload file from corn-syrup and dupload:

mv /etc/dupload /etc/dupload.bak
scp corn-syrup:/etc/dupload /etc/dupload
dupload libpam-csc_1.10jessie0_amd64.changes

Finally, log into mirror and type "sudo /srv/debian/bin/rrr-incoming". This is supposed to happen once every few minutes however it is always faster to run it manually.

And you're done. For CEO, see