Two quick server tips

Here are two quick tips that I’ve recently found for server admins:

  • Automatically fixing file system errors
  • Ignoring directories from updatedb

Automatically fixing file system errors

If you have a remote server, i.e. at a data center 10km or 1000km away this should prevent some panic when rebooting the server remotely.

Ext2/3 will do a filesystem check after a certain number of reboots or time. Most of the time any errors are fixed automatically, but certain errors by default require the root shell and the administrator to fix them. I’ve seen a few of these happen, but I have always replied yes to the prompts as I don’t know enough about file systems to fix it I said no.

So, to prevent the need to rush to a data center and plug in a keyboard and mouse just to press the “Y” key there is and option to automatically assume yes.

On Ubuntu in the file /etc/default/rcS you need to change the following:


Ignoring directories from updatedb

If you have a backup server you may not want it to update the locate db for all your backup files, as it can take a very long time.

To tell locate to ignore a directory you need to add it to the PRUNEPATHS line in the /etc/updatedb.conf file like so:

PRUNEPATHS="/tmp /var/spool /media /srv"
PRUNEFS="NFS nfs nfs4 afs binfmt_misc proc smbfs autofs iso9660 ncpfs coda devpts ftpfs devfs mfs shfs sysfs cifs lustre_lite tmpfs usbfs udf rpc_pipefs"

In the above code I have added the /srv entry to make it ignore all my backups which are held under the /srv directory.

Note: These tips were tested on Ubuntu linux, other distributions will have similar functionality but the file locations may vary.


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