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Logging into OIALinux server

Background

This last summer UMN OIT began offering a new hosted server service. The service provides units with a virtual server (either Red Hat Linux or Windows 2003 server) upon a request from the unit director. We (Disability Services) began using this service about a month ago. We are using the OIALinux server for hosting our websites. This article talks about how to log into OIALinux server and is meant primarily for server administrators and website developers.

OIALinux server does not provide any kind of Graphical User Interface (GUI) access, rather you use an SSH client (Putty) software to log into the server and administer it. There are two ways on how you can log in:

  1. First creating a VPN connection and then SSH into the server (let's call it VPN connection)
  2. First SSH into a gateway server (ale.oit.umn.edu or ale2.oit.umn.edu) and then from there SSH into your server (non-VPN connection).

In both cases you would need to use MKey + Pin for your password.

Let's take a more detailed look at how the login works.

VPN connection

For creating a VPN connection you would first need to install VPN IPSec software that is made available from the OIT website. Once installed you need to add a customer vpn profile.pcf. You would need to download and copy that file into C:\Program Files\Cisco Systems\VPN Client\Profiles directory. Once there, you can start a new VPN connection and log in with your Internet username and MKey + Pin for a password. After creating the VPN connection, you can launch Putty from desktop and SSH into your server again authenticating with your Internet ID and MKey + Pin as password.

Non VPN connection

For creating a non-VPN connection, you would launch Putty and SSH into ale.oit.umn.edu or ale2.oit.umn.edu. Once logged in, you would enter the command SSH yourservername and SSH into your server. Both of these connections are created by using your Internet ID and MKey+PIN for password.

I find that first creating a VPN connection and then SSH into a server is easier and provides an additional benefit of being able to use a Secure FTP client such as WINSCP to view the server directory structure, file permissions, and file content.

Brief description on user permissions on the server

Once on the server you may notice that you do not have permissions to do much. Try issuing a command sudo -l as your user account to see what you can do. There is another account on the server (swadm) that has more administrative permmission to the server. To work as a swadm user, issue a command sudo su - swadm .

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