CW084-4: Network and Systems Management: Lab Tasks

Book recommendation: new users to Ubuntu should take a look at The Official Ubuntu Book (TOUB). We will use this book during the labs.

Lab Tasks for the 2006/2007 Academic Year

  1. Background Reading: If you are unaware of GNU/Linux, take the time to read Chapter 1 of TOUB. Not only will you find information on GNU/Linux, but the Ubuntu Project is also described. The link between Ubuntu and the International Space Station is an interesting titbit.

  2. Installation: You already own a copy of Ubuntu Linux 6.06 LTS. Now it is time to install it. Chapter 2 of TOUB is essential reading. Note that your hard-disks should already be partitioned to make room for Ubuntu. If this is not so, be sure to leave 10-20 Gig (or thereabouts) for GNU/Linux. As part of the install, be sure to do the following:

  3. Get to Know Ubuntu: Play with the Desktop - add some applets to the menu bar; position the menus based on your preferences; maybe select a different Desktop Theme; setup a screensaver; explore the difference between system Shutdown, Restart and Hibernate; get the Firefox browser working; explore the suite of applications; play with The GIMP; become familiar with the Ubuntu file and directory system. Chapter 3 of TOUB has lots of help with these tasks.

  4. Set The Root Password: As it stands, Ubuntu lets you administer the system from your own user-id. Sometimes, however, it is handy to have full access to the superuser account, called root. Work out how to set the root password on your newly installed Ubuntu. See the section entitled "The Terminal" in Chapter 4 of TOUB. Or, alternatively, search Google. Chapter 5 may also offer a clue as to what's required here.

  5. Learn to Update/Expand your Ubuntu: The Update Manager and Synaptic Package Manager let you update Ubuntu and add new software, respectively. Configure both tools, then perform a system update to install any recent security patches. Use Synaptic to install the gcc and g++ packages. Chapter 4 of TOUB discusses both of these tools.

  6. Other Devices: Check that Ubuntu works with your USB key (assuming you have one). Configure your Ubuntu to print to the printer in the lab - be sure to test that it works. Chapter 4 of TOUB covers printing.

  7. Command-line Package Management: Read the relevant parts of Chapter 5 of TOUB in order to learn how to download/install packages from the command-line. (This can be very useful when working with a GNU/Linux server remotely).

  8. Creating New Users: Create three additional users on your system from the command-line - choose three of your classmates and give them a user-id each. Ask each user to login remotely to your system using SSH (the secure shell) and change their password. See if it is possible for you - as superuser - to check that they have done this. Chapter 5 and Appendix A of TOUB should help here. See if your users can login remotely using a graphical front-end.

  9. Playing With The Command-line: Read Appendix A from TOUB. Try out some of the commands. Use the nano and vi editors to edit some text files.

  10. Chapter 6 - Support: this chapter of TOUB is packed full of useful advise relating to supporting Ubuntu and dealing with common problems. For instance, there's the suggestion that users of Ubuntu install a package of Microsoft TrueType fonts (for use with - be sure to do this. After working through this chapter, search the Internet for information on viewing DVDs on Ubuntu and download/install any required libraries. Play with SSH: allow a fellow classmate to log into your Ubuntu remotely - be sure to check that they can run graphical applications from your PC.

  11. System Administration: Read the section on System Administration (starting on page 227 of TOUB). Create a CRON job to automatically update/upgrade your installed packages once per week - on a Wednesday at 4:00pm (i.e., during our scheduled lab time). [There's extra credit for those of you that present me with an Ubuntu loaf (see page 244)].

  12. Kubuntu: Turn your Ubuntu into Kubuntu (see Chapter 7 of TOUB). Experiment with this alternative desktop environment. Explore the many applications that take advantage of Kubuntu, including the K package manager. Which desktop environment do you prefer: Ubuntu with GNOME (the default) or Kubuntu? Be sure to read all of Chapter 7.

  13. Kiosk Mode: explore Kubuntu's ability to configure the desktop as a kiosk, then create an example kiosk to test out the technology's clains.

  14. Working with Users and Passwords: Choose five of your class members and setup accounts for them on your system. Be sure to assign the class members to a group called classmates. Set passwords to expire every 30 days. Ask each of your users to log in (remotely) and change their passwords, then confirm that they have done so by checking the appropriate logs. Finally, download nutcracker and run it against your password file (ask me for help with finding the appropriate version of netcracker to download). Bring any interesting results to my attention.

  15. Automating Backups: Write a small backup routine which executes every time you log in. The routine should backup any files in finds in your HOME directory to an approrpriately named file. You are to ensure that the file is created only once per day, not everytime you log in and run the routine. So, after a number of days, you should have a number of backup files in your HOME directory, one for each of the previous days.

  16. Remote Control of GNU/Linux and Windows XP: Search Google for information on the VNC remote-control software. Download the VNC software for GNU/Linux and for Windows. Install the GNU/Linux software on your GNU/Linux partition and the Windows software on your Windows XP partition. Pair-up with a classmate, then configure each of your operating systems with VNC so that your classmate can remotely control either operating system (and vice-versa).

  17. Installing an SSL-enabled Web Server: Using an appropriate guide, download, compile, install and configure an SSL-enabled version of the Apache web server. Be sure to check "https" is active after the installation. Note: you may also need to install OpenSSL ( prior to building apache/mod_ssl.

  18. Checking the Security of your System: Download a copy of Nessus (being sure to download/install any additional applications that it requires). Compile, install and configure Nessus. Be very careful to take the time to read all about Nessus and what it can do BEFORE trying to use it. It is very powerful, and if used incorrectly can crash the network that your machine is attached to. If you crash the Institute network, you'll have to deal with the wrath of Computing Services. Pair-up with a classmate, then run Nessus against each of your systems. Be sure to save the results of the security scans. Pick the worst problem found, and using the instructions/suggestions provided by Nessus, fix the problem, then re-run Nessus again to confirm that the security problem has been dealth with.

  19. Setting up a Firewall: Configure the firewall services on your computer to disable all incoming and outcoming HTTP traffic. Continue to allow HTTPS traffic to your secure web server. Test your firewall configuration from a classmates computer.

  20. Network Management with SNMP: Download, compile and install the NET-SNMP set of technologies (does Ubuntu provide pre-built packages?). Configure the SNMP Agent to respond to SNMP requests made of your GNU/Linux system. Partner with a classmate and use the supplied SNMP utilities to query the state of each others systems using SNMP requests. You should be able to answer the following questions: How long has the system been operating? How many IP packets have been sent/received/contained errors? How many UDP packets are classified as UNDELIVERABLE? What are the contents of the system's Routing Table (assuming it has one)?

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