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Linux Writer Gets Ready For Disaster... Again - page 2

Disaster Redux

  • September 2, 2004
  • By Rob Reilly

Networking runs a close second, in importance, during and after a disaster, to power issues.

As, I said earlier, my cable/broadband was down for 14 days. That meant I had NO information conduit other than the portable AM/FM radio. Brighthouse Cable couldn't re-attach my coax (it was ripped off the house by a falling tree) until the downed trees were clear off of the power poles and power lines. You'll be amazed at how isolated you feel without your cable tv and broadband.

DSL is an option that you might want to consider. My regular phone line stayed up through the whole storm. Fortunately, the line runs underground in the neighborhood and on my property. DSL is usually the media of choice, instead of cable broadband, for businesses and offices, so this may be a non issue to you.

Another option is two-way satellite Internet. In researching on the Web, I found that they act just like your cable or DSL hookup. The dish sits outside and you connect your network to the companion "satellite modem". One concern would be anchoring the disk during and after the disaster. I've noticed that many businesses HAD high-end two-way satellite dishes on their roofs. Fooled you. All of the ones I was aware of came through Charley without any problem. Commercial units from somebody like GroundControl, seem to stand up pretty well to atmospheric abuse.

Linux Specific Prep includes checking your dial-up modem for correct operation, using an ISP that supports Linux dial-up and backups to CD.

One day after the storm, I found that I couldn't dial-out using kppp. I had rebuilt my laptop with SUSE 8.2 about 3 weeks before and always had connected to everything via broadband. I fiddled around with it off and on for a day or so and finally ended up configuring the modem via YAST2. The lesson here was, make sure your dial-up modem works before you need it. Don't forget to save a list of applicable access numbers, before you're without power and have no network connection.

Another point about dial-up is that all ISPs are not Linux friendly. You may recall my article about switching providers. One of the prime reasons I moved from RoadRunner to Earthlink was that I could never get their dial-up to work with my Linux laptop. It was important because I was traveling and couldn't always get a wired/wireless network connection. RoadRunner required some funky login string and their tech support definitely didn't help me figure it out. I finally gave up, switched over to Earthlink and simply connected without any fuss. Too bad Earthlink doesn't offer me the unlimited dial-up with broadband anymore. That's OK, your broadband will only be down for a day or two. Riiiight.

How many of you businessmen, consultants and entrepreneurs do daily backups? Weekly? Monthly? If the answer is "sometimes", you better know how to put files on your CD burner, right before or in anticipation of a disaster. Linux makes it easy. Here are the steps to taking files off of your disk and putting them on a CD.

  • Make note of the files you want to save to CD.
  • Plug your CD burner to your USB connection.
  • Make an ISO image of your data with:
  • �����rreilly> mkisofs -r -o /yourfiles.iso /yourfiles/*
  • Burn the ISO onto the CD with:
  • �����rreilly> cdrecord -v speed=2 dev=0,0,0 -data /yourfiles.iso

If your roof gets blown away or you're in the middle of a flood, grabbing you're business backup CDs might be all you have time for. Better do it now.

While you're backing up your business CDs, you should also grab your Linux distribution set, a recent copy of Knoppix and possibly one of those new outboard harddrives with Linux pre-installed. Then, even if all your machines are smashed or waterlogged, you can buy some new boxes and be back running in short order. Put your CDs in a waterproof container and add it to your survival kit.

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