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13. FAQ

Q1. I created sendmail.init and syslogd.init. I put them in /usr/local/bin and tried to run them but I got errors.

A1. These files are called init scripts. They are run by the program init when your computer boots. They do not go with the /usr/local binaries. Consult the Linux System Administrators Guide or the Linux Getting Started Guide for information on how to use the init scripts system.

Q2. I put these lines into /etc/


And I got really stange output. Why?

A2. You do not put these lines directly in /etc/ The file was written to be easy for sendmail to understand and hard for humans to read. Therefore, to make it easy to configure we use a program called m4 and its macro capabilities to create the file. The FEATURE lines are actually macros that expand to sendmail configuration statements. See the sendmail docs on how to configure sendmail through this method. Also note that you create a main /etc/ file and the virtfs script then copies this to /virtual/ Then you edit that file to respond as your domain.

Q3. Where do I get virtuald, what is it, and how do I use it?

A3. Virtuald is C source that I wrote to run a virtual service. It is included with this HOWTO. You compile it like a normal C program make virtuald . The resulting binary is placed into /usr/local/bin. Add lines to /etc/inetd.conf that use virtuald as a wrapper to a normal network server program.

Q4. I do not have dialog installed on my system?

A4. Dialog is a program that allows you to put dialog pop up windows into your shell scripts. It is required for my virtual shell script examples to work. You can get a copy of dialog at sunsite. It compiles very easily and should be no problem to install.

Q5. How can I know if virtual syslogd is working?

A5. When virtuald runs it should output the following messages to syslogd (/var/log/messages):

Nov 19 17:21:07 virtual virtuald[10223]: Virtuald Starting: $Revision: 1.49 $
Nov 19 17:21:07 virtual virtuald[10223]: Incoming ip:
Nov 19 17:21:07 virtual virtuald[10223]: Chroot dir: /virtual/

The Chroot dir message is sent by virtuald after the chroot system call is performed. If this message appears virtual syslogd is working. If the service you are virtualizing logs messages to syslogd and you see them that is also a sign that virtual syslogd is correctly setup.

Note that if you have not turned on the compile time option VERBOSELOG, virtuald will not log at all. The only way to tell if virtual syslogd is working at that point is if the daemon you are virtualizing independently logs something to syslogd.

Q6. How can I setup quotas across virtual filesystems?

A6. You setup quotas like you would normally. See the Quota mini-HOWTO. However, you have to make sure there are no uid conflicts across domains. If there are conflicts you will have users sharing a quota. Set aside a range of uid's that you know will have quota's enabled and tell your domains that they cannot have any users in that range except the ones registered to have a quota.

Q7. What is this \ notation in all the inetd.conf entries?

A7. That is just a method of breaking up config files across two lines. I did that so the line would word wrap in a nice place. You can just ignore the \ and join the two lines back together.

Q8. When I run passwd or other login programs I get permission denied . When I run FTP or su I get no modules loaded for service XXX . Why?

A8. Those are PAM error messages. I wrote these scripts before PAM was out. My virtfs script does not copy /etc/pam.d, /usr/lib/cracklib_dict.*, /lib/security or any of the other files PAM requires. PAM needs these to function. If you edit my virtfs script to copy these files the problem will go away.

Q9. Can virtuald work with tcpd hosts.allow and hosts.deny files?

A9. Yes it can with some modifications.

First the source has to be changed in two places.

This has to be inserted where the arguments are checked.

        if (!argv[3])
                syslog(LOG_ERR,"invalid arguments: no program to run");

The exec line has to be changed from:

        if (execvp(argv[2],argv+2)<0)


        if (execvp(argv[2],argv+3)<0)

Second the inetd.conf lines have to be changed from:

ftp stream tcp nowait root /usr/local/bin/virtuald \
        virtuald /virtual/conf.ftp wu.ftpd -l -a


ftp stream tcp nowait root /usr/local/bin/virtuald \
        virtuald /virtual/conf.ftp tcpd wu.ftpd -l -a

Third edit the /virtual/ and /virtual/ files accordingly.

Q10. Can my virtual hosts run CGI's?

A10. Yes they can but I recommend putting the /cgi-bin in a place outside of the chroot that only you have access to. For example, /var/www/cgi-bin/ Giving clients access to /cgi-bin is giving them the opportunity to run programs on your sever. This is a big security hole. Be careful. I do not let any cgi run on my systems that I have not personally inspected for bugs.

Q11. My configuration files are different from your examples. What do I do?

A11. There are two basic configuration styles: SystemV and BSD. The examples provided in the HOWTO are based on SystemV style configuration files. Virtual services works equally well on either system. For information on BSD style configuration files consult the origin of your distribution or the nearest LDP site.

Q12. I sent you mail and have not heard a response from you or your response took a long time. Why?

A12. Probably because you did not put VIRTSERVICES HOWTO in your subject header. Please bear in mind that I am a network administrator and that among the other things I do in my 20 hour days is administering my own virtual boxes and those of my clients. Mail that is properly addressed is always responded to within two or three days. Mail that is improperly addressed does not get filtered into my VIRTSERVICES mailbox and can lie around unnoticed for days or weeks.

Q13. Does virtuald work under 100Mbit?

A13 The speed of the network card is unrelated to whether virtuald will work or not. Try making sure that your server works under 10Mbit and that your 100Mbit network card works normally without a virtual server.

Q14. Should I use sendmail's virthost table?

A14. No. That is sendmail's feature to accept info for multiple domains. Virtuald gives each sendmail its own separate chroot environment. Install virtuald and then configure sendmail like you would normally for each domain.

Q15. Can I setup virtual telnet on my machine? What about creating a virtual root account so clients can administer their own domains?

A15. These questions come to me quite often and to be honest, I am getting a bit tired of them. The answer, as stated numerous times in the documentation, is that any service run through inetd can be virtualized using virtuald so there is nothing to stop you from doing either of the above. Nothing except common sense. Whatever benefits you might derive from allowing telnet are heavily outweighed by the cost to the virtual box (and thus the sites you are supposed to be hosting in a responsible manner) in terms of security. Here are just a few issues involved:

The bottom line is that allowing login's on a virtual box is a really bad idea. If permitted, every site hosted on that machine is at risk. If you want to allow a site holder to administer users then you are advised to write (not script) the code necessary to run the virtual processes that allow them to add, delete or modify users upon login through ssh. This should be completely menu driven, should never allow a console and should not run as root. In order to accomplish this you will have to change ownership of the pertinent files from root to some other user. If done in this manner it is marginally safe to incorporate into a virtual machine. There is never an acceptable time to allow root login's either through telnet or ssh. Doing so is simply an invitation to disaster. If there is an overwhelming reason to run telnet then the site should be hosted on a dedicated machine where the only risk is to the individual site. No responsible administrator would ever do otherwise and so I will waste no more time on this issue.

Q16. Is there an rpm, tar, web site, mailing list, etc. associated with virtuald and the Virtual-Services HOWTO?

A16. Currently there is nothing like that available. This HOWTO is the only source of information to everything I do concerning this project. I find the HOWTO to be fairly self contained making the need for other pieces of information superfluous.

Q17. When I try to run virtexec as a regular user I get chroot: operation not permitted . Why?

A17. Chroot is a root restricted system call. Only the superuser can execute it. The virtexec script runs the chroot program which is why you need to be root in order to run it.

Q18. I setup pop and sendmail but popping mail does not seem to work. How come?

A18. Some pop programs come with /usr/spool/mail as their place for mail files. I know that qpop has to be manually editted to fix this. Either recompile the source to your program or symlink /virtual/ to /virtual/

Q19. I did not use the program mentioned in your HOWTO, I used program XXX. It does not work. Why?

A19. I tried to make sure to use the most generic of each server in my examples. However, I know that everyone has their favorite version of each server. Send me as much information as possible and I will try to figure out how to solve your problem and document it in the FAQ. The most important piece of information to send me is where to get the version of the software you are running (in the form

Q20. When I run virtexec is says symlink not a virt function . What does this mean and how do I fix it?

A20. Virtexec is a program that will take its zero argument, strip off the first four characters, and run the remaining name in the virtual environment. For example, virtpasswd runs passwd. If the first four characters that it strips off are not virt it complains and outputs that error message. Virtexec is written in shell script and should be fairly simple to follow. Refer to the manual pages on bash or whatever shell you run for questions about shell script programming.

Q21. I have a question about Qmail, SAMBA, Apache, etc. that is unrelated to the virtuald setup or how the package interfaces to virtuald.

A21. All the packages described here are fully documented. Some even have full web sites like dedicated to them. Please consult them about questions dealing with the package that are unrelated to their virtual hosting functionality.

Q22. I have several domain aliases to but mail keeps bouncing from the aliases. How come?

A22. Virtmaildelivery relies on the environment variables passed to it to determine which /virtual/ directory to deliver to. It does not perform any DNS lookups to determine the address of the mail. However, if the address is, virtmaildelivery will first try that address and then and then and then com in that order until either a match happens or there is no domain name left.

However, if you have domain aliases that are not subdomains of one another you have to create symlinks like so:

cd /virtual
ln -s

That way virtmaildelivery will be fooled into thinking that both directories exist even though one is a symlink and mail will be able to be delivered to or Note that virtexec will list both of the domains in the dialog box when your run it. You can choose either one since they will be the same virtual filesystem.

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