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GNU/Linux post-installation procedures

(defying Murphy's laws)

Acknowledgements | Copyrights, Warnings & Disclaimer | Translations | Feedback
Post installation steps | The post install script -- shivalik
Algologic Research & Solutions

Revision History This is Version 1.2.1 dated 27 Dec. 2002
  • Version 0.0 = Created and Released for beta tests (2001-04-01 / Partha)
  • Version 1.0 = Initial release using docbook sgml (2001-06-13 / Greg Ferguson).
  • Version 1.1 = Minor improvements to shivalik script and HTML version. (2001-06-15 / Partha)
  • Version 1.2 = CSS enabled this document. (2001-07-27 / Partha)
  • Version 1.2.1 = Fixed some typos. Updated URL of LDP related links. (2002-12-27 / Partha)


This document is updated frequently. The most current version of this checklist will be posted online at: Make sure you are using the most recent version of this mini HOWTO.
You may also like to read a brief profile of the author of this document.

Objectives of this checklist

You have just completed installing your own Linux system. You have just made an upgrade to your existing Linux system. You are happy with the first few checkouts and usage experience. You want to make sure you will enjoy this system in spite of any damage which may occur later because of any unexpected faux-pas.

It is a good idea to keep a snapshot of the new system, so that you can be assured that in the event of any misfortune with your Linux installation, you can always recover without any permanent damage. This checklist will help you with precautionary steps you must take, as soon as you complete installation of Linux. It is a sequel to the Linux pre-installation checklist, and a companion to the official Linux Installation HOWTO. This checklist also contains a shell script which will automate the process of making a snapshot of your system.

This document and the shivalik shell script are continuously updated. Make sure you are referring to the latest version of this document, by visiting the Linux post-install site frequently. You will find the date of last revision to this document, in the Administrivia Section.

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Copyright Information & Disclaimer

This document is copyrighted (c) 2001 Algologic Research & Solutions and is distributed under the terms of the Linux Documentation Project (LDP) licensing recommendations.

All rights to this document (including Copyrights and Intellectual Property Rights) belong to the authors of this document (Algolgic). All translations, derivative works, or aggregate works incorporating any Linux HOWTO documents are covered under this copyright notice. Unless otherwise stated, Linux HOWTO documents (including mini- HOWTOs) are copyrighted by their respective authors. Linux HOWTO documents may be reproduced and distributed in whole or in part, in any medium physical or electronic, as long as this copyright notice as well as the name and affiliation of the authors are retained on all copies. You may not produce a derivative work from a HOWTO and impose additional restrictions on its distribution. Commercial redistribution is allowed and encouraged; however, the authors would like to be notified of any such distributions.

If you have any questions, please contact or

This mini-HOWTO as well as the shivalik script are made accessible to you WITHOUT any warranties or assurances. Before you proceed any further, please read our Warning and Disclaimer page. You are also requested to carefully read the warning given at the end of the shivalik script.

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If you are planning to translate this document, or if you have already translated this document into any other language, please inform us.

Please make sure that you have read, understood and have accepted the terms of the Linux Documentation Project License given in the beginning of this document (Copyright Information).

If your translation is accessible on the web (highly recommended), please send us the URL of the translated text. We will link our original (English) version to your translated version.

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The author thanks

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Post-installation steps

"Hope for the best, but be prepared for the worst"

To enjoy your new Linux installation forever without any worries, it is important to take a few simple precautions. You must do these as soon as you complete installing Linux on your machine for the first time.

  1. Create a boot diskette and a rescue diskette. Utilities for creating these diskettes are available along with your Linux distribution.
  2. If you are the paranoid type (like me), you can make two copies of each of these diskettes. Diskettes are notorious for failing when they are most needed.
  3. Consult the excellent HOWTO LILO-crash-rescue-HOWTO. You can, in fact, obtain this HOWTO as a single HTML file. Keep a copy of this excellent HOWTO handy, along with the boot diskette.
    Download one of the many tiny-Linux diskettes, mentioned in this HOWTO. This can be in addition to the boot diskette you just prepared.
  4. Test out your boot diskettes. Make sure you can boot into Linux using the boot diskette. Remember Murphy's Laws may strike at you just when you least expect.
  5. Checkout thoroughly your new system. Try all major packages.
  6. Try out the X window system, and the desktop, and the windows manager, if you have installed these.
  7. Try out the connection to your LAN, and to the Internet.
  8. Create at least one "non-root" account, for testing and debugging your installation. Perform ALL the above checkouts once again, using the non-root account you created.
  9. Go to the web site for the specific Linux distribution you have, and investigate the updates and errata pages. NO DISTRIBUTION, out of the box, is perfect, and it is quite common to see minor but critical blunders that need to be corrected. The fixes may only take a few minutes to install, and will help to keep it running properly.
  10. If your Linux distribution has a special mailing list for information or announcements on updates and patches, join the mailing list. Some distributors also maintain a special mailing list for security related issues. Join that list IMMEDIATELY, _before_ you consider connecting to the Internet, ESPECIALLY if you are in any way visible on the Internet. There are rogues out there who have a sadistic pleasure in messing around other peoples' sites.
  11. Join a local Linux Users Group (LUG). You must find out if there is a LUG close by. If there is none, start an informal LUG yourself, in your neighbourhood, your campus, your city, or your town.
  12. Join one or more mailing lists for Linux updates and news. There are literally hundreds of them.
  13. Register yourself and your machine in the worldwide Linux Users Counter.
  14. And finally...
    Download the post- installation shell script (shivalik) and run it.
  15. You must run this shell script: as soon as you have installed Linux for the first time, and after every major revision or upgrade to your Linux system. You can also set up the script as a cron job, so that it runs itself periodically and automatically.
    This will avoid you a lost of hassles later, in case something gets messed up later.

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Shell script (shivalik)

The shell script (shivalik) is a convenient way to make backups of essential files and information about your Linux installation. The script is profusely documented. It does not modify (or delete) any of your files or directories. It creates a well-protected backup of some essential files and information. The entire script is available for you to browse and understand its working (you can even modify shivalik if you want).

Download the script now

After downloading the script:

To execute the script:

First, you must make the script executable (by root only) chmod 700 ./shivalik This is a security precaution.
Now you can execute (run) the above script -- just type ./shivalik .
Remember you must be "root", to execute shivalik, because many of the files being saved need root permissions and the script itself is executable by "root" only.

Recovery and repair:

Remember, the shivalik script is not a tool for complete backup and recovery. Ideally, the best thing to do would be to make a verbatim copy of your entire Linux installation along with all files and directories. This is not always possible, necessary, or advisable. The next best thing would be to take a backup of the most essential information and files. The shivalik script achieves this for you. The script creates a directory called /root/postinfo/ (this is the default directory for shivalik's output -- you can change it easily by re- declaring an environment variable). shivalik stores all essential information (and files) in /root/postinfo/. To be absolutely prepared for any eventuality, you must copy the entire /root/postinfo/ on a removable medium, as soon as the script is executed. You may also like to make a printout of the summary report /root/postinfo/summary created by the shell script. The summary file is a very important snapshot of your system.

In the event of any problems later, you can reconstruct the damaged files by copying the files you have backed up in the /root/postinfo directory. It is as simple as that.

The structure of the /root/postinfo/ directory will be as follows:

Files in /root/postinfo
/root/postinfo/summary Contains a summary report of the status of your system (memory, partitions, mount points, disk usage). This file also has the list of files which have been saved. It also contains admin info like date and time of backup, shivalik version number etc.
/root/postinfo/etcfiles/ This subdirectory contains a copy of many essential files from the /etc/ directory of your Linux installation. It also contains copies of the various configuration files stored in the /etc/ directory.
/root/postinfo/otherfiles/ This subdirectory contains a copy of some essential files (those which are not in the /etc/ directory) of your Linux installation. If you want, you can add any other files here, and get it saved automatically with others.
/root/postinfo/otherfiles/oldpostinfo.tar.gz Contains a copy of the earlier postinfo (if any). This is a fall back to a fall back !
/root/postinfo/otherfiles/snapshot.gz Contains a gzipped structured listing of ALL files and directories of your Linux system (the directories "tree"). You can unzip this file and use any plain text editor to know the location of any file. Of course, you cannot retrieve the contents of that file unless you had saved it explicitly elsewhere.
/root/postinfo/otherfiles/shivalik This is a copy of the shivalik script which was used for making the post install backup. At the time of recovery after an incident, you can always examine this script to know how the backup was done earlier. You will always have a consistent copy of the script and the files created by the script.

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