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SCSI Tape drives on Linux

Oommen Thomas wrote:
> Hi,
> Do any of you have experience in using SCSI tape drives on Linux?
> a) What additional hardware is needed for the tape drive to work, if the
> kernel has SCSI support and has SCSI devices already connected?
> b) How do you go about installing/configuring the drive, assuming we have
> the 'insmod st' done?
> c) Are tar/taper the only software needed/available for backup/recovery
> with tapes on Linux ?
> d) How is the reliability vis-a-vis on Windows ?
> e) Any tips on compatibility (RHL hardware compatibility list just says
> "most scsi tape drives" supported)?

I have a Sony PCBacker external DDS-4 drive (20/40GB).  RH6.1.  I just
run a tar script w/ cron.  Simple and non-proprietary.  Very reliable so
far (about a year old).  Arkeia and BRU are a couple of commercial
alternatives.  I just plugged in in and refer to it via /dev/st0.  No
pain, no brain.  Just make sure you have kernel support.

I'd guess reliability would have more to do w/ the drive manufacturer
than the OS.  I also have an HP external DDS-3 on Netware.  HP has had
to replace it twice within the past couple of years (under warrantee,
fortunately).  The DDS-3 replaced an HP DDS-2 that burned out.  Just my
experience, for what it's worth.

Here's my simple stupid backup script.  Don't forget the
--atime-preserve, otherwise you won't be able to find those old stale
files that sit untouched for years at a time.  You only have to forget
once, then you'll be kicking yourself.  Argggh.

cd /

# don't redirect error to log file.  will be mailed to root by crond
tar --atime-preserve \
    --create \
    --verbose \
    --verbose \
    --label="$HOSTNAME:`date +%Y-%m-%d`" \
    --file=/dev/st0 \
    home3/wfdg/shared \
    home3/wfdg/web \
    usr/local/pgsql/data \

I'm trying to put together a PostgreSQL application in my spare time
that will suck up the backup.log file each night.  Then link to some web
forms via PHP, so users can find files and I just need to pop in the
tape.  SQL doesn't support variable depth hierarchical data structures
well, though.  Sort of an excercise in SQL masochism, I suppose.  For
now, when people need something back, we just guess the date, I list the
tape to a file, and see if we find what we need.


Ron Peterson
Systems Manager
Wallace Floyd Design Group
273 Summer Street
Boston, MA  02210
617.350.7400 tel
617.350.0051 fax
rpeterson at
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