Tuesday, November 24, 2009

ZRM for MySQL Issues

I really like ZRM for MySQL Community Edition for backups. I find
it very simple to install and configure and it gets the job done. It's default settings suits most installations. The challenges arise once you need to adapt it to more complex organizations. Please note that all the issues described on this article refer to Linux installations.

What If DBAs Have No sudo?

This was the 1st challenge that I ever faced. ZRM requires full root access at least during installation and in some cases, it requires some sudo permissions to be able to manage its files as well. Some organizations don't grant these permissions to the DBAs complicating the installation. When I looked into the scripts, I didn't see any reason why they wouldn't run in the user space, other than a few hard coded paths. I posted the question in the Zmanda forums and I got an answer with some instructions on how to patch the scripts. The instructions are pretty straight forward, but I haven't had a chance to test them. May be someone else could try and post the results as a comment? Just follow the link to the original post and read through the thread.

Install From RPM or Tarball?

So far I have always used the tarball since it offers the most flexibility. However, this requires to properly set up permissions for the different directories and subdirectories. Although the locations of the main files are listed in the documentation, the tarball includes a script (run automatically if you use the deb or rpm packages) that sets the ownerships properly. Example:
sudo mysql-zrm-migrate-file-ownership --user mysql --group mysql
For multi-DBA organizations, you can easily modify the script to also grant group access to the directories using chmod as needed.

More on Permissions

Once the right access permissions have been set properly, the scripts will
run OK, however a new problem arises. No matter how you set the
permissions, the directory holding the backup files will only be created with user access. With the example above it means that only the user mysql will have access, effectively leaving the DBAs with no proper access to the files and reports even if they are included into the mysql group. I haven't been alble to locate where to patch the scripts properly to avoid this issue. For now, writing a wrapper that will include the lines:chmod
-R g+rx /path/to/backups
after the backup works as an easy solution.

Crontab Entries

The most traditional method to run any process periodically is to use crontab, but modern distributions are favoring the use of files in the /etc/cron* subdirectories that will be run by run-parts. Chances are your system already has some daily tasks scheduled, which can be listed using:
run-parts --list /etc/cron.daily/
The security in many of these modern systems don't allow the use of crontab anymore. In these cases the mysql-zrm-scheduler utility can't be used. In it's place you'll need to create a file in /etc/cron.d (or a wrapper script in the /etc/cron.daily sub directory) containing the proper entry in a format similar to the traditional crontab. The main difference is that you need to specified the user it will use to execute. A typical file would look like:
# /etc/cron.d/zrm-backup: crontab entries for mysql-zrm

# add other environment variables you might need, like: PERL5LIB

30 1  * * *   mysql    mysql-zrm --action backup --backup-set backup


ZRM for MySQL continues to be one of my favorite MySQL tools. None of these issues are showstoppers, however the fact remains that Zmanda hasn't released any major update to these scripts in a long time and it's starting to show. If they don't do something about it, someone else will stealing their thunder. Such is the nature of Open Source.

1 comment:

  1. Gerry,

    Thanks for the feedback!

    We released a minor update on ZRM on August 25th. We expect to do a major release of ZRM community edition soon. We will keep you (and your readers) posted.

    Twitter: @zmanda