Configuring a Standalone CPU Server

When configuring a Plan 9 network, the first machine to set up is a standalone CPU and authentication server. After you have this, you can go on to configure a file server and then boot terminals and other cpu servers from it.

(Note that the same machine can act as both auth/cpu server and file server.)

Start by installing the distribution as though creating a standalone terminal. Reboot the system, and log in as any user that is in group sys. To add a user to group sys see adding a new user. The user needs to be part of group sys in order to be able to edit the required system files. In the default installation, the user glenda will do.


The first step is to edit /rc/bin/cpurc*. To add machine-specific customisations,

cd /cfg; mkdir $sysname; dircp example $sysname

and edit the files in /cfg/$sysname. You will find that /rc/bin/cpurc already contains most of the needed instructions but most of them have been commented out. See cpurc(8) for details.

Note that cpurc for a specific $sysname host is executed right after the prompt setup in the /rc/bin/cpurc file that will execute on a CPU server once it is booted. The rest of /rc/bin/cpurc will execute after your customized cpurc is finished. This allows you to keep the common bits of CPU server setup common and any specifics in separate files per $sysname. Note that system-specific scripts are also run at the end of the cpurc. The sequence is: /rc/bin/cpurc > /cfg/$sysname/cpurc > /rc/bin/cpurc > /cfg/$sysname/cpustart.

Individual $sysname bindings can be set in either plan9.ini in your 9fat partition (more about that below), or in /lib/ndb/local by the particular machine's ethernet mac address.

At the end of /rc/bin/cpurc.local, you may wish to bind any devices you'll need. 'cat /dev/drivers' will list the available devices. In this case we have m (mouse), i (draw), S (sd - disk), and t (uart - serial); if you get errors about /dev/realmode, include P in this list:

for (i in m i S t)
	bind -a '#'^$i /dev >/dev/null >[2=1]

Uncomment the invocation of ip/ipconfig in /cfg/$sysname/cpurc, specifying the appropriate numbers where necessary:

ip/ipconfig -g <gateway-addr> ether /net/ether0 <ip-addr> <ip-mask>

For other network configurations see network configuration.

Uncomment the two lines indicated if you wish to be able to boot other systems from this server. Note that on home networks running an additional dhcp server may not be desirable.


Uncomment the two lines indicated in /rc/bin/cpurc to enable the authentication functions:

# auth/keyfs -wp -m /mnt/keys /adm/keys >/dev/null >[2=1]
# auth/cron >>/sys/log/cron >[2=1] &

Add these lines to /cfg/$sysname/cpustart, the auth services should be run after auth/keyfs

aux/listen -q -t /rc/bin/service.auth -d /rc/bin/service tcp

and run the commands

mv /rc/bin/service.auth/authsrv.tcp567 /rc/bin/service.auth/tcp567
mv /rc/bin/service/tcp567 /rc/bin/service/!tcp567

to enable the auth services.

The file names indicate the port and protocol, and the file itself contains the commands for starting a service. The authsrv. and ! prefixes indicate disabled services; adding or removing the prefix disables or enables the service. The original /rc/bin/service/il566 and /rc/bin/service/tcp567 services were proxy calls for the authentication services to be used by terminals. We don't need these on the authentication server, but you may on other cpu servers.

Note: To export a fossil to other systems, add the following line to your fossil configuration using fossil/conf, or enter it via con /srv/fscons for a temporary listener. See setting up fossil.

listen tcp!*!564

Optionally, you may add logic from /rc/bin/termrc to /cfg/$sysname/cpustart to start rio on the server. In most cases, the next three lines will suffice:

aux/mouse $mouseport
aux/vga -l $vgasize
exec rio


You can decide what name to give your cpu server owner. This is the user that all the cpu servers run as. We'll name the user 'bootes'; it is recommended that you also choose 'bootes' as it will appear in the instructions frequently.

Connect to the fossil console and add a user using the uname command explained in the fossilcons(8) man page, by convention the owner of cpu and fileservers is called 'bootes'

con /srv/fscons
prompt: uname bootes bootes
prompt: uname adm +bootes
prompt: uname sys +bootes
prompt: fsys main
main: create /active/cron/bootes bootes bootes d775
main: create /active/sys/log/cron bootes bootes a664

Then set up keyfs and provide a password for this machine:



Edit the contents of /lib/ndb to fit your network, as described in Network configuration. You may want to check that the following attributes are in the database:

It's a good idea to check that you got your network config right by trying:

ndb/ipquery ip <your-ip-address> auth
ndb/ipquery ip <your-ip-address> cpu
ndb/ipquery ip <your-ip-address> ntp

A simple example for a combined cpu/auth server, the machine, could be:

ipnet=mynet ip= ipmask=
	dns=lookup auth=bouncer

ip= sys=bouncer
ip= sys=cycles
ip= sys=lookup

If you're not setting up a whole network and just want drawterm access to the combined cpu and auth server you're configuring, addding the single line

authdom=some.domain auth=cycles ip=your.ip sysname=cycles

to /lib/ndb/local will suffice if you also add the line


to plan9.ini. The authdom and sysname can be chosen arbitrarily. This same entry should be added to the ndb of other machines which wish to dial and auth to this machine's services.

Note the authdom, it needs to be the same as configured in the nvram content described later on.

Add the following two lines to /lib/ndb/auth to say that the cpu server owner is allowed to become any other user (given the appropriate credentials):

	uid=!sys uid=!adm uid=*


You need to use a cpu/auth kernel, which is not hard to compile:

cd /sys/src/9/pc
mk 'CONF=pccpuf'

See compiling kernels for further details. Once it is built, install the kernel to your 9fat:

cp /sys/src/9/pc/9pccpuf /n/9fat

And edit /n/9fat/plan9.ini to say


where sdXX is the disk with the 9fat partition, eg., sdC0.

it is recommended to include a menu in plan9.ini which will give you a choice of which kernel to boot. This is particularly useful if things don't go quite as planned, such as your CPU kernel not having all the drivers you needed.

See 9load(8) for more information.

Here is an example:

menuitem=4e, Plan 9 Fourth Edition

by having a 9pcf in there I know I can boot into my other kernel in case something goes wrong.


To support the security features of the authentication server, a section of disk is required to simulate non-volatile ram (NVRAM).

This partition should have been created by the installer, check for /dev/sdC0/nvram (or whatever is correct for your disk drive.)

If this is missing you can create a sub-partition inside the Plan 9 partition using disk/prep. The sub-partition should be called 'nvram', eg:

disk/prep /dev/sdC0/plan9

Adjust the above command to refer to your plan9 disk partition. Then you can delete the 'swap' sub-partition, and replace it with a swap partition that is 1 sector smaller than the original. In the free space, create a partition called 'nvram'. It only needs to be 1 sector in size. Again, this should not be needed usually as the installer should have created the partition for you.

Now you need to invalidate the nvram contents so that the checksum won't be correct when you next boot. This will force the cpu server to ask you for authentication information.

echo blahblahblah >/dev/sdC0/nvram


Reboot the machine. When it comes up, it should load the new kernel (or ask you to select a kernel if you created a boot menu) and then complain about the nvram checksum being incorrect.

It will ask for an authid, authdom, secstore key, and password. The authid is the host owner name, usually 'bootes'. The authdom is a non-empty domain (e.g. of your choosing (for debugging), and the secstore key and password should be secret password of 8 characters or greater in length. Remember the password, you will need it again later when creating the 'bootes' user.


Firstly, you must set the password for bootes using auth(8) and the password you just entered during bootup:

auth/changeuser bootes

Assign the password. You can ignore the Inferno/POP secret if you won't need it, it may be the same as the Plan 9 password. The other fields are optional.

After this you can use auth/changeuser to create accounts for other users that will be allowed in the server. Remember to add them also to the file server; for details see adding a new user


If you want to set up a Plan 9 file server, and boot your CPU/auth server from it, read also the page on installing a Plan 9 file server. (Note: this page is archaic. Any machine may act as a file server simply by setting the fossil configuration to listen on the standard 9fs service port.) We strongly recommend this, since it makes system administration easier. In particular, if you use the disk at the cpu server as a backup partition for your file server, you will stay calm after disasters.

You probably want to set up email for your users, see mail configuration.

If you wish to make use of netkey(1) authentication in addition to p9sk1, you will need to also create entries in the securenet(8) database.

auth/keyfs -m /mnt/netkeys /adm/netkeys
auth/changeuser -n bootes

Create passwords for bootes and other users and then add another line to cpurc adjacent to the other invocation of keyfs. This is an addition, not a replacement.

auth/keyfs -wp -m /mnt/netkeys /adm/netkeys >/dev/null >[2=1]


Users can make use of server side encrypted storage with secstore(1) I've added auth/secstored to my /cfg/$sysname/cpurc

Users are added via secuser, see secstore(8)



Drawterm - Used to log in into your CPU/Auth server from non-Plan 9 systems.

The cpurc used at Bell labs:

/n/sources/contrib/maht/rc/make_cpuauth - "CPU/Auth Warlock", an interactive script for configuring a cpu/auth server. See sources repository for connecting to sources, or depending on how far through network setup you are.

(does Maht's script work for anyone? It just failed for me)