SUMMARY: Recommendations for LANless file transfer

From: Anspach, Jonathan (
Date: Fri Jun 11 1999 - 11:13:22 CDT

-----Original Message-----
From: Anspach, Jonathan
Sent: Wednesday, June 09, 1999 3:15 PM
To: 'Sun Manager's Mailing List'
Subject: Recommendations for LANless file transfer

We have several Suns running Solaris 2.6 on our building LAN that we are
going to take off the LAN and segregate. They will still have their own
small LAN, but will not have any outside connectivity, either to the
internet or to our building LAN.

I'm trying to decide on the best way to transfer files from other computers
to the Suns; for example, Java programs I develop on my PC, patches
downloaded from the internet, etc. The Suns will be in a secure vault, so I
can't temporarily hook them up to the building LAN, and I can't take a
laptop into the vault. I can only take media in.

Floppies won't cut it, since the files could be large system patches. It
seems to me that leaves tapes and writeable CDROMs. I'm not very familiar
with tape drives and the utilities that read/write them. Do any NT utilities
exist that will write a tape that Solaris can read?

I'd prefer to use an NT PC as the origin for all of these transfers, but if
necessary I can put another Sun on our LAN to do it.

I'd appreciate any suggestions on the best way to do this, along with
pointers to applicable utilities. I'll summarize, of course.


I got responses from Tim Carlson, Alan Orndorff, Jason Marshall, Philip
Plane, Pete Gilbert, Bryan Blackburn, John Groenveld, Troy Wollenslegel,
John Robens, Gerhard den Hollander, Allan West, Drew Watson, Matt Reynolds,
Michael Salehi, James Ranks, Dale Hsu, Gary Litwin, Gary Franczyk, Bill
Hebert. Thanks everyone. Drew's response was especially good so I'm
including it below. Allen passed along a web page he has that discusses
using Zip drives on Suns: Troy
mentioned an NT utility for NT that will read/write SCSI tapes in tar
format: A couple of other people said such
utilities should be easy to find on the shareware sites.

I neglected to mention that any media that we take into the vault must be
stay there forever, be destroyed, or be completely erased/degaussed and
rewritten with special bit patterns several times before being brought out.
Tapes and CDROMS would probably just be destroyed.

Most of the responses suggested Zip or Jaz drives. I think my brain had set
up a mental block against Iomega products because two of the three Jaz
drives I have bought have gone bad after a few months. There is a web page
somewhere that talks about this "Click of Death" problem. Besides, I don't
want to deal with wiping the disks, and they're too expensive to throw away
after one use.

So, I'm considering Zips, CDROMS and tapes. I haven't made a final decision
yet, but I'm leaning toward using Zips.

Jonathan Anspach
Senior Software Engineer

Drew's response:

While floppies may not work for all situations, you may find that they
are still the most practical solution when they do work. Floppies are
inexpensive, and since most secure environments will force you to
degauss or destroy media rather than reuse it you must agree that
an affordable solution is among your requirements.

(If you have ever heard of mtools, they allow unix to use pc formatted
floppies. I've had a lot of luck using them. You can find them on the
web as freeware.)

Don't forget compression techniques. There are plenty of styles of
zip (gzip,pkzip,etc.) as well as pack, compress, etc. which can reduce
the data size and allow you to hold more than you think...

GNU has a variety of tools which may be useful, too. I've seen versions
of split/join which would allow you to place a very large file into
multiple diskettes for concatenation on the "other side of the wall".

There is also a GNU "tar", which may be the tool you need for tapes.

You could consider a zip drive, whose diskettes hold lots of data, but
the affordability issue comes into play... (If only I had a nickel for
every peice of media destroyed for security reasons...) It's a great
product and quite affordable if you don't have to burn each disk you

Tip: offers a wide variety of GNU
sources and binaries, and you should be able to easily find other
places on the web. They also have x86 versions which run on Windows so
I assume they should also compile/work for NT.

For compatibility sake, you may want to see what you can do with your
sun systems outside your vault before trying to carry the media in.
A "split -b" to build a multi-volume floppy set may meet your needs
better than you think.

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.2 : Fri Sep 28 2001 - 23:13:21 CDT