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My CISC professor has had our class use SSH to log in to his server, hosted by a company called Panix. We use vim to edit and compile our code on his server. We just took an exam, and as part of said exam, we were to create a directory on his server in our user directory and create a program in that directory.

We didn't complete the exam in class and we have until midnight tonight to finish it. (It's an open book/open internet exam, we just can't ask classmates for help.) Now, someone ran rm -r on the said directory. The exam directory is gone. Or is it?

Apparently, the hosting provider uses rsync to do nightly backups. (There appears to be hourly backups as well, but I can't find them anywhere.)

Does anyone know how I, or said classmate, can recover the directory, using the available information on the Panix website without having to log in as root? Is root required for this, or is there another way? Naturally, none of the student accounts are admins.

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closed as too localized by Wesley, Bill Weiss, Michael Hampton, Ward, mulaz Oct 5 '12 at 11:45

This question is unlikely to help any future visitors; it is only relevant to a small geographic area, a specific moment in time, or an extraordinarily narrow situation that is not generally applicable to the worldwide audience of the internet. For help making this question more broadly applicable, visit the help center.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

Well, the people to ask would be the folks at Panix. Or whoever has administrative control over that Panix account. – cjc Mar 21 '12 at 0:01

Quoth the Panix website:

To restore files from the backup server to your V-Colo, you can use this command line (where NNN is the number of your V-Colo):

rsync -a rsync:// /path/to/restore/directory/

Though this may appear as two lines on this web page, make sure you type it in as one line. The file /etc/rsyncd.secrets on your V-Colo contains the password for which you will be prompted.

Using a URL, as specified above, will cause rsync to use direct TCP connections on port 873, so you'll want to make sure that your V-Colo's firewall allows connections to and from on port 873.

So apparently, using the rsyncd.secrets file as your password, you can sync from your backups. However, no word is said about what user account can access backups. Presumably it requires the VPS's super user, so you're likely out of luck.

Plan of Action

  1. Contact Pannix for help.
  2. Contact your professor and explain the situation. (The order of 1 and 2 can be reverse - and likely should be, but that depends on your professor's temperament.)
  3. Throw water balloons at said professor for allowing students the permission to destroy anything more than their own files.
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I'm wondering if it's possible to force read the rsyncd.secrets file. – Moshe Mar 21 '12 at 0:17
If the disk device is properly secured (which it should be by default, unlike some classroom directory which the instructor created), no. – cjc Mar 21 '12 at 0:47

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