rmt-star - remote magnetic tape protocol server
This is the description of the enhanced Schily version of the rmt
remote tape server program. rmt is a program used by programs like
star and ufsdump that like to access remote magnetic tape drives and
files through an interprocess communication connection. rmt is
normally started up with an rexec(3) or rcmd(3) call.
The rmt program accepts open, close, read, write and seek requests as
well as requests that are specific to magnetic tapes. rmt performs the
commands and then responds with a status indication.
This version of the rmt server gives full compatibility to the original
BSD version, the enhanced Sun version and the enhanced GNU version. In
addition to the Sun and GNU enhancements, it implements further
abstractions for better cross platform compliance. It supports best
speed and best compliance even when server and client code are running
on different platforms. It is prepared to be installed as a user shell
in the passwd file to create remote tape specific logins and security
checking. To use the enhanced compatibility features, you need to
either use the remote tape client code from star which is available in
librmt or reimplement its features.
All responses are send back in ASCII. They are in one of the following
Successful commands have responses of
where number is the ASCII representation of a decimal number that
usually is the return code of the corresponding system call.
Unsuccessful commands are responded to with
where error-number is one of the possible error numbers described in
intro(2), and error-message is the corresponding error string as
retrieved by strerror(3). Note that the error number is valid on the
remote system where the rmt code runs and may have a different meaning
on the local system.
The protocol implements the following commands:
Open the specified device or file using the
indicated mode. device is a full path name, and
mode is an ASCII representation of a decimal
number suitable for being passed as second
parameter to open(2). A variant of the open
command includes the symbolic_mode string which
is a GNU extension. If both, mode and
symbolic_mode are present, they are separated by
a space character; symbolic_mode appears on the
same line as the numeric mode. It is send using
the same notation as used in a C source (e.g.
O_RDWR|O_CREAT). If the symbolic_mode is send to
the server, the numeric mode is ignored. The
symbolic notation allows to send the expected
open mode over the wire, using a system
independent method. This is needed because
different operating systems usually define all
bits in a different way. An exception are the
lowest two bits. The lowest two bits allow to
code O_RDONLY,O_WRONLY and O_RDWR. To prevent
unexpected behavior, rmt masks the numeric open
mode with 0x03 before using it as argument to the
open(2) call. If you need more bits in the
second parameter ot open(2), you need to use the
If no file /etc/default/rmt exists, only
filenames starting with /dev/ are accepted for
If a device is already open, it is closed before
a new open is performed.
A RMT protocol VERSION 1 client should issue a
command just after opening a file or device. This
is needed to tell the server that the client is
aware of the official order of the mt_op codes in
the range 0..7 and that is maps deviating values
to the official ones.
Cdevice\n Close the currently open device or file. The
argument device is ignored.
Rcount\n Read count bytes of data from the open device or
file. rmt performs the requested read(2)
operation and responds with Acount-read\n if the
read operation was successful; otherwise an error
in standard format is returned. If the read
operation was successful, the data read is sent
directly after the response described above.
Wcount\n Write data to the open device or file. After
reading the command specification, rmt reads
count bytes from the network connection and
aborts if a premature EOF is encountered. The
return value from the write(2) operation is
returned as reply.
The following whence values are supported:
0 Mapped to SEEK_SET.
1 Mapped to SEEK_CUR.
2 Mapped to SEEK_END.
3 Mapped to SEEK_DATA If avalable on the
4 Mapped to SEEK_HOLE If avalable on the
Perform an lseek(2) operation on the open device
or file using the specified parameters. The
return value from the lseek(2) operation is
returned as reply.
On large file aware operating systems, rmt will
correctly handle large lseek(2) requests.
S The old non-portable status call. This call
should not be used anymore, it has been replaced
by the new RMT protocol version 1 extended status
call below. If the currently open device is a
magnetic tape, return the magnetic tape status,
as obtained with a MTIOCGET ioctl call. If the
open device is not a magnetic tape, an error is
returned. If the MTIOCGET operation was
successful, an “ack” is sent with the size of the
status buffer, then the status buffer is sent.
As the status buffer is sent in binary, this
command it considered outdated. Please use the
extended status command instead. This command is
not terminated by a new-line.
ssub-command The new portable status call. This command is
part of the RMT protocol version 1. If the
currently open device is a magnetic tape, return
a single specified member of the magnetic tape
status structure, as obtained with a MTIOCGET
ioctl call. If the open device is not a magnetic
tape, an error is returned. If the MTIOCGET
operation was successful, the numerical value of
the structure member is returned in decimal. The
following sub commands are supported:
T return the content of the structure member
mt_type which contains the type of the
magnetic tape device.
D return the content of the structure member
mt_dsreg which contains the “drive status
E return the content of the structure member
mt_erreg which contains the “error
This structure member must be retrieved
first because it is cleared after each
MTIOCGET ioctl call. The librmt will
always retrieve the member mt_erreg first
when it is told to retrieve a complete
R return the content of the structure member
mt_resid which contains the residual count
of the last I/O.
F return the content of the structure member
mt_fileno which contains the block number
of the current tape position.
B return the content of the structure member
mt_blkno which contains the block number
of the current tape position.
f return the content of the structure member
mt_flags which contains MTF_ flags from
b return the content of the structure member
mt_bf which contains the optimum blocking
This command is not terminated with a new-line.
Perform a MTIOCOP ioctl(2) command using the
specified parameters. The parameters are
interpreted as the ASCII representations of the
decimal values to place in the mt_op and mt_count
fields of the structure used in the ioctl call.
When the operation is successful the return value
is the count parameter. Only Opcodes 0..7 are
unique across different architectures. But as in
many cases Linux does not even follow this rule.
If we know that we have been called by a RMT
protocol VERSION 1 client, we may safely assume
that the client is not using Linux mapping over
the wire but the standard mapping described
-1 Retrieve the version number of the rmt
server and tell the server that the client
is aware of the official order of the
MTIOCOP ioctl(2) opcodes in the range
0..7. Local mt_op codes must be remapped
to the official values before sending them
over the wire.
The answer of the current version of rmt
is 1. Old rmt implementations send an
error code back when this command is used.
Future rmt implementations with further
enhancements will send an answer with a
value > 1.
0 Issue a MTWEOF command (write count end-
1 Issue a MTFSF command (forward space over
count file marks).
2 Issue a MTBSF command (backward space over
count file marks).
3 Issue a MTFSR command (forward space count
4 Issue a MTBSR command (backward space
count inter-record gaps).
5 Issue a MTREW command (rewind).
6 Issue a MTOFFL command (rewind and put the
7 Issue a MTNOP command (no operation, set
Perform a MTIOCOP ioctl(2) command using the
specified parameters. This command is a RMT
protocol VERSION 1 extension and implements
support for commands beyond MTWEOF..MTNOP (0..7).
The parameters are interpreted as the ASCII
representations of the decimal values described
below. They are converted into the local values
mt_op and mt_count fields of the structure used
in the ioctl call according to the actual values
found in <sys/mtio.h>. When the operation is
successful the return value is the count
0 Issue a MTCACHE command (switch cache on).
1 Issue a MTNOCACHE command (switch cache
2 Issue a MTRETEN command (retension the
3 Issue a MTERASE command (erase the entire
4 Issue a MTEOM command (position to end of
5 Issue a MTNBSF command (backward space
count files to BOF).
v\n Return the version of the rmt server. This is
currently the decimal number 1.
Any other command causes rmt to exit.
The file /etc/default/rmt allows to set up rules to limit the
accessibility of files based on rules. This feature is
typically used when the rmt run from a non personal but task
Default values can be set for the following options in
/etc/default/rmt. For example:
ACCESS=tape myhost.mydomain.org /dev/rmt/*
All keywords must be on the beginning of a line.
DEBUG If you like to get debug information, set this to a file
name where rmt should put debug information.
USER The name of a user (local to the magnetic tape server)
that may use the services of the rmt server. More than
one USER=name line is possible. A line USER=* grants
access to all users.
ACCESS This keyword is followed by three parameters separated by
a TAB. The name of a user (local to the magnetic tape
server host) that may use the services of the rmt server
followed by the name of a host from where operation is
granted and a file specifier pattern for a file or file
sub tree that may be accessed if this ACCESS line
matches. More than one ACCESS=name host path line is
If standard input of rmt is not a socket from a remote
host, rmt will compare the host entry from
/etc/default/rmt with the following strings:
PIPE If stdin is a UNIX pipe.
If you like to allow remote connections that
use the ssh protocol, you need to use the word
PIPE instead of thr real hostname in the
matching ACCESS= line.
If getpeername() does not work for stdin.
NOT_IP If getpeername() works for stdin but is not
connected to an internet socket.
star(1), ufsdump(1), ufsrestore(1), intro(2), open(2), close(2),
read(2), write(2), ioctl(2), lseek(2), getpeername(3), rcmd(3),
rexec(3), strerror(3), mtio(7), rmtopen(3), rmtclose(3), rmtread(3),
rmtwrite(3), rmtseek(3), rmtioctl(3), rmtstatus(3)
All responses are send to the network connection. They use the form
To use rmt as a remote file access protocol you need to use the
symbolic open modes as e.g. the O_CREAT flag is not unique between
In order to allow this implementation to be used as a remote file
access protocol, it accepts file names up to 4096 bytes with the open
command. Other rmt implementations allow no more than 64 bytes.
The possibility to create a debug file by calling rmt file has been
disabled for security reasons. If you like to debug rmt edit
/etc/default/rmt and insert a DEBUG entry.
This implementation of rmt adds some security features to the server
that make it behave slightly different from older implementations.
Read the above documentation about the file /etc/default/rmt to make
sure your local installation is configured for your needs.
To grant the same permissions as with old rmt servers, create a file
/etc/default/rmt and add the following lines to this file:
ACCESS=* * *
Note that the three fields in the ACCESS= line need to be separated by
a TAB character.
Be very careful when designing patterns to match path names that may be
accepted for open. If a pattern would allow to include /../ in the
path, a possible intruder could virtually access any path on your
system. For this reason, /../ is not allowed to appear in a path
regardless of the pattern.
The rmt command first appeared on BSD in march 1981. This rmt server is
a new implementation that tries to be compatible to all existing
implementations. It is the only known implementation that in addition
tries to fix the data exchange problems between different
Mail bugs and suggestions to:
firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com or