My RHCE self-study notes
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RHCE "Cheat Sheet"

This document attempts to provide answers to all study points on the RHCE and RHCT Exam Preparation Guide in a single-page (and thus, printable) format. This is not a "brain dump" or an attempt to cheat the RH302 exam in any way. These are just my self-study notes. Use them at your own risk.

  • Note: Study points last updated on 2009-08-11. This list may become out of date without notice (especially after I pass the test ;-)).

Other People's "Cheat Sheets"

The following links may have updated/additional information, but I am not responsible for any of it. If you are a Red Hat employee, and you believe that I've linked to something that violates the Red Hat NDA, please let me know, and I'll remove the link immediately.

Testing Environment with Sun VirtualBox

install guest additions:

yum install gcc kernel-devel

Prerequisite skills for RHCT and RHCE

Candidates should possess the following skills, as they may be necessary in order to fulfill requirements of the RHCT and RHCE exams:

use standard command line tools (e.g., ls, cp, mv, rm, tail, cat, etc.) to create, remove, view, and investigate files and directories

use grep, sed, and awk to process text streams and files

use a terminal-based text editor, such as vim or nano, to modify text files

use input/output redirection

operator description
> redirect STDOUT to a file
2> redirect STDERR to a file
&> redirect all output to a file
2>&1 redirect all output to a pipe
  • use >> to append instead of overwrite

understand basic principles of TCP/IP networking, including IP addresses, netmasks, and gateways for IPv4 and IPv6

use su to switch user accounts

su - <user>

use passwd to set passwords

passwd <user>

use tar, gzip, and bzip2

# compress (tar/gzip)
tar cvzf <file>.tgz <directory>

# extract (tar/gzip)
tar xvzf <file>.tgz

# compress (tar/bzip)
tar cvjf <file>.tbz <directory>

# extract (tar/bzip)
tar xvjf <file>.tbz

configure an email client on Red Hat Enterprise Linux

echo "message" | mail <email> -s "subject"
mail <email> -s "subject" < <file>

use text and/or graphical browser to access HTTP/HTTPS URLs

  • elinks
  • lynx

use lftp to access FTP URLs

RHCT skills

Troubleshooting and System Maintenance

RHCTs should be able to:

boot systems into different run levels for troubleshooting and system maintenance

append the desired runlevel to grub's kernel line:

  • 1-5 runs appropriate rc and init scripts
  • single only runs rc.sysinit
  • emergency skips all rc and init scripts

diagnose and correct misconfigured networking

  1. check /etc/sysconfig/network
  2. check /etc/sysconfig/network-scripts/ifcfg-
  3. service network restart
  4. chkconfig network on
  5. ifconfig
  6. ping
  7. netstat -r
  8. ping
  9. ping

redhat network config tool:


diagnose and correct hostname resolution problems

  1. check /etc/nsswitch.conf
  2. check /etc/resolv.conf
  3. check /etc/hosts
  4. dig @

redhat network config tool:


configure the X Window System and a desktop environment

install x:

yum groupinstall "x window system"
  • init respawns /etc/X11/prefdm -nodaemon to keep x running in runlevel 5
  • startx to start manually

xfs is supposedly required for x windows (even though i can run x fine without it...):

service xfs on
chkconfig xfs on

x environment config:

  • /etc/sysconfig/desktop
  • /etc/X11/xinit/xinitrc
  • /etc/X11/xinit/Xclients
  • ~/.xinitrc
  • ~./Xclients

redhat display config tool:

system-config-display [--reconfig]

install gnome desktop:

yum groupinstall "gnome desktop environment"

switchdesk allows you to change your desktop environment:

yum install switchdesk

if switchdesk is not available, edit /etc/sysconfig/desktop:


add new partitions, filesystems, and swap to existing systems


manage partitions:

fdisk <device>

make filesystems:


label filesystems:

e2label <partition> <label>

manage filesystem settings:

tune2fs <partition>
dumpe2fs <partition>

note that it's possible to create a swap file instead of a partition:

dd if=/dev/zero of=<file> bs=1024 count=<size>

format the file/partition:

mkswap <partition|file>
nano -w /etc/fstab
swapon -va
cat /proc/swaps

use standard command-line tools to analyze problems and configure system

  • check for full filesystems, quotas

Installation and Configuration

RHCTs must be able to:

perform network OS installation

at boot prompt:

linux askmethod

implement a custom partitioning scheme

configure printing

printing support is provided by cups:

service cups start
chkconfig cups on

redhat printer config tool:


web config tool:


printing via command line:

# print
lpr <file>
# view print queue
# remove print job
lprm <job number>

configure the scheduling of tasks using cron and at


make sure vixie cron is installed and running:

yum install vixie-cron
service crond start
chkconfig crond on
  1. if /etc/cron.allow exists, only these users are allowed (/etc/cron.deny is ignored)
  2. if /etc/cron.allow does not exist, everyone allowed except users in /etc/cron.deny
  3. if neither exists, only root allowed
  4. empty /etc/cron.deny means all users allowed (default)

edit your cron jobs:

crontab -e

crontab format:

<minute> <hour> <day of month> <month> <day of week> <command>

Note: /etc/crontab has additional user field before command.


make sure at is installed and running:

yum install at
service atd start
chkconfig atd on
  1. if /etc/at.allow exists, only these users are allowed (/etc/at.deny is ignored)
  2. if /etc/at.allow does not exist, everyone allowed except users in /etc/at.deny
  3. if neither exists, only root allowed
  4. empty /etc/at.deny means all users allowed (default)

example session:

# add jobs
at now + 1 hour
at> <command>

at 09:00 2009-07-23
at> <command>

at> <command>

# list jobs

remove jobs
atrm <job>

attach system to a network directory service, such as NIS or LDAP

redhat config tools:


required packages for nis:

yum install ypbind portmap

required packages for ldap:

yum install nss-ldap openldap

configure autofs

make sure the autofs service is running:

service autofs start
chkconfig autofs on

ensure the following line in /etc/nsswitch.conf:

automount: files nis

define an autofs-controlled mountpoint called test by adding the following to /etc/auto.master:

/test /etc/auto.test

create /etc/auto.test:

* example:/home/&
  1. local /test/blah => remote
  2. local /test/user => remote example:/home/user (Note: this method can be used to automount home directories)

test automounting:

ls /test/blah
ls /test/user

# redhat defaults
ls /net/<hostname>
ls /misc/cd

add and manage users, groups, quotas, and File Access Control Lists

redhat user/group config tool:


/etc/passwd file format:


/etc/shadow file format:


command line user management:

useradd <user>
usermod <user>
chage <user>
userdel <user>
  • default account expiration settings in /etc/login.defs

/etc/group file format:


command line group management:

groups <user>
groupadd <user>
groupmod <user>
groupdel <user>

install quota package

yum install quota

add fs options to /etc/fstab:


remount device

mount -o remount <mount point>

init quota database:

quotacheck -cugm <device>

enable/disable quotas

quotaon <device>
quotaoff <device>

edit quotas

edquota -u <user>
edquota -g <group>

edit grace time

edquota -ut <user>
edquota -gt <group>

check/report quotas

quota <user>
repquota -aug
Access Control Lists

install acl package

yum install acl

add fs options to /etc/fstab:


remount device:

mount -o remount <mount point>

manage acls:

# set acls
setfacl -m [d:]u:<user>:<r|w|x|-> <file>
setfacl -m [d:]g:<group>:<r|w|x|-> <file>

# get acls
getfacl <file>

# remove acls
setfacl -x u:<user> <file>
setfacl -x g:<user> <file>
setfacl --remove-all <file>
setfacl --remove-default <file>

configure filesystem permissions for collaboration

  1. create new group
  2. add users to group
  3. chown folder to root.
  4. chmod folder to 2770 (g+s)

install and update packages using rpm

# install
rpm -ivh <package>.rpm

# update
rpm -Uvh <package>.rpm

# freshen
rpm -Fvh <package>.rpm

# remove
rpm -e <package>

# query by file name
rpm -qf <full path of file>

# verify a file
rpm -Vf > <full path of file>

# verify status of all packages
rpm -Va > /tmp/rpmverify

Note: while inside the rescue environment, use the --root option to specify the real location of your root file system (e.g. --root=/mnt/sysimage).

properly update the kernel package

  1. always do an install (i.e. rpm -ivh ) rather than an update
  2. check /boot/grub/grub.conf for proper configuration

configure the system to update/install packages from remote repositories using yum or pup

yum config goes in /etc/yum.repos.d/

name=my repo

modify the system bootloader

  • production config is in /boot/grub/grub.conf
  • see examples in /usr/share/doc/grub-*/menu.lst

implement software RAID at install-time and run-time

to start, we need at least two devices/partitions of type "linux raid autodetect" (use fdisk to set partition type to "fd")

create raid device:

mdadm --create /dev/md0 --level=<0|1|4|5|6|10> --raid-devices=<num> <device list>

fail disk in array:

mdadm /dev/md0 -f <device>

remove disk from array:

mdadm /dev/md0 -r <device>

add disk to array:

mdadm /dev/md0 -a <device>

stop array:

mdadm --stop /dev/md0

check raid status:

mdadm --detail /dev/md0

cat /proc/mdstat

format works as usual:

mkfs.ext3 /dev/md0

Note: don't forget to configure /etc/fstab appropriately.

use /proc/sys and sysctl to modify and set kernel run-time parameters

config is in /etc/sysctl.conf

# search through parameters
sysctl -a | grep <whatever>
# apply changes from config file immediately
sysctl -p

use scripting to automate system maintenance tasks

configure NTP for time synchronization with a higher-stratum server

redhat config tool:

  • config is in /etc/ntp.conf

synchronization configuration example:


apply changes:

service ntpd restart
chkconfig ntpd on

verify changes:

ntpq -p
RHCE skills

Troubleshooting and System Maintenance

RHCEs must demonstrate the RHCT skills listed above, and should be able to:

use the rescue environment provided by first installation CD

linux rescue
  • when working in non-chrooted rescue mode:
  • mount /dev/hdc /mnt/source (to access install files on the cd/dvd)
  • rpm commands should use the --root=/mnt/sysimage option

manually make /dev and /proc available in chrooted mode:

mount -o bind /dev /mnt/sysimage/dev
mount -o bind /proc /mnt/sysimage/proc

chroot /mnt/sysimage

diagnose and correct boot failures arising from bootloader, module, and filesystem errors

check in order:

  1. mbr
  2. /boot/grub/grub.conf
  3. /etc/fstab
  4. /etc/inittab
  5. /etc/rc.d/rc.sysinit
  6. /etc/rc.d/rc*.d
  7. /etc/rc.d/init.d/*
  8. /etc/rc.d/rc.local
grub errors
  • in general, use the last line before the error message to see where grub error'd out
  • to find correct value for root option, type find /grub/stage1 at the grub command line (Note: remember that all file names in grub.conf are relative to the root option)
  • check for missing files in kernel and/or initrd lines
kernel errors
  • missing/corrupt initrd file results in: kernel panic - not syncing: vfs: unable to mount root fs on unknown-block
  • invalid root parameter for kernel results in: setuproot: error mounting /proc: No such file or directory

reinstall grub to mbr:

grub-install <device>

recreate initrd:

mkinitrd <filename> <kernel version>

fix corrupt filesystem:

fsck <partition>

if fsck is unable to locate a superblock, you can specify an alternative one:

dumpe2fs <partition>
fsck -b <block#> <partition>

diagnose and correct problems with network services (see Installation and Configuration below for a list of these services)

see what's listening on what port:

netstat -ntaupe

add, remove, and resize logical volumes

redhat lvm config tool:

yum install system-config-lvm

create physical volume:

pvcreate <device>

create volume group:

vgcreate <name> <pv device> [pv device]

extend volume group:

vgextend <name> <pv device>

create logical volume:

lvcreate --size <size>M --name <lv name> <vg name>

extend logical volume:

lvextend --size <size>M <device>
resize2fs <device>

shrink logical volume:

resize2fs <device> <size>M
lvreduce --size <size>M <device>

remove logical volume:

lvremove <device>

diagnose and correct networking services problems where SELinux contexts are interfering with proper operation.

enable/disable selinux in /etc/sysconfig/selinux:


install selinux troubleshooter:

yum install setroubleshoot
service setroubleshoot start
chkconfig setroubleshoot on

install selinux management tool:

yum install policycoreutils-gui

list selinux errors:

sealert -a /var/log/audit/audit.log | less

launch gui browser:

sealert -b

list selinux booleans:

getsebool -a

set selinux boolean:

setsebool -P <boolean> = <0|1>

list security contexts:

ls -Z <file>

change security contexts:

# using reference (copy contexts from existing known-good file)
chcon -R --reference <old file> <new file>

# manual
chcon -R -u <user> <file>
chcon -R -t <type> <file>

Installation and Configuration

RHCEs must demonstrate the RHCT-level skills listed above, and they must be capable of configuring the following network services. For each of these services, RHCEs must be able to:

  • install the packages needed to provide the service
  • configure SELinux to support the service
  • configure the service to start when the system is booted
  • configure the service for basic operation
  • Configure host-based and user-based security for the service


yum install httpd mod_ssl

make new DocumentRoot match default DocumentRoot (Note: this applies to any directory that apache will serve files from):

chcon -R --reference /var/www /www
start at boot
chkconfig httpd on
basic config

requirements for ~user/ directories:

  • UserDir directive
  • chmod 701 the user's home directory
  • change security context on the user's UserDir

requirements for .htaccess file usage:

  • AllowOverride All directive

requirements for name-based virtual hosts:

  • *NameVirtualHost :80 and *NameVirtualHost :443 directives
  • each virtual host requires appropriate ServerName and ServerAlias directives
  • Note: a single virtual host cannot span multiple ports (i.e. 80 and 443). two separate *VirtualHost : sections are needed to do this.

self-signed ssl cert:

cd /etc/pki/tls/certs
rm localhost.crt
make testcert

check virtual host config:

host-based security

firewall config:

protocol ports
tcp 80, 443

hosts are allowed by default and must be explicitly denied:

<Directory /var/www/html>
   Order deny,allow
   Deny from
   Deny from

hosts are denied by default and must be explicitly allowed:

<Directory /var/www/html>
   Order allow,deny
   Allow from
   Allow from
user-based security

create web password file:

htpasswd -c /etc/httpd/webusers testuser1
htpasswd /etc/httpd/webusers testuser2

create web group file (/etc/httpd/webgroups):

testgroup: testuser1 testuser2

allow access by group:

<Directory /var/www/html>
   AuthType Basic
   AuthName "top secret area"
   AuthUserFile /etc/httpd/webusers
   AuthGroupFile /etc/httpd/webgroups
   Require group testgroup
verify service functionality

test http/https:

elinks <http|https>://<hostname>/[path]


yum install samba samba-client

allow samba to share home directories:

setsebool -P samba_enable_home_dirs=1

mark a directory as sharable with samba:

chcon -R -T samba_share_t <directory>
start at boot
chkconfig smb on
basic config

redhat samba config tool:

yum install system-config-samba

set workgroup/domain:

workgroup = <workgroup>

security modes:

# connections check local pwdb (default)
security = user

# member server on a domain, uses pwdb on a dc
security = domain
workgroup = EXAMPLE

# member server on an ad domain using kerberos, uses pwdb on a dc
security = ads
password server =

# used when samba was not capable of being a domain member server (DO NOT USE)
security = server
encrypt passwords = yes
password server = <netbios name of dc>

# each share requires a password (DO NOT USE)
security = share

share options:

[<share name>]
# path for share
path = <path>

# share is visible
browseable = <yes|no>

# rw enabled
writeable = <yes|no>

# this is a shared printer
printable = <yes|no>

# all users connecting to this share use <group> as their primary group
group = <group name>

join domain:

net rpc join -U root

fstab example:

//<hostname>/<share> <mountpoint> cifs user=<username>,pass=<password> 0 0

Note: mount.cifs and umount.cifs need to be chmod'ed u+s in order to be used by non-root users

host-based security

firewall config:

protocol ports
tcp 139, 445
udp 137, 138

hosts allow/deny can be used per-server or per-share:

hosts allow =
hosts deny =
user-based security

account maintenance:

# add account (local linux account must exist first, or be translated via /etc/samba/smbusers):
smbpasswd -a <username>

# enable/disable account:
smbpasswd -e <username>
smbpasswd -d <username>

# remove account:
smbpasswd -x <username>

Note: service smb reload may be needed after account changes

share access:

valid users = <user1> @<group1>
  • share access is also controlled by unix file permissions
verify service functionality

list shares:

smbclient -L <hostname> -U <username>

browse shares:

smbclient //<hostname>/<share> -U <username>

test allow/deny statements for a host:

testparm /etc/samba/smb.conf <hostname> <ip address>


yum install portmap nfs-utils
start at boot
chkconfig portmap on
chkconfig nfs on
chkconfig nfslock on
chkconfig netfs on
basic config

redhat config tool:

yum install system-config-nfs

format of /etc/exports:

<mountpoint> <host>(<options>) [<host>(<options>) ...]

activate new exports:

/etc/init.d/nfs restart
host-based security

Note: edit /etc/sysconfig/nfs and restart nfs to set static ports

firewall config:

# see ports
rpcinfo -p

host based security is intrinsic to the format of the exports file

user-based security

use standard file permissions

verify service functionality

list exports:

showmount -e <host>


yum install vsftpd

allow local users to log in and cd into home directories:

setsebool -P ftp_home_dir=1
start at boot
chkconfig vsftpd on
basic config
host-based security
  • use ipchains with -[!]s option

firewall config:

protocol ports
tcp 21

Note: ftp data transfers will not work unless ip_conntrack_ftp is added to IPTABLES_MODULES in /etc/sysconfig/iptables-config

tcp_wrappers example:

vsftpd : 192.168.0.
user-based security
  • allow/deny controlled via /etc/vsftpd/user_list (Note: users in /etc/vsftpd/ftpusers are always denied via pam)
  • default allow/deny is configured by userlist_deny statement in vsftpd.conf
verify service functionality

test ftp:

ftp <server>

Web proxy

yum install squid

allow squid to connect to the network (this is recommended, but was not needed in my testing):

setsebool -P squid_connect_any=1
start at boot
chkconfig squid on
host-based security

firewall config:

protocol ports
tcp 3128

allow access from local networks:

acl our_networks src
http_access allow our_networks
user-based security


verify service functionality

test proxy:

HTTP_PROXY=<server>:3128 elinks


yum install postfix
alternatives --config mta
service sendmail stop
start at boot
chkconfig postfix on
basic config

listen on public interfaces:

inet_interfaces = all

specify all destination hostnames/domains:

mydestination = <hostname1>, <hostname2>, ...

specify origin domain:

myorigin = $mydomain

local aliases in /etc/aliases (Note: dont forget to run newaliases to apply changes):

<alias>: <user1>[, user2]

virtual aliases in /etc/postfix/virtual (Note: dont forget to run postmap /etc/postfix/virtual to apply changes):

<virtual alias>: <user>

enable virtual aliases:

virtual_alias_maps = hash:/etc/postfix/virtual

outbound address rewriting in /etc/postfix/generic (Note: dont forget to run postmap /etc/postfix/generic to apply changes):

<outbound alias>: <user>

enable outbound aliases:

smtp_generic_maps = hash:/etc/postfix/generic
host-based security
  • use ipchains with -[!]s option

firewall config:

protocol ports
tcp 25
user-based security

FIXME use smtp auth?

verify service functionality

test smtp:

telnet <server> 25


yum install dovecot
start at boot
chkconfig dovecot on
basic config

enable protocols:

protocols = <protocol list>

create custom ssl cert:

nano -w /etc/pki/dovecot/dovecot-openssl.cnf
service dovecot restart
host-based security

use ipchains with -[!]s option

protocol ports
tcp 143, 110, 995, 993
user-based security

use pam_listfile in /etc/pam.d/dovecot

verify service functionality

test mailbox acess:

mutt -f <imap|imaps|pop|pops>://<user>@<server>


yum install openssh-server
start at boot
chkconfig sshd on
user-based security

allow/deny user access:

AllowUsers user1 user2
DenyUsers user4 user5
host-based security
  • use ipchains with -[!]s option

firewall config:

protocol ports
tcp 22

tcp_wrappers example:

sshd : 192.168.0.
verify service functionality

test logging in:

ssh <user>@<server>

DNS (caching name server, slave name server)

yum install bind-chroot caching-nameserver
start at boot
chkconfig named on
basic config

copy sample config:

cp -a /var/named/chroot/etc/named.caching-nameserver.conf /var/named/chroot/etc/named.conf\

caching-only nameserver:

  • edit listen-on directives (comment out to listen on all interfaces)
  • edit allow-query directives (comment out allow queries from everyone)
  • edit match-clients and match-destinations directives to allow recursive queries from other hosts

slave nameserver:

  • get slave example from /usr/share/doc/bind-*/sample/etc/named.conf
host-based security

firewall config:

protocol ports
tcp 53
udp 53

allow-query example:

allow-query {; localnets; };
user-based security


verify service functionality

test query:

dig @<server> <domain>

test zone transfer:

dig @<server> <domain> axfr


yum install ntp
start at boot
chkconfig ntpd on
host-based security

firewall config:

protocol ports
udp 123

allow other servers to sync with us:

restrict mask nomodify notrap
user-based security


verify service functionality

show peers:

ntpq -p

RHCEs must also be able to:

configure hands-free installation using Kickstart

yum install system-config-kickstart
  1. make installation tree available
  2. create kickstart file (use system-config-kickstart to create ks.cfg) and validate (using ksvalidator)
  3. validate kickstart file
  4. make kickstart file available
  • bootable diskette (place in top level directory)
  • bootable cdrom (place in top level directory)
  • network (http, ftp, nfs)
  1. use bootable media and supply appropriate kernel parameter

    ks=floppy:/ks.cfg ks=cdrom:/ks.cfg ks=

implement logical volumes at install-time

use iptables to implement packet filtering and/or NAT

Note: do not use system-config-securitylevel, as it will overwrite your custom iptables rules. the following method seems to be the best way to go:

  1. make changes in /etc/sysconfig/iptables
  2. run /etc/init.d/iptables restart to apply changes
packet filtering

packet filtering example:

-A <chain> -p <tcp/udp> -m <tcp/udp> [-s[!] <source address>] --dport <destination port> -j ACCEPT

enable ip forwarding in /etc/sysctl.conf:

net.ipv4.ip_forward = 1

to test from another machine:

ip route replace default via <ip address>

to make nat changes permanent, add the following to the top of /etc/sysctl.conf

# nat rules go here

inbound dnat:

iptables -t nat -A PREROUTING -p <tcp/udp> --dport <destination port> -j DNAT --to-dest <private server>:<port>

outbound dnat:

iptables -t nat -A OUTPUT -p <tcp/udp> --dport <destination port> -j DNAT --to-dest <private server>:<port>


iptables -t nat -A POSTROUTING -o <outbound interface> -j MASQUERADE


iptables -t nat -A POSTROUTING -j SNAT --to-source <public server>:<port>

example for forwarding port 80 requests to port 8080:

iptables -A PREROUTING -i eth+ -p tcp --dport 80 -j REDIRECT --to-port 8080


use PAM to implement user-level restrictions

module documentation
  • /usr/share/doc/pam-*/txts
module configuration
  • /etc/pam.d

  • /etc/security

interface description
auth user authentication (e.g. verifies password, set group membership or kerberos tickets, etc.)
account verifies that access is allowed (e.g. expired account?, check group membership, etc.)
password handles password changes
session manages user sessions (e.g. mount home dir, create mailbox, logging, etc.)
control flag description
required must pass, **continue** testing on failure
requisite must pass, **stop** testing on failure
sufficient failure is ignored, but if passing so far, return success at this point
optional pass or failure is irrelevant
include include another file example

allow/deny users if listed in /etc/special:

auth required onerr=success item=user sense=<allow|deny> file=/etc/special
Additional Notes


file format:

<daemon list> : <client list> [except <client list>] [: <option>]

search order:

  1. /etc/hosts.allow
  2. /etc/hosts.deny
  3. allow by default

Note: searching stops on first match


unable to log in

  • password wrong or expired?
  • account locked?
  • shell set to /sbin/nologin, /bin/false, etc.?
  • root user and PermitRootLogin no in /etc/ssh/sshd_config?
  • root user and terminal not listed in /etc/securetty?
  • non-root user and /etc/nologin exists?
  • check pam_listfile restrictions