bos - Introduction to the bos command suite


The commands in the bos command suite are the administrative interface to the Basic OverSeer (BOS) Server, which runs on every file server machine to monitor the other server processes on it. If a process fails, the BOS Server can restart it automatically, taking into account interdependencies between it and other processes. The BOS Server frees system administrators from constantly monitoring the status of server machines and processes.

There are several categories of commands in the bos command suite:

The BOS Server and the bos commands use and maintain the following configuration and log files:

For more details, see the reference page for each file.


The following arguments and flags are available on many commands in the bos suite. The reference page for each command also lists them, but they are described here in greater detail.

-cell <cell name>

Names the cell in which to run the command. It is acceptable to abbreviate the cell name to the shortest form that distinguishes it from the other entries in the /usr/vice/etc/CellServDB file on the local machine. If the -cell argument is omitted, the command interpreter determines the name of the local cell by reading the following in order:

Do not combine the -cell and -localauth options. A command on which the -localauth flag is included always runs in the local cell (as defined in the server machine's local /usr/afs/etc/ThisCell file), whereas a command on which the -cell argument is included runs in the specified foreign cell.


Prints a command's online help message on the standard output stream. Do not combine this flag with any of the command's other options; when it is provided, the command interpreter ignores all other options, and only prints the help message.


Constructs a server ticket using the server encryption key with the highest key version number in the local /usr/afs/etc/KeyFile file. The bos command interpreter presents the ticket, which never expires, to the BOS Server during mutual authentication.

Use this flag only when issuing a command on a server machine; client machines do not usually have a /usr/afs/etc/KeyFile file. The issuer of a command that includes this flag must be logged on to the server machine as the local superuser root. The flag is useful for commands invoked by an unattended application program, such as a process controlled by the UNIX cron utility or by a cron entry in the machine's /usr/afs/local/BosConfig file. It is also useful if an administrator is unable to authenticate to AFS but is logged in as the local superuser root.

Do not combine the -cell and -localauth options. A command on which the -localauth flag is included always runs in the local cell (as defined in the server machine's local /usr/afs/etc/ThisCell file), whereas a command on which the -cell argument is included runs in the specified foreign cell. Also, do not combine the -localauth and -noauth flags.


Establishes an unauthenticated connection to the BOS Server, in which the BOS Server treats the issuer as the unprivileged user anonymous. It is useful only when authorization checking is disabled on the server machine (during the installation of a file server machine or when the bos setauth command has been used during other unusual circumstances). In normal circumstances, the BOS Server allows only privileged users to issue commands that change the status of a server or configuration file, and refuses to perform such an action even if the -noauth flag is provided. Do not combine the -noauth and -localauth flags.

-server <machine name>

Indicates the AFS server machine on which to run the command. Identify the machine by its IP address in dotted decimal format, its fully-qualified host name (for example,, or by an abbreviated form of its host name that distinguishes it from other machines. Successful use of an abbreviated form depends on the availability of a name service (such as the Domain Name Service or a local host table) at the time the command is issued.

For the commands that alter the administrative files shared by all server machines in the cell (the bos addhost, bos addkey, bos adduser, bos removehost, bos removekey, and bos removeuser commands), the appropriate machine depends on whether the cell uses the United States or international version of AFS:


To issue any bos command that changes a configuration file or alters process status, the issuer must be listed in the /usr/afs/etc/UserList file on the server machine named by the -server argument. Alternatively, if the -localauth flag is included the issuer must be logged on as the local superuser root.

To issue a bos command that only displays information (other than the bos listkeys command), no privilege is required.


BosConfig(5), CellServDB(5), KeyFile(5), ThisCell(5), UserList(5), bos_addhost(8), bos_addkey(8), bos_adduser(8), bos_apropos(8), bos_create(8), bos_delete(8), bos_exec(8), bos_getdate(8), bos_getlog(8), bos_getrestart(8), bos_getrestricted(8), bos_help(8), bos_install(8), bos_listhosts(8), bos_listkeys(8), bos_listusers(8), bos_prune(8), bos_removehost(8), bos_removekey(8), bos_removeuser(8), bos_restart(8), bos_salvage(8), bos_setauth(8), bos_setcellname(8), bos_setrestart(8), bos_setrestricted(8), bos_shutdown(8), bos_start(8), bos_startup(8), bos_status(8), bos_stop(8), bos_uninstall(8)


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