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Chapter 3. Getting to know dCache

This section is a guide for exploring a newly installed dCache system. The confidence obtained by this exploration will prove very helpful when encountering problems in the running system. This forms the basis for the more detailed stuff in the later parts of this book. The starting point is a fresh installation according to the section called “Installing a dCache instance”.


Reading and writing data to and from a dCache instance can be done with a number of protocols. After a standard installation, these protocols are WebDav, xroot, GSIdCap, and GridFTP. In addition dCache comes with an implementation of the SRM protocol which negotiates the actual data transfer protocol.


Create the root of the Chimera namespace and a world-writable directory by

chimera mkdir /data
chimera mkdir /data/world-writable
chimera chmod 777 /data/world-writable


To use WebDAV you need to define a WebDAV service in your layout file. You can define this service in an extra domain, e.g. [webdavDomain] or add it to another domain to the file /etc/dcache/layouts/mylayout.conf.



Depending on the client you might need to set webdav.redirect.on-read=false and/or webdav.redirect.on-write=false.

#  ---- Whether to redirect GET requests to a pool
#   If true, WebDAV doors will respond with a 302 redirect pointing to
#   a pool holding the file. This requires that a pool can accept
#   incoming TCP connections and that the client follows the
#   redirect. If false, data is relayed through the door. The door
#   will establish a TCP connection to the pool.

#  ---- Whether to redirect PUT requests to a pool
#   If true, WebDAV doors will respond with a 307 redirect pointing to
#   a pool to which to upload the file. This requires that a pool can
#   accept incoming TCP connections and that the client follows the
#   redirect. If false, data is relayed through the door. The door
#   will establish a TCP connection to the pool. Only clients that send
#   a Expect: 100-Continue header will be redirected - other requests
#   will always be proxied through the door.

Now you can start the WEBDAV domain

dcache start webdavDomain

and access your files via http://<webdav-door.example.org>:2880 with your browser.

You can connect the webdav server to your file manager and copy a file into your dCache.

To use curl to copy a file into your dCache you will need to set webdav.redirect.on-write=false.

Write the file test.txt

curl -T test.txt http://webdav-door.example.org:2880/data/world-writable/test.txt

and read it

curl http://webdav-door.example.org:2880/data/world-writable/test.txt


To be able to use dCap you need to have the dCap door running in a domain.


For anonymous access you need to set the property dcap.authz.anonymous-operations to FULL.


For this tutorial install dCap on your worker node. This can be the machine where your dCache is running.

Get the GLITE repository (which contains dCap) and install DCAP using yum.

cd /etc/yum.repos.d/
wget http://grid-deployment.web.cern.ch/grid-deployment/glite/repos/3.2/glite-UI.repo
yum install dcap

Create the root of the Chimera namespace and a world-writable directory for dCap to write into as described above.

Copy the data (here /bin/sh is used as example data) using the dccp command and the dCap protocol describing the location of the file using a URL, where <dcache.example.org> is the host on which the dCache is running

dccp -H /bin/sh dcap://<dcache.example.org>/data/world-writable/my-test-file-1
|[###############################] 100% 718 kiB
|735004 bytes (718 kiB) in 0 seconds

and copy the file back.

dccp -H dcap://<dcache.example.org>/data/world-writable/my-test-file-1 /tmp/mytestfile1
|[###############################] 100% 718 kiB
|735004 bytes (718 kiB) in 0 seconds

To remove the file you will need to mount the namespace.


In the standard configuration the dCache web interface is started on the head node (meaning that the domain hosting the httpd service is running on the head node) and can be reached via port 2288. Point a web browser to http://<head-node.example.org>:2288/ to get to the main menu of the dCache web interface. The contents of the web interface are self-explanatory and are the primary source for most monitoring and trouble-shooting tasks.

The “Cell Services” page displays the status of some important cells of the dCache instance.

The “Pool Usage” page gives a good overview of the current space usage of the whole dCache instance. In the graphs, free space is marked yellow, space occupied by cached files (which may be deleted when space is needed) is marked green, and space occupied by precious replica, which cannot be deleted is marked red. Other states (e.g., files which are currently written) are marked purple.

The page “Pool Request Queues” (or “Pool Transfer Queues”) gives information about the number of current requests handled by each pool. “Actions Log” keeps track of all the transfers performed by the pools up to now.

The remaining pages are only relevant with more advanced configurations: The page “Pools” (or “Pool Attraction Configuration”) can be used to analyze the current configuration of the pool selection unit in the pool manager. The remaining pages are relevant only if a tertiary storage system (HSM) is connected to the dCache instance.



Only commands described in this documentation should be used for the administration of a dCache system.


dCache has a powerful administration interface. Administration protocol is implemented as admin cell that embeds ssh server. Once logged to admin interface an administrator can connect or send commands to other cells in the system.

It is useful to run the admin service in its own separate domain. In the example of the section called “Installing a dCache instance” this domain is called adminDoorDomain:



All configurable values of the ssh admin interface can be found in the /usr/share/dcache/defaults/admin.properties file. Please do NOT change any value in this file. Instead enter the key value combination in the /etc/dcache/dcache.conf.


The admin service embeds ssh server listening on port 22224 (configurable) and supports the following authentication mechanisms :

  • kerberos
  • password
  • public key authentication.

The mechanisms can be enabled by setting the following variable:

admin.ssh.authn.enabled = password,publickey,kerberos

(that is comma separated mechanism names). By default publickey and password are enabled. To enable kerberos it needs to be added to the list. To complete kerberos setup the following variable needs to be defined:


and admin.ssh.authn.kerberos.keytab-file should point existing keytab file. Default is /etc/krb5.keytab.

There are two ways of authorizing administrators to access the dCache ssh admin interface - public key based authorization and gPlazma based authorization. The configuration of both authorization mechanisms is described below.

Public Key Authorization

To authorize administrators by their public key insert the key into the file authorized_keys2 which should be placed in the directory /etc/dcache/admin as specified in the file /usr/share/dcache/defaults/admin.properties under admin.paths.authorized-keys. Each key has to be one line (no line breaks) and should have a standard format, such as:

ssh-dss AAAAB3....GWvM= /Users/JohnDoe/.ssh/id_dsa


Please make sure that the copied key is still in one line. Any line-break will prevent the key from being read.


You may omit the part behind the equal sign as it is just a comment and not used by dCache.

Now you can login to the admin interface by

ssh -p 22224 -l admin headnode.example.org
|dCache (<version>)
|Type "\?" for help.

Public key based authorization is default with a fallback to gPlazma kpwd plugin.

Access via gPlazma and the dcache.kpwd file

To use gPlazma make sure that you added it to your layout file :


The gPlazma configuration file /etc/dcache/gplazma.conf has to look like:

auth    sufficient      kpwd  "kpwd=/etc/dcache/dcache.kpwd"
map     sufficient      kpwd  "kpwd=/etc/dcache/dcache.kpwd"
session sufficient      kpwd  "kpwd=/etc/dcache/dcache.kpwd"

Add a user admin to the /etc/dcache/dcache.kpwd file using the dcache script.


dcache kpwd dcuseradd admin -u 12345 -g 1000 -h / -r / -f / -w read-write -p password
|writing to /etc/dcache/dcache.kpwd :
|done writing to /etc/dcache/dcache.kpwd :

After you ran the above command the following like appears in /etc/dcache/dcache.kpwd file:

# set pwd passwd admin 4091aba7 read-write 12345 1000 / /

For more information about gPlazma see Chapter 10, Authorization in dCache.

Now the user admin can login to the admin interface with his password password by:

ssh -l admin -p 22224 headnode.example.org
|admin@headnode.example.org's password:
|dCache (<version>)
|  Type "\?" for help.

To utilize kerberos authentication mechanism the following lines need to be added to /etc/dcache/dcache.kpwd file:

mapping “johndoe@EXAMPLE.ORG” admin

login admin read-write 0 0 / / / johndoe@EXAMPLE.ORG

Then, you can access dCache having obtained kerberos ticket:

kinit johndoe@EXAMPLE.ORG
ssh -l admin -p 22224 headnode.example.org
dCache (<version>)
  Type "\?" for help.

To allow other users access to the admin interface add them to the /etc/dcache/dcache.kpwd file as described above.

Just adding a user in the dcache.kpwd file is not sufficient. The generated user also needs access priileges that can only be set within the admin interface itself.

See the section called “Create a new user” to learn how to create the user in the admin interface and set the rights.


Admin interface allows you to execute shell commands, connect to other cells and execute their supported commands or send supported cell commands to other cells. Once logged in you are prompted to use help Type "\?" for help.

headnode admin > ? ? [command]… # display help for shell commands \c cell[@domain] [user] # connect to cell \exception [trace] # controls display of stack traces \h [command]… # display help for cell commands \l [cell[@domain]|pool/poolgroup]… # list cells \q # quit \s OPTIONS[,(cell[@domain]|pool/poolgroup)]… command… # send command \sl [options] pnfsid|path command… # send to locations \sn [options] command… # send pnfsmanager command \sp [options] command… # send poolmanager command \timeout [seconds] # sets the command timeout

headnode admin >

Shell commands are always available at command prompt, whereas in order to execute cell commands you have to either connect to the cell using \c cell[@domain] and execute command or send command to the cell using \s [OPTIONS] (cell[@domain]|pool/poolgroup)[,(cell[@domain]|pool/poolgroup)]... command.... For instance:

headnode enstore > ? \c NAME \c – connect to cell

SYNOPSIS \c cell[@domain] [user]

DESCRIPTION Connect to new cell. May optionally switch to another user.

ARGUMENTS cell[@domain] Well known or fully qualified cell name. user Account to connect with.

headnode enstore >

The \l command executed without arguments lists all well-known cells in the system. In general cells are addressed by their full name <name>@<domainName>. For well-known cells the @<domainName> part can be omitted. Executing \l *@* will list everything running in your dCache system.


If the cells are well-known, they can be accessed without adding the domain-scope. See Cell Message passing for more information.

Each cell implements help [command] (also aliased as \h [command]) which, when executed without parameters, displays a set of commands supported by the cell. When provided with command name as an argument it shows that command syntax like so:

headnode admin > \s pool_1 help log set Sets the log level of .


You can send (\s) help command to a cell but you can’t send \h command to a cell. The \h command can be executed only after connecting to a cell using \c command:

headnode admin > \c pool_1 headnode admin > \h log set Sets the log level of .


Some commands are dangerous. Executing them without understanding what they do may lead to data loss.

The command \q exits the admin shell.

If you want to find out which cells are running on a certain domain, you can issue the command ps in the System cell of the domain.

Example: For example, if you want to list the cells running on the poolDomain, \c to its System cell and issue the ps command.

  (local) admin > \c System@poolDomain
  (System@poolDomain) admin > ps
    Cell List

The cells in the domain can be accessed using \c together with the cell-name scoped by the domain-name. So first, one has to get back to the local prompt, as the \c command will not work otherwise.


Note that \c only works from the local prompt. If the cell you are trying to access does not exist, the \c command will complain.

(local) admin > \c nonsense
Cell as it doesn't exist

Connect to the routing manager of the dCacheDomain and use ls command to get a list of all well-known cells, running in each domain:

  (local) admin > \c RoutingMgr@dCacheDomain
  (RoutingMgr@dCacheDoorDomain) admin > ls
  Our routing knowledge :
   Local : [PoolManager, topo, LoginBroker, info]
   adminDoorDomain : [pam]
  gsidcapDomain : [DCap-gsi-example.dcache.org]
  dcapDomain : [DCap-example.dcache.org]
  utilityDomain : [gsi-pam, PinManager]
  gPlazmaDomain : [gPlazma]
  webdavDomain : [WebDAV-example.dcache.org]
   gridftpDomain : [GFTP-example.dcache.org]
  srmDomain : [RemoteTransferManager, CopyManager, SrmSpaceManager, SRM-example.dcache.org]
   httpdDomain : [billing, srm-LoginBroker, TransferObserver]
  poolDomain : [pool_2, pool_1]
   namespaceDomain : [PnfsManager, dirLookupPool, cleaner]

All cells implement the info command to display general information about the cell and show pinboard command for listing the last lines of the pinboard of the cell. The output of these commands contains useful information for troubleshooting.

The most useful command of the pool cells is rep ls. It lists the file replicas which are stored in the pool by their pnfs IDs:

(RoutingMgr@dCacheDoorDomain) admin > \s pool_1 rep ls 000100000000000000001120 <-P———(0)[0]> 485212 si={myStore:STRING} 000100000000000000001230 <C———-(0)[0]> 1222287360 si={myStore:STRING} (RoutingMgr@dCacheDoorDomain) admin >

(RoutingMgr@dCacheDoorDomain) admin > \c pool_1 (pool_1) admin > rep ls 000100000000000000001120 <-P———(0)[0]> 485212 si={myStore:STRING} 000100000000000000001230 <C———-(0)[0]> 1222287360 si={myStore:STRING}

Each file replica in a pool has one of the 4 primary states: “cached” (<C—), “precious” (<-P–), “from client” (<–C-), and “from store” (<—S).

See the section called “How to Store-/Restore files via the Admin Interface” for more information about rep ls.

The most important commands in the PoolManager are: rc ls and cm ls -r.

rc ls lists the requests currently handled by the PoolManager. A typical line of output for a read request with an error condition is (all in one line):

(pool_1) admin > \c PoolManger (PoolManager) admin > rc ls 000100000000000000001230@ m=1 r=1 [] [Waiting 08.28 19:14:16] {149,No pool candidates available or configured for ‘staging’}

As the error message at the end of the line indicates, no pool was found containing the file replica and no pool could be used for staging the file from a tertiary storage system.

See the section called “Obtain information via the dCache Command Line Admin Interface” for more information about the command rc ls

Finally, cm ls with the option -r gives the information about the pools currently stored in the cost module of the pool manager. A typical output is:

(PoolManager) admin > cm ls -r pool_1={R={a=0;m=2;q=0};S={a=0;m=2;q=0};M={a=0;m=100;q=0};PS={a=0;m=20;q=0};PC={a=0;m=20;q=0}; (…continues…) SP={t=2147483648;f=924711076;p=1222772572;r=0;lru=0;{g=20000000;b=0.5}}} pool_1={Tag={{hostname=example.org}};size=0;SC=0.16221282938326134;CC=0.0;} pool_2={R={a=0;m=2;q=0};S={a=0;m=2;q=0};M={a=0;m=100;q=0};PS={a=0;m=20;q=0};PC={a=0;m=20;q=0}; (…continues…) SP={t=2147483648;f=2147483648;p=0;r=0;lru=0;{g=4294967296;b=250.0}}} pool_2={Tag={{hostname=example.org}};size=0;SC=2.7939677238464355E-4;CC=0.0;}

While the first line for each pool gives the information stored in the cache of the cost module, the second line gives the costs (SC: space cost, CC: performance cost) calculated for a (hypothetical) file of zero size. For details on how these are calculated and their meaning, see the section called “Classic Partitions”.


To create a new user, and set a new password for the user \c from the local prompt ((local) admin >) to the acm, the access control manager, and run following command sequence:

(local) admin > \c acm
(acm) admin > create user <new-user>
(acm) admin > set passwd -user=<new-user> <newPasswd> <newPasswd>

For the newly created users there will be an entry in the directory /etc/dcache/admin/users/meta.


As the initial user admin has not been created with the above command you will not find him in the directory /etc/dcache/admin/users/meta.

Example: Give the new user access to the PnfsManager.

  (acm) admin > create acl cell.PnfsManager.execute
  (acm) admin > add access -allowed cell.PnfsManager.execute <new-user>

Now you can check the permissions by:

  (acm) admin > check cell.PnfsManager.execute <new-user>
  (acm) admin > show acl cell.PnfsManager.execute
  <new-user> -> true

The following commands allow access to every cell for a user :

(acm) admin > create acl cell.*.execute
(acm) admin > add access -allowed cell.*.execute <new-user>

The following command makes a user as powerful as admin (dCache’s equivalent to the root user):

(acm) admin > create acl *.*.*
(acm) admin > add access -allowed *.*.* <new-user>


In scripts, one can use a “Here Document” to list the commands, or supply them to ssh as standard-input (stdin). The following demonstrates using a Here Document:

#  Script to automate dCache administrative activity

outfile=/tmp/$(basename $0).$$.out

ssh -p 22224 admin@adminNode  > $outfile << EOF
\c PoolManager
cm ls -r

Or, the equivalent as stdin.

#   Script to automate dCache administrative activity.

echo -e '\c pool_1\nrep ls\n(more commands here)\n\q' \
  | ssh -p 22224 admin@adminNode \
  | tr -d '\r' > rep_ls.out


In dCache digital certificates are used for authentication and authorisation. To be able to verify the chain of trust when using the non-commercial grid-certificates you should install the list of certificates of grid Certification Authorities (CAs). In case you are using commercial certificates you will find the list of CAs in your browser.

wget http://grid-deployment.web.cern.ch/grid-deployment/glite/repos/3.2/lcg-CA.repo
|--2024-07-02 10:26:10--  http://grid-deployment.web.cern.ch/grid-deployment/glite/repos/3.2/lcg-CA.repo
|Resolving grid-deployment.web.cern.ch...,
|Connecting to grid-deployment.web.cern.ch||:80... connected.
|HTTP request sent, awaiting response... 200 OK
|Length: 449 [text/plain]
|Saving to: `lcg-CA.repo'
|100%[=============>] 449         --.-K/s   in 0s
|2024-07-02 10:26:10 (61.2 MB/s) - `lcg-CA.repo' saved [449/449]
mv lcg-CA.repo /etc/yum.repos.d/
yum install lcg-CA
|Loaded plugins: allowdowngrade, changelog, kernel-module
|CA                            |  951 B     00:00
|CA/primary                    |  15 kB     00:00

You will need a server certificate for the host on which your dCache is running and a user certificate. The host certificate needs to be copied to the directory /etc/grid-security/ on your server and converted to hostcert.pem and hostkey.pem as described in Using X.509 Certificates. Your user certificate is usually located in .globus. If it is not there you should copy it from your browser to .globus and convert the .p12 file to usercert.pem and userkey.pem.


If you have the clients installed on the machine on which your dCache is running you will need to add a user to that machine in order to be able to execute the voms-proxy-init command and execute voms-proxy-init as this user.

useradd johndoe

Change the password of the new user in order to be able to copy files to this account.

passwd johndoe
|Changing password for user johndoe.
|New UNIX password:
|Retype new UNIX password:
|passwd: all authentication tokens updated successfully.
su johndoe
mkdir .globus

Copy your key files from your local machine to the new user on the machine where the dCache is running.

scp .globus/user*.pem johndoe@<dcache.example.org>:.globus

Install glite-security-voms-clients (contained in the gLite-UI).

sudo yum install glite-security-voms-clients

Generate a proxy certificate using the command voms-proxy-init.

|Enter GRID pass phrase:
|Your identity: /C=DE/O=GermanGrid/OU=DESY/CN=John Doe
|Creating proxy .............................................. Done
|Your proxy is valid until Wed Jul 3 15:38:03 2024

With voms-proxy-init -voms <yourVO> you can add VOMS attributes to the proxy. A user’s roles (Fully Qualified Attribute Names) are read from the certificate chain found within the proxy. These attributes are signed by the user’s VOMS server when the proxy is created. For the voms-proxy-init -voms command you need to have the file /etc/vomses which contains entries about the VOMS servers like


"desy" "grid-voms.desy.de" "15104" "/C=DE/O=GermanGrid/OU=DESY/CN=host/grid-voms.desy.de" "desy" "24"
"atlas" "voms.cern.ch" "15001" "/DC=ch/DC=cern/OU=computers/CN=voms.cern.ch" "atlas" "24"
"dteam" "lcg-voms.cern.ch" "15004" "/DC=ch/DC=cern/OU=computers/CN=lcg-voms.cern.ch" "dteam" "24"
"dteam" "voms.cern.ch" "15004" "/DC=ch/DC=cern/OU=computers/CN=voms.cern.ch" "dteam" "24"

Now you can generate your voms proxy containing your VO.


voms-proxy-init -voms desy
|Enter GRID pass phrase:
|Your identity: /C=DE/O=GermanGrid/OU=DESY/CN=John Doe
|Creating temporary proxy ................................... Done
|Contacting  grid-voms.desy.de:15104 [/C=DE/O=GermanGrid/OU=DESY/CN=host/grid-voms.desy.de] "desy" Done
|Creating proxy .................... Done
|Your proxy is valid until Wed Jul 3 15:38:03 2024

Authentication and authorization in dCache is done by the GPLAZMA service. Define this service in the layout file.


In this tutorial we will use the gplazmalite-vorole-mapping plugin. To this end you need to edit the /etc/grid-security/grid-vorolemap and the /etc/grid-security/storage-authzdb as well as the /etc/dcache/dcachesrm-gplazma.policy.

Example: The /etc/grid-security/grid-vorolemap: “/C=DE/O=GermanGrid/OU=DESY/CN=John Doe” “/desy” doegroup The /etc/grid-security/storage-authzdb: version 2.1

  authorize  doegroup read-write 12345 1234 / / /

The /etc/dcache/dcachesrm-gplazma.policy: # Switches xacml-vo-mapping=“OFF” saml-vo-mapping=“OFF” kpwd=“OFF” grid-mapfile=“OFF” gplazmalite-vorole-mapping=“ON”

  # Priorities


If you want to copy files into dCache with GSIdCap, SRM or WebDAV with certificates you need to follow the instructions in the section above.


To use GSIdCap you must run a GSIdCap door. This is achieved by including the gsidcap service in your layout file on the machine you wish to host the door.


In addition, you need to have libdcap-tunnel-gsi installed on your worker node, which is contained in the gLite-UI.


As ScientificLinux 5 32bit is not supported by GLITE there is no libdcap-tunnel-gsi for SL5 32bit.

sudo yum install libdcap-tunnel-gsi

It is also available on the dCap downloads page.

sudo rpm -i http://www.dcache.org/repository/yum/sl5/x86_64/RPMS.stable//libdcap-tunnel-gsi-2.47.5-0.x86_64.rpm

The machine running the GSIdCap door needs to have a host certificate and you need to have a valid user certificate. In addition, you should have created a voms proxy as mentioned above.

Now you can copy a file into your dCache using GSIdCap

dccp /bin/sh gsidcap://<dcache.example.org>:22128/data/world-writable/my-test-file3
|801512 bytes in 0 seconds

and copy it back.

dccp gsidcap://<dcache.example.org>:22128/data/world-writable/my-test-file3 /tmp/mytestfile3.tmp
|801512 bytes in 0 seconds


To use the SRM you need to define the srm service in your layout file.


In addition, the user needs to install an SRM client for example the dcache-srmclient, which is contained in the gLite-UI, on the worker node and set the PATH environment variable.

sudo yum install dcache-srmclient

You can now copy a file into your dCache using the SRM,

srmcp -2 file:////bin/sh srm://dcache.example.org:8443/data/world-writable/my-test-file4

copy it back

srmcp -2 srm://dcache.example.org:8443/data/world-writable/my-test-file4 file:////tmp/mytestfile4.tmp

and delete it.

srmcp -2 srm://dcache.example.org:8443/data/world-writable/my-test-file4

If the grid functionality is not required the file can be deleted with the NFS mount of the CHIMERA namespace:

rm /data/world-writable/my-test-file4


To use WebDAV with certificates you change the entry in /etc/dcache/layouts/mylayout.conf from




Then you will need to import the host certificate into the dCache keystore using the command

dcache import hostcert

and initialise your truststore by

dcache import cacerts

Now you need to restart the WEBDAV domain

dcache restart webdavDomain

and access your files via https://<dcache.example.org>:2880 with your browser.


If the host certificate contains an extended key usage extension, it must include the extended usage for server authentication. Therefore you have to make sure that your host certificate is either unrestricted or it is explicitly allowed as a certificate for TLS Web Server Authentication.

Allowing authenticated and non-authenticated access with WebDAV

You can also choose to have secure and insecure access to your files at the same time. You might for example allow access without authentication for reading and access with authentication for reading and writing.


You can access your files via https://<dcache.example.org>:2880 with your browser.


In this section we will have a look at the configuration and log files of dCache.

The dCache software is installed in various directories according to the Filesystem Hierarchy Standard. All configuration files can be found in /etc/dcache.

Log files of domains are by default stored in /var/log/dcache/<domainName>.log.

More details about domains and cells can be found in Cell Message passing.

The most central component of a dCache instance is the PoolManager cell. It reads additional configuration information from the file /var/lib/dcache/config/poolmanager.conf at start-up. However, it is not necessary to restart the domain when changing the file. We will see an example of this below.