Information For New Computer Sciences Faculty (Summer 2010)
This document is to introduce the Computer Systems Lab (CSL), and to give you some information that we hope will be useful to you in the next few months.
Introduction to the Computer Systems Lab
The Computer Systems Lab is the computing facility for the Computer Sciences department. Unlike many departments, we support all apects of computing in the department: instructional, research and administrative uses. We think that this is one of our strengths: every user in the department has access to a wide variety of computing resources. Very little software is restricted to a specific segment of the department. Most likely the software that is on your desktop workstation is the same software that is available to students, and vice versa.
By leveraging computer support for a large number of users, we are able to provide first-class support at a reasonable cost.
The CSL carries out the policies set by the department Faculty and the Facilities Committee.
Computer Systems Lab Staff
The CSL has 8 full-time staff members (1 position currently vacant). In addition, we have about 10 undergraduate students working 10-30 hours/week, doing a variety of support tasks.
The current CSL staff, their titles are specialties are listed below:
- David Parter, Interim Director
- In addition to administrative work, David maintains the budget; coordinates purchasing; coordinates the staff; is the lead on network and security issues; supports network services; is the primary liaison to the various research projects; and deals with special projects.
- Jacob Ela, Customer Service Manager
- Jake is our Customer Service Manager, supervises the student staff, organizes our communication, documentation and training. He also handles MySQL? and other services.
- Michelle Craft
- Michelle is responsible for system monitoring and web server infrastructure.
- Tim Czerwonka, Senior Systems Administrator
- Tim handles AFS, Linux and storage, and is a resource for the entire staff.
- Peter Koczan
- Peter works primarily on database and web applications. Peter also help with Linux support.
- Jerel Mackay
- Jerel is part of the Windows team and maintains the department database.
- John Perkins
- John is part of the Windows team. He also supports the X Window System; handles most license managers and licensed software; printing and printing-related software such as TeX; perl; and mailing lists.
The student staff handles backups; moving and repairing computers; and helping faculty staff and students; in addition to specific responsibilities assigned to various students.
Facilities and Services
We support the following operating systems on desktop and server computers:
- 32-bit Linux (RedHat Enterprise 5)
- 64-bit Linux (RedHat Enterprise 5)
- Currently we support 32-bit Windows XP Workstation on x86 workstations
- We will support 64-bit Windows Windows 7 this fall/early winter
- we do not support Windows Server at this time
Special arrangements can be made for other operating systems as needed by research projects.
Laptops are by their very nature personal, and difficult to support in a consistent manner. Therefore, our current laptop support is somewhat limited: we will assist with the purchase and warranty hardware support, and can provide some software that you can install. We are investigating additional value-added services for laptop users.
If you are planning to purchase a laptop, we strongly recommend IBM thinkpads. Please contact us to coordinate any purchases using UW funds.
All of our supported computers (including Windows) use AFS for a site-wide file system. In order to meet the specific needs of research projects, we also support NFS, SMB and SAN-attached storage on a case-by-case basis. Other file system options may be available in the future, particularly for Windows 7.
Faculty, Staff and Graduate Students have 10GB home directories in AFS.
Research projects may use additional storage space (AFS, NFS, SMB, or SAN-attached)
In addition to servers for the CSL infrastructure, we configure, purchase and maintain application-specific servers for research projects. If your project has specific computing needs that are not met by desktop workstations, please contact the lab and we will work with you to meet your needs.
Our production networks are all 100 Mbit/second (workstations and some servers) or 1 Gbit/second ethernet (servers), with a Gigabit backbone. We have a 10 gigabit connections to the campus network backbone with a 1 Gbit/second backup connection. We are beginning an upgrade of the department network for 10Gbit/second backbone with 1Gbit/second for all workstations.
We use firewalls to protect the CS network. At the network border, we block the most common port-based security vulnerabilities. Internal firewalls protect specific networks within the department. We also configure additional networks and firewalls to meet specific research needs.
In addition to the production network, we have a network designated for unpatched
systems, which is configured so that it can only be reached from the production network, and is more heavily packet-filtered to restrict access. Unsupported, 'unsupportable', and unpatched computers are on this network in order to protect them from the internet, and to protect our network from security vulnerabilities and exploits on unsupported/unmaintained systems.
Faculty, staff and graduate students have unlimited black-and-white printing. Color printing costs must be charged to specific research grants. Students enrolled in CS courses are given 150 pages/course each semester, and can purchase additional paper at cost.
Printers are located on each floor.
By default, all new accounts have their email delivered to our IMAP server. The IMAP server can only be used with an IMAP client that supports SSL (Mozilla/Thunderbird is one such client). Faculty, Staff and Research Assistants with Unix desktops can have their email delivered to their desktop workstation.
All new accounts are also configured to use SpamAssassin?
to filter spam.
Most faculty, staff and students have cable modem or DSL internet connections at home through 3rd party providers.
The use of telnet and other remote access methods that use clear-text passwords is not allowed. SSH has been installed on all CSL supported Unix workstations. We are investigating a VPN service offering.
Communicating with the Lab
We are using a request-tracking system. To initiate a request, question or problem report, send email to firstname.lastname@example.org
. Please include as much information as possible.
Once your mail to lab has been received, it is assigned a number, which is added to the Subject: line in square brackets, and an acknowledgement is sent to you. For example:
Subject: Re: [CSL #12345] new faculty
Please save the acknowledgement mail. For any future email on the same issue, please reply to the acknowledgement mail, or to the email from CSL staff, and please keep the CSL # in the subject line (in square brackets), and remember to Cc: lab on your mail. This is the only way we keep related messages together.
If you have an issue you would like to discuss that can not be solved via email, please send mail to lab describing the issue and requesting a meeting. We'll research the issue and make sure that the appropriate staff person meets with you.
The CSL staff will assist and coordinate any computer-related purchase by a member of the Department made with UW funds.
If the purchase is under $5,000 we can usually use the UW credit card, which skips all but step 1 below.
If the purchase requires a purchase order, it take a minimum of 2 weeks for the paperwork to go through, sometimes longer if any of the offices along the way are busy. Depending on how many computers we are getting, and if it is off-the-shelf or custom configured, it usually takes the vendors about a month to get a larger order of computers to us. Smaller orders of standard configurations are often delivered in one week.
Here's a recap of the purchasing process:
- you decide what you want (possibly with our help -- more on that later)
- if the total is < $5,000, then it is a best judgement purchase, and it does not have to go to bids. It may be possible to skip the rest of this process (see below).
- if the total is > $5,000 and < $25,000, we can use simplified bids, which means that we get 3 bids by phone, fax or email, and if the purchasing department is satisfied, that is all.
- anything over $25,000 has to go to official sealed bids, with the time period varying from 1 - 3 weeks.
- if the item is on contract, we do not have to go to bids, but have to use the contract vendor.
- we write a requisition
- the L&S Dean's office checks the requisition and enters it into the accounting system
- if your funding includes graduate school money, the graduate school Dean's office also has to check it.
- if may have to go to research administration for review
- it is checked by pre-audit
- it is assigned to a purchasing agent. If possible, they place the order. Otherwise, they have to send it to bids, etc. and then place the order.
We try and do as much as possible for you, and if it is under $5,000 we can make the purchase using a UW credit card. That skips everything except step 1.
Here's whats involved in step 1 -- deciding what to buy:
- if you have specific needs, then you usually know what you want. If it is in any way a computer, we'd like to review your purchase to make sure we can support it.
- if you have general needs, we'll work with you to get what you want/need. We try very hard to standardize on a certain model of computers and standard components for each round of computer buys, so that we can more effectively support the computers.
- we'll do the shopping around for the best price, take care of the paperwork, and keep an eye on the order
- when the items arrive, we inventory them, install them, and lock them down in the office.
Another factor is that we (and everyone else in the University) are very busy in the first few weeks of the semester.
Getting a Computer for your Desk.
The Computer Systems Lab will provide you with a standard PC workstation running any of our supported operating systems (32- or 64-bit RedHat Linux or 32-bit Windows XP) for your desk for up to the first year of your appointment. This way you will not have to worry about purchasing a computer until you are settled in and can make a reasonable assessment of your needs.
Setting up your Account
In order to setup your account, we need the following information:
- University ID (if you have it)
- First Name
- Middle Name
- Last Name
Information we need as soon as you have it:
- UW Office (number)
- UW Building
- UW Phone
- UW Department
Optional information (used in printing the faculty/staff directory):
- Home Phone
- Home Address
In order to create an account, we also need 3 preferred login names (max 8 characters).
If you have any questions, or need additional information, please send mail to email@example.com