All posts by Chris

About Chris

Within the universtiy I am part of the support team for the School of Computing Science. My brief mostly involves linux servers and services although the whole team will turn their hand to nearly anything the school needs. Outside the university, I am flautist and sound engineer for Angels of the North

Linux.cs update

From 1st November 2016, the alias will be directed to a replacement virtual machine which runs the version of Linux currently in use in the cluster in Daysh 6.37. It is named after the late J.A. Presper Eckert, the inventor of the ENIAC computer in 1946 (from Wikipedia).

This service is being moved to the centrally hosted resilient VMWare platform. Virtual CPU provision increases from Dual Intel(R) Xeon(R) CPU X5660  @ 2.80GHz to Quad Intel(R) Xeon(R) CPU E5-2697 v3 @ 2.60GHz. This service is intended for general command-line use. It does not have sufficient resources to run full desktop sessions.

Mill cluster news

The Linux cluster in The Mill defaults to a fairly heavyweight Gnome3 desktop session. If you prefer something lightweight, you can now change this by clicking on the tools icon after entering your login name and before signing on. This is remembered on a per-user basis. LXDE and GNOME Classic are both fairly straightforward. Openbox has no visible desktop. You use the right mouse button to bring up a menu of applications or to log out.


The remmina remote desktop viewer has recently been installed alongside the default vinagre client.

If you have other requests for software with a reasonable academic use, please ask.

Chris Ritson — NUIT support —

Linux.cs updated to match Mill cluster

The alias has been updated to point to borg, named after Anita Borg. This machine runs the same Liux distribution as is available in our cluster in The Mill.

The previous version of this service will continue to run on ritchie for a few weeks. It was named after Dennis Ritchie. If you find that you need to back off and start using ritchie for your day to day work, please inform us. We plan to withdraw ritchie after the start of semester 2.

Holiday weekend cluster closures

Both our main clusters – The Mill and The Rack – will be closed over the holiday weekend from Friday 18th April to Monday 21st April inclusive.

Those of you with 24/7 access already will still have access in the normal way but should take extra care with safety and security as there are likely to be fewer staff available to assist in the event of an emergency.

On behalf of the support team I hope you have a happy Easter Weekend.

NU (self) Service now live

While the Computing Science support team will continue to review and submit support requests to ISS on behalf of members of the school, if you are sure that the job is one for ISS, there is now also a self-service mechanism for ISS support requests. The announcement from ISS follows:-

Dear colleagues,

We are pleased to let you know that the release of NU Service was successful and Self-Service for end-users is now live.  This is currently available as an additional way to contact ISS; the usual channels are also still available.

It would be very useful if you could use the system to log your own requests and let us know what you think of it via the feedback form on the site.  The URL is: <>

Sharon Mossman

Service Process Manager
Information Systems & Services
Newcastle University
Claremont Tower, Claremont Road,
Newcastle upon Tyne

Email from personal pages on

We apologise, but following accidental misuse, all outbound email from the personal web page server, was switched off at about 17:30 on 12th March at the request of ISS as it was impacting the main campus mail servers and causing problems university-wide.

This service was restored, with rate-limiting, at about 12:00 on 13th March.

Chris Ritson.

Linux cluster and update of

The Linux cluster in the Mill will continue to run Fedora 15 in academic year 2012/13.

A new virtual server named ritchie has been instantiated for us by ISS. With the exception of most graphical desktop software, this is also running Fedora 15.

Requests for additional package installations on ritchie or in the Mill should be directed to the support team in the usual way. As a virtual machine, additional resources could be allocated to Ritchie. If this turns out to be needed, please help us make a case to ISS.

On Friday 28th September, the alias will be moved from lovelace to ritchie. We hope all teaching work that requires command line access to Linux will continue to use this alias and will transfer to ritchie. Lovelace (which is running a much older version of fedora) will soon be retired.

Lovelace and ritchie are named in honour of people who have made a significant contribution to the development of computing over the years. Ada Lovelace (1815 –1852) is considered by many to have been the first computer programmer for her work documenting and extending the theoretical capabilities of Babbage’s Analytical Engine. Dennis Ritchie (1941 – 2011) created the C programming language and was influential in the early development of Unix, without which Linux would never have been developed. (All biographical details from Wikipedia).