Category Archives: Services

Posts regarding services offered by CS Support. Our Service Catalogue is hosted on the CS Support wiki.

Linux.cs updated to match Mill cluster

The alias linux.cs.ncl.ac.uk 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.

Revamped Support Team website

Today we are making public our new, revamped support team website at https://support.cs.ncl.ac.uk/.

This new, publicly-accessible site is the result of a large effort to review all the content on our former website, the internally-accessible-only Support Team Wiki.

The older wiki was organised around the notion of “Guides”, one per operating system, such as “Linux Guide”, “Mac Guide”, etc. There was a wealth of information but much of it was out of date and as a result the general impression of the wiki’s reliability was lowering. The structure also suffered from duplication where information was common across platforms.

For the new site, we have reworked the structure to be centred around three principles:

  • Services – the portfolio of services we offer the School;
  • Policies – what our policies are for some of our services, e.g. hardware refresh cycles;
  • Advice – tips and tricks for getting things done, including supplementary information for services from other teams,  tailored to our audience.

We hope the new site, incorporating much of the content from the old site, is found to be more useful and up-to-date. However we’re aware that there is a lot more work to do! If you find something that is inaccurate, misleading or simply missing, please get in touch to let us know – via the “Report a problem with this web page” link at the bottom of every page, where appropriate.

Rack lab summer upgrade

2014-07-09 13.57.29

As you may know the Support Team is looking to upgrade the Rack Lab to a Windows 8.1 build this summer.

In order to test the new build for compatibility we have placed ‘first draft’ of our “Lab 8.1 Build” in the Mill for people to test out.

As well as the teaching staff directly involved with the Rack, we encourage everyone else in the School to take a look at the machine and give us any feedback about what works well, and what is missing / broken.

Network disruption on Thursday 24th

ISS Networks are in the process of upgrading most of their networking equipment across campus, including the equipment that services Computing Science in Claremont Tower and Daysh. They plan to upgrade that equipment this Thursday 24th between 17:30 and 19:30. During that two-hour window, wired networking will be disrupted.

Due to the history of the wifi in these CS areas, I think wireless networking will also be impacted. However, I believe that wifi will not be inactive at the same time as wired switches. Therefore, if you plan to work during this period, you should be able to use one of wired or wireless at any given time. I’m waiting on confirmation of this.

The benefit of this work for CS will hopefully be the resolution of some long standing network problems, particularly on the 10th floor of Claremont Tower.

Please direct any questions or comments about this work to me (Jonathan) directly.

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.

New printer in the Mobile Media Studio

Residents of the Daysh are very familiar with the printer cageburn, located in the Mobile Media Studio. This printer was originally specified for masters printing and is struggling to cope with the additional demand of PhD and staff users. This has been a regular cause of frustration.

We’ve decided to move the printer millburn, originally of the Mill lab, to the Mobile Media Studio. Millburn is a much more capable printer and should better meet the demands of the Daysh. The Mill traditionally receives far fewer print jobs, so we decided to redeploy it at the end of term.

Daysh users, you may add mill burn to your computers using the normal process.

At some point in the future, we will be renaming millburn to something more suitable, and removing cageburn. We will publish a timescale for this work once we’ve planned it out. There will be an interim period where the name millburn will continue to work.

Mill users fear not, we will be providing a new print solution for you in due course!

Introducing irc.ncl.ac.uk

On request of one of our research groups, CS support have set up an experimental Internet Relay Chat (IRC) service. If you are familiar with IRC, point your clients to irc.ncl.ac.uk and say hello! The service is currently available to connect to on campus only. We have installed some IRC tools onto ritchie, our time share server: the client irssi, the bouncer tool bip and the screen and tmux terminal multiplexers. If you are familiar with UNIX/Linux console operation but unfamiliar with IRC, I’d recommend the irssi client. For Windows users, we are yet to perform a survey of modern IRC clients but MIRC may be a good place to start.

I was very happy to action this request, personally, as I’ve been hankering for a Newcastle IRC service for years, as have a small number of my former colleagues in ISS.

The channel #cs exists for general Computing Science discussion and #social is available for anything-goes chat. Feel free to create your own channels as you see fit.

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions for this service, please get in touch. Comments on this post are one good way to share public suggestions. The next steps for this service are some introductory guides for IRC for the uninitiated and some preparations to make the server publically accessible, to aid extra-institution collaboration.

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: <https://nuservice.ncl.ac.uk>

Sharon Mossman

Service Process Manager
Information Systems & Services
Newcastle University
Claremont Tower, Claremont Road,
Newcastle upon Tyne
NE1 7RU

Refurbishment of meeting room 6.29A

6.29A before the refurbishment

We have begun a long-overdue project to refurbish the meeting room 6.29A (formerly D8.07). This room was formerly the CETL project’s video conferencing suite but in recent years usage of the facility tailed off, no doubt due to developments in the availability of video conferencing software such as Skype.

6.29A Mid-way through refurbishment

As meeting rooms are in strong demand throughout the School, we’re approaching this project carefully with an aim to keep the room in use as much as possible. The room is still available for booking whilst current work is going on, but it may look a little untidy until we’re finished. We will have to close the room for a short while when we are at the redecoration stage.

I’ve attached two pictures to show the work in progress. The removal of the 2×2 displays and server rack have made a big impact on the amount of natural light that reaches into the room. It’s our hope the end result will match the quality of 6.02A.