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Fall Update from SCS Computing Facilities

Members of SCS,

Here is the fall update on improvements and new services from SCS Computing Facilities during the last six months. We welcome your feedback.

NEW SERVICE:

* AUDIO-VIDEO SUPPORT: Facilities now provides support for A/V equipment (projectors, etc. in SCS conference rooms and classrooms). Send requests to av-help@cs, or call the SCS A/V help line (x8-2608) directly. http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~help/news/archives/avannounce.html

THE NEW SCHOOL YEAR:

* TRAINING PROGRAM: We have established a short training program for new administrative staff, providing one-on-one introduction to the SCS computing environment. The feedback is very positive. Be sure to tell us about any new administrative staff in your area, and we'll get them up to speed on how to compute in SCS.

* IMMIGRATION COURSE: We revised the documents and the format of the booklets for this year's incoming grad students; the booklets are smaller, they include a Quick Reference Guide, a CD with all the latest documents, and URL's to our Help pages. Contact the Help Desk if you'd like a copy.

* GRAD PC's: This year, we built 119 new grad-pc's in less than 3 days. The new PC is a great configuration at a great price; it includes a DVD-writer. http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~help/gradpc/ . It is one of our recommended configurations: http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~help/purchasing/recommended_pcs.html#desktops .

CORE SERVICE UPDATES:

* PRINT SERVERS: We upgraded all SCS print servers (and you didn't even notice, did you?) The upgrade included replacing all the hardware (newer, more powerful) and updating all the software to the latest available. There were no user changes or disruptions.

* WINDOWS ACTIVE DIRECTORY: We upgraded all Windows servers to the latest version of Microsoft Server 2003.

* MACHINE ROOM: The number of systems in our machine room in Wean hall (MR-A) increased by more than 10% since last spring; the current count is 560 (and growing!)

NETWORKING:

* iPASS: This service continues to grow in popularity and extent of use for our travelers. The vendor continues to add hotspots and airports; the Windows GUI was updated to simplify lookup of connections for your location; and, iPass has recently added the ConnexionByBoeing service on many trans-atlantic and trans-pacific flights (currently about 100 flights per day) to keep you connected on long flights! http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~help/networking/ipass.html .

* VPN: We have acquired, and will soon deploy, a second VPN controller to provide redundancy (reduced interruptions) for your vpn connections.

* NETWORK MANAGEMENT: We upgraded our network tools and systems for monitoring and managing the SCS network; these upgrades enable better security, trouble-shooting, and overall management of our network traffic.

LINUX USERS:

* LINUX PORTS: We completed ports of Fedora Core 3 in time for installation on all the new grad PC's (119). It is available for Intel (i386) 32-bit and Intel's or AMD's 64-bit (Xeon or Opteron) processors.

* SOLARIS PORT: The port of Solaris-10 is underway; more news later.

* WINDOWS TERMINAL SERVICES: Windows Terminal Services is now available in production mode. This service is intended for use by the person who uses Linux for their primary day-to-day computing environment, but needs to use Windows programs, especially Microsoft Office, some of the time. Give it a try and let us know what you think. http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~help/unix_linux/terminal.services.html

EMAIL INFRASTRUCTURE MODERNIZATION

* CORVID is the new name of our new email infrastructure which is based on Cyrus, and provides both IMAP and POP-3 protocols. It already has 1,000 users on it (starting August, 2004); we still have about 1,500 users to move to it from the old system. It is performing very well. We'll send you more details separately.

* SMTPAUTH: We have been providing SMTPAUTH service in beta test mode for some time now. It provides a simpler means of accessing email remotely without a VPN connection. Look for production deployment later this year. http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~help/mail_news/smtp_auth.html .

* ANTI-SPAM and ANTI-VIRUS measures are now being applied via our Sophos servers to all incoming email bound for the CORVID infrastructure.

* SENDMAIL is the new (for us) MTA that we are using to replace MMDF as part of CORVID. Many of the servers have already been upgraded; this upgrade process will continue through the next few months, ultimately eliminating any reliance on MMDF.

* MAILMAN is our chosen mailing list manager for CORVID; it has many features that have been requested during the last few years. We have been migrating lists for several months now, using a phased approach (we contact you); this will continue during the coming months. http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~help/mail_news/mailman/index.html .

* LDAP: We have begun the deployment of LDAP (Lightweight Directory Access Protocol) into our CORVID infrastructure, with the long-term goal or replacing legacy white pages and aliases files. Ultimately, this will enable efficient email lookup and address resolution, without any reliance on AFS. This service will be phased-in over the coming months. Support for the legacy white pages and aliases files will be maintained for a period of time while older MMDF platforms are phased out.

* WEBMAIL: In June, we deployed new server hardware and made software changes to our Webmail servers to dramatically improve performance.

* EXCHANGE SERVERS: The SCS Exchange servers are currently undergoing significant upgrades to both hardware and software. New versions of Exchange 2003 are being installed which will improve the performance of the system, offer more comprehensive anti-spam functionality using Microsoft's new Intelligent Mail Filter feature and provide a much improved web based interface which will look and behave very much like the native Outlook email client. Targeted to be complete by December of this year.

WEB SERVICES AND APPLICATIONS

* WWW-2.CS.CMU.EDU: You probably know that we successfully eliminated www-2.cs in August. All previous references to www-2 will continue to work but the address bar will now show www.cs. For more details: http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~help/news/archives/www-2retire.announc.html .

* ONLINE PHD APPLICATION SYSTEM: We deployed the second generation of this application in time for the beginning of the 2006 PhD admission period. This latest version incorporates new features for applicant submission, but also supports modifications to the admission selection process. Additional versions are being developed for additional programs for the 2006 academic year; these include the Joint CMU-PITT PhD Program in Computational Biology and the Master in Software Engineering program.

We are interested in your feedback; please send comments to help@cs.cmu.edu.

Thank you,

Bob

Bob Cosgrove

Director, Computing Facilities

School of Computer Science

412.268.4539