EECS Instructional Support, University of California at Berkeley
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                          College of Engineering
                     EECS Instructional Support Group

								July 23 2008
              EECS Instructional Computing - Review and Plans
		                 Spring 2008

	Mission Statement
	Recent Improvements 
	Current Initiatives
	Parallel Computing Clusters
	Survey of EECS Instructional Users
	Notable Events

Mission Statement

  The EECS Instructional Support Group (ISG) installs and maintains networked 
  computers that are used by EECS classes.  ISG provides computer accounts for 
  instructors and students in the Instructional labs and on Instructional 
  servers.  ISG purchases, installs and maintains application software needed 
  for classes.  ISG supports instructional labs in Cory Hall, Soda Hall and 
  Hearst Field Annex.

  These are the functions in which ISG interacts with other UCB support groups:

  - we obtain enrollment lists from the Registrar (Student Information Services)
  - we synchronize our user accounts with the EECS department (IDSG)
  - we provide cardkey pre-authorization for our students to EECS Facilities
  - we bill students' voluntary printer charges to CARS
  - we coordinate our use of the EECS Network Node Bank with IDSG and CNS
  - we manage the computers in engineering labs with ESG 
  - we manage the computers in EECS conference rooms with ESG 
  - we manage the licenses for Synopsys/TCAD/HSPICE with the Device Group
  - we manage the licenses for Cadence with the BSAC group

Recent Improvements 

  - grants from Google and Intel for parallel computing cluster (see below)
  - installed 16 new DVD dual-layer burners (119 Cory) for students to make 
    legal copies of LabView and other tools for home use.
  - purchased 32 20" LDCs to replace old CRTs in 105 Cory (EE20N, etc)
  - purchased 32 new USB kbds for 275 Soda (CS61B, etc)
  - purchased 96 new USB mice for 271/273/275/330 Soda
  - purchased 2 new printers to replace 3 old ones in 274 Soda
  - purchased 2 new flatbed scanners to replace old ones in labs

Current Initiatives

  - deployed Icluster (see below)
  - received AEG grant from SUN for 10 new UNIX worksatations (275 Soda, CS61B)
  - ran Survey of EECS Instructional Users (see below)

Parallel Computing Clusters
  There are 2 new clusters for EECS classes this Spring:

  "Google/Intel" = "ICluster".  This is a cluster of 26 DELL
  computers in an EECS server room, managed by EECS sys admins.
  The computers were purchased with funds granted to EECS by
  Google and Intel in Aug 2007.  We deployed an 8-node cluster
  that was used by CS61A this Fall.  We installed a water-cooled 
  rack to handle the complete cluster.  Any EECS class could use it.

  "Google/IBM" = "Cloud Cluster".  This is a remote facility
  managed by Google/IBM.  Google/IBM provided us with user
  accounts that we will distribute to some students.  Anthony
  Joseph worked with Google/IBM on the legal aspects and limits.

  Classes that may use the Icluster in the future include:

	CS61A (Prof Harvey, adding a parallel processing module to scm)
	CS152 (Prof Asanovic)
	CS198 (Prof Garcia, using MPI and other APIs)
	CS186 (Prof Hellerstein, using HaPoop and map-reduce)
	CS194 (Prof Yelick) 
	CS267 (Prof Yelick) using MPI, UPC(C), CAF(Fortran), Titanium(Java)?

  CS61A is developing an Stk/Java interface to Hadoop/mapreduce
  so they can add related functions to the UCB Scheme programming
  language.  That development work is appropriate for our Icluster.

Survey of EECS Instructional Users
  In May 2008, the EECS Instructional Support Group posted an on-line 
  survey that asked students and instructors for feedback about the 
  Instructional computing resources.   The answers were very helpful. 

  Here are the results with my analysis and comments:

  These are actions we will take in response to these comments:

  - replace CRTs with LCD displays in 275 Soda
  - install SVN (subversion) client software on PCs in EECS Instructional labs
  - install additional power strips for laptop users in 199 Cory and other labs
  - improve the CS3 lab: seek a donation of workstations 

Notable Events

  See for current events.

  June 16 - http://msdnaa.eecs and e-Academy downloads are working again

	The EECS server for downloading software from e-Academy 
	was down for maintenance while we reinstall the operating 
	sytem (it crashed) and update the downloadable contents 
	(Microsoft software), from about 10am-3pm today.

	This means that you could not read the instruction page from and you got errors 
	if you tried to download software from

  June 9 - Some Instructional servers are down for maintenance

	These Instructional servers are down for maintenance until further
	This is necessary while an electrical problem is repaired in the
	server machine room.  This problem appeared after the Cory Hall 
	power shutoff on May 29.

  May 6 - network interruptions to some Instructional computers (5pm)

	From about 5pm-5:30pm (May 6), there were intermittent interruptions 
	to network service in EECS.  This prevented logins on some computers 
	in the Instructional labs, and it prevented access to some servers 
	such as as imail.eecs (Instructional email) and inst.eecs (this WEB 
	server).  UNIX computers complained about "NFS timeout".

	A network switch for the 2nd floor of Soda failed.  This cut off 
	several of our servers, which froze login sessions in some labs in
	Cory, Soda and Hearst Field Annex.

	The network group replaced a faulty blade in a network chassis to fix 
	the problem.

  Mar 31 - authnews newsgroup server was down (Mar 29-31) was down due to a hardware problem and was 
	refusing connections. For status reports, please see and is the server you can use to read the campus
	newsgroups from off campus.  It prompts you for your CalNet ID.  It
	is maintained by the campus CNS group ( (

	EECS students can also use the EECS Instructional news client at

	Please see for
	more information about reading UCB newsgroups. was back in service at 6:30pm March 31.

  Mar 18 - This WEB server (http://inst.eecs) was down, 5:30pm-7:30pm

	This WEB server ( was down
	from about 5:30pm-7:30pm.  We had to reboot it to remove 
	some WEB connections that were stuck.

  Mar 9 - no email through imail.eecs (Fri 8pm - Sun 2:30pm)

	Imail.eecs stopped delivering mail on Fri evening, becuase of a 
	jam in the spam filter.  It was updated and rebooted at about 
	2:30pm Sunday to clear the problem.   Email messages were delayed 
	but not lost.

	Imail.eecs is the email server for Instructional accounts.  

  Feb 27 - login failures to Inst UNIX computers, 7am-9am

	A UNIX file server shared by department UNIX computers was down
	from 7:10am - 8:45am.  During that time, login sessions on the 
	Instructional UNIX computers were frozen.  The servers in Hearst 
	Field Annex C were restored to service at about 11am.

	For more information about the server outage, please see

  Feb 15 - HFA C labs and servers were down, 8am-2pm

	These labs and servers were down from 8am-2pm Fri Feb 15:

		Hearst Field Annex C10, C30, C50

	These are used by CS3L, CS61A and the CS SelfPaced courses.
	CS3L could not hold the 8am lab and had to relocate their 
	11am lab to 273 Soda Hall.

	The interruption was caused by scheduled network maintenance
	that took longer than planned.

  Feb 12 - This WEB server (http://inst.eecs) was down, 6:30pm-7:30pm

	This WEB server (</a>) was down
	from about 6:30pm-7:30pm because an distant computer was hammering
	the server with excessive download requests.  We had to reboot the
	WEB server computer to clear all the processes, then we identified 
	the source of the requests and blocked it.

  Feb 4 - computers crashed, 10:30am-12:30pm

	At about 10:30am, electricians in Soda Hall short circuited the 
	power to our machine room and shut it down.  This cut off all of
	the Instructional home dirs (Windows and UNIX) as well as the
	UNIX password service (LDAP), email service (imail.eecs), WEB 
	server (inst.eecs), several login servers and computer labs in 
	the 2nd floor of Soda and in Hearst Field Annex C.

	Service was restored gradually as computers were rebooted and
	checked for loss of data.  There were no computer failures.

	Service was completely restored by about 12:30pm.

  Jan 27 - network interruptions last night; rebooted h30.cs and h50.cs

	During the early morning hours of Jan 27, there was a disconection
	to the and networks from computers
	outside of Soda and Cory Halls.   This prevented access from dorms 
	and home to Instructional login servers (via ssh) and to WEB services 
	such as as (Instructional email client) (this WEB server).

	The computers for the CS3 and CS61A labs (Hearst Field Annex C) called

	were still accessible via SSH, but new login requests were denied (they 
	would not accept any passwords) and users who were already logged on
	lost access to their home directories and most commands (which usually
	caused their login session to freeze).  We rebooted those servers at
	1:30pm on Sunday to clear that problem.

	The network group has posted an update at

  Feb 2007 - Exceed (XWindows) Security Alert<br>

	X Windows server programs such as Exceed have been targets for 
	password-sniffing and other security holes recently.  If you 
	are running an X Windows server on your computer at home or in 
	an office on campus, please read this excellent article for 
	instructions about using it securely:

  Oct 2006 - empty INBOX?  your email is on<br>

	(Oct 9 2006)  We have stopped exporting /var/mail to all computers.
	If you use 'pine' on UNIX and find that your INBOX is empty on the
	Instructional computers, you probably need to update the way you
	read email.   

	You can simply logon at
	to read and send email via the EECS Instructional email server.

	To set up spam filtering, run this command in your UNIX account:

	You can also configure the email client of your choice to connect to
	the EECS Instructional email server.

	Please see for 
	more information.

  July 2006 - unable to use Firefox or Mozilla on UNIX?<br>

	We are upgrading our SUN UNIX systems to Solaris 10, and the new 
	versions of firefox and mozilla are incompatible with the older
	configuration settings.

	So if you get no response when you try to start firefox or mozilla,
	you should delete (or rename) your ~/.mozilla/firefox directory.  It
	will be re-created the next time you run the browser.  You can rename
	it with this UNIX command (you can delete it later):

		mv ~/.mozilla/firefox ~/.mozilla/firefox-old

	You can verify that the computer you are on is running Solaris 10
	with the UNIX command:
		uname -a

	You can see a list of all of our login servers and their operating
	systems at<

  Spring 2006 - Printer usage quotas are now in effect

	Instructional UNIX and Windows accounts now have page limits on the
	Instructional shared printers in Soda, Cory and Hearst Field Annex.

	The print quotas this semester are computed at 50 pages for each
	course credit that the account is being used for.  In addition, 
	students who are EE or CS undergraduate of graduate majors are 
	given an additional 50 pages per semster on their print quotas. 
	The print quotas are reset each semester.  Unused pages will NOT 
	be credited to you in future semesters.

	If you exceed your print quota, your next print job will be replaced
	with a "QUOTA EXCEEDED" page.   That page explains that you can logon
	to to view your print quota
	allocation and to purchase additional pages.  Pages that you purchase 
	will be billed to you, at a rate of $12 (non-refundable) for 200 pages.


  Spring 2006 - Forgot your password on the Instructional computers?

	<u>For named accounts:</u>

	Login as 'newacct' (password 'newacct') again (in 199 Cory, 273 Soda or 
	'ssh' to  Enter your Student ID number.  Then 
	select the new "p" option for resetting your password and reprinting a 
	form.  The form with a new password will be emailed to you the next 
	day (weekday) or sooner.

	Named accounts look like 'gbush' or 'bclinton'.

	<u>For class accounts:</u>

	Go to the Instructional sys admin staff in 333 Soda, 378 Cory or 
	386 Cory.  Bring your initial class account form or student ID card.
	There is no on-line procedure for resetting the password of a class 

	Class accounts look like 'cs61a-aa' or 'ee141-agore'.

  Symptoms when UNIX email or home directories are missing:

	- when you try to login the screen freezes 
	- you see the error message "home directory is /" 
	- session hangs up if you try to 'ssh' into an Instructional computer
	- unable to read WEB pages from the 
	- lots of annoying "NFS timeout" error messages on your screen
	- new email deliveries will be delayed on imail.eecs 

	While the server is down, you may not be able to logout in our labs
	because you can't type any commands.  On a SunRay, even turning it
	off doesn't log you out.  The support staff check the labs after 
	events like this to be sure everyone gets logged out.  We also post 
	information about the problem at to 
	help students find out when the problem has been fixed.   So all you 
	can really do in this case is to wait until the problem is fixed, go 
	back to the lab (or login to the SunRay server for that lab) and log 
	yourself out, or let us log you out.

	We disable email receipt and relaying through imail.eecs when the
	home directory server ( is down.  No mail is 
	lost.  Computers that send mail queue messages that are not accepted
	by a remote server, and they resend the messages periodically until 
	they are received.


For additional information, please contact me:
  Kevin Mullally, ISG Manager
  EECS Instructional Support Group
  378 Cory Hall, (510) 643-6141

source: ~inst/public_html/reports/managers/Spring_2008