School of Engineering and Informatics (for staff and students)

Frequently asked questions

Printing

What communal printers are available in Informatics?

Files

What is my disk quota?
I have used up my disk quota. Can I get more space?
What data is backed up automatically?

Software

Does Informatics have a DreamSpark (MSDN AA) subscription?
How can I set environment variables (such as PATH) on lab machines?
Why won't Firefox or Internet Explorer open PDFs using Adobe Reader?
Testing python installs
In Matlab, I get an error message: Xlib: extension "GLX" missing on display.
Does Informatics have a Tomcat server?
How do I set up Eclipse to work with Android SDK and what version should I be using?
What version of Netbeans does Informatics support?
How can I install custom plugins for Eclipse?

Informatics labs

Why do I get an error "no logon servers available" when trying to log in to an Informatics lab machine?
Why does my PC switch itself off?
Reporting Faults with Informatics machines
Responsible Use of Informatics Computing Facilities

Teaching

Can students submit assessed work electronically?

Research hardware / software

How do I buy a new computer?
How can I find the warranty, purchasing or specification information of a Dell PC?
Why does my PC take so long to boot?
Can I have Remote Desktop (RDP) access to my PC?
Can I dual boot my machine?
What is the policy on software use?
Can I have a program installed to support my teaching or research?
I have an old machine in my research lab that's not working correctly, can I get help with it?
Can I connect my personally owned laptop to the Informatics network?
Can I completely manage my own machine?
Local administrator rights on an Informatics Windows PC
How can I obtain a copy of software that Informatics is licensed for, for Informatics work/research?
Using the HPC Cluster

 

 

Printing

What communal printers are available in Informatics?

If you are an undergraduate or masters student:

Printer name Location
chichester1_021_bw Chichester 1 021 (Informatics Computing Lab 1)
chichester1_204_bw Chichester 1 204-205 (Informatics Computing Lab 3)

These printers are located in the Informatics Teaching labs, but are managed by ITS. If you have any problems printing from these printers, or they run out of paper, please contact ITS.

If you are a member of staff or PhD student:

Printer name Location
inf-chi-202-bw1 Chichester 1 Room 202
inf-chi-202-bw2 Chichester 1 Room 202
inf-chi-202-col1 Chichester 1 Room 202
inf-chi-107-bw1 Chichester 1 Room 107
inf-chi-107-col1 Chichester 1 Room 107

 

Files

What is my disk quota?

The University IT Service (ITS) provides all users with a quota of 10GB.

 

I have used up my disk quota. Can I get more space?

Please see ITS FAQ 202.

 

What data is backed up automatically?

The contents of your home directory, that is your desktop, My Documents and roaming profile are backed up every night and can be recovered (contact ITS if this is necessary). This is also true of the Research and Teaching network drives.

The disk in your local machine is not backed up. Do not store any data on your local machine that you are not happy to lose. If you have a software or hardware failure you will have to perform any data recovery you want, at your own expense, before the Systems Team will be able to help.

 

Software

Does Informatics have a DreamSpark (MSDN AA) subscription?

Students at Sussex can have access to Dreamspark via ITS. Student within Informatics can access DreamSpark Premium using their ITS login. To login to Dreamspark click here.

Note: Licenses issued by DreamSpark are SINGLE USE licenses. Informatics cannot replace licenses issued by DreamSpark. Should you need additional copies of a software please contact Informatics help desk for advise on purchasing volume licensing.

 

How can I set environment variables (such as PATH) on lab machines?

Open the Control Panel. In the search field in the top-right, type "environment variables". Choose "Edit environment variables for your account". In the top section of the window you are able to add/edit environment variables, which affect only your user account.

 

Why won't Firefox or Internet Explorer open PDFs using Adobe Reader?

Sometimes updates to web browsers break compatability with the Adobe Reader we use to view PDFs. This can be worked-around by automatically opening the PDF in a standalone instance of Reader instead of within the browser itself (many users find this preferable anyway).

To do this in Firefox, go to the Options menu > Options > Applications tab > Adobe Acrobat Document > select "Use Adobe Acrobat Reader" from the list > Click OK.

To do this for Internet Explorer, open the Adobe Reader program itself (Start > All Programs > Accessories > Adobe Reader X), and on the Edit menu choose Preferences. Go to the "Internet" pane, then untick "display PDF in browser". Click OK to save the changes.

 

Testing python installs

Informatics labs have 2 different installations of Python. One is standalone whilst the other is bundled with Anaconda 2.0.1. To test Python or iPython, run the command prompt and type 'python' or 'ipython'.

The path for the standalone installation of Python is preset on all lab machines. Paths associated with Anaconda 2.0.1 are set when the software is run for the first time.

 

In Matlab, I get an error message: Xlib: extension "GLX" missing on display.

This is a Matlab bug. Type:

opengl neverselect

within Matlab. This will disable openGL.

 

Does Informatics have a Tomcat server?

Informatics users are able to use the Apache Tomcat server for hosting Java servlets and JSP scripts. Web space on this server is provided on-request. If you would like a directory created for your files, please contact the Informatics Helpdesk.

In order to access your webspace on the Tomcat server to upload/edit files, you will need to connect directly using SFTP or SSH to the following location: tomcat.inf.susx.ac.uk:/srv/tomcat/username.

When compiling servlets, you'll need to include the servlet.jar library which can be found in /usr/share/java/servlet.jar (e.g. javac -cp /usr/share/java/servlet.jar *.java)

You can view your pages by using the following URL: http://tomcat.inf.susx.ac.uk:8080/username

 

How do I set up Eclipse to work with Android SDK and what version should I be using?

Informatics supports v23 of Android SDK. Android is currently deployed on all lab machines along with Eclipse Juno. To use the current version on Android, run Eclipse (not Eclipse IDE) from the Start menu.

First time users:
> When you open Eclipse and set up your workspace, your Android preference should already point to the SDK location. You can check your preferences, by clicking on 'Window' and then preferences within Eclipse.

Repeat Users:
> If you have problems running Android within Eclipse, check to make sure that the SDK path is set correctly. Within Eclipse, click on 'Window', then 'Preferences', then 'Android'. If your path is not in the root directory, browse to the Android directory (C:\Eclipse\Android).

When trying to run Android, if you get an error saying the version on the machine is v12, you are using the wrong Eclipse package. From the Eclipse folder in the Start Menu, choose Eclipse rather than Eclipse IDE

 

What version of Netbeans does Informatics support?

Informatics support Netbeans 7.3. This version is deployed on all lab machines along with Glassfish server 3+ (a composite of glassfish 3.1.1 & 3.1.2) and Apache Tomcat Server 7.0.14.

Netbeans 7.3 can be accessed either via the start menu or from the teaching share. If you have any problems with the installation please report them to the Informatics Help Desk. 

 

How can I install custom plugins for Eclipse?

Lab machines currently have 3 distinct versions:

1) Eclipse Indigo - deployed by ITS in the Start menu
2) Eclipse IDE (helios) - deployed by informatics to work with old(er) plugins under Start Menu\Eclipse
3) Eclipse (Juno) - deployed by informatics and supports Android SDK (also under Start Menu\Eclipse).

The packaged version will only support current generation devices, however students may be able to download and install plugins for older versions on the machines they use. If they do so, the changes would be local to the machine and they may need to re-import the plugins if they transfer to another machine.

 

Informatics labs

Why do I get an error "no logon servers available" when trying to log in to an Informatics lab machine?

When waking a machine, it can take around 10 seconds to connect to the network and obtain an IP address. This is usually the cause of the "No logon servers available" message. If you receive an error message when trying to log in, please wait for a short time and try again.

 

Why does my PC switch itself off?

PCs in Informatics are configured to shut themselves down when no-one is logged in. They will not shut down automatically if a user is logged in, even if the session is idle. They are woken outside of work hours for regular maintenance.

Machines in labs are subject to power outages and other environmental factors which may cause them to switch off. Large computing jobs should always be done on specificaly designed HPC resources, not desktop workstations. Windows Update does occasionally reboot computers when people are logged in but idle.

 

Reporting Faults with Informatics machines

In order to report a fault with an Informatics machine please contact the informatics Helpdesk on rt-informatics@sussex.ac.uk

When reporting a fault please ensure that the following information is supplied

a) Nature of fault - Is it a hardware or software malfunction. In case of software faults please state the software package.

b) Fault Occurrence - When did you first notice the problem? Has this happened before? Did the fault rectify itself or did you need to contact the Helpdesk to resolve the issue? Can you recreate the issue on another machine (i.e have you tried using another machine on the same operating system, and if so do you encounter the same issue).

c) Machine identification - Please provide as many of the following as you can:

  • Computer name - this can be found on the front panel of some machines (or by right-clicking on Computer -> Properties from Windows Explorer if you are able to log in), and will be of the form INF01234567.
  • Service tag - this can be found either on the front of the machine, or on a black label on the top of the machine. It will be of the form 1ABC23J.
  • MAC address - this can be found on the front of the machine, either on the same sticker as the service tag, or on its own. It will be a series of 12 digits and letters.

d) Machine location - Where is the machine located - which lab or room & rough location

 

Responsible Use of Informatics Computing Facilities

University Regulations

As a user of the Informatics computing facilities, you are bound by the University's regulations for the use of computers.

Below is a summary of the main points of the University regulations, and you should regard this as a code of conduct for the use of Informatics computers:

  • You must not use University computing equipment in a way that can cause offence to or interfere with the work of others, and you must not access or interfere with other users' files.
  • Your use of University computing equipment must not interfere with the proper functioning of the facilities or with the proper functioning of any other computer system or network.
  • Informatics computing facilities can only be used by students currently taking modules owned by the department. You must not 'lend' your account to others, and you must take all reasonable steps to ensure that your account cannot be used by others (in particular by using a secure password).
  • The facilities must only be used for work in connection with your University studies.
  • The rights and licensing of proprietary software must be observed.
  • Email must not be used in any way that is likely to cause offence or be a nuisance to others. Email may only be sent to lists where permission has been obtained from the list moderator. Sending 'spam' (unsolicited bulk email) for any purpose is prohibited.

Failure to observe the University regulations is likely to result in the immediate suspension of your account pending further investigation. Any significant offence is likely to result in a disciplinary hearing with the possible penalty of expulsion from the University. Information regarding any illegal activity will be passed to the police and may lead to prosecution under the law.

Informatics Labs

You are expected to use the labs and computing equipment in a responsible manner. As well as observing the university regulations as mentioned above, you should ensure that your behaviour in the labs does not encroach on your fellow students (e.g. by being loud or very untidy). You are not allowed to smoke in the labs.

If you notice that any equipment or furniture is faulty or broken, please report it to the Informatics Helpdesk. Any other problems with the labs should be reported to the Porters Desk or the Engineering and Informatics School Office.

Email

Email is used extensively in Informatics. Tutors use it to communicate with their students, send and receive assignments, announce seminars and so on. The systems team use it to make announcements about the system, and there are many other uses including the use of offsite mail. Email is therefore an integral part of the Informatics machinery, and it is vital that it is not abused. Please read carefully and observe the following guidelines:

  • NEVER send mail to large mailing lists - the larger the list, the more cautious you should be about mailing to it. If you are unsure about using a list, please ask first (tutors or the Helpdesk) before mailing out your message. Students found misusing mailing lists will be disciplined.
  • Do not send obscene or offensive material - this includes swearing or jokes that can offend on the grounds of race, sex, etc.
  • Reply carefully - if you have received a message that was sent to a large group, take care to reply only to the original sender, unless you are absolutely sure that a group reply is necessary.
  • Do not send large files - email is not the appropriate way to distribute large files for a number of reasons. If you need to make a large file available to someone and you don't know how to, please contact the Helpdesk and ask for assistance. Please also be aware of this when subscribing to external lists that issue very large messages (some job sites are guilty of this).
  • Delete old messages - please clear out your mailbox regularly. You should be as stringent with it as you (hopefully) are with your other files.

Thank you for your co-operation and responsible use of the Informatics computing facilities, and remember: whenever you have a problem or query about the system please contact the Informatics Helpdesk. or ask your tutors (N.B. The Informatics Helpdesk does not handle programming or module-related queries).

 

Teaching

Can students submit assessed work electronically?

On some modules, assessed work can be submitted through the University's learning management system, Canvas. Module tutors will specify how assessed work should be submitted, whether electronically or in hardcopy.

 

Research hardware / software

How do I buy a new computer?

Please contact the Informatics Helpdesk if you would like to buy a new computer on a research grant, and give the following information:

  • The machine model and spec you would like OR an outline of the work to be done on the machine
  • A budget code with sufficient funds to cover the purchase
  • The name and location of the end-user

The University has a purchasing contract which gives us good value on Apple and Dell (particularly Precision and Latitude) computers. If you need a computer other than those you will need to provide a written case explaining why (for example, a collaborative project with specific hardware requirements).

 

How can I find the warranty, purchasing or specification information of a Dell PC?

Dell offer comprehensive information about PCs based on the service tag (usually found on a label on the top or front of the machine). By visiting Dell Supportand clicking on the "Warranty Status" link in the left hand menu you can find details of remaining warranty, the ship date (the start of the warranty) and the specification of the machine.

 

Why does my PC take so long to boot?

Computers in a domain environment do often take longer to boot than those in a home environment. However, they should not take an inordinate amount of time (greater than three minutes) unless they are installing a large amount of software or have specific problems.

Should your machine take an excessive time to boot, please contact the Informatics Helpdesk, as slow startup can be a symptom of a number of different issues, including impending disk failure.

Typically the problems are:

  • Hardware failure (or impending disk failure)
  • Full disk
  • Software conflict with something previously installed (sometimes Java)
  • Large software installation load because of lack of regular reboots (though this will go away if the installs are allowed to complete)
  • Network connection problems

 

Can I have Remote Desktop (RDP) access to my PC?

All research PCs can be enabled for Remote Desktop access from the internet. If you need this, please contact the Informatics Helpdesk, giving the machine name and your username.

Once this has been done you can use any Remote Desktop client to connect to the fully qualified name of your machine, which will be something like machine.inf.susx.ac.uk where "machine" is the name of your PC. Although every effort is made to make machines available, please be aware that remote access to lab PCs may ocassionally be subject to power outages, problems with access to the network and other downtime.

 

Can I dual boot my machine?

Sorry, but we do not support dual booting of managed machines (those on the Informatics research network). They are impossible to manage reliably and our software installation methods are not designed to cope with such a setup.

If you need to run a separate operating system there are a number of different solutions depending on your needs. You can remote desktop to another machine, use VMWare or run two machines concurrently and use a KVM switch to access them both.

If you have an unmanaged machine on the roaming network (either laptop or desktop) you are free to do whatever you see fit, but be aware that if a machine needs to be reinstalled by Informatics staff we may not be able to preserve your setup.

 

What is the policy on software use?

Buying software

When you need a new piece of software, please contact the Informatics Helpdesk. Some packages are covered by existing campus or department agreement, and many are cheaper to buy through the institution's Chest agreement or other academic licensing.

Complying with license agreements

If you install any extra software on your own computer you must ensure that it is correctly licensed. The systems team will check for commercial software from time to time. Should we find unlicensed software on your machine you will be asked to remove it, and may have to refer information to the appropriate authorities.

Disposing of software

You should ensure any media supplied to you is disposed of securely. If you do not have a secure disposal method, please give the media to the Informatics Helpdesk who will ensure it is destroyed. If you have licenses you no longer require that can be allocated to other groups, please contact us.

Firewall and AV policies

The firewall and anti-virus software on managed Windows PCs cannot be disabled for security reasons. If you think either of these are causing you problems please contact us.

The above is a brief explaination of the software usage policy within Informatics. It constitutes advice only.

 

Can I have a program installed to support my teaching or research?

Yes, with some reservations:

  • The software must be available in MSI format, as an executable capable of a silent install, or must conform to Windows programming good-practice sufficiently to work with our software virtualisation program, Softgrid. Installation "by hand" is not possible because of the number of PCs and different pieces of software in the labs.
  • Packaging, testing and deploying software takes some considerable time. Requests for software used for teaching must be sent at least four weeks before the the start of the module. During that time we will ask you to test the software to ensure it is working as you expect. Please respond promptly with feedback.
  • We can only distribute release-quality software. Where there is a choice we will use the most recent stable full release. Alpha and beta releases are not supported for distribution and should not be used for teaching unless there is no alternative.
  • Occasionally software is not of sufficient quality to distribute on the network. We will do everything we can do distribute it, but it has been known for all methods to fail. If this is the case we will let you know as soon as possible.
  • We can only deploy fully licensed software. We cannot deploy trial versions or software for which we have not seen the license. If used for research, licenses will likely have to be bought out of grant funds. We have a very limited budget for teaching software, but requests should be sent to the lab manager Chris Sothcott.

Please contact the Informatics Helpdesk with any software requests or questions.

 

I have an old machine in my research lab that's not working correctly, can I get help with it?

We aim to support as wide a range of hardware as the department requires, but each different model supported places an extra burden on resources. Therefore we will usually support a machine until the last machine of that model is out of warranty.

After a machine is out of support you can carry on using it, but we will usually ask you to get a more modern replacement should it need hardware support, upgrades or major software changes (including reimaging). New starters should not be given out-of-support machines, and ideally will be given a machine which will stay in support for the duration of their time here.

You should start planning to replace a machine as soon as its warranty expires. If a machine was bought from lab funds, please contact the Lab Manager to discuss a replacement. Please use a maximum of four years of lifetime as the basis for grant proposals; if your project is longer than four years, you may need a second round of PC purchases. You can check warranty information for Dell PCs at their support site, and Apple warranties last three years from delivery.

 

Can I connect my personally owned laptop to the Informatics network?

You cannot connect your personally owned laptop to the campus network (including the Informatics network). You can instead connect your laptop to the campus eduroam network. Details can be found on the IT Services site here: http://www.sussex.ac.uk/its/roaming/sussexroam/

 

Can I completely manage my own machine?

Having a self-managed machine is different from having Local Administrator rights on Windows . It means having your own completely autonomous machine cut off from the rest of the Informatics network. This facility is available to people who find an aspect of their work requires complete control over a machine. Because of the implications for network connectivity and software availability we would expect most users to find it convenient to have access to a managed Informatics machine for office administration tasks, email and the like, in addition to the machine they self-manage. The support available for a self-managed machine is very similar to that usually available for a laptop. You can apply for a self-managed machine by completing a form. Please contact the Helpdesk for a form.

 

Local administrator rights on an Informatics Windows PC

By default we do not supply machines with any local administrator rights. This is to comply with ITS policy about machines connected to the campus network. This policy is designed to maintain security and network performance for all university users and to keep machines free from spyware and viruses. However, as Informatics is a special case with regards to computer use, we understand that some people's work will require admin rights to the local machine, which we will happily provide.

  • We can only give admin rights to postgraduates, researchers, and other members of Faculty.
  • We can only provide admin rights on one machine for each user.
  • Because we have to make a compelling case to ITS for each user who is given administrator rights, we need you to tell us exactly why you need them before we can give them to you.
  • We need to consider other options before we can give you admin rights. For example, if you need to install software, we can do that either in person or over the network. If you need to store data on the local machine, we can arrange a data partition that you have full rights to.
  • We need to carefully consider each case on an individual basis before we can grant admin rights. Just because someone else in your group has been given rights does not automatically mean that we will be able to for you.

Once you are given administrator rights for your machine you will be responsible for all software that is installed on the machine. You should be particularly vigilant for spyware and viruses, and should schedule regular scans for both using the supplied security software. Please contact the Helpdesk if you have trouble doing this - we may have to remove your administrator rights if you fail to maintain your machine in a way that does not impact network performace for other users or that causes excessive support load.

As with all use of University machines and networks, you should make sure you comply with the Regulations for the use of Computers and Computer Networks. You should also ensure that your use does not infringe copyright, represent the unauthorised transfer of data or the use of unlicensed software. You are personally responsible for the presence of any illegal data or software on your machine, and your administrator priviledges may be revoked if these are detected.

If you feel that all of the above applies to you and you would like to apply for administrator rights on your local machine, please complete the online application form: http://www.sussex.ac.uk/its/help/workstations

This information only applies to managed Windows PCs in Informatics. For other operating systems please contact the Informatics Helpdesk.

 

How can I obtain a copy of software that Informatics is licensed for, for Informatics work/research?

If you want to install software on your personal computer for use in your research or Informatics work and the software is licensed for use in Informatics machines, there are a number of options available:

  • Most Windows-compatible Microsoft software for research/work purposes can be downloaded through MSDN AA.
  • The other main source of software is ITS where you can borrow media (either at the ITS Helpdesk or through the library) to install the software you need. (see http://www.sussex.ac.uk/its/services/programsandsoftware/software
  • If there is any other software licensed to Informatics which is not available through those sources, we may be able to provide you with media for you to install the software. Please contact the Helpdesk with any such enquiries.

 

Using the HPC Cluster

Your research group may be able to submit jobs to run on the HPC cluster, apollo.hpc.susx.ac.uk.

Three queues are available to Informatics users on apollo: inf.q provides high priority access to a 48-core AMD node with 256GB RAM; this queue supports serial as well as openmp and openmpi parallel environments. parallel.q and serial.q provide access to nodes shared with research groups from other departments.

Documentation is available in /cm/shared/docs/USERGUIDE on apollo.

All gridengine commands should be run from the research network or teaching network interactive unix servers:

apollo.hpc.susx.ac.uk

and can be logged onto remotely using ssh

To submit a job, create a script containing the commands you wish to execute and run the following:

qsub

The standard output and standard error from the job will each be placed in files named STDIN.o and STDIN.e respectively.

To check the status of your pending or running jobs, type:

qstat

To delete a job from the queue, type:

qdel job_id

where job_id is determined by running qstat. Note that multiple job_ids can be specified:

qdel jobi_d1 job_id2 ...

For further information, man pages are available for all commands. An overview of commands are available by typing:

man sge_intro

A useful developer's guide for learning to use the software can be found at Oracle's site: http://docs.sun.com/app/docs/doc/820-0699

Configuration Details

We use the module system to provide paths and other environment variables. You'll need to add:

the compiler (gcc for now, Intel licenses still awaited)

module add gcc

or perhaps the Open64 compiler opencc, which is perhaps better for AMD

architecture

module add open64

SGE, the batch engine

module add sge

If you're using MPI, use qlogic openmpi with gcc

module add qlogic/openmpi

These commands can be concatenated (eg module add sge gcc ) and put into your .bashrc

Scratch space is available on the lustre file system in /mnt/lustre/scratch/inf, and should be used for heavy IO instead of the home NFS filesystem.

 

School of Engineering and Informatics (for staff and students)

School Office:
School of Engineering and Informatics, University of Sussex, Chichester 1 Room 002, Falmer, Brighton, BN1 9QJ
enquiries@enginf.sussex.ac.uk
T 01273 (67) 8195

School Office opening hours: Monday - Friday 09.00 - 17.00
School Office location [PDF 1.74MB]