Checkout Machines
Written by Scott Ostrander   
Tuesday, 12 February 2008 12:10

Checkout Machines at the School of Computing


The School of Computing has a bank of computers designated to be checkout machines, for use by SoC students involved in special projects. The checkout of any system must be related to course work and approved by the course instructor.

Any other considerations for use will be addressed by specific hearing.

Operating Systems


Each checkout computer has three operating systems installed by default: Ubuntu Linux 7.04, Windows 2003 Enterprise Server and Windows XP. The primary bootloader for the system, the GRand Unified Bootloader (Grub), is designed to boot up from the last used entry, either Linux or Windows. (There is also a choice to run a memory test program and to boot from a failsafe Linux configuration.)

Upon a Windows boot, a secondary bootloader (Microsoft's) is run, allowing the user to switch between the default Windows 2003 boot and Windows XP. If Windows XP needs to be the default OS to boot, a simple change to the Startup and Recovery settings from either Window's bootup is required. (No change is needed in Grub.) Information on editing Windows system startup options in the boot.ini file can be found at: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/289022

Anti virus software, AVG, is installed on both Windows builds and should be allowed to at least perform scheduled updates from SoC's primary AVG server. Any other setting, such as automatic scans, may be altered to taste.

Students may create as many user accounts as they need on the machines and establish any service required. Please pay in mind security concerns, such as protocols with open ASCII passwords across the network. Insecure protocols will not be prohibited, but prudence would prefer using SFTP over FTP, for example.

Any student wishing to run an operating system other these three provided, will have to install and configure the system on their own.

Further information on self administrated systems can be found on our Self-Administration page.

 

IP Address and Network Settings


Each system is configured to obtain its IP address and related information through DHCP. Though provided by a dynamic system, the IP address of the computer is set according to the machine's Media Access Control (MAC) number in its network interface, so the IP address assigned will remain constant and is recorded in the SoC's DNS server. This will allow these systems to act as servers, with proper DNS and rDNS lookups for outside clients. As such, no reconfiguration of networking needs to be applied. Students installing their own operating systems should configure such to use DHCP for the same reasons. No special CNAMES in DNS will be assigned to these systems.

KVM and Remote Access


All of the systems are located in the Warnock Engineering Building (WEB) in room 214. Room 214 is a machine room that is accessed via a door in the back of the CADE's Engman Lab located in WEB 210. This door is controlled via an electronic door lock that is activated by your Student ID card. Please be aware that this room is a secured area that utilizes powerful yet sensitive HVAC equipment and a fire suppression system. As such, please DO NOT PROP OPEN THE DOOR WHEN WORKING IN WEB 214. Please keep the door shut at all times, and in the event of an alarm, please leave the room and shut the door immediately. 

All of the checkout systems are connected to a KVM system, which allows access to the system console via two terminals in the student area. Using the keystroke of CTRL-ALT-M, a menu will be called up, which allows the terminal to switch to the console of any of the machines by name.

Any requirement for remote access to these systems should be setup by the students. By default the Windows installations have Remote Desktop enabled for the Administrator accounts and SSH is enabled on the Ubuntu installation. Students may feel free to install any other remote access system they wish, bearing in mind security considerations, please.

Backups


The checkout systems are not backed up in any fashion. Students are responsible for their own data on these machines.

Requesting a Checkout Machine


In order to checkout a machine for your personal use, simply send an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.with the following information:
  • Point of contact, i.e. who will be responsible for this machine.
  • University ID card numbers for the people who will need access to WEB 214. Note that generally you will only need physical access to the machine to install an operating system, recover from a unresponsive state, etc.
  • What class work this is related to
  • The date upon which you need a machine, and the estimated duration of your use.

If there are any specific questions or requests that you have, just let us know and we'll do our best to accommodate.

Proper Use of Checkout Machines


Any virus infection, hacked system, or purposely installed application by the students, which is found by the University's Information Security Office (ISO) to be generating unwarranted network traffic, will have its network access disabled. Students will be allowed to attempt to clean up any virus or hacking activity and such system will be returned to active network connectivity once it is shown to be clean. Any system which cannot be properly cleaned will be re-imaged.

All relevant SoC policy, campus policy, and state and federal law must be obeyed.