Computing Resources at Courant
The Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences (CIMS) is NYU's center for research and advanced training in Mathematics and Computer Science. At Courant, education and research are closely intertwined, and highly dependent upon computing. CIMS has a large network of Solaris and Linux-based servers and workstations, as well as Apples and PCs running Windows, which are all maintained by a full-time systems staff.
Every desk within the Institute is equipped with a Linux workstation, Windows PC, or Mac. There are also convenient general purpose computer labs for use by students and researchers, and a variety of computing resources, ranging from single processor systems used for student assignments to Linux clusters and a number of multiprocessor shared-memory systems used for research. All of these computing resources can be accessed either on-site or remotely via the network.
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The systems group tries to minimize disruptions in system and file availability. However, it is important to keep the systems and software up to date, particularly where computer and network security is involved.
Here we will provide a general outline of our regular maintenance schedule.
Our file servers and mail gateways are the backbone of the Courant computing environment, and so their constant availability is critical during the Institute's peak operational times. Therefore, we try to avoid any outages for scheduled maintenance during the fall and spring semesters, except when such work is necessary to uphold the security or operability of the systems.
Maintenance and upgrades of our critical servers, including operating system patches and hardware updates, will be performed in January, prior to the beginning of the spring semester, in May, after the spring term ends, and in August in preparation for the new academic year.
The systems involved will be the fileservers on which home directories and mail reside, the CIMS and departmental webservers, the mail gateway, the systems collectively known as access.cims.nyu.edu, and computational resources running Solaris. Notices will be sent to all users regarding specific outages in advance of any scheduled work.
Linux Desktop and Compute Server Maintenance
Updates will generally be applied on all of our Linux systems on a monthly basis, on the evening of first Thursday of every month. A week before the general rollout of updates, on the last Thursday of each month, some or all of the Linux desktop machines in the computer labs public labs will be completely updated and rebooted. Once this is done, users will be notified of the system and software changes, so they can have an opportunity to test any critial software that may have been changed and alert us to any problems prior to the updates being applied on the remaining desktops and compute servers.
The CIMS Linux machines are configured to check at boot up for any missed updates and install them, as needed. Office machines which are turned off for any length of time will install these updates during the boot process when they are powered back up, and this can take a while, depending on how long the machine has been down (and how many monthly update cycles in may have missed). Please do not interrupt this process.
This scheduling may be modified to work around holidays and particularly busy times, such as the beginnings and ends of semesters, in which case the Linux updates will follow roughly the same schedule as for the servers as outlined above. Additionally, security updates of a critical nature may be applied without prior notification.
Microsoft releases updates on the second Tuesday of every month, so, in general, we try to apply them as quickly as possible once they're released. Because management of Windows systems often involves personal attention to individual machines, these updates are usually applied to all the Windows computers over the course of a few days. It is critical for people using Windows as their office desktop computers to log off and leave their computers turned on, so we can apply the updates remotely during off hours, rather than having to inconvenience people during the business day.
Announcements of a noncritical nature, such as changes in resources and services, upgrades to software and the availability of new software are posted here.