Lecture Recording – MediaHopper Replay

The new lecture recording facility, MediaHopper Replay, is now live (as of 5th September) and by the start of teaching, the service will be available in 114 teaching spaces.

Further details can be found on the IS page which includes a link to help and support web pages. There are still training sessions available and we would strongly recommend that you go along. Drop-in sessions for staff who would like to try out ad-hoc recording will start on 11th September.

All lectures in semester 1 where recording has been requested will be set up in Learn and set to record automatically before week 1.

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Software Collections

The standard versions of various developer tools provided as part of a Scientific Linux release (e.g. SL6 or SL7) can become quite old. To gain access to newer versions various software collections can be added to a system.

Redhat summarises the software collections as: “For certain applications, more recent versions of some software components are often needed in order to use their latest new features. Red Hat Software Collections is a Red Hat offering that provides a set of dynamic programming languages, database servers, and various related packages that are either more recent than their equivalent versions included in the base Red Hat Enterprise Linux system, or are available for this system for the first time.

We have recently updated the available software collections for DICE and can now provide the following:

devtoolset-6
Provides gcc 6.2.1

rh-git29
git 2.9.3
rh-php70
PHP 7.0.10
rh-php56
PHP 5.6.25
php55
PHP 5.5.21
rh-ruby24
ruby 2.4.0
rh-python35
python 3.5.1

Note that, due to the way software collections work, the newer PHP versions cannot be used alongside the standard system version (5.4.16) in web servers, this means we do not provide it on any of the main Informatics web servers.

For further information see our Computing Help page. Currently only the devtoolset, php55 and rh-python35 are installed by default, others are available upon request, please contact the Computing Team via our Support Form.

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Self-managed server room – planned power outage

Good news! We are extending the Forum self-managed server room facility by adding three brand new racks in a nearby room.

Bad news! To arrange the necessary power feeds to the new room, we will need to completely switch off the power to the existing self-managed server room for a short period next week.

The necessary electrical work is planned to start on Monday 3rd July 2017, and should then finish on Wednesday 5th July. Sometime during this period (most likely on the Wednesday, we think), there will be a necessary power-off of around 2 to 3 hours, to allow for final connections and testing.

Users of the self-managed server room have already been notified about this via the ‘self-managed server room mailing list’ (see our Self-managed server room help page if you’re not aware of the existence of that); we’ll keep you updated via the same list.

The end result will be worth it – but we apologize for the temporary inconvenience.

As usual: if you have questions about this, please contact us via our User Support form.

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Staff NX server reboot

We need to reboot the staff NX server (jubilee) to upgrade it to SL7.3. We plan to start this work at 9am on Thursday 29th June, we expect the service to be unavailable for approximately 1 hour.

During the period of downtime the alternative NX server – nx.inf.ed.ac.uk – will be available.

If you have any queries regarding this please use the User Support form.

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ScientificLinux 7.3 upgrade

The 3rd minor update to ScientificLinux 7 (which is based on RHEL7) is now ready for deployment to the Informatics SL7 DICE office and student lab machines. A minor update like this provides us with the opportunity to update important software and fix any bugs which are not security issues (we apply security updates as soon as they are available) in a controlled manner.

To complete this upgrade a reboot is required. Lab machines will reboot overnight Wednesday/Thursday, for office desktops a delayed reboot will be scheduled. The delay will be 5 days, although the reboots are delayed it would be greatly appreciated if people could manually reboot their machines at their earliest convenience; the delayed reboot would then be cancelled. Upgrades for individual servers will be scheduled over the next few weeks and users affected will be contacted as necessary.

SL7.3 was released on January 25th 2017 and since then it has been thoroughly tested in our DICE environment so we are confident that this update will not cause any issues for users.

Full details of the package updates are available on the LCFG wiki. For further, in depth information, there are also release notes from ScientificLinux and Redhat.

If you have any questions or problems with the upgrade please contact our User Support team using the support form.

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SSH Server Reboot

We need to reboot the general access SSH server (bruegel) to upgrade it to Scientific Linux 7.3. This is just a minor upgrade from SL7.2 to SL7.3 which will have very few user-visible changes. We plan to do this at 8am on Friday 9th June. We do not expect the service to be unavailable for more than about 15 minutes but it should be considered at risk until 9am.

During the period of downtime the alternative SSH server – staff.ssh.inf.ed.ac.uk – will be available for those with access
rights.

If you have any queries regarding this please contact us via our User Support form.

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Staff SSH server reboot

We need to reboot the staff SSH server (brendel) to upgrade it to Scientific Linux 7.3. This is just a minor upgrade from SL7.2 to SL7.3 which will have very few user-visible changes. We plan to do this at 8am on Friday 2nd June (tomorrow). We do not expect the service to be unavailable for more than about 15 minutes but it should be considered “at risk” until 9am.

During the period of downtime the alternative SSH server – ssh.inf.ed.ac.uk – will be available.

If you have any queries regarding this please contact us via our User Support form.

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mailman anti-spam filters

There has been a recent spate of spammers forging list member or list admin emails, and thus are able to post directly to the corresponding targeted list (as typically list members are always allowed to post to the list they are members of).

All external email passing through the University’s mail servers are given a spam rating, and headers added to the email with its spam score. eg.

X-Spam-Score: 5
X-Spam-Level: *****
X-Spam-Status: hits=5.502 tests=HEADER_FROM_DIFFERENT_DOMAINS,
HTML_FONT_LOW_CONTRAST,HTML_MESSAGE,LOCAL_ACCTPHISH1l3,RP_MATCHES_RCVD,SYSADMIN version=3.4.0

A score of 4 or above is likely to be spam. The higher the number, the more likely it is to be spam. Though as the classification is an automated process, there can be false positives.

We can use mailman’s spam filter to match on any header, but in the above example the X-Spam-Score is the simplest to use.

We’ve recently added the following filters to all mailman lists that are not already filtering the mail based on the spam score.

mailman anti-spam page

Example of mailman spam filter page, highlighting the options you may want to change.

If your list was called “test”, then the URL for this page would be http://lists.inf.ed.ac.uk/mailman/admin/test/privacy/spam

What the two rules do is to hold for moderation any messages (regardless of who sent them) if the spam score for the message is 4 or greater (9 being the highest score). Note that the matching is actually a regular expression.

The reason they are split into two rules, is to show that you could choose to automatically discard posts with higher scores. So for example the current “[89]” rule could be changed to “Discard” (remember to press the “Submit Your Changes” button at the bottom of the page). From then on, any posts sent to the list with a spam score of 8 or 9 will silently disappear. Note there is no notification this has happened, and you cannot recover any information about what has been automatically deleted. So you should only do this if you are happy with those facts.

One last point, the “Defer” option on the filter page, actually means “disable this rule”, not “defer any matching post”.

If you want help changing any of these settings, submit a support ticket in the usual manner.

Neil

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New SSH server

On Monday 3rd April we will replace the SSH server named schiff which hosts ssh.inf.ed.ac.uk and student.ssh.inf.ed.ac.uk with a machine named bruegel.

All that will happen is that at about 08:00 on Monday we will change the DNS aliases to point to the new machine. This change can take some time to propagate so we will not switch off access to schiff immediately. It will be left running as normal until 12:00 Friday 7th April. This should also allow sufficient time for users logged in to finish their existing sessions and move to the new server.

The IP address for the service will change from 129.215.202.57 to 129.215.202.74, your SSH client may warn you about this change and request verification. For reference the new host key fingerprints are:

RSA     - e9:ca:09:89:a9:42:96:c2:08:4c:8a:1f:1b:34:ee:0c
ECDSA   - d7:5b:79:84:49:94:fb:e5:9a:c7:a3:29:83:65:e4:f8
ED25519 - f4:0e:ba:42:a5:e4:10:99:ba:67:05:e7:44:5f:9f:c2

More information regarding the SSH service can be found on our help pages. If you encounter any problems accessing the SSH service please contact us via the Support Form.

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Video Conferencing – Moving Forward

We recently polled staff and research students in the School on some approaches and suggested technologies for moving forward with better and more integrated support for Video Conferencing in the School: https://wiki.inf.ed.ac.uk/DICE/VideoConferencing. That page has now been updated with a summary of all the comments received.

The proposal now is that meeting room 5.02 in the Forum will be kitted out with generic hardware (dual monitors, camera, audio system with remote microphone pod and a computer) and made available for anyone to use. We will make at least Zoom available, and one or maybe two other systems, in this room and on School desktops. Everyone can then try these out for a while, alongside the existing Lifesize facility in 4.02.

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