Computing Update (Nov-1999)


Our main system is UNIX (Tru64 & Linux). NT is used on some desktops. VMS is no longer accessible to users.

Our main filestore and processing is provided on 2 Alphastations (400 & 500 MHz) & 1 dual-processor (400 MHz) DELL PC.

Our desktops currently comprise about 30 PCs, plus 4 Alphastations and 3 X-terminals. The PCs either run Linux directly or are used to access one of our 3 more powerful UNIX machines from NT via Exceed and Samba.

The plan for our first desktop PCs was to drive them with NT and use them largely as X-terminals to our UNIX Alphas via Exceed. Later Linux was added as a dual-boot option. User preference has now resulted in Linux being the favoured desktop system. Dual-booting proved very inconvenient, so it is now kept to an absolute minimum. NT is now very much a secondary (poorly supported) system. Also an original plan to keep all NT machines identical has proved impractical to maintain (due to e.g. hardware differences, software licencing, different peripherals, individual requirements).

Our main disk is in StorageWorks boxes, but is not RAID. Backup is to DLT on each of the 3 main machines.

Most of our machines are interconnected via 3-Com 10/100 Mbps Ethernet switches over Cat5 UTP at 100 Mbps (this is good for security as well as network performance and load). Meanwhile the College is installing a Gigabit Ethernet backbone.

Facilities that have proved very useful include:

Bought software includes the following (but most of our most useful software is free via GNU, or provided via DEC Campus).


There is continual need for more disk. Hot-swappable RAID would be nice, but can we afford to buy enough disk in one go to set this up?

We will also need to increase total cpu power: likely to be via Linux on Intel rather than Tru64 on Alpha or some new platform.


  1. Management overload does not go away - mainly because "software" personnel are occupied with experimental commitments. Dropping VMS & making NT a secondary system have helped, but security measures and new software & peripherals make new demands.

  2. Original desktop PCs becoming obsolete - will need to start upgrading soon.

  3. Encountered first need to purchase expensive software for involvement in future experiments (Together for OO development in ATLAS).

  4. What do we do about Windows-2000? Drag our feet probably, but the College is planning on making its move to NT in this version.

  5. We have some concern that SUNs might be becoming flavour of the day & we have none!

RC / rc@hep.ucl.ac.uk / 11-Nov-1999