The Astrophysics Alumnus Server

The Alumnus Server is a Mac Pro, with two 6-core 2.66GHz Intel Xeons, 6GBytes of RAM, and a total of just under 3TBytes of dataspace. It has been built as a standard user-level system under the new setup.

PLEASE NOTE: This is an invitation-only service. Its primary purpose is to permit alumni, and those who are about to become alumni, to continue to access and process their data from off-site, for a limited period while they are transferring their data and data-processing elsewhere. The alternative would involve tying down (and having to find accommodation for) N normal desktop systems, one per alumnus, for potentially-unbounded periods of time; deducing why this would be Not On is left as an exercise.

Do I need to do anything first?

  • Contact IT Support (at the usual e-mail address) for information on how to connect to it.
  • Once you log on, your network-mounted home directory will be directly available to you, without intervention.

    [**]If you are one of the few people left whose desktops are still under the older Central Physics Mac setup, ensure your local home directory has been synchronised properly to the network. This is a good idea anyway.

  • If you use your desktop system's data partition, you will need to first copy the data to a subdirectory on /Volumes/Data2 on the server, using (eg) rsync.

    [**]Please check first that there is enough free space.

    [**]CAVEAT: The data partitions are not case-sensitive, and are not backed up. See below about this.

What can (and can't) I run?

You will be able to use any software which you are able to run by SSHing into your desktop system, with or without tunnelling X11. This includes usage of much of Scisoft, and most of Starlink.

You won't be able to run software which has been designed or modified to exclusively use Apple's graphics interface (called variously Aqua, Carbon and Cocoa). This includes, but is not limited to:

  • Aquamacs
  • SAOimage DS9
  • Anything in Scisoft which uses the system's Tcl/Tk (including Python) for graphics

Please help us flesh out this list.

Are there any restrictions?

  • This is an invitation-only service, for use primarily by alumni who have not yet totally transferred their data elsewhere.

    [**]Do not use this server without permission from IT Support.

    [**]If your co-workers need to inherit your data, the Right Thing is to instead ask us for some shared space on a fileserver for this purpose.

    [**]Please try to not outstay your welcome ....

  • The data partitions, unlike those on some Astro Mac systems, are not case-sensitive; thus (eg) "makefile" and "Makefile" are treated as the same filename. This has caught out some people.
  • Your home directory will remain on the fileserver. Sorry: no local home directories. (On the flip side, your home-directory contents will be the same as on a standard desktop system without you having to do anything.)
  • The CPUs, the data partitions, and the network feed are all shared resources. We do not currently put restrictions on these, but may revisit this (non)decision if this fact is seen to be abused.

    [**]The data partitions are not backed up, and are a tad limited in size (one is entirely full as we speak). Please keep copies of your important data elsewhere; in particular, do not use this system as an archiver.

    [**]Leaving yourself logged on forever and a day will be severely Frowned Upon, even if your network connection fails to time out. If you need to run a process for a long time, consider using screen, and putting up with not being able to do X11.

    [**]Seriously heavy computing should in any case be being performed on the Linux cluster systems, eg glamdring, which are currently being extended and enhanced for this purpose.

    [**]We may need to reboot the server for operational reasons, possibly without notice. We will attempt to warn users, but this may not be possible under all circumstances.

  • No native-Mac GUI programs, I'm afraid, as noted above. This is a licencing restriction; complaints (on the back of a massive cheque) to Apple, please, c/o Central Physics.
  • You won't be able to use Self-Service. If you find something missing, please contact us at the usual e-mail address.

Categories: Astrophysics