Computer Lab

From Artisan's Asylum

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We have a computer lab in the [[Using the classroom | classroom]],
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consisting of ten identical computers in roll-around desks.  They
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are available for use by instructors and their students, and also
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If you rearrange the room please return the room to the default configuration for teaching (3 rows of desks). 
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by our members.  This page documents how to use them, what software
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they've got, and how to request changes.
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We have a computer lab in the [[:Category:Multipurpose Room | Multipurpose Room]],
 +
consisting of ten identical computers in roll-around desks available for use by  
 +
instructors, their students, and our members.
If you need to talk to us about particular CPUs, their names are
If you need to talk to us about particular CPUs, their names are
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= General rules =
= General rules =
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You must read and abide by the
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'''Computers are for members, day pass users and students.  Guests should not use the computers. '''
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[[Using the classroom | rules for using the classroom]] while
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you're using the computers. Pay particular attention to:
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-
* [[Using the classroom#Computer/Sewing desks | The general description of allowed and disallowed uses of the desk surfaces]]
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* [[Using the classroom#Electrical circuits | How to connect the desks and projector to power so you don't blow a breaker]]
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* [[Using the classroom#Where and where not to have food, drinks, etc | The rules regarding food, drinks, and cleanup]]
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Your use of these computers means that you also agree to these policies at a minimum:
Your use of these computers means that you also agree to these policies at a minimum:
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* [[Privacy Policy#Member data created inside Tyler | Our privacy policy as it applies to member-created data]]
* [[Privacy Policy#Member data created inside Tyler | Our privacy policy as it applies to member-created data]]
* [[Acceptable use of our public network | Our policy on acceptable use of our public network]]
* [[Acceptable use of our public network | Our policy on acceptable use of our public network]]
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Also, note the sections below on:
 
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* [[#Setting up and putting away the computers | How to set up and put away machines, and why not to just leave them running]]
 
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* [[#Hard drives and mechanical shock limits | How to avoid destroying disks via mechanical shock]]
 
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* [[#Do not disconnect cables | Why not to ever disconnect any cabling]]
 
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* [[#The computer lab is not for testing equipment | Why you should not be using the lab for testing equipment]]
 
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* [[#Changing settings | Not changing machine settings]]
 
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* [[#Storing files | Where to store your files]]
 
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* [[#How (and how not) to tell your students about our wireless network passphrase | How (and how not) to tell your students about our wireless network passphrase]]
 
== Special notes for instructors ==
== Special notes for instructors ==
'''If you are an instructor teaching a new class''', please see below
'''If you are an instructor teaching a new class''', please see below
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about [[#installing software | installing software]]---you can't install things yourself,
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about [[#installing software | installing software]]--you can't install things yourself,
and you must plan far enough ahead that we have time to schedule the
and you must plan far enough ahead that we have time to schedule the
installation in advance.  Don't wait until the last minute.
installation in advance.  Don't wait until the last minute.
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please [[#installing software | check with us]] to make sure that the
please [[#installing software | check with us]] to make sure that the
software is still there and still works.  We may occasionally upgrade
software is still there and still works.  We may occasionally upgrade
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operating systems---which could cause things to break---or remove
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operating systems--which could cause things to break--or remove
software that hasn't been used in a long time to save space.  It's
software that hasn't been used in a long time to save space.  It's
wise to check as far in advance as possible to make sure your software
wise to check as far in advance as possible to make sure your software
is still there, still works, and isn't slated for deletion.
is still there, still works, and isn't slated for deletion.
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{{:Using the classroom}}<!-- includes only the Projector section -->
 
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= Setting up and putting away the computers =
 
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Each desk contains several cubbies:
 
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* A large cubby on the left, which holds a sewing machine.  (If you're sewing, you're reading the wrong page.)
 
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* A large cubby on the right, which holds the CPU.  Do not remove the CPU from the cubby.
 
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* A small horizontal cubby in the back, which holds the keyboard and mouse.
 
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* A larger cubby in the back, which holds the LCD monitor.  The wifi transceiver is also attached to this.
 
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[[#Do not disconnect cables | Never disconnect any cables]] from any of the computers.
 
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You can set up and put away a computer while leaving everything connected.
 
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== Setting up ==
 
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To set up a computer for use:
 
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* Go around to the back of the table.
 
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* ''First'', pull out the keyboard and mouse and put them near the front edge of the desk.
 
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* ''Second'', pull out the LCD and put it near the back edge of the desk.
 
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Pulling the keybord and mouse out first is much easier than the other
 
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way around---the cables less likely to get tangled up while you're
 
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moving them.
 
-
 
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The desks are designed to allow you to daisy-chain power from desk
 
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to desk by plugging each outlet strip into its neighbor.  '''Don't'''
 
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daisy-chain all ten desks to each other, and '''don't''' plug the
 
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projector into a large string of desks.  You will pop breakers on the
 
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outlet strips, probably about 20 minutes into whatever you're doing,
 
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when it's maximally annoying.  For complete instructions on what to
 
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hook to what, [[Using the classroom#Electrical circuits | read this carefully]].
 
-
 
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== Abandoned machines ==
 
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Please don't walk away and leave unsaved files and open applications.
 
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Saving your own files and closing applications before you walk away is
 
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your responsibility.  If you don't do this, you leave later users in a
 
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quandry---can they shut down or reboot the computer, or not?  Will you
 
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be back in five minutes or next week?  And what should they do about
 
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unsaved files?
 
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If you see a computer that looks abandoned and has unsaved files,
 
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'''don't''' save them.  Why?  Because you can't know whether the
 
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person who was editing them was making changes they really wanted, and
 
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you could overwrite a good version of, e.g., a CAD file with a version
 
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that isn't wanted.  This is especially important because some random
 
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person could have poked at the file after the real user left and
 
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before you arrived, or character(s) could have been typed into it by
 
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accident, etc.
 
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== Putting away ==
 
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When you're done with a computer, please shut it down and put it away.
 
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It's important to shut it down for several reasons:
 
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* It guarantees you've thought about modified files, and haven't left it to the next person to [[#Abandoned machines | make an arbitrary decision]].
 
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* It saves power.  (For several reasons, these machines are not set to sleep or hibernate.)
 
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* It reduces the chances that the machine will simply have the power yanked out from under it if someone unplugs (or blows a breaker on) an outlet strip it's daisy-chained to, perhaps several desks away.
 
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It's important to put it away because the room is used for many other
 
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activities, and those activities might use the desks but not the computers.
 
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You can shut the computer down via the operating system, or you can
 
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push the large power button on the front '''for about half a second only'''.
 
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(Don't just keep it held down---if you hold it for 4 seconds
 
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continuously, it will turn off the power immediately, without warning
 
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the operating system.  Pushing it for half a second instead will ask
 
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the OS to shut down the machine gracefully.  Note that, if there are
 
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still open applications, you may have to use the mouse to shut down
 
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instead---the OS will likely pop up a window complaining and asking
 
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what to do.  This is another reason why everyone should exit all
 
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pplications before just walking away.]
 
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Please leave the LCD power switch in the on position, even if you're
 
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turning everything else off.  (It's okay to unplug the entire desk
 
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or desks if you want---just don't hit the off button on the LCD.)  We
 
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do it this way because some of the LCDs have finicky buttons and it
 
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may be hard to get them turned back on, and because LCDs in standby
 
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consume very little power, assuming the desk is even plugged in at all.
 
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Instructors may ask their students to put each computer away, or the
 
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instructor may put them all away, but you should not leave a classroom
 
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of computers all set up after your class unless someone has told you
 
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they'd like you to leave them set up.
 
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To put a computer away, put the LCD in its cubby first.  You may need
 
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to swing the screen down slightly to make it short enough to fit.
 
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Once the LCD is stowed, then stow the keyboard and mouse.  You don't
 
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need to un-daisy-chain the power connections, because stowing and
 
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unstowing computers is more common than rolling all of the desks
 
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out of the way.
 
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== Hard drives and mechanical shock limits ==
 
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Why are the computers all sitting on those squishy pads?  Because they
 
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have spinning mechanical disks in them, and those disks have a shock
 
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limit of 4G even when they're turned off.  The desks are also used for
 
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sewing machines, and some of those machines can produce quite a bit of
 
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vibration.  The shockmounts are there to keep vibration from the
 
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sewing machines within the disks' 4G ''non''operational limits.
 
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The ''operational'' limits---how much shock a disk can take when it's
 
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actually on---are considerably lower.  So if you see someone using a
 
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sewing machine---or doing anything else that could cause a lot of
 
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vibration---while the computer in that desk is turned on, please stop
 
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them and turn off the computer.  For the same reason, it's a really
 
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bad idea to roll the desks around more than an inch or two if the
 
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disks are spinning---if you crash into another desk, or even run over
 
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a power cord you didn't see, the disk will not be happy.  Having to
 
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recover a failed disk can be a ''lot'' of work, even with backups.
 
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[If you'd like to volunteer to buy us 10 160GB+ SSDs to avoid this
 
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problem in the future, we would be more than happy to take you up on it.]
 
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For more on how not to abuse the desks or the disks in them, see
 
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[[Using the classroom#What not to do to the desks | this discussion]].
 
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== Do not disconnect cables ==
 
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'''Do not''' ever disconnect any cabling from any of the computers in the classroom.
 
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The sole exceptions are:
 
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* 120V power plugs from outlet strips, if you're moving desks around
 
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* Video from the one computer you're using to connect to the projector
 
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We have found in the past that some people disconnect cabling from the
 
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classroom computers, such as network cables, leading to annoying and
 
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sometimes hard-to-debug problems for students and instructors taking
 
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classes.  (For example, SolidWorks won't even start up without a
 
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working network, because it uses a network license.)  Because this can
 
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interfere with classes, it is Asylum policy that no cables, with the
 
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exceptions above, should ever be unplugged from any classroom
 
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computers without ''prior'' permission from IT.
 
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For more on why unplugging things is a bad idea, see immediately
 
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[[#The computer lab is not for testing equipment | below.]]
 
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In addition, if you have disconnected video from a computer in order
 
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to use the projector, you '''must''' reconnect it as soon as you are
 
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done with the projector.  See [[#Projector | above]] for why.
 
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== The computer lab is not for testing equipment ==
 
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'''Do not''' test random equipment with our computer lab by unplugging
 
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bits of its hardware and then plugging in your own.  If you have a computer
 
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you need to test with an LCD, or you have an LCD you need to test with a
 
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computer, '''don't''' do so in the computer lab.  Find another, more expendable
 
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computer (ask us if necessary), or use your own.  We say this for several reasons:
 
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'''Inconvenience.'''  It's been our experience that people who unplug any
 
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cables for any reason almost never remember to plug them back in, and when
 
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they do, they're often plugged into the wrong places (such as plugging
 
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not-quite-USB-3.0-compatible equipment into the USB 3.0 ports, leading to
 
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obscure and hard-to-debug flaky behavior).  Many users ''think'' they'll
 
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remember, but experience demonstrates that they don't.
 
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'''Damage.'''  Unknown equipment under test could conceivably permanently
 
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damage one of the classroom computers.  For example, failure modes that
 
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short 120V onto signal pins are not unknown.  Hardware damage to one
 
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of the computers in the classroom is expensive to repair, not only in the
 
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money it takes to buy new parts, but in the personnel time required to buy
 
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the hardware, assemble it, and possibly reinstall entire disks full of
 
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operating systems, depending on what gets blown up.
 
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'''Classes.'''  These computers are constantly used for classes.  They
 
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are critical resources.  Having cables unplugged means that one or more
 
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students simply may not have a computer to use for that class, depending
 
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entirely on the skill of the students and instructor in debugging what went
 
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wrong.  (For example, unplugging the network can lead to surprising failures;
 
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see [[#Do not disconnect cables | above]]).  Having one damaged by hardware
 
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experimentation means we can't run the class at full capacity until the
 
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damage is repaired.  Either way, this leads to a very sticky situation,
 
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since people who have paid for a class would no longer be able to take
 
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it---possibly halfway through a set of several sessions.
 
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For all these reasons, it is Asylum policy that the computers in the classroom
 
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are '''never''' to be used as test machines.  The only exception to this policy
 
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is for well-behaved USB equipment (see [[#Hardware | below]]), and it is still
 
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a better idea to (a) go through a USB hub, and (b) use a more-expendable computer
 
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instead, unless this is part of an actual class.
 
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= Network =
 
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Because the desks roll around, the computers can't be on a hardwired
 
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Ethernet.  Instead, each of them has a wireless USB device, which looks
 
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like a flash drive, plugged into a USB extension cable.  That cable is
 
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attached to the LCD; it will often be sticking out just behind the LCD,
 
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or perhaps pulled a few inches out and flopping around a bit.
 
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We do it this way for two reasons:
 
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* It gets the wifi transceiver far away from the metal case of the computer, which would otherwise act like a groundplane and absorb the signal
 
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* It gets the wifi transceiver higher up, where it's more likely to be line of sight to the wireless access point without metal obstacles in the way
 
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== How (and how not) to tell your students about our wireless network passphrase ==
 
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'''If your students are just using the classroom computers,'''
 
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you can skip this section, because all of the classroom computers
 
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already know the passphrase to our wireless network.
 
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'''If you're using your own computer, or your students might be their own computers,'''
 
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then you need to read this section carefully.
 
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We use a single passphrase for our wireless network.  This is much
 
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easier than handing out individual credentials to every member.  It's
 
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''especially'' easier than having to generate new credentials for
 
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every new student, of which we have a large number.  However, we
 
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''don't'' want that passphrase getting out to the whole wide world,
 
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and there are many ways it can.  If you're teaching a class or having
 
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some other gathering in the computer lab where there are new people
 
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and they'll need to get on our net, please abide by these rules at all
 
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times:
 
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'''If you need to know the passphrase yourself,''' the front-desk
 
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staff has it.  They often have little slips of paper you can take back
 
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with you if you want.  Note that the little slips of paper don't say,
 
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by themselves, that what you're looking at is a passphrase at all.
 
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This is deliberate, in case slips wander off.  (Note:  If this is the
 
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first time you're teaching, and your class starts sometime outside of
 
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our normal staffed hours, please remember to swing by and get the
 
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passphrase ''before'' your class, or you may not be able to find
 
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anyone around who knows it.  Even other members probably don't know
 
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it---they probably knew it just long enough to type it into a laptop
 
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or a phone exactly once, and don't remember it accurately any more.)
 
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'''If you need to share the passphrase with your students,''' that's
 
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okay.  You can write it down on the whiteboard, or hand it out on
 
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slips of paper, but '''do not''' write "our wireless passphrase" (or
 
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anything like it) on the whiteboard, or on the slip of paper.  Why?
 
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Because that way a random visitor, or someone who finds your slip of
 
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paper floating around, will be none the wiser.  (And if you write it
 
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on the whiteboard, please erase it as soon as your students have typed
 
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it into their devices.  If you wait until after class, you'll likely
 
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forget, and it might stay there for days.  There have been many, many
 
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instances of photographers publishing pictures taken in offices where
 
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crucial passwords were written on a visible whiteboard, and we'd rather
 
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not be one of them.  We get a lot of reporters and photographers, a
 
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lot of students take pictures of things in class and post them to
 
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social media, and we also often stream live video from gatherings in
 
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the classroom.)
 
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'''Never type our passphrase into any electronic document, ever'''.
 
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The only place you should be typing it is into a password prompt
 
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for something that requires it to get you on our network.
 
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In particular:
 
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* '''Do not''' type it into a Google Doc---not even if you're projecting that doc for a class, not even if that doc is supposedly private.  Use paper or the whiteboard.
 
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* '''Do not''' send it via email or text, ''ever'', to anyone, ''for any reason.''
 
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In both cases, we say this because it's very easy to intercept such
 
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passwords, or for them to be copied somewhere else by mistake.  All of
 
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these sorts of things have happened already with other passwords of
 
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ours.  Those passwords were changed, but changing the wireless
 
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passphrase for our entire network is very painful and we'd like to
 
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minimize the number of times we need to do so.  If our passphrase gets
 
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out, we will likely have to go to individual credentials for everyone,
 
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which is much more annoying for all users, and much more work to set
 
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up from the IT side as well.
 
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== Troubleshooting ==
 
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If you're having issues with network on a computer lab machine, the
 
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first thing you should check is whether the wifi transceiver has a
 
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green LED that flashes occasionally.  If it looks completely dead,
 
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it's probably unplugged.  Check the connection right at the wifi
 
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first; that connection is frequently loose.  (We've applied tape
 
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around the joint, but people sometimes disconnect the tape, believing
 
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that the wifi is instead a flash drive.)  If that doesn't help, make
 
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sure the other end of the USB extension cable is plugged into the CPU.
 
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You can plug it into any of the USB ports ''except'' the blue ones,
 
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which are USB 3.0---the wifi drivers are unreliable using USB 3.0.
 
-
 
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'''Never swap wifi transceivers between machines.'''  They have unique
 
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MAC addresses.  If you swap them, the machine will think it has new
 
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hardware, and it won't know that it can use the wifi passphrase that
 
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it already knows, which means it won't be able to get on the network.
 
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Even if you supply the passphrase for the new wifi transceiver, having
 
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the MACs swapped around will screw up remote administration of the
 
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machines.  So don't do this.
 
-
 
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(If you suspect that the wifi transceivers have gotten swapped, note
 
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that each one has the name of a chemical element writton on it in
 
-
Sharpie.  That should match the name on the front of the CPU.)
 
= Hardware =
= Hardware =
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Each computer has USB ports on the front and back panels.  Most are
Each computer has USB ports on the front and back panels.  Most are
USB 2.0 (red connectors), but two on the back panel are USB 3.0 (blue
USB 2.0 (red connectors), but two on the back panel are USB 3.0 (blue
-
connectors).  USB 3.0 is much faster than USB 2.0 and can provide more
+
connectors).   
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peripheral power per port, and is a good choice for flash drives, DVD
+
-
drives, and portable disks.  However, USB 3.0 support is relatively
+
-
new industrywide, and not every USB peripheral works correctly with
+
-
USB 3.0 drivers, so if you're having puzzling or flaky results, try
+
-
it with a USB 2.0 port and see if things work correctly then.
+
If you're using these computers for hardware development, please be
If you're using these computers for hardware development, please be
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chance of miswiring your USB connectors or having unusual voltages on
chance of miswiring your USB connectors or having unusual voltages on
them, '''use a USB hub''' between your device and the computers!
them, '''use a USB hub''' between your device and the computers!
-
Replacing a blown USB hub is much easier and cheaper than replacing a
 
-
motherboard, especially since the short market lifetime of
 
-
motherboards means we'll probably have to buy a different type and
 
-
deal with odd-man-out sorts of issues from then on.
 
-
 
-
The only sort of hardware development we support on these machines
 
-
involves well-behaved USB devices, and you should see
 
-
[[#Do not disconnect cables | here]] and
 
-
[[#The computer lab is not for testing equipment | here]]
 
-
for other rules involving disconnecting cables, and non-USB hardware,
 
-
respectively.  Even better, please use a different computer instead;
 
-
ask us if you need a more-expendable test target.
 
-
 
-
'''Note:''' Due to deficiencies of the motherboards, these computers
 
-
''cannot boot from USB flash drives'' unless they are very specially
 
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formatted, which yours almost certainly isn't.  This means that you
 
-
can't boot other operating systems from USB unless you have an
 
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external DVD drive and a disk.
 
-
 
-
= Operating systems =
 
-
 
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With a few exceptions (documented below), all ten machines are kept in
 
-
a nearly-identical configuration, with these operating systems installed:
 
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* Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
 
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* Ubuntu Linux 12.04 Precise Pangolin LTS 64-bit desktop
 
-
 
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== Windows ==
 
-
 
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The machines autoboot to Windows.  When the machine comes up, it will
 
-
automatically log into the user named "user".  The other accounts on
 
-
the machine are for administrative purposes.  If for some reason you
 
-
log out, you can just click on "user" again and you'll be logged back
 
-
in.
 
-
 
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Please don't reconfigure the machines, since not everyone shares your
 
-
tastes, and some of those configurations are there for a reason.  This
 
-
includes things like the appearance of folders and windows, where the
 
-
trash is, etc.
 
-
 
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== Linux ==
 
-
 
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If you want to run Linux, reboot, wait 10-15 seconds until you see a
 
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message saying "Loading Operating System", and then wait until you see
 
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the GRUB menu.  Use the arrow keys to select the top menu item instead
 
-
of the bottom, and hit return.  (Once you type any character at the
 
-
GRUB menu, the countdown will stop, and the machine will wait for you
 
-
to decide what to do.)
 
-
 
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Once the machine has booted, select "guest account".  Note that your
 
-
settings and any stored files will vanish when you log out.  (We may
 
-
in the future switch to permanent accounts instead.)
 
-
 
-
== Booting your own ==
 
-
 
-
In general, please don't.  If you must, ask us first
 
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(classroom-installs<span style="display:none">REMOVETHIS</span>@artisansasylum.com).
 
-
 
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We say this because it's possible that booting an alternate OS can
 
-
overwrite one or more of the existing partitions on the machine or
 
-
the bootloader---even if you're not trying to install a new OS, some
 
-
alternate OS's can be buggy.  Such an overwrite could cost us an
 
-
enormous amount of work.
 
-
 
-
But if you have permission to use an alternate that we trust, this
 
-
''is'' possible.  Note that you [[#Hardware | likely can't do this]]
 
-
from a USB flash drive, though.  Under no circumstances are you
 
-
allowed to write to ''any'' partition on the machine without
 
-
prior arrangement---none of them are scratch or expendable.
 
-
 
-
= Changing settings =
 
-
 
-
Please don't.  We don't want a war among various peoples' tastes, and
 
-
some of those configurations are the way they are for a reason.  See
 
-
[[#Windows | above]].
 
-
 
-
If you absolutely must change some sort of configuration in order
 
-
to make a particular piece of software run correctly, and the machine
 
-
allows you to do so, send mail to
 
-
(classroom-installs<span style="display:none">REMOVETHIS</span>@artisansasylum.com)
 
-
explaining what you did and why.  Your change will likely have to be
 
-
replicated to all of our machines to keep them in sync.  Also, it will
 
-
likely be lost if we don't know if it was done and the machine is
 
-
ever restored from a prior backup.  It's a much better idea to get
 
-
us involved from the start to avoid any problems.
 
= Storing files =
= Storing files =
In general, '''do not assume anything you leave on the machine will survive.'''
In general, '''do not assume anything you leave on the machine will survive.'''
-
 
-
We may reconfigure or reinstall any machine at any time without
 
-
warning.  Every time any maintenance is performed on the machines, or
 
-
any time an automated backup happens, everything on the desktop will
 
-
be thrown away, as well as the contents of download folders and
 
-
similar directories as well.  (This keeps the backups smaller.  Also,
 
-
if such items were not regularly thrown away, people would get in the
 
-
habit of expecting them to survive.  That's a bad habit to get into,
 
-
because (a) someone else could throw them them away at any time, (b)
 
-
no one else would ever know if they ''could'' throw something away,
 
-
and (c) there is no guarantee that anything in the local filesystem
 
-
won't be wiped out at any time if the machine is restored from backup.
 
-
Finally, expecting one's files to be on some particular machine sets
 
-
up a dynamic where people need to bump others off "their" machine to
 
-
get to their files, which is annoying to the people getting bumped.)
 
If you need to store files, you have two choices:
If you need to store files, you have two choices:
Line 467: Line 70:
This section documents the software currently installed on the machines.
This section documents the software currently installed on the machines.
-
If you'd like something installed, please [[#Installing software | see below]].
+
If you'd like something installed, please email it[at]artisansasylum[dot]com
 +
 
-
== Windows ==
 
We have Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit installed.  The packages below
We have Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit installed.  The packages below
Line 475: Line 78:
out of the box.
out of the box.
-
* Audio/Video/DJing
+
<center>
-
** Ableton Live
+
{| class="wikitable"
-
** Mixxx 1.11.0-alpha2
+
|-
-
** PureData 0.42.5
+
! Audio/Video/DJing
-
** ASIO4ALL 2.10 [low-latency audio driver]
+
! CAD/CAM
-
* CAD/CAM:
+
! General Productivity
-
** Electrical
+
! Graphics
-
*** PCB design & schematic capture
+
! Other
-
**** FreePCB
+
|-
-
**** TinyCAD
+
|
-
*** Hardware programmers and IDEs
+
* Ableton Live  
-
**** Arduino 1.0
+
* Mixxx 1.11.0-alpha2
-
**** Cypress PSOC (Creator, Designer, and Programmer)
+
* PureData 0.42.5
-
**** Fritzing
+
* ASIO4ALL 2.10 [low-latency audio driver]
-
** Mechanical
+
|
-
*** AutoDesk 123D
+
* Electrical
-
*** Autodesk 123D Make
+
** PCB design & schematic capture
-
*** BigBlueSaw DXF exporter for Inkscape [gets units right]
+
*** FreePCB
-
*** Blender 2.63a
+
*** TinyCAD
-
*** CamBam beta 0.8.2
+
** Hardware programmers and IDEs
-
*** CNCSimulator
+
*** Arduino 1.0
-
*** DraftSight
+
*** Cypress PSOC (Creator, Designer, and Programmer)
-
*** HSMworks
+
*** Fritzing
-
*** Solidworks Premium 2012
+
*** [[MATLAB]] (Image Processing Toolbox, Computer Vision System Toolbox, Control System Toolbox, Instrument Control Toolbox)
-
** Numerical analysis
+
*** [[Simulink]] (Stateflow, Simulink Control Design, System Identification Toolbox)
-
*** MathWorks (MATLAB, Simulink, and many hardware plugins, including Arduino)
+
* Mechanical
-
* General productivity
+
** [http://www.autodesk.com/products/fusion-360/overview Autodesk Fusion 360]
-
** BullZip PDF Creator
+
** [http://www.autodesk.com/products/inventor/overview Autodesk Inventor]
-
** Firefox
+
** [http://www.123dapp.com/design Autodesk 123D Design]
-
** LibreOffice
+
** [http://www.123dapp.com/make Autodesk 123D Make]
-
* Graphics
+
** BigBlueSaw DXF exporter for Inkscape [gets units right]
-
** Inkscape
+
** Blender 2.63a
-
* Other
+
** CamBam beta 0.8.2
-
** Cygwin 1.7.16-1
+
** CNCSimulator
-
** Processing
+
** DraftSight
-
** Wacom tablet driver 6.3.2-3
+
** HSMworks
-
 
+
** SolidWorks Premium 2016
-
In addition, the packages below are installed on a subset of the
+
** ShopBot 3 Control Simulation (Chromium only)
-
machines.  Typically, this is done for very large installations
+
** VCarve Pro ShopBot Edition 7.5 (Chromium only)
-
that will only be used by one or two people at a time; doing this
+
** PartWorks 3D for ShopBot (Chromium only)
-
saves a lot of work and allows us to distribute packages so we don't
+
|
-
run out of disk space in the Windows partition.  The computers on
+
* BullZip PDF Creator
-
which the packages are installed are in brackets.
+
* Firefox
-
 
+
* LibreOffice
-
* XPlane 10 [Cr]
+
|
-
 
+
* Inkscape
-
== Linux ==
+
|
-
 
+
* Cygwin 1.7.16-1
-
We have Ubuntu 12.04 LTS (Precise Pangolin) 64-bit desktop installed.
+
* Processing
-
The packages below are what we've installed on all machines that aren't
+
* Wacom tablet driver 6.3.2-3
-
there by default out of the box and are generally useful by end-users.
+
|-
-
[Several small utility packages, including pv, socat, smartmontools,
+
|}
-
gparted, ntp, ethtool, and many others, are installed, but the entire
+
</center>
-
list isn't worth documenting here.  Note also that many major packages
+
-
that are optional add-ons for Windows are included out-of-the-box in
+
-
Ubuntu, such as Firefox and LibreOffice.]
+
-
 
+
-
* General productivity
+
-
** Emacs
+
-
* Graphics
+
-
** Inkscape
+
= Installing software =
= Installing software =
-
 
-
You can't install software on these machines without an administrative
 
-
password.  For a variety of reasons, we don't hand out these passwords.
 
-
 
-
If you'd like something installed, please talk to an admin or send mail to
 
-
classroom-installs<span style="display:none">REMOVETHIS</span>@artisansasylum.com.
 
-
 
-
'''Do not wait until the last minute to request an installation''',
 
-
especially if you need this software for a class.  Installing software
 
-
on ten machines can take considerable time, no one doing the work is
 
-
doing this as a full-time job or even getting paid for any of it, and
 
-
you can't make any assumptions about their schedules or availability.
 
-
In addition, the most convenient times to install software are often
 
-
also times that the desks or the computer themselves are already in
 
-
use by something else, so installations have to work around those
 
-
schedules.  It's also considerably more efficient to batch up
 
-
installations for several people or several classes and do them all at
 
-
once, because it involves unstowing & restowing the machines only once
 
-
and not once per package, and because often one package can be started
 
-
on one machine while a different package is installing somewhere else.
 
-
 
-
'''Please allow at least a week''', and the more warning, the better.
 
-
If your class runs in a month, send mail about your installation needs
 
-
''now''---preferably before the class is even advertised to the
 
-
public---to minimize the chances of unexpected issues, and to maximize
 
-
the amount of installation work that can be done in a batch.  It's an
 
-
excellent idea to send mail to
 
-
classroom-installs<span style="display:none">REMOVETHIS</span>@artisansasylum.com
 
-
before you're even done writing up the class description, so any
 
-
potential problems can be spotted early.
 
-
 
-
Note that asking at the last minute risks your class not being able to
 
-
run at all, which would be a disaster for you, your students, and the
 
-
Asylum.  (This goes double if you simply show up and expect an
 
-
installation to happen in a few minutes at the start of your class---
 
-
chances are, no one will be available right then, and your class will
 
-
have to do without.  Plan ahead!)
 
-
 
-
'''If you want software installed that has a limited-time trial license''',
 
-
we can do that, but we discourage it---it means that all the effort of
 
-
installing the software for your class is effectively wasted once the
 
-
license runs out, and then we can't run the class again.  In some cases,
 
-
we can install the software on only a small number of machines if it's
 
-
for a very small class---but that's also a hassle to keep track of, and
 
-
doing so will slowly "burn out" all the machines for that software.
 
-
Nonetheless, if you absolutely have to do this, be very clear about
 
-
the timing of your class and the license terms---if you're teaching
 
-
a one-month class on a one-month license, you'll have to be precise
 
-
about when you want the software to be installed so it doesn't run
 
-
out halfway through your class.
 
-
 
-
'''Do not ask us to install software for which we are not licensed.'''
 
-
We just won't do it.  That includes cracked versions, versions from
 
-
sources we deem sketchy, requests to repeatedly uninstall and reinstall
 
-
trial software (which only works for some packages anyway), and all
 
-
similar requests.  If you want to run sketchy software, do it on your
 
-
own machine, not ours.  If you need sketchy software to teach a class,
 
-
reconsider how you're teaching the class.
 
-
 
-
'''If your software costs money''', you're the one who has to buy it,
 
-
not us.  We're happy to install such software, but you can't assume
 
-
that we'll pay for it.  If this is for a class, please make sure that
 
-
such software is factored into your budget for the class.
 
-
 
-
'''If you're using software that has to interact with hardware''',
 
-
such as Arduino programmers and the like, you need to make the precise
 
-
hardware you're intending to use available at the same time the software
 
-
installation will happen---especially for Windows installations.  This is
 
-
because, in many cases, the hardware will require Windows to locate and
 
-
install device drivers, and that often requires administrative privileges.
 
-
Note that even slightly different revisions of ostensibly the same board
 
-
sometimes have, e.g., different USB/serial chips, and thus would trigger
 
-
a device driver installation.  (This is common for Arduinos.)  So be
 
-
careful about your hardware revisions, and check in advance.
 
-
 
-
'''If you want software installed under Linux''', software that is
 
-
already available in the package system for our existing OS release
 
-
is a no-brainer.  (Universe, Restricted, etc are all okay.)  If it
 
-
requires being built, that's a little more involved, and we'll want to
 
-
make sure it doesn't also try to step on an existing package.  (For
 
-
example, Processing apparently requires Sun/Oracle's version of the
 
-
JDK, which is inconsistent with the JDK distributed as an Ubuntu
 
-
package.)  Sorting out the conflicts and dependencies can be
 
-
time-consuming, and making sure that OS upgrades or patches don't step
 
-
on the installation can require extra attention.  So if you can find
 
-
it in the package system instead, please do.  If installing one package
 
-
automatically pulls in a bunch of dependencies, don't bother listing
 
-
all those dependencies; apt-get will do the right thing anyway.
 
If you're asking for an installation, please include the following information:
If you're asking for an installation, please include the following information:
-
* Which operating system you'd like the software installed on (Windows, Linux, both?)
 
* How to find the software.  (A URL going to the precise version you'd like is best, though for Ubuntu package installs, just naming the package is fine.)
* How to find the software.  (A URL going to the precise version you'd like is best, though for Ubuntu package installs, just naming the package is fine.)
* Whether the software will be talking to any hardware, and if so, what.
* Whether the software will be talking to any hardware, and if so, what.
Line 636: Line 142:
** Your class size (in case we only want to install it on one or two seats)
** Your class size (in case we only want to install it on one or two seats)
-
Also, if the software is likely to be particularly large (over a gig),
 
-
please mention that if you know.  It can help with planning.
 
-
 
-
By default, any installation will go to all ten machines, so their
 
-
configurations stay similar.  We may make exceptions for huge packages
 
-
which few people will use, certain trial-licensed software, and so forth.
 
-
 
-
= Some internal details =
 
-
 
-
You don't need to know the stuff below to use the machines.  It's here
 
-
because every so often someone asks about it.
 
-
 
-
== Backups ==
 
-
 
-
'''Don't store your files on these machines.'''  Things left on the
 
-
desktop may be deleted at any time, and the entire machine may be
 
-
reinstalled at any time.  See [[#Storing files, changing settings, etc | above]]
 
-
for more details.  In particular, desktop clutter is routinely deleted
 
-
without warning anytime a round of software installation happens.
 
-
 
-
With that said, the Windows partitions are occasionally backed up, by
 
-
taking a snapshot of the entire partition as a set of blocks and
 
-
stashing it in an alternate partition on the same disk.  Those
 
-
snapshots are occasionally stored somewhere else, e.g., so losing
 
-
a disk doesn't lose its backup.  This is one reason why installations
 
-
are batched---after a batch of installations is a good time to take a
 
-
snapshot.
 
-
 
-
If a machine ever has some serious software-related problem, the
 
-
entire partition image may be rolled back over the existing partition.
 
-
This is one reason why you can't depend on your own files surviving at
 
-
any given moment.
 
-
 
-
If for some reason you think a particular machine's configuration has
 
-
gotten bashed, let us know, and we can probably restore the machine to
 
-
a pre-bashed state.
 
-
 
-
Note that the Linux partitions are not currently backed up.  Since
 
-
they don't require individual licensing, it's far easier just to
 
-
reinstall if anything goes seriously wrong, and the chances of that
 
-
are lower than for Windows, anyway.
 
-
 
-
== Individual installations ==
 
-
 
-
These machines are individually installed; they're not installed from
 
-
a single master image.  On the Windows side, we do this for several reasons:
 
-
* Setting up the infrastructure for master-image installation is a fair amount of work.
 
-
* It requires Pro and/or OEM licenses, which cost a lot more than the Home Premium licenses we have.
 
-
* Pushing a new image over the wireless would take forever, especially to all ten machines.
 
-
 
-
Unfortunately, these constraints lead to several annoyances:
 
-
* Running Home Premium means we can't use a centrally-administered user database, or use Active Directory at all.
 
-
* Software must be installed on each machine individually, rather than once on a master image.
 
-
 
-
The issues above are some of (but not all of) the reasons why we have
 
-
very tight restrictions on administrative access to these machines
 
-
under Windows:  It's just way too easy for a machine's configuration
 
-
to either diverge from the rest, or get completely screwed up, and
 
-
it's quite a lot of work to recover.  Recovery in some cases could
 
-
involve starting from scratch, with an installation of the OS and all
 
-
applications, unless we're 100% positive exactly when the problem
 
-
being recovered from first started, and thus can potentially use an
 
-
existing image backup.  This sort of from-scratch recovery is a
 
-
tremendous amount of work to expect from a volunteer position for even
 
-
one machine, much less ten.  In addition, experience has shown it
 
-
would very likely have been required several times in only the first
 
-
few weeks we had the machines if users had been allowed to install
 
-
software on their own.  [In just those first few weeks, we had users
 
-
and/or instructors who, because they didn't know better, wanted to
 
-
install software with questionable or cracked licenses, from sites
 
-
which were likely malware vectors, etc.]  Finally, because we can't
 
-
centrally administer passwords (Home Premium, hence no Active
 
-
Directory), even handing out a temporary installation password is
 
-
painful, because it requires turning on and setting up all ten
 
-
machines to set the password, and the same amount of work to revoke
 
-
it.  (And we ''must'' revoke it---otherwise, experience demonstrates
 
-
that any such password would be passed around almost immediately.)
 
-
 
-
In a more-traditional setup, with OEM-licensed software, hardwired
 
-
Ethernet, and central password administration, it would be easier to
 
-
allow administrative-like access, with the proviso that entire new
 
-
images might be steamrollered over whatever users had done.  In fact,
 
-
many computer labs do this every time a user logs out.  But that's a
 
-
level of infrastructure that isn't warranted in our environment, would
 
-
cost us quite a bit of money to set up, and isn't compatible with our
 
-
reconfigurable physical setup.
 
-
 
-
The Linux side is somewhat easier to cope with, because a reinstall is
 
-
much less work, and easier to automate.  However, at the moment, the
 
-
machines are still individually installed, with some simple homegrown
 
-
tools for automating parallel deployment of patches and additional
 
-
packages.  At some point, we may use something more full-blown, but
 
-
not yet, and again the issue of installation via wireless means that
 
-
having to start from scratch frequently would be painful.  However, if
 
-
you have a good reason to need administrative access on one or more of
 
-
the Linux sides, that can be arranged.
 
 +
[[Category: Software]]
[[Category: Policies]]
[[Category: Policies]]
[[Category: IT]]
[[Category: IT]]

Current revision as of 16:11, 31 March 2016


If you rearrange the room please return the room to the default configuration for teaching (3 rows of desks).

We have a computer lab in the Multipurpose Room, consisting of ten identical computers in roll-around desks available for use by instructors, their students, and our members.

If you need to talk to us about particular CPUs, their names are the ten metallic elements from 24 to 33 in the periodic table: chromium, manganese, iron, cobalt, nickel, copper, zinc, gallium, germanium, and arsenic (Cr Mn Fe Co Ni Cu Zn Ga Ge As). Each CPU is labeled on the front with its name.

Contents

General rules

Computers are for members, day pass users and students. Guests should not use the computers.

Your use of these computers means that you also agree to these policies at a minimum:

Special notes for instructors

If you are an instructor teaching a new class, please see below about installing software--you can't install things yourself, and you must plan far enough ahead that we have time to schedule the installation in advance. Don't wait until the last minute.

If the students in your class might be using their own computers, please see below on how (and how not) to tell your students about our wireless network passphrase.

Finally, if we've installed software for you in the past, and you're repeating your class but it's been a while since it was last taught, please check with us to make sure that the software is still there and still works. We may occasionally upgrade operating systems--which could cause things to break--or remove software that hasn't been used in a long time to save space. It's wise to check as far in advance as possible to make sure your software is still there, still works, and isn't slated for deletion.

Hardware

Each CPU consists of a quad-core 64-bit AMD 4100FX, in a Gigabyte GA-970A-UD3 motherboard, with 8GB DDR3 RAM, and an nVidia GT216GL (Quadro 400) graphics card. The motherboard will accomodate up to 32GB of RAM, if that turns out to be necessary. Each machine also has 160GB of disk, shared across various partitions and operating systems.

Each computer has USB ports on the front and back panels. Most are USB 2.0 (red connectors), but two on the back panel are USB 3.0 (blue connectors).

If you're using these computers for hardware development, please be careful. If you're rolling your own USB hardware and there's any chance of miswiring your USB connectors or having unusual voltages on them, use a USB hub between your device and the computers!

Storing files

In general, do not assume anything you leave on the machine will survive.

If you need to store files, you have two choices:

  • Use your own local storage, such as a flash drive or USB external disk.
  • Use our public file share, which is available to all members over the network.

Installed software

This section documents the software currently installed on the machines. If you'd like something installed, please email it[at]artisansasylum[dot]com


We have Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit installed. The packages below are what we've installed on all machines that aren't there by default out of the box.

Audio/Video/DJing CAD/CAM General Productivity Graphics Other
  • Ableton Live
  • Mixxx 1.11.0-alpha2
  • PureData 0.42.5
  • ASIO4ALL 2.10 [low-latency audio driver]
  • Electrical
    • PCB design & schematic capture
      • FreePCB
      • TinyCAD
    • Hardware programmers and IDEs
      • Arduino 1.0
      • Cypress PSOC (Creator, Designer, and Programmer)
      • Fritzing
      • MATLAB (Image Processing Toolbox, Computer Vision System Toolbox, Control System Toolbox, Instrument Control Toolbox)
      • Simulink (Stateflow, Simulink Control Design, System Identification Toolbox)
  • Mechanical
  • BullZip PDF Creator
  • Firefox
  • LibreOffice
  • Inkscape
  • Cygwin 1.7.16-1
  • Processing
  • Wacom tablet driver 6.3.2-3

Installing software

If you're asking for an installation, please include the following information:

  • How to find the software. (A URL going to the precise version you'd like is best, though for Ubuntu package installs, just naming the package is fine.)
  • Whether the software will be talking to any hardware, and if so, what.
  • Your deadline. More warning is always better.
  • Whether this is limited-time trial software, and, if so:
    • Its timing constraints
    • Your class size (in case we only want to install it on one or two seats)
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