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Physics and Astronomy Computing Support Policy

Supported Systems


The installation and maintenance of specific hardware and software for UNIX, Linux and Windows systems is supported. No support will be provided for any systems that fall outside the following categories. Support for all stand-alone Windows, Linux, Macintosh and other systems is provided by the user. Strict computer security limits apply to connecting any computers to the Physics network.

For help with personal laptops we recommend either contacting University's 1-HELP computer support line or visiting the Tech Stop at Coffman Union.


We support systems running our centrally administered Linux distribution.

Currently the supported Linux installation is Scientific Linux. Systems that require the use of special hardware drivers are generally not supported.

Linux systems must be configured with a dedicated disk for the operating system. Home directories are accessed over the network by NFS from our main file server. Bulk research data is accommodated on specific storage servers, separate from home directories.

Root access is not available for end users on these systems. Where necessary, certain administrative functions will be made available using the “sudo” command.


PC systems running our customized installation of Windows 7 are supported. The systems are configured with their hard drive dedicated for the system and applications; user data must be stored on the network file server. Computers are connected to the university Active Directory system, and use university username and password for login. The OS is installed using disk-imaging (Ghost) which requires specific hardware for compatibility. Systems not meeting the hardware requirement cannot be supported.

Administrator-level access for software installation and other system changes is not available for end-users on these systems, other than by special arrangement for computers used in specific faculty offices or research labs.

Software Support

Managed Systems

All departmentally managed systems are provided with a wide range of commonly used software. These include compliers, Tex/LaTex web browsers, Microsoft Office products and the like. Applications on maintained systems are supported to the extent that they are installed and operate correctly. Assistance on usage of these applications is not available within the department.


Several software packages are distributed for users to install on their own self-managed systems. Details of available software is provided on the web site.


Supported Unix and Windows home directories on the department's managed systems are backed up every night.


mail.physics.umn.edu is the only supported mail server within the department. Access is available via IMAP mail clients. SSL encryption is also required. You may also access your mail via the the Physics or UMN webmail interfaces. The supported mail clients is Thunderbird - information on how to configure this is provided on the web site.

Users may choose to use the UMN mail system instead. In this case physics mail should be forwarded there.


Two web servers are operated by the department.


www.physics.umn.edu is the department's main web server. This is used for general departmental information, class pages and other administrative functions.


A second server is available for other uses by members of the department. The following services are supported:

  • Personal web pages may be hosted on webusers.physics.umn.edu.
  • Groups can either create pages on groups.physics.umn.edu, or else a virtual server can be created after the group's name (e.g. cosmos.physics.umn.edu). The first option is simplest for basic sites; the second allows easier CGI hosting.
  • Each research group account can have an associated MySQL database created for them. An optional web-based interface to the MySQL server is provided.
  • Perl and PHP scripting languages are supported.

SSL encryption is not currently available on this machine.

Network access

Network addressing for all non-server systems is provided wherever possible by DHCP, which can provide either dynamic or static addresses. Registration of the system's ethernet hardware address is required for DHCP service.

Network access within PAN is by default restricted by our firewall policy. It may not be possible to pass some kinds of traffic in a secure manner. In special circumstances a separate network segment can be created for particular systems.


All users must meet both University and Departmental security standards which can be found at http://www1.umn.edu/oit/security/ and in these pages.

computing/policies/system_support.1444250232.txt.gz · Last modified: 2015/10/07 15:37 by allan