Wed Jun 4 15:06:43 PDT 2008

Systems Work: Saturday, June 7, and Sunday, June 8


I will be doing some systems work this weekend, June 7--8.

Work will probably begin around 11:00 AM on Saturday, June 7, and will continue for several hours. If necessary, additional work may be done on Sunday, June 8, within a similar block of time.

What Will Be Affected

The work will disrupt most of our networked services, including e-mail, file service, interactive sessions, and the web server for periods of several minutes to an hour over the course of the work.

I also want to make sure that all of our Macs are running the latest security updates, so will be updating these machines during this time period as well.

What You Should Do

If you're using a Mac or Linux system that mounts file systems from our servers, before you leave on Friday evening,

  • Save all open files;
  • Close all applications;
  • Log out;
  • Leave your machine running.


This work is necessary for us to ensure the security and improve the stability of the overall system. In particular, I am hoping that ongoing issues with our web server will be resolved as a result of this work.

I will do my best to keep as much of the system functional as possible for as much of the time as I can, but there will still be some outages.

Additional Background

Last semester we had some serious issues with interactions between the NFS support on our new file server and on our workstations and older servers, exacerbated by the HVAC failure. I was able to stabilize things, but we still see some flaky behavior (especially From the web server, which needs to be rebooted periodically).

On the Linux server side, I plan to update to the latest kernel releases and do some experimentation to see if everything will work together happily. I will need to reboot various servers and workstations an arbitrary number of times to explore all the possible interactions.

For Macs, I will install the latest updates, most of which require the machines to be rebooted. As Tiger (Mac OS X 10.4) has problems when an NFS server disappears and reappears, these machines would need to be rebooted anyway.

Comments/Problems/Other Issues

As usual, if there are problems with the scheduling of this work, requests or any other comments, please let me know.

Updates/Status Reports

As usual, updates on the status of the systems and progress reports will be posted to the ``sysblog'', on our web server at>

Thanks for your cooperation!

Posted by Claire Connelly | Permalink | Categories: Mail, News, System Maintenance, Linux, Macintosh, Website, Amber

Tue Jan 10 11:36:46 PST 2006

Stevenote: New Macbook, iMac, iLife, iWork, Mac OS X 10.4.4

Apple's CEO, Steve Jobs, gave the keynote at MacWorld 2006 this morning. The highlights of his presentation were

  • The iMac being updated with the new Intel Core Duo processor; it's the same machine in every respect except for the processor. According to Jobs, the top of the line iMac, with a 2 GHz Intel processor, is twice as fast as the 2 GHz PowerPC G5 version. Now sells for $1499 educational (base price).
  • New versions of iLife and iWork. It seems like the iWork apps (Pages and Keynote) were updated a bit, but there are no new apps. The iLife bundle has updates to iMovie, iDVD, and GarageBand (including a new Podcast Studio for making your own podcasts). It also has a brand new app, iWeb, which allows you to create and maintain websites. As this app is brand new, there's no feedback on what sorts of HTML it produces, but we can hope that Apple has done the right thing and is creating clean, valid XHTML or XML and valid CSS. Both of these packages are $79.
  • Of most interest, as usual, was Jobs's ``one more thing'' -- a new laptop computer using the Intel Core Duo processor, the MacBook Pro. This computer is essentially a drop-in replacement of the existing 15" G4 PowerBook -- it has the same size and weight as the PowerPC version. But it runs four times faster than the top of the line PowerPC version, and presumably also picks up some advantages in terms of battery life and heat production by using Intel's mobile CPUs, which are optimized to reduce power use and heat production. The MacBook Pro also features a built-in iSight camera and microphone (like the iMacs) and has a clever new power connector that makes it slightly less likely that someone will trip over your power cord and yank your machine off a table or desk. The MacBook Pro has two models, both with the new 15.4" screens with the same resolution as the older 17" PowerBook. The 1.67 GHz Core Duo model starts at $1799 educational; the 1.83 GHz machine starts at $2299 educational.
  • Finally, Mac OS X 10.4.4 was announced for release via Software Update. The new OS version includes all the support necessary for the new Intel machines, and throws in some bug fixes and new widgets for those of with older machines.

For anyone disappointed that they missed out on getting a new Intel-based machine in the most recent round of purchases, let me point out that as the processor has changed, older PowerPC software has to run through an emulator that Apple calls Rosetta. Rosetta is meant to be reasonably fast (especially with the newer, faster processors), but you would still see a significant performance hit when running older software.

Apple's own software is now shipping as ``universal binaries'', as is software produced by various smaller companies. Many of the larger players, however, such as Microsoft and Adobe, have yet to ship universal versions of their products. Even if they started shipping these today, they would probably update the very newest versions of their software -- older versions that work just fine would not be updated. The same issues apply for much of the software provided by CIS, most of which is not the very latest-and-greatest version.

My personal comments on the MacBook Pro: It looks very, very cool. I was very interested in the improved screens on the last refresh, in which the 15" and 17" PowerBooks had dramatic increases in the number of pixels that they could display (the 15" model ended up with the same number of pixels the old 17" PowerBook had; the new 17" PowerBook had the same number of pixels as Apple's 20" desktop display).

But the 15" PowerBook and MacBook Pro are still pretty big machines. Both weigh 5.6 pounds, a full pound more than the 12" model. If you're a big guy, 5.6 pounds isn't that much, but if you're me, 5.6 pounds is a lot, especially combined with the rest of the stuff I end up carrying around. I think I'll have to see it before I'm completely sold on it, and I'm hoping that Apple will figure out that there are a lot of people who need or want performance but who don't need a huge screen and the extra weight that brings you. (Hey, I plug my 12" laptop into a 20" monitor when I need a bigger screen -- it works great.)

Also, beware the lure of the first generation of Apple products. Traditionally, Apple has been on the cutting edge with the coolest new gadgets. Unfortunately, also traditionally, these first-generation models have almost always had various issues that affect their performance in some way. The sound advice is to let other people be the first adopters, and pick up new stuff after Apple's had a chance to work out some of the bugs.

That said, four times faster sounds awfully good.... ;-)

Posted by Claire Connelly | Permalink | Categories: News, Macintosh

06.06.2005 11:16

Hell Freezes Over: Mac OS to Run on Intel

Well, it's official. Apple has announced that they will start shipping Intel-based Macintoshes starting next year.

Posted by C.M. Connelly | Permalink | Categories: News, Macintosh

02.21.2005 17:39

New Fugu (1.1.2) Available

Those of you using the Fugu SCP/SFTP client for Mac OS X should update to the latest version of the program.

It's available from the upstream site or from yum.math.

Posted by C.M. Connelly | Permalink | Categories: System Maintenance, Macintosh

01.11.2005 17:15

New Apple Toys

Lots of new toys from Apple today, including the Mac mini, a 3 lb. baby Macintosh for around $500. We already have a full size Mac at home, two Powerbooks, and one iBook, and I'm still tempted by the idea of having one of these for the living room. It looks really cute.

For those of you who've been tempted by a Mac but thought it was too expensive, here's your chance to get your feet wet. It's much nicer than a Windows machine. Once you get TeXShop running, you'll never want to go back. And once you get some of the cool Omni software, you'll wonder why you waited.

Don't be surprised if some of these start showing up on campus soon.

Posted by C.M. Connelly | Permalink | Categories: News, Macintosh

2003 Nov 4 5:02 PM

New Support Material: Mac OS X & Windows

Added some information on using our systems with Mac OS X. There's a similar Windows page, as well.

Posted by C.M. Connelly | Permalink | Categories: Macintosh, Website