Tue May 22 14:41:01 PDT 2012

TeX System Updates (TeX Live 2012 Pretest)

We currently have a pretest install of the TeX Live 2012 distribution (Release Notes) available for testing. TL 2012 is under active development, so at any given time it might have problems that you won't see in TL 2011. The developers welcome bug reports, but if you find a problem, please let me know before you file a report. I will update the distribution to make sure we have the latest version and let you know; you can then try your document again to see if the problem still exists.

TL 2012 should be complete in time for us to use in the fall semester.

If you want to try TeX Live 2012 for yourself (on Linux or Mac systems), you can add the path to the binaries to the head of your PATH. I recommend that you do not add the path in your startup files so that you will get a known working version of TeX by default and get back to it by logging out and back in (or by closing the terminal window where you set the PATH).

You'll need to set the right architecture to make things work; I recommend you run one of the following commands to set the PATH correctly:

For the tcsh or csh:

setenv PATH /shared/local/texlive/2012/bin/`uname -i`-linux:$PATH

For bash, sh, zsh, or other Bourne/Korn shells:

export PATH="/shared/local/texlive/2012/bin/`uname -i`-linux:$PATH"

[uname -i will expand to the appropriate architecture for the machine you're logged into; either i386 (for 32-bit machines) or x86_64code> (for 64-bit machines).]

For Macs, for the tcsh or csh:

setenv PATH /shared/local/texlive/2012/bin/universal-darwin:$PATH

For bash, sh, zsh, or other Bourne/Korn shells:

export PATH="/shared/local/texlive/2012/bin/universal-darwin:$PATH"

Note that setting your PATH in this way will not affect the PATH used by applications such as TeXShop, only the Terminal session in which you set it. You can set the path in the Engine tab of the TeXShop Preferences dialog, and reset your preferences to defaults using the drop-down menu in the bottom-left corner of that dialog. (Resetting your preferences using this method may change other preferences besides the paths-be sure to check.)


Posted by Claire Connelly | Permalink

Tue Jul 26 15:54:27 PDT 2011

Mac OS X 10.7 Lion: First Impressions

I installed Mac OS X 10.7, Lion, on Wednesday morning, not long after it was released. I'd done a complete backup of my machine the night before, so when I got to work and got the installer, I was ready to go. The install went fairly smoothly, with no real surprises.

Overall, I'm pretty happy with Lion. Apple has, again, dramatically changed the way that the Exposé features work. I've found that those changes have had a definite impact on my workflow, as I had been able to pop back and forth between distant Spaces very quickly, and Spaces now sit on a line, and can be paged to one at a time, with an abrupt stop when you hit either end. Lion also adds full-screen applications, which occupy an entire Space all on their own. Annoyingly, those apps are not accessible via the Control-number key bindings, so the only way to get to them is to use the Command-Tab application switcher (if you have the default settings, which assume you don't have windows from applications scattered around in different Spaces), by swiping to get there, or by using Mission Control to show all the Spaces and clicking to switch directly to them.

You may have heard that Apple changed the direction for scrolling with a trackpad and has dropped the scrollbars from windows, both of which are true. I expected to find the lack of scrollbars really annoying, but at some point I realized that I didn't miss them as much as I thought I would. (You can turn them back on if you want to, at least in this version of the OS.) And while I had a lot of trouble with the scrolling direction during the first day, after sleeping on it I found that I was able to scroll around just fine so long as I didn't think about which direction to go, and that's continued to improve as time goes on.

I was also not sure about the dimming down of color throughout the interface, but I've gotten used to it and now think that the user interface seems much cleaner and slicker looking without really losing anything.

Another big win for me is that the Lock Screen command (in the padlock menu-bar applet available from the Keychain Access preferences) now works on my 27" Apple display; in Snow Leopard that worked great with my old machine on my Dell monitor, but broke with the new machine and new monitor.

Bugs

There are also bugs. The single most annoying problem so far is related to the way that Lion handles window positioning when plugging in a larger external monitor or when opening a laptop after it has been disconnected. That all worked pretty well under Snow Leopard, but the new version moves windows around, and, at its worst, resizes them arbitrarily. So if you're like me, and you have a specific set of Terminal windows that you use all the time, you'll be extremely annoyed to find that coming from home and plugging everything in gets you a stack of tiny Terminal windows (23 columns by 5 rows, curiously) near the upper-left corner, no matter what size or position any of those windows may have been before you started.

Another issue is with changes to the way that the Finder interacts with SSHFS-mounted filesystems, which you might use with MacFusion to get access to server directories. New security features mean that you can't copy files back and forth, or delete them, which is very annoying. (They work fine from the shell in a Terminal window.) You'll also need an unofficial 64-bit build of MacFUSE to even get this limited functionality.

I've also seen issues with Spotlight (the metadata server using huge amounts of CPU time) and Time Machine (related). My machine is running much hotter than it did, which makes it a lot less pleasant to use. (Not installing Flash when I got this new machine, which came without Flash, caused it to run much, much cooler than my previous machine.)

Other Minor Issues

After the install, my MacPorts ports still worked fine, but they all wanted to be updated to work with the new OS. Which wouldn't be a problem, except that not all the ports build properly on Lion, and that means you can't just issue a simple command to rebuild them all. The MacPorts developers are collecting bug reports and issuing new portfiles that include fixes for many of these problems, so it's mostly a question of waiting until they filter down.

If you have old PowerPC software that ran under Rosetta on Leopard and Snow Leopard, it won't run any longer. I only had a couple of applications that were affected, none of which I really use these days. The most significant of these is Fugu, an SCP/SFTP application that we used to install as standard software. The MacFUSE/MacFusion solution is a much better way to interact with server directories, anyway, so it's not a big loss.

I also found a couple of personal apps no longer worked properly under Lion. There were updates for these that I installed (and, in one case, purchased), and those problems have mostly gone away, although I expect that there will be more updates to address some lingering issues that the developers will learn about once people really start using their software on the new OS.

Conclusions

I'm mostly pleased and impressed. For a .0 release, Lion is more stable and usable than I was afraid it might be. After a bit of time to get used to the interface changes, I've been able to get back to work and do almost everything that I've wanted to do (that Finder/FUSE bug is pretty annoying, and the window size/position bug is infuriating, but everything else is working fine). There's a 10.7.1 update due out pretty soon; presumably Apple is busy packing as many bug fixes as they can into that release, even as they've seeded 10.7.2 to developers to introduce new features for testing. I can only hope that my bugs will be fixed in that release.

I haven't yet had a chance to do any testing with NFS volumes, which is a major concern for our desktop Macs, as they mount home directories and other server shares over NFS. Snow Leopard, of course, introduced some annoying bugs into the NFS locking code, and I have no idea whether it's been fixed in Lion.

As noted previously, we will not be installing Lion for a while. Depending on how things go, it's possible that we might reconsider for the winter break, but given the interface changes, we will probably hold on until next summer. I might be willing to entertain the idea of some particularly courageous faculty giving it a try on their laptops over winter break, but we'll definitely have to see how things work out.


Posted by Claire Connelly | Permalink

Tue Jul 19 16:09:35 PDT 2011

Mac OS X Lion (10.7) Plans

Mac OS X 10.7, AKA Lion, is due out any day now, possibly as soon as tomorrow (July 19). I expect that I will upgrade my machine and start working with it to get a better sense of how it will work in our environment, but given the history of issues (e.g., the NFS problems in 10.6) and known incompatibilities with some software that people rely on, I do not expect that we will be moving to Lion before the winter break, if then.

RoaringApps has a table showing software compatibility with Lion, based on reports from people working with the development releases of the OS. If you use software outside of the core software that we install, it would be useful for you to take a look at the table to verify that your software still works on Lion.

A key issue with 10.7 is that Apple is dropping their "Rosetta" software, which allowed older PowerPC code to run on Intel systems by emulating the PowerPC processor. So older PowerPC-only software (e.g., old versions of Photoshop and other Adobe tools) will not work on Lion.

10.7 is also meant to run in 64-bit mode, while still supporting 32-bit applications. In some cases, however, some 32-bit only applications may not be able to run on a 64-bit system and will need to be replaced, assuming that's possible. (One such application is MacFUSE, which some of our laptop users use to access directories on our servers.)

Finally, there are some significant differences in parts of the user interface, especially Exposé and Spaces, that will change the way that you work with your Mac, and that we probably don't want to foist on you at the start of the semester or in the middle of the semester.

If you have questions or concerns, as ever, please let me know.


Posted by Claire Connelly | Permalink

Wed Jul 13 14:43:46 PDT 2011

New Copier Is Here!

We recently took delivery of mrfusspot, a new Sharp MX-M753N copier to replace our six-year-old Canon imageRunner 8070. Like wuffles, the old copier, mrfusspot can produce stapled and hole-punched output. Unlike wuffles, mrfusspot can

  • Scan in color to PDF or other image formats, and e-mail those files or save them to a USB drive that you connect to the front panel.
  • Allow you to type short messages on a built-in keyboard that slides out of the front of the machine.
  • Produce sharp, clear, high-resolution prints both as a copier and as printer.
  • Produce saddle-stitched booklets or folded pages.

The Sharp copier's interface is a bit different to the Canon interface, and, frankly, it's a bit more complicated. We will be arranging for training for interested folks at the end of the summer or early in the school year, and Jocelyn and Joyce should also be able to help you figure things out. Even better, if you use the copier as a printer, you can go through a print dialog that's very similar to that of the old copier.

For right now (mid-July), the new copier is in Olin 1256 (AKA "the CS workroom") while we arrange to have the old copier packed and shipped back to Canon. Once the old copier is out of the way, we'll have some electrical work done so we can plug the new copier in, and then move it to its permanent home in the "math workroom", Olin 1264.

The new copier has all the standard departmental copier codes programmed in, and the code you have for wuffles should work on mrfusspot. I have installed drivers on the math machines that I manage (Mac and Linux); for other machines, and for other departments, I have drivers and instructions for configuring them available on mrfusspot's support page.

If you have a copy job to do, please try out mrfusspot. More information about wuffles decommissioning will be shared when we have it, but it will most likely be gone by mid-August at the latest.


Posted by Claire Connelly | Permalink

Thu Jun 2 17:19:48 PDT 2011

TeX System Updates (TeX Live 2010 and TeX Live 2011 Pretest)

TeX Live 2010 Is Linux Default TeX System

TeX Live 2010 is now the current TeX system on the Linux systems. We had been running TeX Live 2009 until the end of the semester. Macs continue to run a MacTeX containing TeX Live 2009; I have high hopes that we will be able to move to TeX Live 2011 across the cluster before the fall semester begins.

TeX Live 2011 Pretest

We currently have a pretest install of the TeX Live 2011 distribution (Release Notes) available for testing. TL 2011 is under active development, so at any given time it might have problems that you won't see in TL 2009 or TL 2010. The developers welcome bug reports, but if you find a problem, please let me know before you file a report. I will update the distribution to make sure we have the latest version and let you know; you can then try your document again to see if the problem still exists.

TL 2011 is aiming for a release by July, and based on last year, I think that it will be ready for us to use in the fall semester. (I used TL 2010 throughout the year with no real problems.)

If you want to try TeX Live 2011 for yourself (on Linux or Mac systems), you can add the path to the binaries to the head of your PATH. I recommend that you do not add the path in your startup files so that you will get a known working version of TeX by default and get back to it by logging out and back in (or by closing the terminal window where you set the PATH).

You'll need to set the right architecture to make things work; I recommend you run one of the following commands to set the PATH correctly:

For the tcsh or csh:

setenv PATH /shared/local/texlive/2011/bin/`uname -i`-linux:$PATH

For bash, sh, zsh, or other Bourne/Korn shells:

export PATH="/shared/local/texlive/2011/bin/`uname -i`-linux:$PATH"

[uname -i will expand to the appropriate architecture for the machine you're logged into; either i386 (for 32-bit machines) or x86_64code> (for 64-bit machines).]

For Macs, for the tcsh or csh:

setenv PATH /shared/local/texlive/2011/bin/universal-darwin:$PATH

For bash, sh, zsh, or other Bourne/Korn shells:

export PATH="/shared/local/texlive/2011/bin/universal-darwin:$PATH"

Note that setting your PATH in this way will not affect the PATH used by applications such as TeXShop, only the Terminal session in which you set it. You can set the path in the Engine tab of the TeXShop Preferences dialog, and reset your preferences to defaults using the drop-down menu in the bottom-left corner of that dialog. (Resetting your preferences using this method may change other preferences besides the paths-be sure to check.)


Posted by Claire Connelly | Permalink

Wed Dec 8 12:17:13 PST 2010

Power Outage and Math Department Services

There will be a power outage affecting all of the Claremont Colleges campus over the break. The outage is scheduled to begin on December 27, and to end on December 30; if things go well, power could be back on December 29..

It sounds like more things will be on this year (lights, heat) than previous years, but the official word is that if you don't absolutely have to be on campus, you shouldn't be.

In particular, please don't expect to be able to use office computers or printers during the outage.

I will be checking and shutting down all departmental computers in offices and labs that I have access to, so please just log out of those machines, but do turn off printers and other and other electrical equipment that won't be used and that isn't on a UPS (because of the risk of power surges). You should also empty out, defrost, and unplug personal refrigerators.

If you have equipment in a lab space I don't have access to, you will be responsible for ensuring that everything is ready for the outage.

As with previous outages, the colleges and departments will provide some Internet-accessible computing services during the outage.

Here's the service breakdown for the mathematics department:

Available

Mail
Incoming (IMAP, POP) and outgoing (SMTP).
Web
All web services will continue to be available.
Shell
During the outage, ponder will remain available for shell access.
Mirror
mirror.hmc.edu will be available.
Subversion/Updates
svn, vetinari and yum will be available unless power requirements force us to take them down.

Not Available

Desktop and Lab Machines
Office, Clinic, and Scientific-Computing Lab machines will be offline.
The shell.math.hmc.edu alias to the SciCompLab machines will be unavailable.
High-Performance Computing
hex and the Amber cluster will be offline.
Printing
All printers will be offline.

I expect that we will get most of the systems that we take down back on line within a day or after I'm sure the power system is stable. If there are particular services that you'll need over break that you'd like prioritized, please let me know.

I may have more information as the time for the outage gets closer, as well as during the outage itself. I will post longer messages to this blog; shorter notifications may come via the hmcmathcomp Twitter stream.


Posted by Claire Connelly | Permalink

Mon Oct 4 16:10:51 PDT 2010

Updated End-of-Life for Non-SSL-Protected Mail Services: October 22, 2010

The time has come to switch off non-SSL mail service, and I will do so on October 22, 2010. Using SSL protects your password (and the security of our systems) as well as your mail. We currently allow non-SSL IMAP and POP connections, but there are only a couple of people using non-SSL IMAP and all the non-SSL POP connections appear to come from Google's GMail, which supports SSL.

If you're not sure whether you're using SSL or not, check your e-mail account settings. If you have a "use SSL" checkbox and it's checked, you're good. You can also check to be sure that you're using port 465 for SMTP (outgoing mail); port 993 for IMAP; or port 995 for POP.

While you're checking your settings, if you're still using esme.math.hmc.edu as your SMTP server, you should switch to use mail.math.hmc.edu instead. esme will be going away at some point as we migrate services to other machines; switching now ensure that you'll still be able to send mail when we shut down SMTP service on esme!

And if you're using POP, which pulls the messages off the server and maintains them on the machine you pull to, you might consider using IMAP, which leaves your mail on our server instead. IMAP is especially useful if you access your mail from several locations (e.g., a desktop machine, a laptop, a phone). POP is good if you just want to pull your mail off our server into another mail client (and is the only option that GMail supports for retrieving messages from other systems).

More details about configuring your mail clients to work with your HMC Mathematics Department accounts is available from http://www.math.hmc.edu/computing/support/email/.


Posted by Claire Connelly | Permalink

Tue Sep 14 12:02:14 PDT 2010

TeX Live 2010 Released and HMC Math Plans for TeX

TeX Live 2010 has just been released and is now available from a CTAN mirror near you.

TeX Live 2010 is available for Linux, Mac OS X, and Windows. Mac OS X users might prefer to install MacTeX 2010, which includes the TeXShop editor and some other useful utilities and tools (but uses the TeX Live code under the hood).

Note that with the release, updates have begun again, and there are some issues that have been reported with the current state of TeX Live packages; if you're currently working on a project you should probably wait to install TeX Live 2010 or, if you install it, be sure that you have another, known stable, TeX system that you can revert to if you run into problems.

If you were running the TeX Live 2010 pretest, you can update the code to the latest version and get future updates by adjusting the repository used by tlmgr. The generic command is

tlmgr option repository http://mirror.ctan.org/systems/texlive/tlnet

although if you're at the Claremont Colleges, we'd recommend that you set

tlmgr option repository http://mirror.hmc.edu/ctan/systems/texlive/tlnet

to use our local CTAN mirror.

HMC Math Plans

I am continuing to run the latest version of TeX Live 2010 on my personal machine, and will be keeping an eye on its stability. Once it's stable enough for me to feel confident about rolling it out across our systems, I will switch the default TeX system on our Linux machines to TeX Live 2010, and will roll out new MacTeX packages for desktop Macs.

If you're interested in testing things for yourself, I will be maintaining a current TeX Live 2010 installation in /shared/local/texlive/2010. If you want to try it for yourself, you can modify your PATH to point to

ponder /shared/local/texlive/2010/bin/i386-linux/
Other Linux /shared/local/texlive/2010/bin/x86_64-linux/
Mac OS X /shared/local/texlive/2010/bin/universal-darwin/

(Although there is a /shared/local/texlive/2010/bin/x86_64-darwin/, I'm not sure it has everything you're likely to need, so using the Universal binaries is better.)

Windows

I still haven't had a chance to evaluate TeX Live 2010 on Windows, so our recommendation for Windows users is to stick with MikTeX installed through ProTeXt.


Posted by Claire Connelly | Permalink

Tue Jul 6 13:29:45 PDT 2010

End of Non-SSL-Protected Mail Service: July 31, 2010

The time has come to switch off non-SSL mail service, and I will do so on July 31, 2010. Using SSL protects your password (and the security of our systems) as well as your mail. We currently allow non-SSL IMAP and POP connections, but there are only a couple of people using non-SSL IMAP and all the non-SSL POP connections appear to come from Google's GMail, which supports SSL.

If you're not sure whether you're using SSL or not, check your e-mail account settings. If you have a "use SSL" checkbox and it's checked, you're good. You can also check to be sure that you're using port 465 for SMTP (outgoing mail); port 993 for IMAP; or port 995 for POP.

While you're at it, if you're using POP, which pulls the messages off the server and maintains them on the machine you pull to, you might consider using IMAP, which leaves your mail on our server instead. IMAP is especially useful if you access your mail from several locations (e.g., a desktop machine, a laptop, a phone). POP is good if you just want to pull your mail off our server into another mail client (and is the only option that GMail supports for retrieving messages from other systems).

More details about configuring your mail clients to work with your HMC Mathematics Department accounts is available from http://www.math.hmc.edu/computing/support/email/.

You may need to install our self-signed root certificate to allow you to use SSL. Details are available from http://www.math.hmc.edu/computing/security/certificates/.


Posted by Claire Connelly | Permalink

Tue Jun 29 14:20:38 PDT 2010

Ponder Upgraded to CentOS 5

I have upgraded ponder to CentOS 5, bringing it into line with the other Linux workstations the department maintains. There shouldn't be any dramatic changes between CentOS 3 and CentOS 5, except that the current versions of various commercial software (notably MATLAB) will now run on ponder.

There are almost certainly some differences between the packages loaded on the current system and those on the old system; should you encounter a missing package that you need, let me know and I'll try to get it installed.


Posted by Claire Connelly | Permalink