Project Proposals for project period January to end April 2013 (T1)

Development of new computing services by the computing staff is scheduled in project periods (three per year). The next project period starts in January 2013 and the process of prioritising which projects will be resourced starts now (November).

Please add your proposed project to the following table, completing the Title, Description and Proposer fields. You may wish to create a new wiki topic for your description. If you wish to lend support for an existing project, add your name to the Supporter(s) field. Computing staff may respond to the proposals in the Computing staff comments field.

Title Description Proposer Supporter(s) Computing staff comments
Use Central Lists Service to host Informatics Database Generated Mailing Lists The Informatics Database currently generates the list memberships for about 860 locally run mailman lists (out of a total of 1560 lists). This project would implement hosting of those lists on the central IS, Sympa based lists service instead.

Services Unit  
Publish teaching material using SVN rather than CVS

Most teaching material is published using CVS. Can we please port this to SVN? I find using CVS rather than SVN takes considerable time (for instance, SVN is much quicker when changing directory structure).

Phil Wadler  

Should be doable, and would remove our use of cvs pserver authentication. Would need to check that the various hooks we have into cvs to do triggers and access control could be reimplemented, and that publishing through the web would still work.


AFS Automation Develop tools to automate various AFS tasks ( Services Unit    
TiBS component Improvements to the existing TiBS component ( Services Unit    
AFS Benchmarking Develop tool for AFS performance benchmarking ( Services Unit    
Bug Tracking Tool Improved Bug Tracking Tool ( Services Unit    
Data Archiving How best to meet the School's requirements for archiving data ( Services Unit    
Web space to AFS Move user and group web space from NFS to AFS ( Services Unit    
ERA/PR Enhancements Investigate how best to make use of the contents of ERA within the School ( Services Unit    
Investigate DNSsec At long last DNSsec is becoming more and more pervasive, and it's really time we took a proper look at it.. The main aim here is to review and report, though if there are small-scale changes which would help then they should be done along the way. Implementing signed zones is likely to be a bigger job, and would probably be best done in a project of its own later. inf-unit    
Intrusion Detection System We don't have any automated mechanism at the moment for spotting compromised machines. We could do with one somewhere (or perhaps one or more at each site) watching the network for the usual traffic signatures. inf-unit    
sFlow Most of our core switches now speak sFlow. Investigate whether this technology would provide us with any useful information that we don't currently have. This would usefully complement #102 (intrusion detection) inf-unit    
Full-service jabber Our current jabber not-a-service has a few rough edges. Bring it up to scratch. inf-unit    
Review of Forum wireless installation We have a large deployment of Cisco wireless access points (WAPs) in the Forum, but we have had at least one complaint of unsatisfactory wireless service. For an 'optimal' - or at least an improved - service, it might be that we should move some of our existing WAPs, or else add to (or subtract from!) their number. Do a survey and produce a report. inf-unit    
Monitoring System: Passive reporting scripts The existing Nagios monitoring system provides an interface for passive monitoring, but the implementation of any such monitoring is a distinct matter from the Nagios monitoring system software itself. Some passive monitoring has been implemented already, but it might benefit from being standardised (for example, with respect to the Kerberos principals used.) In addition, there is a need for passive monitoring of disk space usage. inf-unit    
Lifecycle code design The prometheus system is incomplete without an account-lifecycle component. As implementing this could be quite intrusive into the existing code base, we propose doing a design project first. inf-unit    
Review of authentication technology We have used MIT Kerberos since the beginning of DICE.It's time we reviewed the alternatives (Heimdal, EASE) and their implications. inf-unit    
OpenLDAP DICE client configuration Investigate dice client replication options (e.g. nslcd, nssov overlay, sssd, proxycaching, etc.) In some way this picks up from stalled project, #79, but warrants redefinition under a new project, to reflect changes in technology. inf-unit    
OpenLDAP mdb backend Investigate and test the new mdb backend with OpenLDAP , with a view to using it on servers/clients. inf-unit    
OpenLDAP slapd-conf configuration For some time now, the recommended configuration for OpenLDAP has been to provide slapd configuration using slapd-config (i.e. storing the configuration in ldap itself), rather than in slapd.conf. The real difficulty with this may be incorporating it into LCFG. Support for slapd.conf is scheduled to be dropped in openldap 2.5. inf-unit    
Multicast routing Although our core routers are (apparently) capable of multicast support, our edge routers currently don't implement any multicast routing. As a result, Informatics users have no access to external multicast streams. Investigate and possibly implement multicast routing on our edge routers. inf-unit    
Improved web-based submission system An improved, web-based submission system which
  • allows people to submit zip files easily from non-dice systems
  • supports EASE authenticated users
  • validates that the zip file contains a specified set of files (names)
  • provides a simple interface to the configuration (other than CVS'd config files!)
  • keeps multiple copies of submissions without overwriting

I guess it would be nice (essential?) to have this in place shortly after the start of next session if it was to be usable.

Paul Anderson    
LCFG client code cleanup Simple code clean-up of the exsting LCFG client component, fixing those pressing deficiencies which are easy to fix ( MPU    
Virtualised DICE image - trial Produce a virtualised image with all teaching software for students to install on their personal laptops and home PCs. ( RAT/MPU
Increasing Energy Savings from DICE Desktops

For some years the DICE desktops in the student labs have used energy-saving sleep software, the LCFG sleep component, which was developed in project 94. More recently the sleep component was also installed on staff and postgrad DICE desktops. We should now follow up on this work by finding out how successful it has been and what might be done to increase the energy savings. The project would start by collecting statistics from machines to see how much of the time they are asleep - in other words trying to understand how much of a contribution that sleep might be making to energy saving. Depending on what the statistics say, some changes to the LCFG sleep component could be made or users could be informed about how to get their machines to sleep.

David Sterratt  

This seems both worthwhile and straightforward to me. It's time we quantified how successful the sleep component has been and took steps to increase its effectiveness where necessary. - Chris Cooke

MPU wee projects bundle A number of MPU wee projects have not been resourced because prioritised projects have been seen to have higher priority. This project would tackle the wee projects which we consider to be of highest priority.

  • Boot component - introduce component timeouts to break deadlock
  • LCFG access.conf component
  • Local copies of server firmware
  • Reimplement LCFG network component in perl
  • Extend pkgsearch to email support of chosen software

Investigate AFS on ECDF storage The University is proposing to provide each research active user with 500GB disk space. Unfortunately, IS are currently proposing that this space will be presented by NFS, CIFS or SSHFS. This project would investigate whether we (working with IS) can add AFS as an access mechanism.

Revelop School inventory The current inventory system does not meet all our requirements and there is concern that tracking machines has now become unreliable. This is particularly the case for self-managed machines. We are not able to easily answer fundamental inventory questions - this is a particular problem for planning expenditure and machine allocation. ascobie    

If a project is considered to be feasible, a member of computing staff will contact the proposer in order to flesh out the proposal (eg outline a plan of work, cost the project etc) in order that the project proposal can be prioritised against other projects. The deadline for submitting a project for this period is 19th November 2012. Projects submitted after that date may not be considered for T1, but will be considered for T2 (May-August)

Projects are prioritised by the Director of Computing (Perdita Stevens), Head of Computing (Alastair Scobie), the computing unit heads (George Ross, Tim Colles, Alison Downie, Craig Strachan) and the School Administrator (Liz Elliot). The Informatics School Computing Plan drives project prioritisation, with other factors such as unplanned but high priority School requirements and expertise availability being taken into account.

-- AlastairScobie - 06 Nov 2012

Topic revision: r13 - 28 Nov 2012 - 14:51:07 - GeorgeRoss
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