Laboratory Examination Procedure

Note: Staff involved in supporting a Laboratory Examination should also read:

The definitive technical advice is intended to remain in this document, but in case of procedural conflict please check with the author(s)!

Bug (updated 2019): There's a bug - possibly resolved - which routinely results in the log host refusing some/all lab connections on lockdown. See Known Issues / Loghost rsyslog failure for instructions.

Please make sure to do all of the preparation described below at least one week before the exam is scheduled to take place; this allows us to make changes within the DICE release cycle (as well as giving RAT time to fix any issues).

Before a mock exam, a real exam or a resit exam runs there are a few things to check/do.

Preparing 'examsubmit' data

Students use a command called examsubmit to submit their work at the end of an exam. This is a wrapper for the normal submit command which sets the course and exercise (to use the submit terminology) under which the exam work will be submitted. This is however different for each course and exam type (mock, real or resit). Taking the inf1-fp course exams for example; while the course remains inf1-fp the exercise could be one of mpe for the mock exam, pe for the real exam and rpe for the resit exam. The examsubmit command is a one-line script created by the file component from the contents of the examlock.course and examlock.paper resources, prior to the exam. This is done via the examlockdown-lock command (see below).

In the examsubmit directory, the following files are important to the submit process:

  • exnamefile, modgrp, master (mastered in Theon, by the ITO)
  • accnames (updated by teaching staff with the set_submit_file_names command)

See the SubmitServiceGuide for full details on updating these files, but note that the submit home directory is different: where the instructions in SubmitServiceGuide refer to the submit home directory, the examsubmit command uses the examsubmit group directory.

Providing Exam Papers

Exam papers should be placed in the appropriate directory within the examsubmit area (as near to the exam time as is comfortable for added security). Papers and other pieces of reference documentation can be in any reasonable quantity or format, but must be in a <course>/<exercise>/papers subdirectory, and readable by submit. User-editable files must be, similarly, in a <course>/<exercise>/templates subdirectory, for example:

getpapers/
├── <coursename>
│   ├── pe
│   │   ├── papers
│   │   │   ├── documentation.html
│   │   │   ├── exampaper.pdf
│   │   │   └── more.pdf
│   │   └── templates
│   │       ├── afile.txt
│   │       └── editable.txt
│   ├── <exercise>
│   │   ├── papers
│   │   │   └── ...
:   :   :

The getpapers script is configured using the examlockdown command and will only function during lockdown. See LabExamsGetPapers for full configuration details, or below for details of the examlockdown command.

Remember to create a matching directory in the exambackup/ partition, too:

exambackup/
├── <coursename>
│   ├── mpe
│   ├── pe
:   : 

without this, backups will not be created. A script to check this this is pending.

Locking Down

Use the command examlockdown-lock as root on the machine hosting LCFG profiles (named lcfg-master). This takes mandatory course and exercise parameters, and then one or more additional arguments, each of which can be the name either of a host or a student lab room number. All matching hosts will be switched into lockdown mode. Be careful: the command performs a regular expression match on the location, so one character out of place could lock down many more machines than you expect. As of v2.1 the command matches against the whole string (e.g. 4.14 will NOT match hosts in 4.14A); you can use wildcards to broaden matches if required.

If you are unfamiliar with the command it's recommended you test its effect on machine profiles using the --test option (running as yourself, not root). In this mode a snapshot copy of the profiles is placed in /tmp/examlockdown.<user> and modified instead of the real profiles (to clear this test data, you can use the --clean option).

If you run into errors the command will sometimes ask you to "Run with bash -x to see why". To do this just run bash -x examlockdown-lock [...] (with the same arguments afterward) and you'll hopefully see the test that failed (mismatched site or OS for example) in the final few lines of the bash output.

For example:

$ examlockdown-lock inf1-op mpe readonly 5.cl-w 5.cl-n wibble

would lock down all the machines in 5.cl-w and 5.cl-n (according to inventory data) as well as the machine wibble. They will be locked to the exam inf1-op, exercise mpe (i.e. mock exam), and the storage device policy set to "READONLY".

$ examlockdown-lock --site FH inf1-op pe log 3.*

would lock down all the machines in site FH in rooms starting with 3 (effectively, the whole floor, for machines whose profiles include one of the studentlabs-fh-* headers). Note the --site flag which overrides the default of AT, and the use of the "log" Storage Device Policy (in effect, read-write, in this case).

The end result of running the lockdown script is to add or remove the following lines from a selection of machine profiles:

#define EXAM_LOCKDOWN 129.215.X.X   /* IP of the profile host */
#define EXAM_COURSE crs
#define EXAM_PAPER paper
#define EXAM_MOUNT_POLICY POLICY

The command also performs some sanity checks (does the profile contain an appropriate OS header? Does it contain a "studentlab" header in the site specified by --site?). This could be done manually, but would be somewhat tedious and risky — in particular, if a machine locks down with the wrong IP address then it will be completely broken and will need to be recovered by disabling its firewall in single user mode.

After a machine receives a changed configuration (if that configuration changes either the course or the paper it will:

  • kill all non-system processes
  • wipe user files from temporary directories
  • wipe local home directories (if they exist)
  • restart the display manager

Your Machine Might Not Be Locked Down frown

Lockdown under SL7 systemd is not (yet) as deterministic as it was in SL6. Sometimes race conditions prevent complete lockdown, at least until reboot. Even following reboot this means that a 5-minute "settling period" (from when the lockdown screen appears) is advised, where time permits. Checking the logs is one of the best ways to spot problems, and rebooting again is usually the practical way to fix them.

Once locked down...

Once in lockdown mode, the login screen will be in "exam mode" and distinct from normal (a featureless background with "Lab Examination PC" in bold letters, and the name of the course, exercise, and Storage policy beneath). This should indicate that the machine should be safe to use for the examination process. If certain errors are detected, they will be flagged at the login screen either with a distinctive black background, or as text in (in safety black/yellow). These should be investigated (or not) as documented.

Note that the site and policy arguments are case-insensitive but course and paper are case-sensitive as they represent specific directories in group space.

Switching between Multiple Exams

As described above, the examlockdown-lock command can be used to switch a machine between course, exam paper or policy without needing to unlock. You will see

>>> LOCKED (CHANGED EXAM DETAILS)
. As usual, you will need to wait for the profile to reach the machine.

Rhe examlock component "does the right thing" by clearing out home directories if it detects a change in course or exam paper. Accordingly, be careful using this command during exams: it could actively destroy examinees' sessions and data if course or exam are changed. It will not take forcible action if trivial configuration changes, which means it is safe to change storage policy during an exam. Nonetheless please use extreme caution during exams.

Storage Device Policy

USB block device/CD/DVD mounting is now permitted in some lab exams, and the Lab Exam lockdown process now supports this fully.

Storage Device Mount policy can now be specified for all exam PCs (and in theory overridden per lab/machine but this would require new macro overrides; for now it's unsupported). The exam-desktop.h header includes the exam-mount-rules.h live header, which generates a named udev rules file when the machine is locked down (and deletes it again on unlocked machines).

The following USB device policies are available:

NOEXAM
Default OS behaviour. Delete the udev rule.
LOG
Log plug events explicitly (they're always logged implicitly). This allows read/write.
BLOCK
Prevents mounting of all USB / optical devices (and logs usb-level events)
READONLY
Allow mounts from USB / optical devices, but force the block device to be readonly (uses blockdev so should behave as if the device is physically ro).

Setting the Policy

This can be done on a per-exam (or even per-machine) basis as normal using the examlockdown-lock command. See above sections on lockdown for details. If none of the above policies is defined, the profile will throw a #warning and the login screen will display a Mount Policy Undefined warning.

Under certain circumstances, you may wish to alter the policy on one machine only. This can be done using the normal lockdown tool, and will not force a wipe or re-lockdown.

Checking the Policy

It's down to the file component to apply this change to all lab machines, so this can be relied upon but it's (always!) wise to check the aggregate logs for file component failures.

If you've locked machines down or made changes to policy, you can check that the policy has been deployed by examining the appropriate file (10-*.rules as specified in the exam policy header) has been created or deleted in the /etc/udev/rules.d/ directory, on any machine. The policy is explicitly named in the variable ENV{EXAM_POLICY}.

Unlocking

Use the command examlockdown-unlock in the same way as above (though without course, exercise or policy parameters) to return machines to normal; e.g.

$ examlockdown-unlock 5.cl-w 5.cl-n wibble

or an example at Forrest Hill:

$ examlockdown-unlock --site FH 3.D02 3.D01

Like its -lock counterpart, this command removes the #define EXAM[...] lines from each specified profile or group, and triggers machine reconfiguration. The machine is safe to use again when its login screen returns to the standard one. If the login screen does not change automatically, something has failed, and investigation is advised.

Beware: examlockdown-unlock will unlock a machine from any configured exam and destroy data: so if concurrent exams are in progress please be careful to unlock only those rooms required.

The examlockdown-unlock script will currently not remove examrestore files (though the next, unreleased version will do). Manual removal of /tmp/examrestore is advised on machines (though its contents are secure, and /tmp will be cleared automatically on reboot).

Run-through / testing

  • Put a machine into examination lockdown mode and:
    • Check that the upcoming exam’s course and exam type are displayed on the “lockdown” login screen.
    • Check that the device mount policy is shown correctly, and that device plug/mount events are handled as you would expect.
    • Run getpapers to check that exam paper content placed in the locked-down home directory is as it should be. Test using a dummy file of some sort if papers are not yet available. Test that template files are user-editable.
    • Run examsubmit FILE, where FILE is the name of each acceptable file name for the upcoming exam (there does not have to be any meaningful content in FILE).
    • In addition to the above, check that the examination instructions are consistent with reality. Run each command described on the sheet and pay particular attention to documentation paths and template files, checking that they are consistent with the files delivered by getpapers.

  • In the exambackup, examsubmit and examreadonly partitions:
    • Make sure that the backup subdirectory structure has been created appropriately. You should see exambackup/<course>/<exam>/ and this should be writable by 'submit'.
    • If the above directories do exist it is worth checking that any old backups are archived elsewhere (i.e. another directory of the backup root) to avoid confusion/conflict with backups for the upcoming exam.
    • Check that the backup nor submit filesystems have plenty of free space.
    • Remove any lingering presence files in the /presence subdirectory, as stale files might confuse any analysis of the upcoming exam (these should be removed automatically on unlock but it's unlikely to work 100% of the time).

  • Elsewhere on the system:
    • Make sure that the contents of the exam paper / documentation / template directories are correct. These come from the course organiser and it is worth checking everything is the correct location, and that the exam instructions are correct (see above for run-through checks). You will probably need to liaise with the course organiser and/or remind them to do this.
  • Make an LCFG release snapshot to coincide with the exam. Machines can then be frozen to this release until after the exam; in this way, any software or configuration changes will not affect the examination hosts until the freeze is lifted. To make a separate LCFG release branch for this purpose, see Release Management Procedures - Branches. This also covers applying the branch, but in summary:
    • add to the base live/studentlabs.h header the line !profile.release mSET(NAME), where NAME is the name of the branch on which to freeze.
    • After the exam, remove the release override to unfreeze. This must be undone after the exam diet to prevent clients missing further updates. It may be useful to use the LCFG "/* REMINDER: */" comment system when changing release.
  • Between exams, firewall holes can become out-of-date as IP addresses change. Once a few machines have been locked down, check the aggregate syslog (see below for details) to determine if important servers or ports are being blocked in a way which will cause problems (for example, if LCFG or RPM servers are being blocked). Edit these IP addresses, if necessary, in the file live/exam-ips.h.

The Log Host

Exam PCs log remotely to the Informatics log host in the usual manner at all times. However when in exam mode they also log to the special log destination on this machine:

/disk/home/LOGHOST/rsyslog/byInName/tcpPORT.log

where LOGHOST is the current Informatics loghost machine name and PORT is defined in the <dice/options/exam-desktop.h>. Tailing this log provides an overview of all machines' state.

A good overview of the exam in progress can be had by tailing (remember to use tail -F ) this combined long, grepping for the names of each of the applications involved: getpapers, examrestore, exambackup and submit. Other analyses such as device and network logging can prove useful. In general, firewall "block" logs are indicative of a service that should've been stopped but hasn't - we're attempting to eliminate these - but are worth casting an eye over.

Known Issues

  • students have US keyboard layout applied
This only affects the first student to log in after a locked-down machine has been rebooted; it can be trivially changed from the top of the menu. Students are informed by the information sheet provided. MPU are investigating the problem.

  • students can't access home directory via desktop icon
They can access it via the command line, or via the "Places" menu.

  • machine freezes
Pressing Alt+Tab and switching between applications can sometimes bring it back to life.

  • no logs appearing on the log host (Loghost rsyslog failure):
we've seen the loghost failing to log some or all lab exam PCs remotely. It usually doesn't affect unlocked machines, but results in a near-empty combined log file. This seems to be associated with an rsyslog process stuck at ~100% CPU on loghost, so is easy to spot.
To recover: (please Let Infrastructure Unit know you are planning to do this): use systemctl to restart rsyslogd on the log host: logs should start to appear automatically but re-locking down / rebooting clients might be necessary in some cases. Inf Unit are investigating this.

  • examsubmit doesn't work: on occasion we've seen an (otherwise fully-functioning) exam machine fail to run examsubmit citing a missing /home/submit/master file. This seems to be a component race on lockdown, and can be confirmed by a failure in the LCFG file log along the lines of " failed to create link: /disk/scratch/home/submit ". The fix is straightforward: run om file configure on the affected machine, twice if it fails first time, and retry.

  • student has a readonly homedir; references to /afs paths in logs: This is another systemd race involving autofs / ldap. As with most other problems a reboot is all that's required to ensure a fix, but if the student has already begun work, here's the patchup process:
  1. Confirm that homedir location is the issue: a connected student's $HOME will be under /afs and not /disk/scratch (though AFS is always disabled by this point).
  2. Under most race conditions this directory will be unwriteable (A log search for 'getpapers.*afs' will turn up all such failures). Just move the student and reboot as presumably no work can have taken place.
  3. Under some circumstances a student is able to log in and use this misdirected home directory: In these cases you will note empty backups are being taken, and this situation must be rectified quickly.
  4. In case of (3) where work has begun, it's straightforward to patch up the home directory such that backups take place:
    • As root on the affected exam host:
    • # mkdir /disk/scratch/home/sMATRIC && mount -o bind,ro /afs/inf.ed.ac.uk/user/sNN/sMATRIC/ /disk/scratch/home/sMATRIC
    • check that backups have resumed and are valid
    • After unlock:
    • # umount /disk/scratch/home/sMATRIC
    • # mount -o bind,rw / $(mktemp -d)
    • double-check you have backups! and that /tmp/TEMPDIR/afs/inf/... is in the root fs, not AFS.
    • # rm -r /tmp/TEMPDIR/afs/inf.ed.ac.uk/user/sNN/sMATRIC
    • # umount /tmp/TEMPDIR

  • The lockdown process only takes a couple of minutes from executing the lockdown command to all machines picking up the new profiles and re-configuring. However, the issue above necessitates extra time to allow the rebooting or swapping out of any machines which fail to lock.

  • Watch out for big profile rebuilds - what normally takes just a few minutes could be delayed by half an hour or more depending on what’s rebuilding. Locking down all AT lab machines presently takes about six minutes to complete if otherwise unhindered.

  • Some machines do not see re-configurations and therefore refuse to lock or unlock. On SL7, don't press ctrl-alt-backspace to restart the display manager: it might appear to work, but will just mask the problem (likely a systemd service deadlock, rather than anything exam-specific). It's probably not worth trying to diagnose at first: reboot the machine; if it comes back locked, it will be OK.

  • The getpapers command is not installed on a machine’s first DICE install. It will also not be installed on a reboot, since updaterpms runs before LDAP and this prevents appropriate permissions being set on the package’s files. The solution is to make sure that all machines participating in an exam lockdown have either been in service for 24 hours (therefore completing an overnight updaterpms run), or have had om updaterpms run performed manually, prior to an exam. TODO: use an examlock.exec_pre script to schedule an updaterpms run on lockdown

During open-book exams, we have seen students copy the contents from their USB sticks to the local home directory. This can have serious consequences on the backup partitions! You must identify which backups are causing the problem (using du in the exambackup directory on examback). You can then use less to look at the backup and identify the likely file or directory that needs to be excluded.

You can then exclude this file from backups on an individual user's machine by editing their profile (or, in extreme situations only, in live/exam-desktop.h) with the resource file.tmpl_exback_x, for example:

/* don't back up bigfile.dat in any directory */
!file.tmpl_exback_x         mSET(bigfile.dat)

/* do not back up foo or BAR in any directory */
!file.tmpl_exback_x         mSETQ('\
foo \n\
BAR \n\
') 
This resource forms the contents of an "exclude file", so the syntax for this resource is the same as for the tar -X argument; see man tar on SL7 for details. You can check that the excision has been carried out correctly by running the exambackup command as root on the affected machine, comparing the output with a previous backup.

In-Exam Recovery

Backups of local home directories on occupied exam machines are made every five minutes. Additionally, all locked-down machines will report its status via the file exambackup/presence/<hostname> which contains the fields HOSTNAME:course/exam:console-user. If a host has not refreshed its 'presence' file in over approximately five minutes, it should probably be investigated.

If a computer crashes during the exam follow the technical procedure below (invigilators have complementary procedural documentation of which this is a part):

  • Choose another machine (once a machine has crashed it should not be re-used by any other student). There should always be one room set aside with spare machines, in case there are no other machines in the primary exam room(s).
  • Log onto the new machine as yourself and recover the student’s most recent backup files (into /tmp) by running examrestore sMATRIC (where MATRIC is the student's matriculation number). You will need the submit role in order to do this; most academic staff will have this role, as do some support staff and any PhD markers.
  • Log off.
  • The student should now log onto the new machine.
  • The student should now run the command examrestore (with no arguments this time); this extracts the recovered backup in /tmp into their new local home directory. It will also restore[1] getpapers data on their behalf. You can monitor the activity of this command in the usual system log.
  • Wait while the student confirms their work (and access to exam papers) has been successfully recovered.

[1](getpapers --restore restores the local exam paper cache on local disk and will fix any broken symlinks in the restored data, without touching the user's recovered home directory. Students should never need to run this manually but it is an important part of exam state restore.)

When things have gone wrong

Following an exam, the normal procedure is to unlock the entire lab. Given that this erases all transient exam data from the desktop, it is important that any machines or users "in question" should have their lab PCs quarantined:

  • do not unlock the desktop or switch exams - this will erase local data which could be useful
  • prevent console login with !auth.users  mSET(@sysmans)
  • prevent file removal - though it is still inadvisable to execute the the command, we can avoid the risk of file removal on unlock by setting !examlock.lock mSET(hold) (this must be below the studentlabs header).

Though it's inappropriate for long-term use, there might arise a situation in which the machine state must be preserved as-is and the above is insufficient. Rather than altering examlock.lock above, in extremis you should:

  • wait for the auth.users change above to take effect, and:
  • break the profile - This prevents unlock completely. A clear, unambiguous method is #error "EXAM QUARANTINE" in the profile, with an accompanying comment.

At the other end...

Teaching staff may enquire as how to collect the exam submissions. There is a handy command to do this called exam_process_submissions. The full documentation of process_submissions (on which exam_process_submissions is based) can be found here: Using the Practical Submission System. Basically, most staff will want to do the following things:

  • Create a number of files with names sMATRIC (where MATRIC is the student's matriculation number) in the current working directory, each of which having the corresponding student's exam submission. In this example, we want the submitted files called 'exam.hs' from course inf1-fp and exam rpe (repeat practical exercise):
$ exam_process_submissions --comline "cat %f > %u" --file exam.hs inf1-fp rpe 
  • Send each student's submissions of 'exam.hs' from course inf1-fp and exam rpe (repeat practical exercise) to printer if513m0 and mark the top of the page with the student's martric number and some other relevant information:
$ exam_process_submissions --comline "enscript --header='%u' -G -P if513m0 %f" --file exam.hs inf1-fp rpe

Unfortunately exam_process_submissions can only be found at present on exam machines themselves, and it is no longer usable thanks to changes in submit. Both of these issues will be addressed ahead of future exams.

Resilience

Rough procedures in case of infrastructure failure (as opposed to individual machine failure):

Header changes

The suggested way to make header changes during exams is to modify the labs individually. Instances of #define must be made ahead of the studentlabs include, and resource changes should be made after, for example:

#ifndef LIVE_STUDENTLABS_FH_3_D08
#define LIVE_STUDENTLABS_FH_3_D08

/* move examsubmit & examreadonly to new server */
#define NFS1 129.215.nnn.nnn

#include <dice/options/studentlabs-at.h>

/* override exam mount policy for this lab */
!examlock.mountpol  mSET(log)

[...]

submit / backup servers

In case of individual machine failure, we can re-route the mounts fairly easily.

  1. Add partition to alternative exam mount server
    • This should involve a one-line profile change: the addition of one of exambackup, examreadonly or examsubmit to the DICE_OPTIONS_EXAM_NFS_EXPORTS macro.
    • If both have failed, you should install a new machine: this should take <10minutes for a fresh-install VM (assuming it's in DNS already).
      • Make sure it its virtual disk is sized such that vda4 will be sufficiently large to cope.
      • The host should include exam-nfs-server.h
      • It should have its EXPORTS macro set to include all three of the mounts
      • The host must also have its export added to the partitions rfemap, along the lines of hostname1    host.ipv4.address         /disk/data/
  2. Alter exam NFS IP address in LCFG
    • You do not need to alter the DNS aliases since the exam machines don't use this to find the servers - and it could become confusing for other machines during switchover - but if the change is to be permanent you must remember to do this.
    • Instead just change the IPs of the live servers by predefining NFS1 (for examsubmit, examreadonly) and/or NFS2 (for exambackup) on each affected lab (see example lab header change above).
  3. This should change all required resources, including firewall and restarting autofs to pick up the new mounts. But, if individual machines fail to pick up the changes, you might need to forcibly unmount the broken partition and restart autofs. You can do this remotely through the loghost.

Following the completion of the exam, if the change is to be permanent you should change the mount definitions for all other DICE machines. This involves changing the amdmap/group and partition (SL6 hosts), automap/group and and automap/partition (SL7 hosts) and dns/inf RFE maps, and ensuring the backup stanzas match the file contents, e.g. MIRROR_THIS_AND_TAPE(exambackup,<%nfs.fs_exambackup%>).

loghost failure

  1. #define LOGHOST in the appropriate lab header (see example lab header change above) and await reconfiguration.

This changes the firewall and rsyslog configuration allowing the loghost to receive logs, but crucially also is required for remote access to the machines. Ideally the chosen gateway machine should be capable of handling the combined logs (but it should at least be able to reject the connection requests nicely) as we can't presently separate the two functions (we ought to fix this).

DNS failure

The system should not notice the absence of DNS, though it's possible that some applications could misbehave. No change required.

LCFG slave failure

Assuming no configuration changes are required, this won't affect a running exam.

If configuration changes are required, this is a point of failure and only setting up a new slave will fix this. We can reduce likelihood of failure by adding (local) slaves specifically for exams if we believe this is likely.

Cross-site failure (LCFG slaves accessible)

  1. Set up a local host for exambackup & examsubmit.
  2. Proceed as for NFS failure, above.

Total network failure

When there's no point trying to fix things.

  1. Students should abandon their machines - they should not log out - having attempted an examsubmit and support will have to manually submit, or assume submissions from automated backups, when the network becomes available again.
  2. A procedure for determining the students' intentions to submit is required but again we can use backups, bash history and central logs to determine this.

In case of total network failure note that backups will not be taken, so it's possible that individuals' work could be lost in case of concurrent machine failure. We are considering ways of working around this for future system enhancements.

Fire Alarm / Power Failure

An interrupted exam could proceed following resolution of either a power failure or fire alarm, including loss of individual machines or local data following power problems (though, obviously, unsaved work in RAM will not be saved by the backup process). Standard computing procedures documented here should be followed to power on and/or restore data as appropriate.

How (or if) the exam should proceed following resolution of such events is for Student Services to determine in every case.

Wish list...

It would be good if:

  • Java submissions could be run through JUnit testing as part of the submission process, rejecting those that don't pass with appropriate feedback
    • Response: Computing Support must not put in place any mechanism which might prevent submission, and we are not in a position to write any sort of code to assess whether submissions are valid. If exam-setters wish to provide a testing script or utility, this is fine; it can be delivered by getpapers and students instructed to run it on any code before submission. Theoretically submit could be modified to call a check script before submission, but the contents of that check would be exam-specific and responsibility of the setter, and students must not be prevented from submitting failing code should they choose to do so.
  • James Cheney pointed out that the feedback email pointed him to /home/submit/submissions/lp/default/jcheney/pe/exam.pl, but it the path should be /group/examsubmit/submissions/lp
    • Response: This is one many problems with the feedback email, whose continued existence is in question as it can be misleading, particularly if PCs remain locked down for long periods of time. Modification requires touching the submit codebase (which I'm reluctant to do) but it's a valid concern. Update: As of Nov 2015 feedback should normally be delivered as soon as the exam PC is unlocked, rather than many hours later as was previously the case. Update: As of Aug 2016 Director of Computing (Perdita) has requested that the confirmation emails be turned off. pending December diet, RT:78588.

  • examlockdown command should be more automated, and perform more checks (not changing hosts with differing exam data, for instance).
  • Philip Wadler suggests the message users get when they re-submit is incorrect - "The file to copy to (/home/submit/submissions/course/default/user/mpe/Question1.java) already exists. Overwrite it (y/n: n aborts)? y File successfully overwritten." This reads as though the user has overwritten the "file to copy" i.e the file they want to submit, rather than the file already submitted.
  • implement dialog-driven examsubmit wrapper
  • ACL-based access to permit broader marker access.
  • Backup improvements, including dedicated examback partitions and active checks / notifications.
  • Test script to confirm validity of exam-ips.h

Planned:

  • Improved submit logging and feedback: RT:65462
  • Split submit and exam-submit UIDs so we don't need a local override: RT:75292
  • Change the examlockdown script so that you can't lock down to an exam that doesn't exist. The script could check that the path to the papers exists e.g for inf1-op / pe1 it would check for /disk/data/examsubmit/getpapers/inf1-op/pe1
  • Media checks:
    • Force-dismounting, or notification, on lock / logout / unlock.
    • Better notification of forgotten devices.
  • remove email confirmation entirely: RT:78588


-- TimColles - 23 Nov 2007
-- GrahamDutton - 08 Dec 2015

Topic revision: r87 - 31 Oct 2019 - 14:16:45 - GrahamDutton
 
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