MPU Meeting Wednesday 11th November 2020

Ubuntu Focal Port of LCFG Platform

The new network component is more or less working now:

Move websites from HTTP to HTTPS

No developments this week.

User Security Training Materials

No developments this week.

PGR computing

This project is about to kick off. Its full name is project 556 - Provision of personal computing devices to research postgraduates from 2021. Since there's not expected to be enough desk space for first year PGRs from next year onwards, they'll be hot-desking rather than having their own desk space in an office, and therefore won't have a place to put an allocated desktop - so what alternative computing provision should we make for them?

Alastair has been having meetings with various interested parties, and some ideas have emerged already. In no particular order:

  • The first year PGRs could be issued with laptops for commodity computing.
  • But how would we meet their more intensive research computing needs - long-running jobs and the like?
  • We could provide Citrix Virtual Desktop for all PGRs, with servers to back it up. (But this would be an expensive solution.)
  • Desktops actually provide significantly cheaper computing power than servers - so perhaps there might be a role for them after all?

Miscellaneous Development

Virtual DICE
Chris has been working full time on this, especially on the 2020/21 doc pages. We (Graham, Chris, Alison, Alastair) met this morning to settle the practical details of distributing the images. As part of this, will become a web server for distribution of the VM images.
IS-hosted virtual xrdp servers are go
Alastair has found a cleaner way to point resolv.conf at a local caching DNS server, so we can now use the IS-hosted virtual xrdp servers in anger. The remaining difficulty is how to reconfigure the (semi-permanent) personal remote.inf DNS aliases to make some point to the (temporary) IS-hosted VMs at the appropriate times. The solution may be to identify some users not currently using their remote.inf server and point their remote.inf alias at an IS-hosted VM.


SL7 updates
There are a large number of security updates for SL7.8, mostly backports from SL7.9. They've been tested. See also last week's note on updates for SL7.6.
SL7 kernel
A new one has come out and is installed for testing. OpenAFS modules have been built for it.
When to do the SL kernel and 7.8 updates?
Stephen suggests we do this on Monday 23 November.
sysmans xrdp access
sysmans now have xrdp access to all xrdp machines, including staff/PG DICE desktops. This brings our xrdp access into line with our ssh access.
mailcap fix for PDF
The default PDF viewer on Ubuntu will now be evince rather than gimp (!) (RT:105001).
oyster and satablade removed
Stephen has removed both of these from the AT racks.
Server lists updated
Stephen has audited the MPU machine list, the AT rack population page and the inventory for the MPU's AT-based machines. Next week he'll tackle our Forum-based machines.
staff.xrdp moves to archlute
This will happen on Tuesday. A few days later waterloo will be turned off and decommissioned.
Auto-generation of our server lists
  • If the inventory knew the "U" of each server, we could generate our server lists from it.
  • We could also potentially generate our KVM server wiki pages from it now too? (they're linked from here).
cittern trouble at weekend
it looked as if AFS mounts were hanging. It would be great if we could get Nagios to spot that AFS was being unresponsive. But how? Also, Alastair observed that cittern took too long to go down when he initiated a restart - in the end he had to power-cycle it.
Monitor with built-in speakers, camera and microphone
A user has one and its mic isn't working.
PostgreSQL 9.6 to v12 upgrades
  • Stephen will try Package Forge next week
  • then others, including Buzz Saw
  • Alastair will save Tartarus (the inventory) until last.
Sys Req on Ubuntu?
Alastair couldn't find a way to do a Sys Req while rebooting an Ubuntu server.
Stephen is making this into a test server for the new network component.
Nagios use
We've reviewed our Nagios use, and we proudly declare that we have no perma-acked servers.
Topic revision: r2 - 18 Nov 2020 - 13:00:46 - ChrisCooke
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