Computing Resources for Graduate Students

The School of Computing Science (CMPT or CS) provides many computing facilities and resources for graduate students. Please read through this document to find out more.

Please email helpdesk if your questions are not answered here.

This page is actively maintained; please help us to enrich this page.

Special notes on CentOS hosts

The support for CentOS will be dropped and Ubuntu will be officially supported. The estimated completion of this project is June 15, 2017. If you have a CentOS system and you wish to keep using it after this date, a migration is a must.

Please contact the lab admin, your supervisor for upgrade options. After you've backup of your data on this system, the helpdesk will provide a working Ubuntu system for you to use. (Please note: after the migration, every piece of the data on local hard disk of the CentOS system will be lost).

Special notes on Windows XP systems

The Windows XP is towards the end of its life. The support for Windows XP had been dropped entirely on May 1st, 2014.

Thus, if you are still using a Windows XP system, please contact the lab admin, your supervisor and helpdesk for upgrade options ASAP.

Table of Contents

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Essentials

What rooms can I use as a graduate student in the School of Computing Science?

There are a few rooms you should get familiar with:

The SFU Library - you may always use computers in the SFU Library for web browsing and emailing.

Burnaby campus:

ASB9971 (the general office of the School), TASC1 9401 (the graduate student lounge, mailroom) and TASC1 9204 (the meeting room).

If you are a new member of a research lab, please ask your supervisor (or the lab directors, or the lab admin) to add your SFU email address (not the alias of any kind) to the lab's official maillist by using the SFU's maillist webapp.

Surrey campus

You may find the general office SRY 4100 and SRY4122 (the open lab for graduate students).

There are also campus wide wireless networks you can access once you have your SFU account; please check out the details on the SFU Wireless network page. Special note: we (helpdesk of CMPT) highly recommend using manual method to configure the SFU Wireless network on your mobile device.

Your supervisor may have assigned you space in a research lab; please check the emails from your supervisor for more details.

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What is the basic computing network environment of SFU/CMPT?

For starters, there are two networks you should know about: the Campus network and the FAS network.

The services of the Campus network include: the SFU Connect, WebCT, Active Directory SFU (ADSFU), Maillist, and many many more. The IT Services people are in charge. ITS also provides the campus wide wireless network which is a member of Eduroam. You may find more details here.

The services of The FAS network include: the research labs, Active Directory FAS (FAS AD), and many many more. The RCG folks and CSTS are supporting the FAS. There is no FAS network on Surrey Campus.

There are other networks that may be available in your research lab, your supervisor and the lab admin will be able to provide the details.

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How can I get access to a computing lab?

All the CMPT computing labs are behind card-access-only doors. You need to have an active access card and an active SFU account to use the computers in a lab.

You need to get an SFU campus network account first (this is the same account you use to access SFU mail via connect.sfu.ca).  For most grad students this happens automatically and you will receive notification via the external email address you provided when you registered with SFU.   If you do not have an SFU account, check with your supervisor or the Graduate Program Assistant in the general office ASB9971.

After you have the SFU campus network account, Please ask your supervisor (or the lab directors, or the lab admin) to "Add & Save" your SFU email address (not the alias of any kind) to the lab's official maillist by using the SFU's maillist webapp. Without this step, you will not be able to use any research lab computer.

For most grad students, you will be given an access card/fob request form on your orientation day.  For Burnaby campus, you can get the card from the SFU Access Control Office. For Surrey campus, you may visit the Security Desk located in the Mezzanine. Please check out our Door Access FAQ page.

Once you have your accounts and access card, you can get into the labs and start using the computers.

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How can I access my email?

You can access your SFU email through SFU Connect . e.g. username@sfu.ca.

As a CMPT student, you will have a CS email account, which has the format username@cs.sfu.ca. All emails sent to this account are forwarded to your SFU Connect account.

Please note that the web client is the only officially supported client at SFU; please check out the browser compatibility of the web client.

Details on SFU Connect can be found here.

*IMPORTANT*: please always use your SFU login ID for your email address. Please login to the web interface of SFU Connect and do the following:

click "Preferences"
under Primary Account Settings -> Setting for Sent Messages -> From Choose what appears in the "From" field of email messages
make sure your full name spelled correctly and make sue the email address contains your SFU login, no alias, never alias.
always UNCHECK the Set the "Reply-to" field of email messages to:

*IMPORTANT*: do NOT forward your SFU email to anything else. The benefit does not cover the chaos it creates. Remember: do NOT forward your SFU email to anything else.

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How can I setup my personal web page on CS web site?

Before you could setup your own personal web page on CS site, please email csweb AT sfu DOT ca to request your official page under

http://www.cs.sfu.ca/people/graduate.html

Graduate students' profile pages on the CS web site are maintained by the School, which has URL

http://www.cs.sfu.ca/~username

If you need to have details of this page changed, email helpdesk. We will maintain the page even after your graduation; so it is a good link to put on your publications. Let us know if your contact information changes in years to come and remember us when you make your first billion :)

To update your personal files:

Access from FAS Linux/UNIX hosts:

/fas-info/cs/people/GradStudents/username/personal

Access from Windows hosts:

(please use SFU campus network credentials to logon to this server)

\\rcg-bluebell.rcg.sfu.ca\csweb\people\GradStudents\username\personal

Alternative: On the other hand, if you would like to build your own web page on SFU main web server, you may try:

URL: http://www.sfu.ca/~username

Access from Linux/UNIX:

/home/username/pub_html/

Access from Windows hosts:

\\sphinx.sfu.ca\username

You can find more instructions here. You may contact ITS for more assistance.

Here are some very important technical reminders:

please do NOT use file/folder names which contain space on any SFU web service.

please name your default index file index.html - please note: all lower case (case sensitive!)

Warning: please do not put any copyright material, media files or any big download files on your personal web page. Your account will be revoked if illegal sharing occurs.

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I have some questions regarding the research lab I work in, who should I talk with?

Each CMPT research lab has a lab admin. The lab admin should be the first person you contact if you need help in the lab.

The lab admin is a fellow graduate student works in the lab and volunteers to manage the lab equipment.

Once you have experience and want to help out other people in the lab, you could volunteer to become the lab admin. Please contact your supervisor for more information.

In case that the lab admin is not reachable, please email helpdesk for help.

To find out more on the lab admin issue, please check out our "Research Lab Administrator's Handbook".

Also you could find some essential information by visiting the resources page for the research labs in the School - please note: members only.

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Where I could find information about CMPT courses for graduate students?

You will find all the CMPT courses information on our Course Central.

Please note this URL is under "undergraduate" section. If you believe there is better location for the Course Central, please let your voice be heard by contacting the following people:

  • your supervisor
  • the Manager, Administrative and Academic Services
  • the Manager, Research and Instructional Computing

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How do I report problems and address CMPT related technical issues?

Please contact your lab admin first.

For urgent matters, please come to CS general office (ASB9971 at Burnaby, and 4100 at Surrey).

Otherwise, please email helpdesk. Please use your SFU email account and use your lab's acronym in the subject line of your message.

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Copyright at the School of Computing Science & Simon Fraser University

The School of Computing Science respects the rights of copyright holders. Copyright infringement is the theft of intellectual property. Under Canada's copyright law, it is illegal to copy most published materials without permission; therefore, you must obtain permission before recording or reproducing copyrighted materials.

SFU provides information on copyright policy here.

Please be aware that Canadian law and university policy may prohibit downloading or sharing of copyright protected files, media, code or documents from online sources.  If you violate University policies of Canadian laws you will be held personally accountable.  In particular your SFU account will be immediately locked should any complaints about copyright violations be made against it.

Please visit SFU's copyright page for more details.

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Basic computing lab Policies, Etiquette and Ethics at the School of Computing Science

The School of Computing Science computing laboratories are governed by Simon Fraser University's GP24 (Fair Use of Information and Communications Technology) and other policies.

Here are some of the most important DON'Ts:

  • do NOT share your accounts. NO exceptions.
  • do NOT hook up you own laptop to wired network. NO exceptions.
  • do NOT hook up a device to more than 1 network.
    • If your research is on networking, or you need to change your lab network,  please consult helpdesk every time before you modify the network configurations on any production network. NO exceptions.
    • If you create a network topology loop and overwhelm the network, the people that have to find and  fix the problem might be very upset... please do not upset them.
  • No food or drink in the open labs or CSIL, this includes during TA office hours. NO exceptions.
  • do NOT lock any computer in a public lab for more than 30 minutes.
    • Exception: you may do so on the system designated for you in your assigned research lab. If the system is shared with other people, please ask them first.

And here are some pages you should read:

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Computing Labs

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What is the CSIL?

CSIL stands for Computing Science Instructional Labs. Most CMPT courses use resources in CSIL. You need to have an access card to gain access.  All students enrolled in CMPT courses, all CMPT TAs and grad students have CSIL access.  

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What are the Assignment Labs?

The Assignment Labs are ITS operated open computer labs in the Academic Quadrangle (AQ), Library and West Mall. These labs are open to all SFU students. There is no access card needed to use these labs. Find out more information on SFU Labs.

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What are the research labs?

The Computing Science research labs are the facilities for our faculty and graduate students to do their research. Each research lab has one or more lab directors and lab admins. The lab admin will help you use the computing resources within the lab.

Click here for the information on the research labs.

Please note: all the research labs are card access only. And only the people within the research group have access to specific lab. Please discuss with your supervisor to get access to a research lab.  Your supervisor can have access added to your access card by emailing helpdesk.  You cannot make the request directly yourself.

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How can I access SFU computers off-campus?

For accessing your home space on SFU campus network, please use an SSH client connect to fraser.sfu.ca. To logon to any SFU campus network Linux/UNIX server, you must use your SFU campus network credentials

You may access Linux terminal servers (e.g. rcg-linux-ts2.rcg.sfu.ca) (use SFU campus network credentials) from home.

You may have remote access to your Windows workstations in your research lab.

Since the computer is binding to ADSFU domain, please use ad.sfu.ca\username as the username; or explicitly set the domain name as "ad.sfu.ca". If you have difficulty connecting to this system, please use the ITS' RDP Gateway.

(obsolete) If the computer is on FAS AD, please use fas.sfu.ca\username as the username; or explicitly set the domain name as "fas.sfu.ca". Warning: If your computer is configured like this, please contact helpdesk to migrate it to ADSFU asap!

There might be other servers available for your research, please contact your supervisor for more information.

For the detailed information on the accounts, please read through this page.

(obsolete) There were 2 FAS servers you may access from home (use an SSH client and/or SFTP tool; for X session, please invoke VNC): dumbcane.fas.sfu.ca and oak.fas.sfu.ca. To logon to any FAS Linux/UNIX server, you must use your FAS Linux credentials - the user name should be username

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Computing Accounts and login issues

What are my accounts to access a CMPT computer?

The most commonly used accounts are:

  • SFU campus network account
  • (obsolete) FAS Linux/Unix account
  • (obsolete) FAS Windows account

You will be issued an SFU campus network account first.  The other accounts generally match it but have different passwords. More and more resources are using the SFU account and password as we migrate systems to the SFU authentication systems.

SFU account passwords can be changed via a link on the normal SFU login screen here.

You may have extra accounts on other servers for your research, please contact the support people of the specific servers.

Click here to see the latest account policy from RCG.

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Why can't I logon to certain computers in the lab?

There are a few possibilities.

1) you may have used wrong domain name (Windows only).

To logon to any ADSFU domain binding Windows workstation: please use "ad.sfu.ca\username" as the username or explicitly set the domain name as "ad.sfu.ca"

(obsolete) To logon to any FASnet Windows workstation: please use "fas.sfu.ca\username" as the username or explicitly set the domain name as "fas.sfu.ca".

2) your account is not recognized by the authentication server (Linux only).

If you haven't changed your SFU account password for long time, this may happen.

Please go to the MySFU tab in SFU Connect and change password; the process results SFU AD can recognize you from Linux.

3) (obsolete) you may have used incorrect credentials.

for example, to logon to Burnaby Grad Open Lab Windows computer, you should use SFU campus computing network credentials (SFU Connect login ID and its corresponding password).

Please carefully identify the computer's binding domain.

4) you may not have been granted access to this lab.

If you are new to this lab, this is the most likely cause.

Please email helpdesk about this - and your supervisor's confirmation is required. Please also contact the lab admin so your account could be added to the lab's official maillist.

5) you may have used up your disk quota for your profile under Ubuntu/CentOS.

Please check out this Q&A for more instructions.

If none of the above applies to your encounter, please email helpdesk.

Important notice: we are in the process to migrate all the FAS binding hosts (including Windows, Linux and OS X) to ADSFU domain. In the meantime, please double check which domain the workstation belongs to before logon to it.

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Why is my account locked out? And what should I do?

The account may be locked out for a period of time after multiple failed logon attempts. In general, the account will be unlocked automatically in an hour or so. 

Your account may also be locked without warning for the following reasons: 

  • Excessive network traffic. 
  • Connection to high risk internet sites. 
  • Concurrent connections to multiple computers on the internet. 
  • Copyright complaints. 
  • Legal violations.

Your account will not be unlocked automatically in these cases. Contact ITS if you think this may apply to you. If your research will require network traffic that would ordinarily be viewed with suspicion, email helpdesk in advance so we can help make arrangements for you.

If your account gets locked out regularly or without apparent reason, please contact helpdesk asap, there might be a security breach!

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I suddenly could not logon to any Ubuntu/CentOS workstation, what should I do?

The most common cause of this issue is: you've used up your disk quota for your profile under Ubuntu/CentOS.

For complete instructions on how to free up space, click here.

And to avoid this issue in the future, please follow our guidelines on "where I should NOT store my files".

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Computing Environment

What are the unique characteristics of CMPT Windows systems (on Burnaby Mountain campus)?

Here is the list of the most important characteristics for CMPT Windows systems on Burnaby Mountain campus, compare with default Windows installation:

  CMPT Windows systems on Burnaby Mountain campus (roaming profile with folder redirection feature) Default Windows installation
%APPDATA% \\freesia.csil.sfu.ca\userdata\username\appdata\roaming C:\Users\username\AppData\Roaming
Desktop (user)
\\freesia.csil.sfu.ca\userdata\username\desktop C:\Users\username\Desktop
Documents \\freesia.csil.sfu.ca\userdata\username\documents C:\Users\usrename\Documents
Download \\sphinx.sfu.ca\username C:\Users\username\Downloads
%LOCALAPPDATA% <no change to default> C:\Users\username\AppData\Local
Start Menu <no change to default> C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu
%TEMP% c:\temp C:\Windows\Temp
%TMP% c:\temp C:\Windows\Temp
%JAVAHOME% C:\Program Files\java\jdk C:\Program Files\Java\jdk<version#>

Please note: %% denotes an environment variable.

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My computer restarted itself after some updates - which killed my running experiment! Can I disable the restart?

The short answer is: no.

We need to keep our computing environment safe for every one and we have seen so many security breaches directly related to unpatched systems.

We had seen some hosts are pending for restart for 6 months, and they got infected during these 6 months.

So, when your computer is pending for restart, please restart it at your earliest convenience (save all your work of course).

About the restarts related to Microsoft Updates:

There is a 22-hour grace period before the restart after the installation of the updates. So please pay close attention to the system notification area so you could schedule the restart at your convenience.

In general, there are less than 14 Microsoft-updates-related restarts annually. Most likely, the updates are released on the second Tuesday of each month. Your computer may get these updates later in the same week.

About running big experiments:

In general, we recommend running the big experiments on servers. Check out some options on this page. Please contact us if you need more computing power.

If the experiment must be run on a workstation, we would recommend making sure it has check-points so it could resume from the interrupted point due to the restarts and other interruptions.

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I could not set environment variables under Windows, what should I do?

Apparently that the most common/intuitive way to set variables is: Control Panel -> System, and click the "Advanced system settings" on the left pane. Unfortunately, as a regular user, this won't work - even for setting user specific variables.

Here is the workaround for a regular user to set user environment variables:

launch Control Panel

make sure set "View by" to "Small icons"

(Please note: "Small icons" is the only valid viewing option for Control Panel)

click "User Accounts"

From the task list one the left pane, click "Change My Environment Variables"

Now, you will be able to edit the user environment variable list.

(To set a system environment variable, administrative privilege is a must.)

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When I use a Windows computer outside of the School (within the SFU), all my personal settings are gone! Why is this?

This is by design.

Due to the complexity of the computing environment of SFU, it is quite impossible to keep a single universal Windows environment for all SFU Windows hosts. In general, user's personal settings are consistent within a department, but not synchronized between different departments.

If you have suggestions on this issue, please make your voice heard by contacting IT Services of SFU.

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Suddenly my account stopped working on my own Windows workstation, what's going on?

The most common possibilities:

  • Your user profile is corrupted; it must be reset by helpdesk.
  • You've used up you profile storage on network. Click here for more cleaning instructions.

As we have stated, our Windows systems use roaming profile with folder redirection feature by default, for best flexibility and highest data safety. Due to budget constraints, we could only offer 200MB for each user for profile storage.

Further reading: the most common symptoms of profile issue:

cannot launch applications properly

cannot write to desktop, documents etc.

cannot logoff

while logon, a temporary profile is used so all favorites and bookmarks are gone.

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May I use local profile for my lab computer (Windows)?

The short answer is yes.

But we strongly suggest using roaming profile with folder redirection method - which is configured for everyone on every Windows computer in CMPT by default; and it is the de facto standard for enterprise computing environment.

If roaming profile with folder redirection method is used:

All your settings are on stored on the network storage, which have daily backup.

All the data you saved on to default locations (Desktop, Documents etc.) are on stored on the network storage, which have daily backup.

The settings and data follow you when you move from one computer to another within CMPT.

On the contrary, if local profile is used:

All the customization you've done on a computer will be on this computer only; if you move to another computer, you have to do it from scratch.

All the data you saved on to default locations (Desktop, Documents etc.) are stored on the local hard disk. If the hard disk is faulty/stolen, your data will be gone.

We understand there are a few applications do not work well with roaming profile with folder redirection. But we believe the right thing to do would be: inform the vendor and urge them to make their products work better under enterprise computing environment.

Now you understand the pros and cons of local profile; if you still choose to use local profile for your Windows computer, please contact helpdesk; we will make it happen.

Just remember: once you option for local profile:

We (helpdesk) will not be able to assist you if there is any issue related to your user profile. (From our experience, a substantial portion of Windows issues are related to user profile)

If there is any data loss on the local hard disk (e.g. your Desktop, Documents folder), we (helpdesk) will not be able to assist you.

Please always save your valuable data to network storage - this holds for all situations.

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About Workstation Setup

My supervisor bought me a new computer in the lab, how do I get it set up?

Please inform the lab admin first, and then please contact helpdesk to get basic system installed and configured on the network. Many commonly used software packages, like Matlab, Office suite will be installed by default.

Provide us with a detailed software list if you have specific requirements.

All of the desktop computers/workstations will be placed onto wired network (FAS network) by default. So, if the computer comes with a "Home" edition OS, it must be wiped/replaced before proceeding.

Please note: do not hook up the computer to the network before helpdesk approves doing so.

Please ensure the new computer has sufficient power (electricity) source and wired network connection near the desk which it will be placed on. If you are not sure about these conditions, chat with the lab admin and contact helpdesk in advance.

If this is a laptop, you may ask helpdesk to have it configured as well. Here are some Q&As that should help you in the long run.

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Which Operating System should I use for my research?

Generally speaking, it is your choice.

Please chat with your supervisor about this.

As a rule of thumb, we recommend to use the most stable, most secure and leading edge version of a specific OS; e.g. for 2017, the choices would be Mac OS X Mavericks, Ubuntu 16.04 LTS and Windows 10. (on its way out: CentOS)

And the OS must be enterprise-network-ready. e.g. any "Starter/Home" edition of Windows will NOT be accepted. Please note: this rule applies to laptops as well.

Due to the complexity and high maintenance cost, we do not recommend dual-boot your research workstation with Linux and Windows. In practice, virtual machine is a better choice over dual-boot.

If you choose an Operating System other than these we recommend, we may not provide sufficient support for this system due to resource constraints. And you may not be allowed to connect a system with this OS on a specific network.

Please click here to find out more on RCG's recommendations on OS choices.

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Should I use 64bit OS or 32bit OS?

We only recommend using 64bit operating system and applications. We no longer support 32bit operating system.

Please note: it is perfectly OK to develop only the 64bit version and drop the support for 32bit operating systems. Actually, this is recommended by many industry leaders.

A gentle reminder: please make sure your final program runs under the 64bit operating system.

If you choose 32bit OS:

. We do understand that some of research tools may run better or run only on 32bit OS.

. Please discuss with your supervisor about your OS choice before you make the decision to use 32bit OS for your research.

. For a system with 32bit OS on it, it must be on the backbone network.

. You will be fully managing this system on your own; support from SFU IT people will be minimum.

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My research lab computer does not work as I expected, what should I do?

You could first chat with the lab admin; s/he will diagnose the issues.

If the lab admin is not reachable, please email helpdesk - don't forget to add your lab's acronym to the subject line.

Please note: if you like to change the Operating System (e.g. from Windows to Linux),

  • we need the approval from your supervisor and lab admin
  • and, we would proceed only after all data on local hard disk have been backed up to network space
  • one more thing: you may want to chat with the lab admin and other users in the lab first; there might be an existing system suit your needs.

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I want to have both Linux and Windows for my research, any suggestions?

In general, please discuss this with your supervisor first.

Due to the complexity and high maintenance cost, we do not recommend dual-boot research workstations with Linux and Windows.

Fortunately, there are other ways to gain access to both OSes.

If you prefer Windows desktop

  • Access one of the Linux terminal servers: rcg-linux-ts1.rcg.sfu.ca, rcg-linux-ts2.rcg.sfu.ca, rcg-linux-ts3.rcg.sfu.ca
    • Warning: This is a console server for lightweight tasks shared by many people; it is NOT the appropriate place to host long-running CPU/memory intensive jobs.
    • Tip: To have X running, please configure a VNC session.
  • If you need a dedicate system for non-graphics tasks, a virtual machine may be a better choice.
  • There are High Performance Computing clusters for researchers; please check out this site.
  • (all FAS Linux servers are retired)

If you prefer Linux desktop

  • Access the Windows Terminal Server (for general use): ts1.fas.sfu.ca
    • Please note: this system is still in the retiring FAS AD domain. If you don't have a FAS Windows account, you will not be able to logon. And we will no longer add new users to this server.
    • Warning: This is a server for lightweight tasks shared by many people; it is NOT the appropriate place to host long-running CPU/memory intensive jobs.

And of course, these two options are always available:

  • get a second desktop computer with alternative OS on it (ask for your supervisor about spare hardware).
  • place the system on the backbone network. You will have to build and manage this dualboot system on your own.

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I want to use Ubuntu for my research, any suggestions?

Yes, we could build Ubuntu systems for research or teaching use.

Please be careful when you make the request to have an Ubuntu box built:

If this computer is for research:

RCG now provide Ubuntu 16.04 for all researchers.

If this computer is for teaching:

The system will be more stable with more proven (but possibly old) applications.

The ssh port will be set to 24 instead.

Basically, it will be very similar to our CSIL Ubuntu systems.

If you prefer to build a the system from ground up, please let us know your plan - we will register this computer on the SFU Backbone network and you will be responsible to make it work and secure.

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Which Linux Distro I should choose for my research then?

In short, we recommend RCG Ubuntu as described below.

Here are a few scenarios:

(1) A Ubuntu box on FAS network (supported by RCG) would be a good choice if:

. you are not so knowledgeable of the Linux system itself

. you know exactly which libraries and applications to use for the research (either they are available now or you could contact us to get them configured as modules.)

. you like to have some in-house support

On the other hand, here are the disadvantages of this choice:

you will not be granted sudo access.

(at this time) it is still at Beta stage.

(2) An Ubuntu box on SFU Backbone network is a choice -  if you like a system which is identical to CSIL Ubuntu.

 *  recent change * You will not be granted sudo access. (due to security constraints)

(3) A system with your favorite Linux Distro - provided your research involves constantly updating drivers, libraries and applications.

The system must be registered on SFU Backbone network and you have to build it from ground up and manage it yourself. The kickstart option will be provided for you.

If you choose this option:

. you must discuss with your supervisor and get approval from your supervisor about this self-managed system.
. you must be very knowledgeable of the Linux system since the support will be limited; you may spend too much time on managing the system instead of your main research.
. when the system is compromised, you have to rebuild the system from scratch - please always keep your data/codes on SFU network storage! and one more thing: if this compromised system has negtive impact on our network, you will be relieved of self-managing duty during your stay in SFU.

** IMPORTANT **: to see if RCG Ubuntu will work for you, please following these steps:

. compose a list of the libraries and applications you will be using (with the exact vesion numbering and architecture info etc.)

. check this list against the output of "module avail" command - if it is within the output, it means this package is already available for you to use. (To find out more, please see the RCG's FAQ page on modules.)

. contact helpdesk to request the missing/outdated software pieces

if all the pieces come together, you should be using RCG Ubuntu.

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I want to hook up my lab computer only to wireless network for my research, any suggestions?

In short: please do NOT do this.

Once a computer is hooked up only to wireless network, it is considered a mobile device. Please read our Q&A page for mobile devices for more information.

Here are some important notes:

  • You will not be able to remotely connect to this computer.
  • Please always use regular account for daily tasks and use administrative account for system maintenance only.
  • Any data on the local hard disk is considered volatile. Please always use network storage provided by SFU to store your research data/codes.
  • If this computer is using Microsoft Office, the activation will expire every 180 days. It must be activated manually; please contact helpdesk for this.
  • Supports from helpdesk (including CSTS and RCG) will be minimum. In general, we will only rebuild the system to its initial stage. You will be personally responsible for maintaining a healthy system.

So, please register your lab computer's network interface card's MAC address on SFU Backbone network by emailing helpdesk.

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For my research, I need to use a lot GPU enabled applications, any suggestions?

For many researches around BigData and DeepLearning, utilize GPGPUs on workstations would be a good low cost option.

A few things to be noted first:

the onboard Intel graphics won't be sufficient.

place a discrete graphics card into a regular desktop system (e.g. Optiplex line) probably won't work well either.

place a discrete graphics card into an existing running system won't work right away - re-configuration must be done first.

If you like to know more about CUDA, TensorFlow and Keras etc., please read through RCG's workstation GPGPU FAQ page.

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For my research, I really need to have full control of my own lab computer, what I can do?

Firstly, please confirm this with your supervisor and inform helpdesk.

If you want to build your system from ground up or you must have administrator access, the computer must be on the backbone network (part of SFU campus network). And please read RCG's take on this issue. Please note: once you start managing the system on your own, we will not be able to provide the same level of support compare with the systems we maintain. e.g. we won't diagnose malfunction drivers; we won't clean the malware; in most cases, a fresh rebuild would be the only option.

Once you receive the message from helpdesk indicates that all the preparations are done, you could start building the system from ground up.

For example, here are the steps you may take for building a Linux box using installers on SFU network:

PXE boot the computer

selcet "(I)nstallers"

select "(I)nteractive Installers"

select a Linux distro

select the specific release which is best suit for your research

start the installation

*** Last Warning *** if you could not follow the on screen instructions to kickstart the Linux, it means you are not so knowledgeable to the Linux system. In this case, please allow us to manage the system for you so you could focus on your research.

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About Software

Can I install software on any School's computer?

No.

First of all, in most of the cases, the applications you need might have been installed or configured on the system :)

On a Windows workstation, here is a list of basic set of applications. You could easily find this out by searching within the start menu.

On a Linux system, here is a list of basic set of applications, and you could execute "module avail" to check the application availability. If the application you need is on the list, you could load and use it without installation. Click here for more details on the modules we provide.

If you need to compile your own software, use something like
     ./configure --prefix=/cs/<thislab>/software
... so that you can maintain the software you need without requiring sudo/root privileges.

If you could not find the applications on the system, please contact your lab admin for this. If the lab admin is not reachable in time, please email helpdesk - please put the lab's acronym on the subject line.

If your research involves constant system changes, please email helpdesk - with the confirmation from the lab director, other arrangement could be made.

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How come Adobe Reader etc. are not installed on my Linux (Ubuntu) workstation?

Well, please contact Adobe for more details.

Adobe had ceased all Linux development in 2014. Adobe Reader works on CentOS 6 but fails on Ubuntu 16.04 due to SSSD, which is used for providing integration with campus Active Directory.

Please use one of the newer, more up-to-date PDF viewers already installed on your Ubuntu system: okular (with new annotation features), gv or atril.

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How come Google Chrome is not installed on my Linux (CentOS) workstation?

The RCG folks have shifted their support to Ubuntu. Please email helpdesk so we could migrate your CentOS box to Ubuntu asap.

(the following lines are no longer applicable to CMPT hosts.)

Well, please contact Google for more details.

We are using CentOS 6.5 for all of research workstations - but which is no longer supported by Google Chrome. Here is a web page you may want to read:

Google has declared Red Hat's RHEL 6 obsolete

The RCG had tried to install Chromiun instead but it broke regularly for a large number of users. Thus, for the time being, please use Mozilla Firefox.

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I noticed that some of the software packages are out dated for my research; may I get them updated ASAP?

Yes!

Please contact us with the details of these software packages in question; we will work with you to ensure they are up to the task.

Please note: we will examine the feasibility of all requests (cost, compatibility, network security, disk space requirements, etc.). Since this does take time, please make your request once you noticed the anomalies.

If you need some packages which are not on the system, please do the same.

BTW, have you read this Q&A about software availability on a research computer? - The updated packages may have been configured as a separate module already :)

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I get a prompt to upgrade some of the applications (Adobe Flash Player for one); what should I do?

The IT people in SFU are working hard to ensure all the systems are secure and up to date. The software updates are investigated and approved for installation constantly.

As a regular user, you may not be able to upgrade/patch the applications on the spot. But there are ways to proceed:

. reboot the computer, this may trigger the installation of the updates.

. contact the lab admin to perform a forced updates - if this is a Windows system.

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The blacklist of software packages - those have known issues within our enterprise computing environment.

Here is the blacklist of the applications which don't work properly within our enterprise computing environment.

application name issues workaround
Dropbox Client for Windows desktop does not work with roaming profile with folder redirection feature 1. use alternative services. 2. use local profile (not recommended)
Microsoft OneDrive for Windows desktop does not work with roaming profile with folder redirection feature 1. use alternative services. 2. use local profile (not recommended)
Microsoft Skype for Windows desktop has network connectivity issues from time to time 1. use alternative services. 2. alter the configuration folder to local hard disk. 3. use local profile (not recommended)
Sogou PinYin input method does not work 100% with roaming profile with folder redirection feature 1. use alternative products. 2. use local profile (not recommended)
ReadCube for Windows desktop does not work with roaming profile with folder redirection feature 1. use alternative services. 2. use local profile (not recommended)

Please note: there are quite a few Windows applications require administrative privilege to run. For these applications, we recommend the following (in order):

  1. find and use alternative products which do not suffer from this issue
  2. urge the software vendor to upgrade their products so they will be suitable for enterprise computing environment
  3. ask helpdesk to make permission changes for the specific application. For some applications, this will solve the issue.
  4. become the administrator of the computer (contact helpdesk and provide details to make a clear case; your supervisor's approval is required.)

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I want to use LaTeX on my Windows workstation; anything I should I know about?

We use MiKTeX as the basic LaTeX tool. We will install a few popular TEX tools on the systems too.

Please note: for technical reasons, on all managed Windows systems, MiKTeX must be installed by helpdesk. So, if you don't see MiKTeX on your lab workstation, just email us.

Tech note: We had trouble installing MiKTeX on our Windows systems for some time. It turned out that some of its components were blocked by our anti-malware tool. Please contact the vendor to urge their developers to make the changes.

You may also use the MiKTeX portable package on our Windows systems. The vendor has the instructions on how to use this tool.

If you noticed that any tool which does not work with MiKTeX portable, please contact the vendor for updates.


About Remote Access (remote login)

Which servers I could remotely access for my research?

The Linux terminal servers:

rcg-linux-ts1.rcg.sfu.ca
rcg-linux-ts2.rcg.sfu.ca
rcg-linux-ts3.rcg.sfu.ca

Warning: These servers are for lightweight tasks shared by many people; please do NOT place long-running CPU/memory intensive jobs on them.

Tip: To have X running, please configure a VNC session.

The Windows Terminal Server (for general use): ts1.fas.sfu.ca

Warning: This server is for lightweight tasks shared by many people; please do NOT place  long-running CPU/memory intensive jobs on it.

Please note: This server is still part of FAS AD; you need to use your FASnet Windows credentials to logon.

You may also access the High Performance Computing clusters and/or the servers of Compute Canada.

For faculty and staff only, RCG provides a new general use Windows Terminal Server: rcg-wints-01.its.sfu.ca. If you have difficulty connecting to this server, please use the ITS' RDP Gateway.

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Can I access my research workstation from home?

Yes, in general. Please contact your lab admin for the policy.

For a Linux system in the lab, you could use SSH/SFTP. But for security reasons, direct SSHing to your lab host is only available on SFU wired network. To SSH to your lab Linux host: please SSH to a Linux terminal server (e.g. rcg-linux-ts3.rcg.sfu.ca); then SSH to your workstation from within the sessions on this server.

For a Windows system in the lab, you could use Remote Desktop Connection tool. Please always use the FQDN for your computer and use proper user name (with domain name specified). See this Q&A for details. If you have difficulty connecting to this system, please use the ITS' RDP Gateway.

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I don't get proper desktop when I remote connect to my research Windows workstation from home. What should I do?

This is a known issue. It happens quite often when the remote system is running Windows XP. It happens rarely but still happens on Windows 7 systems.

Assume the credentials have been accepted, but screen shows as nothing - sometimes not even the cursor.

Here are some of the steps you may want to give a try (in order):

  • wait for a couple of minutes; it might be just waking up.
  • launch the Task Manager on the remote system and attempt to bring back desktop:
    • maximize the remote session window
    • within this window, hit "Ctrl-Shift-ESC" - this should bring up the Task Manager for the remote system.
    • If the Task Manager is up, you may start a new explorer.exe and in general, your desktop will show up.
  •  change the connection parameter on the home computer to use less resources:
    • close the current non-working remote session window.
    • when launching the "Remote Desktop Connection", click "show Options"
    • now, click the "Experience" tab, select "Low-speed broadband (256kbps - 2 Mbps)"
    • click "Connect" button; maybe you will get better result.
  • logon as another account if you have a second account on the system.
    • if you have a local account on the system, you need to try "hostname\username" in the username field.
  • physically logon from the console of the system when you come to the lab. Dahhh...

Well, if none of these works, you may have to reboot the system.

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Our lab has a Windows Terminal Server; how come I could not remote in from home?

This is due to the licensing restrictions.

You may remote desktop back to your workstation, and from there you should be able to remote in to the lab's Windows Terminal Server.

Here are the details:

SFU has a Microsoft site license that includes *version upgrades for Windows desktop OS* on SFU owned machines, provides licenses for SFU users to login to servers to access files shares, queues etc., and provides licenses (CALs) for SFU owned computers to connect to SFU Windows Servers and for connecting to a terminal server.

Please note: this license does not cover users outside of SFU to connect to a Windows Terminal Server on SFU network directly.

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I have a mobile device and I would like to use it to remote in my research workstation, what should I do?

For connecting to your Linux workstation, a modern SSH client tool should always work. Please check this Q&A for details.

For connecting to your Windows workstations, we strongly recommend "Microsoft Remote Desktop Clients".

There are many alternatives out there; since most of these products require extra configurations on workstation and the network devices, we prefer to keep them off the chart.

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When I try to remote desktop to a Windows system, it gives certificate error and failed on authentication; what should I do?

First of all, please make sure the full name (including DNS suffix) of the remote system is correct. Only if it is correct, you could proceed with the following workaround:

While you connect from a Windows system using Remote Desktop Connection (aka mstsc), please do the following:

click "Show Options"

click tab "Advanced"

under "Server authentication", for "If server authentication fails:"

choose "Connect and don't warn me"

(optional: save the setting for future use) and click "Connect"

Basically, this will give you the real login screen and you could be sure you are connecting to the host you are trying to reach. This is the recommended setting to use for all Windows users.

We believe you could find similar option within the remote desktop client you are using. If the client does not offer this option, please use alternative client tools.

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My workstation runs latest Ubuntu release but I could not SSH into it; what should I do?

For connecting to most recent Ubuntu systems, you need a modern SSH client too.

You may want to try MobaXterm.

* IMPORTANT * For security reasons, direct SSHing to your lab host is only available on SFU wired network. To SSH to your lab Linux host: please SSH to a Linux terminal server (e.g. rcg-linux-ts3.rcg.sfu.ca); then SSH to your workstation from within the sessions on this server.

Click here for more details.  

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How to get GUI interface to a Linux box from my personal computer?

Here are some very basic (yet very crucial) steps for you to connect to a Linux box from a Windows device. Click here for more detailed instructions and explanations.

Preparations:

make sure you have latest SSH client and VNC viewer on your Windows device (we recommend MobaXterm & TightVNC viewer).

do not add any firewall exceptions.

do not allow VNC server to be installed.

Please note: the "vncserver &" command will show a virtual display number which you must memorize for future use, we assume it is "1" in this Q&A.

Step 1:  connect to the remote system via SSH using MobaXterm, within this SSH window, type the following commands in order:

vncpasswd

vncserver &

if you are using tsch, please run:

setenv DISPLAY :1

or if you are using bash, please run:

export DISPLAY=:1

mate-session &

exit

Step 2: launch MobaXterm on your Windows device, click "Start local terminal", from the "local terminal" window, run a command like:

ssh -L <VNC port number>:<FQDN>:<VNC port number> <yourusername>@<RCG TS FQDN>

e.g. ssh -L 5901:server1.cs.sfu.ca:5901 psudoname@rcg-linux-ts2.rcg.sfu.ca

(The VNC port number is 5900 plus whatever your virtual display number is.)

(Please also complete the command line with your own username and the FQDN of one of the RCG Linux Terminal Servers .)

Step 3: launch TightVNC Viewer on your Windows device, make the connection to:

127.0.0.1:<VNC port number>

e.g. 127.0.0.1:5901

Please note:

You must set up a local SSH tunnel of TCP port from your Windows device to the remote system through one of the RCG's Linux Terminal Servers - NO exceptions.

You will have to repeat these steps if the remote Linux system is rebooted.

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Special Topic: How to keep the Windows system up to date

 

Some of the common applications are out dated, what I should do?

We have many techniques to keep our systems up to date; for many applications, we are using wpkg. The default setting was: the maintenance task runs every night.

For our CMPT users, we've disabled this nightly maintenance task - after receiving many feedbacks from our faculty members and researchers.

Since we are using WSUS for monthly updates on our Windows systems. The reboot after these updates should trigger the maintenance task.

So, to keep the applications up to date, you could proceed with one of the following:

  1. Reboot the computer during maintenance window - for CMPT, it is 1:00AM - 11:00AM
  2. Manually run the maintenance task as the administrator (command: c:\nexgen\tools\sysinternals\psexec.exe -accepteula -s -i cmd /c c:\nexgen\launcher\maintenance.cmd /force).
    1. warning: this will reboot system immediately - so save everything before hand
    2. the post reboot process may take long time if the system had skipped the maintenance for some time.
  3. Manually run the ITS customized wpkg client as the administrator (command: c:\nexgen\tools\sysinternals\psexec.exe -accepteula -s -i cmd /c c:\nexgen\launcher\ngs.cmd "operation=wpkg").
    1. you will see 2 command prompt windows open.
    2. this process may reboot the computer as well.

The maintenance task may take about 2 minutes to more than 30 minutes; so please plan ahead.

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After running the maintenance task, Some of the applications are still out dated, what I should do?

There are two possible causes of this issue:

  1. The maintenance task encountered errors while updating the applications.
  2. The specific applications are not managed by our wpkg scripts.

Please email helpdesk with the name of the computer and the applications; we will fix this.

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Special Topic: The Storage

What is my home space?

As a Computing Science graduate student, you have (at least) 2 home spaces.

First is your SFU home,

  • when you logon (ssh) to fraser.sfu.ca, you will see it by default
  • from a Windows system, you should map U: to \\sphinx.sfu.ca\username
    • please use "ad.sfu.ca\username" and SFU Connect password to logon

The other one would be your FAS home,

  • logon to any FAS network Linux system, you will see it by default
  • from a Windows system (regardless of the network location), you could map Z: to \\rcg-bluebell.rcg.sfu.ca\username
    • please use "ad.sfu.ca\username" and SFU Connect password to logon.

Here is a simple matrix to help:

Platform
binding domain
FAS Home
SFU Home
Linux
ADSFU
~
not auto-mounted (ssh to fraser.sfu.ca)
Windows
ADSFU Z:
U: (\\sphinx.sfu.ca\username)
Linux FAS ~ not auto-mounted (ssh to fraser.sfu.ca)
Windows
FASnet Z:
please map this yourself: U: (\\sphinx.sfu.ca\username)

Please save all of your study & research work on these spaces.

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What is the quota of my home space?

The quota for your SFU home is 10GB (Giga Byte) as of October 2015. You may find the quota information about of your SFU home on IT Services site.

The quota for your FAS home is 10GB (Giga Byte) as of October 2015. You may find the quota information about of your FAS home on this page.

Also, the research lab may have dedicated space for your research, please chat with the lab admin and your supervisor for more details.

(* NEW! *) SFU is now providing cloud storage: SFU Vault - check it out now!

Please save all of your study & research work on these spaces.

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Where I should store my files?

You should store all of your data (especially study/research work) on a backup-enabled, secured network file space. The data on network file space are being backed up and monitored regularly by professionals.

  • When you logon (SSH/SFTP) to fraser.sfu.ca, you will see the network storage space (SFU home space) which is provided by IT Services.
  • (obsolete) When you logon (SSH/SFTP) to a FAS network host (e.g. oak.fas.sfu.ca), you will see the network storage space (FAS network home space) for FAS users.
  • (obsolete) When you logon to any FASnet Windows computer, you will see your FAS network home space mounted as Z: (on bluebell).
  • (obsolete) When you logon to any FASnet Linux computer, you will see your FAS network home space mounted as /cs/???/username.
  • When you logon to any ADSFU Windows computer, you could map Z: to your FAS network home which is \\rcg-bluebell.rcg.sfu.ca\username. And you also have your SFU home (\\sphinx.sfu.ca\username) mapped to U:
  • When you logon to any ADSFU Linux computer, you will see your FAS network home space mounted as ~.
  • The research lab you are in may have special storage for you to use. Please confirm with helpdesk about its status before using it.

You may store shortcuts on your desktop. You may store unimportant files on local hard disk space and remove them after you've done with them.  You may have to store computational results on a local drive for speedy access... read the following warnings.

Warning:  regular maintenance of the lab computers may wipe out the data on local hard disk - this may happen without advance notice. So, do not store anything valuable on local hard disk.

Warning:  Although not often, but the computers did occasionally get stolen at SFU. So, do not store anything valuable on local hard disk.

You should NOT store anything illegal, stolen or that you would not want your mother to see on the systems provided by SFU or the School of Computing Science. Please. We do not want to have to deal with any of that.

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Where I should NOT store my files?

To ensure the best system stability and data integrity, please follow this guide:

When you logon to any ADSFU or FASnet Windows system, do NOT store anything on local hard disk; e.g. NOT under any of these folders:

  • Any folder under C:\
  • "C:\temp"
  • "Desktop" (with the exception of shortcuts)
  • "My Documents" folder, "Documents" folder
  • "Application Data" folder, "AppData" folder
  • Any folder within your profile folder, C:\Users\username\
  • D:; E:; ...
  • Any portable storage

When you use any Linux system, do NOT store anything on local hard disk; e.g. NOT under any of these folders:

  • /local-scratch
  • /tmp
  • /temp
  • /data1
  • "Desktop" (with the exception of shortcuts)
    • Please note: this is not on local hard disk, it is part of your profile. Since profile storage is very limited, NEVER save any files under profile.

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The file space on network is not big enough for my research work, what should I do?

(this Q&A is under review)

The Faculty, the School and your supervisor will try to provide sufficient space for your research.

Please contact helpdesk with questions and to ensure you are indeed saving your research data in the right place. Please provide detailed location information in your email.

Please do not use any non-networked or non-backup space for any important data or research work.

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I noticed there are lots of spaces on hard drive, can I use it for storing some of my files?

As we have clearly stated, we strongly against to use hard disks on the workstation to store your important research programs and/or data.

On the other hand, if you need storage for scratch - e.g. the intermittent data outputted from your programs or the huge data that could be downloaded again from the internet - you may try the following:

on a Windows system: c:\scratch

on a Linux system: /local-scratch

Please create a folder - named as your login ID - under this folder; then put all your scratch data under this sub-folder. (On a Windows system, the permissions on this folder will prevent the other people access your files.)

Please note: you may not save files directly under "c:\scratch", you must create your own folder under this folder and save files under your own folder. This is to reduce the potential confusion between users.

Warning: the helpdesk will not be able to assist you with anything under the scratch folder. And if the space is used up on the system volume, the sub-folders under the scratch folder will be the first ones subject to deletion.

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I have a portable storage unit with huge capacity; may I use it to store my research data?

At your own risk!

We have seen so many portable storage device failures. From our own experiences, we do not consider portable storage a viable storage solution.

Portable storage is prone to be dropped, lost or worse: stolen.

Portable storage may be used for transferring files (such as between home and campus, laptop and desktop) and it may be used as a local scratch space for computations that require it for speed.

At your own risk!

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May I use Cloud service for my research data?

It depends.

First of all, you may not use cloud to store any personal data that is protected under the Privacy Act. Research data of a student that does not contain any private information about others should be OK.

We'd advise anyone that wants to capitalize on their research to be wary of the end user agreements for many of these services - many of the agreements give the company unlimited rights to use, copy and benefit from any file you store with them.

Please read more on SFU's CIO's blog post about this issue.

And please email your personal cloud storage request for cloud storage to research-support AT sfu DOT ca. This makes it a more visible need for SFU which helps to drive the IT force to provide such service.

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Do SFU provide cloud storage for my research?

Yes!

**New ** SFU Vault is now in service and it is highly recommended.

Also, you may want to try out the storage provided by WestGrid  and ComputeCanada:

To gain access to this service, the leading faculty member of a specific research group must register first. This will subsequently allow the other members of this research group to register and gain access.

WestGrid has the front page of this cloud storage. So, please chat with your supervisor asap.

Please also checkout the IT Services' FAQ page about cloud computing.

**New **

SFU now has new agreement with Microsoft so most of SFU users will be able to use OneDrive storage for free! Please click here for more details.

If you need further clarification, please feel free to contact helpdesk!

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How to get Dropbox installed on my Windows workstation?

Please use SFU Vault instead.

As of August 18th, 2014, it is IMPOSSIBLE to install Dropbox client on to a Windows workstation binding to ADSFU domain (using roaming profile with folder redirection feature).

For some time now, people have trouble to use Dropbox on a Windows system which is configured to use roaming profile with folder redirection feature (which is the de facto setup of any enterprise environment). Also, it gives permission errors during the installation when the user has no administrative privilege.

The administrators of the enterprise are willing to provide this product for their users; but the vendor does go extra-extra-extra miles to prevent this product be used in any enterprise environment. If you would like to keep using Dropbox, please contact them directly.

You may want to check out this page for more programming tips.

We strongly recommend using SFU's ownCloud for every SFU researcher.

If you have a way to combat this, please email us - we need your help!

If Dropbox is the mandatory tool for your research, please ask your supervisor to purchase the license of Dropbox for Business for your research group. The last resort would be: ask helpdesk to configure your workstation to use local user profile - we don't recommend this option at all.

 

The (obsolete) workaround, which is not working for Windows system which is configured to use roaming profile with folder redirection feature.

In short, you must change the folder of you Dropbox folder.

  • preparations:

un-install Dropbox from Start Menu

delete the entire folder "%APPDATA%\dropbox"

  • install latest version of Dropbx (at least 2.10.28), you may find the installer here:

\\gaia.csil.sfu.ca\repository\misc\dropbox\0_install_this_first\Dropbox-2.10.28.exe

when the "Run as" windows shows, select "Current user" - warning: never any other user.

in the warning window about missing features for non-admin users, click "Yes" to continue.

click button "install" to start.

logon to your Dorpbox account, then click the "Advanced settings"

for "Dropbox location" please "select a location for your Dropbox folder", specify the location as:

c:\scratch\yourusername

warning: any other folder is WRONG.

follow the rest steps to finish the installation.

If you plan to download the installer on your own, please do NOT use the official Dropbox site, visit this external site and get the offline installer instead!

A very common issue: the system shows there is no enough space; in general, it means that you have used up your profile storage, please find the instructions on how to clean it up.

The (obsolete) workaround, which is no need now.

For some time now, people have trouble to use Dropbox on a Windows system which is configured to use roaming profile with folder redirection feature (which is the de facto setup of any enterprise environment). Also, it gives permission errors during the installation when the user has no administrative privilege.

Here is the (obsolete) workaround (install an old version and upgrade it to latest one):

  • preparations:

un-install Dropbox from Start Menu

delete the entire folder "%APPDATA%\dropbox"

  • install an old-old version (e.g. 2.0.8) first, you may find the installer here:

\\gaia.csil.sfu.ca\repository\misc\dropbox\0_install_this_first\Dropbox-2.0.8.exe

when the "Run as" windows shows, select "Current user" - warning: never any other user.

in the warning window about missing features for non-admin users, click "Yes" to continue.

click button "install" to start.

in the "Choose setup type" window, select "Advanced", which means "choose your Dropbox's location and which folders will be synced."

in the "Advanced setup -Dropbox location" window, select "I want to choose where to put my Dropbox", specify the location as:

c:\scratch\yourusername

warning: any other folder is WRONG.

follow the rest steps to finish the installation.

  • then, install the latest version, use the same credentials, you may use this file:

\\gaia.csil.sfu.ca\repository\misc\dropbox\1_install_this_next\Dropbox-x.x.x.exe

please note, the new version will keep using the folder you just specified, which is exactly what we want.

If you plan to download the installer on your own, please do NOT use the official Dropbox site, visit this external site and get the offline installer instead!

A very common issue: the system shows there is no enough space; in general, it means that you have used up your profile storage, please
find the instructions on how to clean it up.

You may find more discussions on the internet; here is one of the pages.

You may want to check out this page for more programming tips.

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How to access my SFU home folder from my research Windows workstation?

You could easily map a network drive (we highly recommend using U: - it is the de facto SFU standard) to your SFU home:

The share: \\sphinx.sfu.ca\username

The username: ad.sfu.ca\username

The password: (your SFU Connect password)

If you plan to use it later, please check the re-connect checkbox and save the credentials.

On some of the systems, this mapping has been configured for you by default.

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List of the available storages for specific research labs.

If you are in a specific lab, you should be able to use these storages. To connect to these shares from Windows systems, please use "ad.sfu.ca\username" and your SFU Connect password.

The Lab UNIX/Linux path Windows Path
     
CompBio /cs/compbio  
     
DBL /cs/ddmlab \\rcg-bluebell.rcg.sfu.ca\ddmlab
     
DEAL /cs/deal \\rcg-bluebell.rcg.sfu.ca\cs-deal
     
DSL    
     
GrUVi /gruvi/home \\rcg-bluebell.rcg.sfu.ca\Gruvi_home
GrUVi /gruvi/Data \\rcg-bluebell.rcg.sfu.ca\Gruvi_Data
GrUVi /gruvi/usr \\rcg-bluebell.rcg.sfu.ca\Gruvi_usr
     
HCI    
     
NLL   \\rcg-bluebell.rcg.sfu.ca\natlang-e
     
SYNAR /cs/systems  
     
STL   \\rcg-bluebell.rcg.sfu.ca\stl-research
     
VML /cs/vml \\rcg-bluebell.rcg.sfu.ca\vml
VML /cs/vml2 \\rcg-bluebell.rcg.sfu.ca\vml2
VML /cs/vml3 \\rcg-bluebell.rcg.sfu.ca\vml3
VML /cs/vml4 \\rcg-bluebell.rcg.sfu.ca\vml4
     

Please let your lab admin know if you have no access to the lab storage.

And you could find more information on this page about the storage provided by RCG.

And please let us know if there are lab specific storages you are using but they are not listed here. TIA!

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Special Topic: Equipment Mobility

I need to move a device from one place to another; may I just move it myself?

It depends.

If the move is within the lab (could be different rooms, but not across campuses), you could inform the lab admin and you may do the move yourself. The lab admin will document the changes accordingly.

If the move involves another lab or across different campuses, please inform the lab admin, your supervisor and email helpdesk in advance. This is to ensure the safety and functionality of the equipment. No exceptions.

Please note: if this is a network device, it may not function normally after the move. In this case, please always email helpdesk in advance.

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I just moved one computer from another campus; why it is not working?!!!

This is by design.

You may not attach a network device to a random wall jack on SFU campus and expect it to work.

As you could see from reading this page alone, the SFU computing infrastructure is fairly complex. We (the IT people) try to provide most functionality with strongest security. In some cases, the flexibility has to give ways to security.

If you do need to move a network device across different campuses (sometimes even within the same campus; in the extreme case, within the same room), please let us know in advance. We will make sure the move is smooth and has minimum downtime for you so it won't impact your research.

If you have moved the device yourself, please email helpdesk asap. In your message, please give us all the details about this device, e.g. names, MAC address, former location, future location etc.

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Other Computing Resources

How do I print?

SFU recommends transferring documents electronically. You could generate a PDF file and it will be accepted globally.

For most of the computers on SFU network, there are pseudo/virtual PDF printers installed and you can generate PDF files with ease. There is no charge for generating PDF files.

If paper printout is a must, here are some scenarios:

At Burnaby campus, in the research lab, there should be a network printer available for you to print. Please contact the lab admin to gain access. For Windows hosts, please always use rcg-bluebell.rcg.sfu.ca and papercut4.mps.sfu.ca.

In CSIL@Burnaby and Common Room (TASC1 9401), please print to printer "New Lab Colour" or "New Lab Mono" from a Windows workstation ("NewLabColour" or "NewLabMono" from a Linux workstation) and release it - the charges will be deducted on your SFU printing account.

At Surrey campus, contact your lab admin.

Please note: these printers only support "letter" size paper (standard 8 1/2" X 11"). Do NOT use the A4 page format.

For more information on printing issue, please read through this document; and this page may help too.

Also,  RCG has this page on printing for all FAS users which is extremely useful.

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How do I burn CD/DVDs?

In Grad Open Lab, all of the computers are equipped with DVD burners. You may also use computers in CSIL.

In a specific research lab, please chat with the lab admin.  Most computers are capable of burn CDs and DVDs.

Please note: you are agreeing with the Copyright at the School of Computing Science while you are using any CMPT equipment.

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How do I scan paper/photos?

In Burnaby Common Room (TASC1 9401), we have a Konica/Minolta Multi-Function Device for scanning.

Please scan it to your SFU Connect email. Click here for more tips.

Please note: if you scan to a non-SFU email address and it fails, we could not assist you.

Please note: you are agreeing with the Copyright at the School of Computing Science while you are using any CMPT equipment.

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How do I photocopy?

In Burnaby Common Room (TASC1 9401), we have a Konica/Minolta Multi-Function Device for photocopying. Click here for more details.

Please note: you are agreeing with the Copyright at the School of Computing Science while you are using any CMPT equipment.

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I need more computing resources for my research, any suggestions?

In general, please contact your supervisor for this issue.

There are other ways to get more computation power:

There are High Performance Computing clusters for researchers of SFU and beyond; please check out this page. (Some old documents you may find useful on this wiki page.)  

SFU IT Services provide more research related services; please check out this page.

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I am using a laptop for my research; where may I get help?

You should visit this page when you use the School's laptops for your research.

Please note: we do not service personal computing devices for the graduate students.

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Can I get "free" software for my research on my personal computers?

Yes for some of the packages.

Through the Microsoft Imagine - former Microsoft Developer Network Academic Alliance (MSDNAA) program, Microsoft provides selected software packages to the academic users for free.  The School of Computing Science is a long time member of this MSDNAA program. Any student enrolled in at least one CMPT or DDP course in the current semester is eligible to get selected Microsoft software for free.

Even after your graduation, you may keep using the software you obtained from CS MSDNAA program - for your non-profit personal use. Just remember: after your graduation, we CANNOT help you regarding your past orders from MSDNAA. So, please keep the media and product keys safe and accessible.

Please purchase any MSDNAA product at $0.00 first and then get the copies. Please visit the "how to get software for CMPT courses" page for more details.

The School of Computing Science is currently partnered with VMware Academic Program (VMAP). This program provides access to licenses for select products for use in instruction and research. Please visit the "how to get software for CMPT courses" page for more details. The full details about this program can be found here.

* Important* IT Services provide some software for researchers as well; you may find more information here. For most of the packages, your supervisor must register first then grant access to you. Please note: ITS will provide support. The helpdesk of CMPT could not assist you in this case.

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How to solve issues with SFU AEM site?

The Adobe Experience Manger is the current SFU's content management system; many of SFU sites are running on this system.

At this moment, we recommend using Mozilla Firefox to authorize (edit and publish) your pages on SFU AEM site: https://author.sfu.ca

If you ever encounter issues with the site, please try to clear the history of the browser first - this should solve 95% of the issues.

Please visit this page for more support information.

(People sometimes refer the SFU AEM as CQ or CQ5.)

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About Thesis Defense, Presentations and Conferences

Where should I hold my presentation?

In general, you may use room TASC1 9204 on Burnaby campus or SRY4100 on Surrey campus. Please contact the Graduate Program Assistant for this matter - especially when other resources are needed for your presentation, before booking the room.

And please make the reservation early to avoid disappointment.

To find out more information on meeting rooms of CMPT, please contact the Graduate Program Assistant. You may want to check out SFU's Meeting, Event and Conference services for more options.

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Could you give me some tips on setup my presentation and/or thesis defense?

Here are some of the tips may help:

  • Contact the Graduate Program Assistant and then book the room and other equipment well in advance
    • It is highly recommended to discuss resource requirements before booking a room.
  • Prepare a computer which is free of malware, up-to-date.
    • you may book one from helpdesk
  • Consider backup plans while you plan the presentation.
  • Please book equipment through the Graduate Program Assistant. A complete list of equipment and detailed procedure would be very helpful.
    • Book the conference phone - the backup in case the Skype is not working.
    • Book a laser pointer.
    • Book a projector if necessary, most of our meeting rooms have projectors installed.
      •  One thing to be noted: the projectors only have VGA connector; it is your own responsibility to bring any adapters your laptop may require.
    • Setup Skype for video conference with people offsite. In general, you should use your own laptop and Skype accounts. Warning: if you use Skype, there is no guarantee in quality and reliability.
  • Please come to the room at the previous day to test everything.
    • There are multiple incidents that the user's laptop could not connect to the projector in the room.
  • Arrive in the room at least 30 minutes early and test everything before the presentation.

If you are not sure about the equipment, please email helpdesk.

You may want to check out SFU's Meeting, Event and Conference services for more details.

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I want to have video recording of my presentation, what should I do?

Please book a video camcorder with SFU's Audio Visual Services in advance.  There may be a charge for this service.

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May I reserve a computer for presentation?

Yes, please email helpdesk to make the reservation in advance. Please state which software you may need for your presentation.

We have a very limited supply of computers, first come first served applies.

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How do I make conference calls?

In Burnaby campus, you may book the Polycom telephone conference equipment (voice only) with the Graduate Program Assistant in advance if you plan to make conference calls. Here is the manual for this equipment.

If the call is long distance, please book the room TASC1 9204W and hook up the conference-call-ready phone (to wall jack 10-28). Click here for more details.

Use Skype is not recommended since the quality is not guaranteed. And we could not guarantee the wireless access either. So, please always book specialized conference equipment in advance.

If you prefer a location outside of the School of Computing Science, here are some other choices:

the Meeting rooms at the IRMACS Centre (There may be a charge for using this service.)

the Thesis Defense Room of SFU library which can be booked.

You may want to check out SFU's Meeting, Event and Conference services for more details.

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Special Notes for TA/TM and Sessionals

Where I should hold my office hours?

It really depends. Please contact the instructor.

In general, you should hold your office hours in CSIL. If so, please use the TA Booking system to book your time slots and room/area. And please remember, you are entitled to have 10 minutes coffee break within each TA hour you hold.  

Please note: if you hold your office hours in CSIL, you need to follow all the CSIL policies;  including: NO FOOD OR DRINK, NO GAMING. Please inform the students about the policies.

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May I hold my office hour in grad open lab?

No.

The grad open labs are for grads to study and do research work; quietness is one of the essential requirements.

Since the undergraduate students do not have access card to the grad open labs, constant interruptions will occur.

By the same token, you may NOT hold your office hour in any research lab either.

It is highly recommended to hold your office hour in CSIL.

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Which computers I should use for my TA/TM job?

In general, you should use the computer provided in the room/area you booked for your TA/TM.

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How do I print for my TA/TM job?

If you need to print multiple copies of the single file:

Please print one copy first, and then photocopy this printout as the original on the MPS devices - just remember to use the special copier code issued to you for the specific course.

If you need to print many different files (e.g. submitted assignments):

(under review) Please print to the "New Lab Mono" or "NewLabMono" and release the jobs in CSIL.

Just a reminder: ask students to submit paper copy is more efficient if the TA has to print out each electronically submitted file.

If you don't have the code, please inform the instructor so it could be issued.

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I want to make hundreds of paper handouts, can someone help me?

First of all, there are many ways to publish electronically and get the students notified.

If you have to make large number of pages printed on paper, you could print or photocopy.

If this is for your TA/TM job, please remember to use the copier code issued to you for the specific course.

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Which web pages should I read to help me on my TA/TM job?

The CMPT courses heavily rely on using the CSIL. Go through all the CSIL FAQ pages will help you answer many questions.

And please guide students to read these pages; this will reduce your workload considerably.

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I am a sessional of a CMPT course, how to get the course setup?

1) In general, the course web page will be linked from the Course Central, the default URL for this course will be:

http://www.cs.sfu.ca/CourseCentral/???/username

Where ??? is the course number. There is a placeholder index.html file there, which you can replace when the site is ready. One important thing to be noted here is: the file/folder names should not contain any space - otherwise, unexpected results will occur.

To contribute to this default course web page, you may do one of the followings or both:

. ssh/scp to a Linux terminal server (e.g. rcg-linux-ts2.rcg.sfu.ca), the folder would be:

/fas-info/cs/CourseCentral/???/username

. from a Windows system on the SFU network, map a drive to:

\\rcg-bluebell.rcg.sfu.ca\csweb\CourseCentral\???\username

Please note: you may also use other web space and redirect there or ask for the link on the list of course home pages to be changed. Please email helpdesk for assistance.

2) The maillists are set up automatically for all courses. Please see the maillist Q&A page for more details.

3) To setup the course online submission system on https://courses.cs.sfu.ca:

create an activity

then on the activity's main page, there's a "configure submission" link to use for the ones where you want students to submit online

4) To setup a wiki page for the course, please visit https://courses.cs.sfu.ca

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Miscellaneous

How to capture video clips?

Please use CSIL multimedia workstation. Click here for more details.

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I cannot find certain device/software in the lab, what should I do?

First of all, please search the software as we instructed in the previous Q&A, the result may surprise you ;)

If you think an extra piece of software and/or device should be in the Grad Open Lab, please email helpdesk.

Please note: if the software is mainly for research, please contact your supervisor to have it on your research lab computers.

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The lighting/heating/power is not working in my lab, what should I do?

For minor issues you can contact SFU Facilites Services directly by submitting a request here: https://fmrequests.sfu.ca/

If the issue is more complex, reoccurring or not getting resolved, please contact helpdesk. You may also report in person by visiting the CS general office.

In all cases where you lose AC power to the computers, please let helpdesk know so we can investigate.

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I would like to book a room for a meeting, who should I contact?

Please email the Department Secretary.

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I don't have enough power outlets around my desk, what should I do?

Please email helpdesk and wait for assistance. And please also let your supervisor know so funding could be provided if there is cost associated with this.

We understand the needs for powering up personal computing devices, but we also want to ensure the safety of you and everyone at SFU. Please allow us to find ways to safely accommodate your needs.

Special notes: the following actions are NOT permitted and will not be tolerated:

  • daisy-chain power bars
    • If "daisy chained" power bars are discovered during routine inspections, they will be immediately disconnected.  In addition, it will be noted on the inspection form, and a follow-up inspection schedule may be prescribed to monitor the situation. 
  • plug a non-computing device to the power panel (or power bar) which hosts computing devices.
    • This means you must not plug heater, microwave, kettle, fan etc. into the same power bar or same power outlet or power circuit which has any computing device on it. Please note: every power outlet is clearly labelled.  If two or more power outlet label numbers match, it means they are on the same circuit!
  • move a power bar to a different location or attach additional power bar to any power outlet.
  • use power extension cords with power bar (unless this is setup by helpdesk after reviewing the electrical load)

Please check out the official guidelines on Canadian government site.

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I would like to take a lab computer home for my research, what should I do?

The School provides most flexible options for researchers; but due to the complexity of the equipment ownership, such request must come from a faculty member to the helpdesk. The Manager of Research & Instructional Computing will investigate the request and answer you.

So, please always talk with your supervisor with your proposal in advance.

And when you leave the School, the take-home equipment must be returned in good condition.

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Contact us!

Having comments, suggestions, inquiries and more questions? Contact us!

Please click here and use the best practices to get assistance from helpdesk.

 

Last updated on 2017.09.01