Although we're still using the same access name (www.cs.grinnell.edu). we've actually upgraded from an older Web server machine (aiken.cs.grinnell.edu, 18.104.22.168) to a new one (baran.cs.grinnell.edu, 22.214.171.124). Enjoy!
On Thursday, November 4, in Noyce 3821, Jeff Leep 2011 will describe the deployment of a configuration management system, cfengine, that automatically checks for problems in MathLAN computers and then either fixes the problem or alerts the system administrator.
Refreshments will be served at 4:15 p.m. in the Computer Science Commons (Noyce 3817). The talk,
Managing the MathLAN, will follow at 4:30 p.m. in Noyce 3821. Everyone is welcome to attend!
On Thursday, October 28, in Noyce 3821, Martin Dluhos 2012 will describe one of the major system-administration projects he carried out this summer: configuring and using software that automate the installation of a new version of Debian GNU/Linux on the workstations in the MathLAN, in order to make the entire process less tedious and less repetitive.
Refreshments will be served at 4:15 p.m. in the Computer Science
Commons (Noyce 3817). The talk,
Squeezing the MathLAN,
will follow at 4:30 p.m. in Noyce 3821. Everyone is welcome to
The networked computers and printers that compose MathLAN are named after famous mathematicians, computer scientists, and physicists. The links below provide biographical information about them.
MathLAN's remote-login server is named for Leonhard Euler.
Our file server is named for Augusta Ada King, Countess of Lovelace.
Our mail, Web, and database server is named for Howard Hathaway Aiken.
The Web and database server supporting the College's athletic recruiting program is named for Norman E. Steenrod.
Our TWiki server is named for Cuthbert Corwin Hurd.
Our Network Information Service domain is named for Archimedes of Syracuse.
MathLAN's black-and-white printers are named for famous contributors to the art of typography, particularly the geometrical theory behind it:
Three research-lab computers that are not fully configured as MathLAN workstations are nevertheless served by our network and named as part of the .cs.grinnell.edu domain.
Some names previously applied to workstations and other components of MathLAN are not currently in use:
The Mathematics Local-Area Network (MathLAN) was created in 1987 to provide Grinnell College students in mathematics and computer science courses with a modern, accessible, well-stocked computing environment. It comprises about 175 workstations and five servers, running the the Debian distribution of GNU/Linux operating system. MathLAN supports a large variety of software for mathematics (notably MATLAB, Maple, and Mathematica), computing (the DrScheme programming environment, the Java Platform, the Eclipse programming environment etc.), and document creation and display (such as OpenOffice.org, Emacs, TEX, and Mozilla Firefox).
MathLAN has been developed to meet a broad range of curricular needs of both students and faculty:
GNU/Linux software includes programming tools that integrate various steps of coding, compiling, testing and debugging in a straightforward way. MathLAN supports compilers and interpreters for Java, Scheme, C, C++, Python, Perl, PHP, Ruby, Lua, Common Lisp, FORTRAN, Ada, Icon, and other languages, as well as a variety of programming tools and environments.
Our students and faculty have easy access to the major Internet information services (the World Wide Web, ftp, ssh, and e-mail). MathLAN's World Wide Web server provides access to more than fifteen thousand local documents.
High-resolution color graphics, driven by software that is both powerful and easy to use, make it possible to display data, functions, and mathematical structures in an intuitive way. These capabilities are used in a wide variety of courses -- pre-calculus, calculus, linear algebra, statistics, and modeling.
Our workstations provide enough processing power to run outstanding mathematical packages that perform algebraic, symbolic, or graphical operations on functions, statistical data sets, and other mathematical objects. The faculty of the Department of Mathematics and Statistics have successfully integrated these computing tools into our courses, particularly at the first- and second-year levels, with the objective of strengthening students' intuitive understanding of mathematical ideas.
About 1000 students, faculty, staff members, and recent graduates of Grinnell College currently maintain accounts on MathLAN.
Each classroom in the Department of Computer Science and the Department of Mathematics and Statistics contains a MathLAN workstation linked to an Eiki digital projection system, for presentations and demonstrations. In addition, five of our classrooms are equipped with student workstations, for use in class activities, laboratory sessions, and workshops.
We also support two open laboratories, each containing nineteen workstations (one of which can be similarly linked to a projection system when the lab is used for a class).
The open laboratories and one of the computer-equipped classrooms are open for student use from 8 a.m. to midnight on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Fridays, from noon to 6 p.m. on Saturdays, and from noon to midnight on Sundays. In the evenings and on weekends, a consultant is present to answer questions and provide general assistance.
A separate server room houses our servers for home-directory files, third-party software license management, remote login, e-mail, the department's Web, ftp, SVN, and Wiki sites, databases, authentication, and domain name resolution.
MathLAN was originally constructed with funds provided in part by the National Science Foundation, the Charles E. Culpeper Foundation, and the W. M. Keck Foundation, and was subsequently funded in part by the Instrumentation and Laboratory Improvement program of the National Science Foundation and by the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations.
The following policies of the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science supplement Grinnell's Academic Computer Use Policies.
MathLAN policies apply only to this department's network. When MathLAN equipment is used to access outside equipment, either in the College or over the Internet, then all ITS policies apply as well.
Violators of these policies may be prosecuted following the procedures outlined by ITS regulations or have their accounts deactivated.
We distinguish four categories of computer use. In descending priority, they are:
When the demand for equipment in the laboratory or computer-equipped classroom exceeds what is available, users engaged in activities of lower priority must yield to those requiring the equipment for projects with higher priority.
When a class has reserved the laboratory or computer-equipped classroom, only members of that class are permitted to use the reserved room during class time. Students not in the class may, upon consultation with the faculty member running the class, receive permission to use the reserved room.
Since MathLAN is a network, a user has the capability of running processes on several workstations at once. It is inappropriate for one user to interfere with the processing of others who may be running jobs of equal or higher priority. Similarly, it is inappropriate for a user to run jobs that generate so many messages over the network as to degrade processing for other users. It is also inappropriate to remote log-in or telnet to a machine on which another member of the community is currently working.
The workstations on faculty desks are for the use of those faculty members. Any student who runs processes on a faculty workstation without permission from that faculty member or a MathLAN administrator may have his or her account deactivated.
The Grinnell College Academic Computer Use Policies discuss sharing of accounts in sections III.A.1 and III.A.2:
The Department of Mathematics and Computer Science realizes that you may
share accounts when working together on a laboratory, and
permits such use. However, that is the limit of sharing. In particular,
no student may use an account without the owner of that account present.
The department does not forbid the use of Internet Relay Chat (IRC). However, such use must not violate the guidelines described in Grinnell's Academic Computer Use Policies. Furthermore, the department disallows the use of chat robots and proxy servers without prior permission of a MathLAN administrator. Such programs often result in decreased system or network performance and thereby directly affect other users, both local and remote.
According to the above policies, games running on MathLAN and played by individuals fall within priority 4, unless game programs are specifically assigned as part of a course or are part of project under faculty sponsorship. Thus, a game may be run on MathLAN provided that (1) others are not waiting for workstations for academic purposes, (2) the running of the game will not generate processes on machines used by others, and (3) the game does not significantly interfere with the message load over the network.
Since MUDs and other games involving the Internet utilize the all-campus router, such games are explicitly prohibited by ITS policy.
Students may not use the projection systems in the Department's classrooms and labs to show movies, except for academic purposes and with the express permission of the Department.
In addition to the reasons given above, an account may be deactivated by a MathLAN administrator if the administrator deems that the account is being used inappropriately or has suspicious activity. In addition, any account inactive for a year or more may be deactivated.
The MathLAN administrator will maintain the files of any deactivated account, either on disk or on backup tape, until the owner of that account graduates or otherwise leaves the Grinnell community.
At the time of an account's deactivation, the accounts owner will be contacted through his or her standard Grinnell e-mail account. A student's account may be reactivated upon request.