Dispatches From The Geeks

News and Announcements from the MCS Systems Group

CELS Systems Has Moved

By now you’ve probably noticed that the Argonne Service Desk moved from building 240 over to the old Credit Union building (233).  It’s been happening in bits and pieces but the CELS Systems team has just finished moving down to that end of the building (far west end of the second floor).  I thought I’d take the opportunity to make up some questions that I am going to pretend you’ve asked me, and come up with really good answers for them.  Which should be a given, since I’m not going to make up a question I can’t answer.
How can I get help?
Pretty much the same way you always did.  You can contact the Argonne Service Desk via phone (630-252-9999), you can send e-mail to help@anl.gov, or you can visit them in person.  Previously everyone else at the lab had to walk here to 240. Now we also get to enjoy a walk/ride/jetpack ride over to their new digs.
If you want to reach CELS Systems for support, it’s the same as it ever was.  Drop us an e-mail to help@cels.anl.gov, or give us a call at 630-252-6813.  We still don’t have a physical staffed helpdesk, so coming by the offices should be a last resort.  It’s not that we don’t like you (because, really, we do!) but we don’t have any guaranteed hours in those spaces, or we might be in meetings, or having a sand castle competition in the atrium.
With many problems you have, we may be able to fix it entirely remotely.  And if we can’t, then we’ll come to you.  If you don’t have a desk for us to visit, we can schedule a time to hang out in the CELS Systems Interaction Area, which is conveniently close to our new offices.  We’ve got a desk, power, network, and a couple of chairs so we can get you taken care of in no time.
Where is the CELS Systems Interaction Area?
It’s on the far west side of the second floor, in A pod, just outside offices 2110 and 2109. 
How do I drop stuff off or pick stuff up?
If you’re picking up a laptop, we’ll schedule a handoff for both picking up and dropping off to make sure someone is around.
What about if I need a USB dongle, or HDMI dongle, or power dongle?  I just like saying dongle.
We’ve got a self-service section in the Interaction Area.  It’s got popular dongles (oh, that is fun to say) and other less expensive items you may need.  You can take or borrow anything in that top section.
We’ve also got another section below that which will be locked off-hours, but during the day you’ll be able to come get more items that we don’t feel comfortable just leaving out all the time, such as power supplies, charging cables, thunderbolt cables, etc.
If you take something, just drop us a line at help@cels.anl.gov to let us know, especially if you take the last of something.
We’re working on a solution for you to securely be able to drop off laptops and other borrowed items even when nobody is around.  More on that as it develops.

Written by Craig Stacey

October 13, 2019 at 2:05 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Argonne Account Notice

I apologize for the wordy nature of this notice, and the dry tone.  I try to dress these things up and make them a more entertaining read, but there’s a lot of information to convey and I don’t want any of it to get lost.  Hang out until the end for a fun joke to make it worthwhile.
This information is applicable to anyone with an MCS account (aka a CELS account), largely based around the MCS/CELS linux environment (which we’ve started lovingly referring to as the legacy environment), as well as LCRC users, since we’re unifying these environments to enable easier integration across the entire CELS computing infrastructure.  This is the first merger of this type we’re doing, and it’s pretty exciting, because it opens a lot of possibilities.
So, let’s dive in.  We’re in the last stages of rolling out the new CELS General Compute Environment (GCE), which will eventually replace the legacy environment.  We’re waiting on the account management software (more on that later), but we can still get a head start on things.  One of the requirements for the new environment is that it uses Argonne accounts instead of MCS or CELS accounts.  As such, if you don’t have an Argonne account, you’re going to need one.
The process and policy for getting an account for non-employees is fundamentally the same as it always was, but the interface looks a bit different.  But at the high level it remains:
  • Visit the account application link and agree to the Computer User Policy
  • Specify who your Argonne sponsor is (must be an Argonne employee), and specify why you need the account
  • Fill out the account identity info
  • Sponsor will get notified and approve
  • Account created
  • Account comes up for renewal every year
There are extra steps in there for foreign nationals, but that’s also the same process we’re currently following.
In order to use GCE, you must have an Argonne account.  In order to use LCRC resources, an Argonne account will be required by January 1, 2020.
In December of 2019 we will be introducing our new account management system (Userbase 3), which will manage both GCE and LCRC access.  This system is how you’ll request access to the various projects, resources, systems, groups, and other entities in both GCE and LCRC.  In order to login, you will use your Argonne account.  We’ll send more details on this when the rollout is ready, but it would be a good idea to get an Argonne account now if you don’t already have one.
I’m going to split out the details on the new process for Argonne employees and non-employees (collaborators) below.  Feel free to skip to the relevant section, but it won’t hurt to see both sides, so you’ll understand the process.  This process is documented at [link goes here].
For non-employees:
You’re getting this mail, so you already have an account with us.  This means you’ve already gone through this process once already, though the aesthetics are a little different.
I want to point out we can’t simply import the data and carry everyone over.  There’s a lot of stale data, and the backend systems are entirely different, even though they follow a similar process.
The link to apply for an Argonne Collaborator account is at https://apps.anl.gov/registration/collaborators and is accessible from anywhere.  You will need to use the official Argonne e-mail address of your Argonne sponsor.  If you don’t know it, you can contact your sponsor directly and ask.  If there’s some reason that doesn’t work, let us know at help@cels.anl.gov and we’ll figure it out with you.
These Argonne Collaborator accounts are annual and can be renewed by the sponsor each year.  More details on the account life cycle will be in the documentation linked above.
For Argonne employees:
Argonne employees and affiliates should already have an account.  If you’ve got an active badge, you likely have an account, and are entitled to one if you don’t already have one.  If you’re unsure as to whether or not you have an Argonne account, you can check at https://mypassword.anl.gov.  It’s the same account you use to login to your e-mail account and other Argonne apps.
When you join GCE, you will login using your Argonne credentials.  When you login to LCRC after the new year, the same applies.  Remote access rules regarding SSH keys and One Time Password remain unaffected.  Account management will be handled through Userbase 3 (link to be announced when it’s live), and will use Argonne logins.
You can invite collaborators via the Cyber Gate Pass app.  You will also approve, reject, and renew accounts in this app.  The rules for sponsorship remain largely unchanged. You can find details on the Cyber Gate Pass application, rules,  and processes here: http://inside.anl.gov/tools/applications/cyber-gate-pass (internal access only).
The last bit:
We will send updates on the process of this rollout as it progresses.  We will very soon be seeking out early friendly users to dive into the environment and tell us what’s missing.  If you’re in EVS, you’re already in there, so good for you!  We’re still writing up the documentation on the default policies and such for this environment, but it’ll be all announced and available on https://virtualhelpdesk.cels.anl.gov as soon as it’s completed. 
Okay, the pithy joke.  What do you call a pig with three eyes?
Piiig.
Thanks, I’ll be here all week, tip your waitstaff.

 

Written by Craig Stacey

October 13, 2019 at 1:53 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Newsletter mailing list

Hi, everybody!

We’ve got a bundle of announcements coming in the next few weeks, and I want to try to keep this systems-announce list low traffic, reserved for important announcements that affect all of our users such as downtimes and other critical information.

We already have a blog and twitter (linked at the bottom of this message), but for those of you who like to get these things in e-mail, we’ve set up a new mailing list: dispatches@cels.anl.gov. You can subscribe to it by sending a message to dispatches-join@cels.anl.gov or you can visit https://lists.cels.anl.gov/mailman/listinfo/dispatches, whichever you prefer.

It’s entirely voluntary, and it will be used for more informational posts. Everything that gets posted to our blog will also get sent to that list.

Just trying to keep the traffic on this list a bit lower, since employees and affiliates in CELS are automatically added to this list whether they like it or not. Next week I’ll be making some announcements on new services, upcoming changes, and other information that’s not super critical, but good to know.

Thanks, and have a good weekend!

Written by Craig Stacey

October 4, 2019 at 11:36 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Data Center work complete

The previously announced Data Center outage (https://mcssys.wordpress.com/2019/08/13/building-240-data-center-outage-5pm-sep-6-sep-9/) is complete. 

At this point we’ve got the MCS/CELS Linux environment powered back up and operational. The BIO environment was back by 1:30 thanks to early availability of power in that part of the data center.

Systems administrators of other more targeted systems will announce when they are back up on the appropriate mailing list.

The work accomplished this weekend included some necessary work with real beneficial results including bringing the building’s water chillers back online (so we now have 2 sources of chilled water), and the replacement of our failing UPS system with temporary UPSes (which you can see parked in trailers outside the east side of the data center). This will allow us to have reliable battery-backed UPS power to ride the gap from now until our new UPSes come online when the data center expansion comes online.

Thanks for your patience!

Written by Craig Stacey

September 9, 2019 at 5:59 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

COMPLETED: GitLab maintenance window

Maintenance of our GitLab services has been completed. Please let us know if you encounter any issues by emailing help@cels.anl.gov

– CELS Systems

Written by Craig Stacey

August 27, 2019 at 12:20 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

STARTING: GitLab maintenance window

Beginning work to update our GitLab services at
https://gitlab.cels.anl.gov and https://xgitlab.cels.anl.gov

Services will be disrupted during this maintenance window.

Service is expected to be restored by 13:00 CT and may be available sooner than that.

We will send a followup email upon completion of the work.

– CELS Systems

Written by Craig Stacey

August 27, 2019 at 12:00 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

GitLab maintenance window 2019-08-27 from 12:00 to 13:00 CT

A maintenance window of our GitLab services has been planned for 2019-08-27 at 12:00 CT in order to update the software.

GitLab services provided by gitlab.cels.anl.gov and xgitlab.cels.anl.gov will be unavailable during maintenance.

Service is expected to be restored by 13:00 CT, and may be available sooner than that.

If this window poses undue inconvenience please let us know, we can reschedule if needed.

– CELS Systems

Written by Craig Stacey

August 26, 2019 at 9:22 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Building 240 Data Center Outage, 5PM Sep 6 – Sep 9.

The building 240 Data Center cooling outage is set for Saturday, September 7 through Monday, September 9, inclusive. The expectation is that the work will be complete on Sunday, September 8, but we have to allow a day as a contingency. The building’s water-cooling system was taken down just prior to the construction of the building extension, and since then we’ve been running on the lab’s chilled water supply. This was a temporary arrangement, and we now need to revert to due to capacity issues related to other systems coming online. This work requires that the cooling for the data center will be offline during this time while the building management brings the relocated cooling system back online.

This affects the entire MCS Linux environment, including desktop workstations and home directories. It also affects the BIO file services (Y drive and X drive for linux computers). We will be powering these systems down beginning at 5PM on Friday, September 6 in order to be fully shut down for the early morning shut-off on Saturday. We advise you to move what data you need into Box before the work takes place so you can access it during the outage if required.

Services we provide which do not use your MCS home directory will not be generally affected. Some web services may see a brief service outage over the weekend as we take the opportunity to migrate to newer hardware, though we will keep these as low-impact as possible.
It is the hope of CELS Systems that if the work is completed in the expected window, we can start bringing computers and servers back online Monday morning in short order. However, it may not happen until later in the day depending on the state of the cooling system work. For planning purposes, the safe bet is to presume the workstation environment may not be available until Tuesday, September 10, though we will do everything in our power to make sure that’s not the case. We will send an announcement if we will not make the Monday morning window.

Expect other announcements from the operators of affected systems such as LCRC (Bebop/Blues), ALCF, Magellan, and others. We will send a reminder to this list prior to the outage. Thank you.

Written by Craig Stacey

August 13, 2019 at 9:46 am

Posted in Uncategorized

COMPLETED: GitLab maintenance window

Maintenance of our GitLab services has been completed. Please let us know if you encounter any issues by emailing help@cels.anl.gov

– CELS Systems

Written by Craig Stacey

July 30, 2019 at 12:32 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

STARTING: GitLab maintenance window

Beginning work to update our GitLab services at
https://gitlab.cels.anl.gov and https://xgitlab.cels.anl.gov

Services will be disrupted during this maintenance window.

Service is expected to be restored by 13:00 CT and may be available sooner than that.

We will send a followup email upon completion of the work.

– CELS Systems

Written by Craig Stacey

July 30, 2019 at 11:59 am

Posted in Uncategorized