Dispatches From The Geeks

News and Announcements from the MCS Systems Group

Dispatch 2008.3: There’s another power outage coming

Hi, folks.  There’s a lot to cover here, so let’s just get down to it.Topics:

  • Building 221 Power Outage, April 26 2008
  • Mail server update
  • Printing update
  • Web update

Power Outage: April 26 2008Yes, you read that correctly.  We’re going to have a full building power outage on April 26, 2008.  We’ll get through this together, but first, let’s visit a happy place so we’re in the right frame of mind.You’re sitting in a reclining chair on a beach.  Waves are lapping in.  Your umbrella is just nicely shading the sun, while a cool sea breeze gently swirls around.  Off in the distance, you faintly hear a seagull.  Your refreshing beverage of choice is in your hand.Ahh, okay.  Now, we proceed.See, the outage on the 5th took care of the emergency and fixed the bad panels.  Originally, they wanted to take the whole building down and do the required maintenance on the whole electrial system for the building.  However, available labor and uncertainty over what might come back up shoved that aside, and only the essential work of getting our 4 power panels back up was done.Now the maintenance on the other panels downstairs needs to happen.  And to do that, the whole building has to be without power.  So everything’s coming down again.  On Saturday, April 26th, 2008.You know, I need to go back to the happy place for a second.Mmmm… Guinness.  (Hey, if Bailey’s has ads with people drinking Bailey’s on a beach, I can drink Guinness on a beach!)Okay, back again.  So, here are the details:

  • Date: Saturday, April 26th, 2008
  • Time: 06:00 – 18:30
  • What will be down: Almost everything.

It’s easier if I say what’s going to stay up.  Network, ALCF CryptoCARDs, database servers, and name service.  Normally, the web server would stay up, but we’re taking the opportunity to do some upgrades to the machine.  So it will be down for a portion of the time.  We’ll set up a dummy web server that shows we’re down for maintenance and will answer on all the addresses that the current server uses.  Right now, that list is:

As soon as the web server is upgraded, it’ll come back online.  I don’t expect it will be down for the full outage window, but things don’t always go as expected so… hang on, going to the happy place again.Hey, look, a hermit crab!  Neat!Okay, as I was saying, don’t be terribly surprised if the web server isn’t back online until the outage window is over.  You’ll be able to send mail, but you won’t be able to receive mail.  More on that below.This time, and I’ve confirmed this with FMS, the entire building will be without power.  This means no overhead lighting, no computers, no air conditioning.  In other words, stay away.  Also, since everything’s going down, it would be a good idea to log out and power down your desktop computers when you leave on Friday (the 25th, not this coming Friday).We’ll send out a reminder about this as it approaches.Mail Server UpgradeWe are truly in the home stretch here.  So much so, in fact, that we’re targeting the April 26th outage as the cutover to the new server.  But before we go into details, some more good news.Those of you who attended or watched my talk in January got a preview of the new mail service.  I also stated in that talk it would cost the division $8.00 per year per user for this.  A bargain, in my not so humble opinion.  Well, I’ve received word that the pricing has changed.  It’s now going to cost us, rounded to the nearest penny, zero dollars and zero cents.Yup, the lab’s decided that the Zimbra service is going to be part of their core services.  Hooray!  I don’t need to go to the happy place yet!We’ve got  another change from my talk in January.  Specifically, the password scheme.Originally, our plan was to have the e-mail service password be independent of any other passwords.  After discussions and looking over past correspondence, it’s become clear that what most of you, our beloved users, want is fewer passwords.  To that end, we’re going to have the Zimbra server use the Argonne domain password — the same one you use for logging in to inside.anl.gov and other Argonne services.  Ultimately, everything that we use a password for in the general MCS/ALCF/CELS core IT infrastructure will use that scheme.  There are some significant advantages to be had with this move, including the speed with which we can roll out some of the new projects we’ve been working on, like the new account management system, trouble ticket system, and, of course, the new mail server.I don’t want to bore everyone with the details here, so if you have questions or concerns I’m more than happy to answer them.  I will say we’re also working on alternate paths to allowing us to go to a single password, some of which involve using your MCS credentials (whatever they may turn out to be) to access lab services, and offering One Time Password (OTP) generators to people who’d like that level of security.Okay, back to the actual details of the mail server move.  I’m in the process of writing the documentation, but here’s what you can expect:

  • April 24th or 25th: Announcement of the new documentation, for those who want to get a jump on the game.
  • April 26th: Mail is down during power outage — this also applies to users who are currently reading their mail on Zimbra right now, like me.  When power comes back up, you’ll find your MCS mailbox is empty, except for a single message.  That message will contain the details on what you need to do to talk to the new mail server.

At that point, everything will be moved over to the new Zimbra server.  All existing mail and calendars you have will be on a single account.  Your e-mail address will not change (unless you want it to).  If you’re in MCS, your primary address will be username@mcs.anl.gov, ALCF will have username@alcf.anl.gov, and CELS will have username@cels.anl.gov — but you can also have a name in either or both of the domains you’re not in primarily if you’d like.Consider this a teaser, the full documentation will have all the details.We’re very excited about this.  We hope everyone sees why we’re so gung-ho on this move — a number of us are already living on the new server and are quite pleased.Printing updateWe’re also going to make our new print server production on the 26th.  This new print server will be used for all architectures, including Linux, Mac OS X, and Windows.  At that time, we’ll also be taking the old printers offline and retiring them, because the Canon copiers will be up and online as our printing/faxing/scanning solution.Here’s what’s going to change:

  • lw3, lw4, ljcolor, lw9, lw16 are all pulled from service and retired.
  • The copier/scanners in D255 (B & W) and A224 (B & W and color) become the primary printers upstairs in 221.
  • The copier/scanner in D168 (color) moves to where lw16 is currently located (alcove at C130) and becomes primary printer for downstairs in 221.
  • The copier/scanner in 360-l158 comes online as a printer/scanner.
  • All other existing printers stay as they are.  As those printers die, whether to replace them or shift the workload to one of the copiers is a decision made by consensus among  the user, supervisor and Systems.

The docs on using the new print server and the copiers as printer, scanner, and fax are coming soon.  Using these for printing is especially advantageous, since our lease on them includes toner — our only extra cost is the paper.Web updateIn the last Dispatch, I alluded to a seminar highlighting the use of the CELS Website Content Management tool.  Well, it’s happening.

  • Location: 221-A216
  • Time: Wednesday, April 23, 2008, 2:00 PM

If you’ve not yet played with the tool, or even if you have, I strongly encourage you to attend.  The seminar will be driven by Beth Cerny-Patiño, who built the forms and the websites that use them.  We’ll also be highlighting what a research group site or project site can look like when driven by the data entered into these forms.  It’s possible to have a group site that looks great, is up to date with the latest information, and without requiring the person entering that information to know any HTML or use any web authoring software.Part of what’s driving this is that we need to get the old web servers turned off.  So we need to get sites up on the new server, and the more sites that are driven dynamically from this data, the easier it is for everyone involved.  Right now, all the content on the main MCS site is driven from this data.  Likewise, the CI website, CELS website, and parts of the ALCF website are all also driven by this same data.  And, you’ll notice when you visit these sites, data applicable to multiple sites will show up on those sites.So come, check it out, ask questions!Well, that’s a lot to digest, so let’s just end this Dispatch here.  I’m still vaguely on target of having these updates come out monthly, so expect another one in May.And now it’s off to my happy place.  To quote the great Joel Hodgson, sometimes I go off into my own little world.  But it’s okay… they know me there.


Written by Craig Stacey

April 17, 2008 at 6:41 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with ,

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