Dispatches From The Geeks

News and Announcements from the MCS Systems Group

CIS Maintenance Weekend December 4th-6th, 2015

Please see the below announcement from CIS. There will be no impact on CELS systems.


Argonne’s quarterly IT maintenance weekend is scheduled for Friday, Dec 4th, thru Sunday, Dec 6th.

We are patching and upgrading our major application databases (Oracle, SQL, and MySQL) during the maintenance weekend. In addition, maintenance to systems not affected by the database work will also be performed.

Services Impacted: (> 4 hour maintenance length)

· All business systems and web applications will be unavailable throughout the duration of the maintenance weekend.

· Sharepoint site access (Dec 4th 5pm- Dec 5th 9am)

Services Impacted: (.5 to 4 hour maintenance length)

· Voicemail (Dec 4th 5pm- 7pm)

Services Impacted: ( <.5 hour maintenance)

· Paging

Services NOT Affected:

· Networking


· Wireless

· Email Services


CIS recognizes that the reliability and performance of Laboratory Information Technology resources is essential to our ability to carry out our scientific mission. Like the rest of our laboratory infrastructure, these systems require periodic maintenance, replacement and upgrades.


December 4th, 2015, 5:00 p.m. thru December 6th, 2015, ~5:00 p.m.

· We expect Sharepoint Services to be restored by 9am on December 5th. An “all clear” will be sent to Sharepoint Site Owners after verification is complete.

· We expect verifications to be complete by Sunday at 5p.m. and an “all clear” message will then be sent.

Reporting issues (after maintenance weekend):

· Use the “Request Help” button thru the Argonne Service Desk interface https://help.anl.gov (tickets will be addressed by the Service Desk at the start of business (7:30am) on Monday, Dec 7th.

· Contact the Argonne Service Desk by phone at the start of business (7:30am) on Monday, Dec 7th.

Written by Craig Stacey

November 23, 2015 at 5:16 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Systems Announce Some Mail Users Having Issues

This has just been received from CIS:

Email service should be restored to those whom were affected by the downed database. Search functionality will be restored hopefully by tomorrow morning once all the background processes have completed.

Should you have any further issues with your mail, please send mail to help@anl.gov.

From: <cels-systems-announce-bounces> on behalf of Tina Piersanti <tstanton>
Date: Monday, November 23, 2015 at 2:27 PM
To: CELS ANNOUNCE <cels-systems-announce>
Subject: [Systems Announce] Some Mail Users Having Issues

CIS has confirmed that they are having issues with a mail server. Only some Users seem to be affected by this issue.

More to come as we receive updates.

Written by Craig Stacey

November 23, 2015 at 3:18 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Some Mail Users Having Issues

CIS has confirmed that they are having issues with a mail server. Only some Users seem to be affected by this issue.

More to come as we receive updates.

Written by Craig Stacey

November 23, 2015 at 2:27 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Project fileserver outage

As you may have noticed, we’ve been having issues with the fileserver that hosts a number of project directories. We’re working on migrating the data to a new fileserver, as our attempts to get the old one stable have not been fruitful. We’re compiling the list of affected filesystems, but the short term answer is if the pathname has “proj-“ in it, it’s probably affected. Due to the amount of data we do not expect this to be back until tomorrow at this point. I’ll send updates as we have them.

Sorry for the trouble, and stand by for more info.

Written by Craig Stacey

November 3, 2015 at 11:40 am

Posted in Uncategorized

CELS Help Desk hours changed

Hi, folks.

Due to some staffing changes that have left us temporarily short-staffed, we need to reduce the in-person hours for help desk coverage at the CELS Help Desk. Until further notice, in-person Help Desk hours are Monday to Friday, 9:00 AM to 11:30 AM, and 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM.

We’ll still be monitoring for trouble tickets outside those hours, however nobody will be sitting at the help desk. As always, send your issues to help@cels.anl.gov (or systems@mcs.anl.gov) to create a ticket.

(As a side note, due to illness the HD won’t be staffed at all today, November 2. If you can’t send e-mail, you can see who’s available in their office of me, Max, Ti, or John Roberts.)


Written by Craig Stacey

November 2, 2015 at 9:57 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Systems Announce Exchange Server Issues Remain

The Exchange interruption should be corrected and mail should be accessible again. If it isn’t please restart your mail client or call the CIS service desk at 2-9999 Option 2.

Written by Craig Stacey

October 27, 2015 at 10:47 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Exchange Server Issues Remain

All, it seems the Exchange mail server issues have still not been resolved. We are following up with CIS to get a status update and an estimation of when things should be back.

Written by Craig Stacey

October 27, 2015 at 8:40 am

Posted in Uncategorized

RESOLVED: Some help e-mails not being received.

CIS tells us this issue has been resolved, however any tickets lost were lost permanently. So if you didn’t get any response, feel free to send a followup.

Written by Craig Stacey

October 7, 2015 at 2:34 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Some help e-mails not being received.

We’ve received reports of e-mails being sent to help@cels.anl.gov, systems@mcs.anl.gov, and help@anl.gov are not reaching the ticketing system. We’ve made CIS aware of the issue, and they are working on it. If you don’t get a response to your e-mail, you can try sending again, call the help desk at 630-252-6813, or use the self-service option with your Argonne account at http://help.anl.gov.

We’ll let you know more when we know more. There may be broader announcements from CIS on this as well.

Written by Craig Stacey

October 6, 2015 at 1:32 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Thinking of purchasing a Thinkpad?

Ever since IBM sold off its laptop line to Lenovo, I’ve been a little wary. Not paranoid wary, mind you, but as my role as a Cyber Security Program Representative (CSPR) at Argonne, I’ve been cautiously wary.

This wariness was not eased with each revelation of spyware installed on Lenovo laptops, including instances of it actually being installed in BIOS. I remained wary, but noted in each case the bad behavior was limited to the "consumer" line of laptops – the same lower-quality laptops they were making before the IBM PC/Laptop acquisition. I believed they would treat the Think line as sacrosanct, since it came with a customer base that was almost entirely business-based and one that was more sensitive to this type of behavior. I didn’t think they’d do anything to jeopardize that relationship.

Today, that changed. News came out of a Lenovo Thinkpad shipped with pre-installed spyware. This is a shame, since I’m still generally of the opinion that if you don’t get a Mac, the Thinkpad is the best laptop you can lay hands on.

Now this story (linked below), has a number of caveats, the main one being this was a refurbished unit. However, it indicates that a line Lenovo had previously seemed to be treating as sacred has been crossed. I don’t think, from a cyber security standpoint nor from a privacy standpoint, it’s a safe bet to trust the default software install on Lenovo laptops going forward.

Most users in CELS are running Macs, or are running Linux on their laptops. At this point (and I am carefully noting this is a personal recommendation from me and not yet a lab policy), if you wish to buy a Lenovo laptop, I strongly recommend replacing the default OS with a known safe build of either your own design or one supplied by us in Systems. If you’re going to install Linux on it, you’re probably just fine (though that’s by no means guaranteed to always be the case). If you want to run Windows, I’d recommend going with one of the Argonne-recommended laptops from Dell’s offerings. If you really want a Lenovo, and really want to run Windows, let us go over the machine before you take it on and make sure it’s running trusted software.

At some point, it wouldn’t surprise me if these spyware vectors changed and started to affect various Linux builds via BIOS infiltration methods, or possibly even hardware-level sniffing and capture methods. I don’t think it’s *likely*, but I wouldn’t be surprised.


Lenovo BIOS software installation: http://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2015/08/lenovo-used-windows-anti-theft-feature-to-install-persistent-crapware/

Thinkpad Spyware: http://www.computerworld.com/article/2984889/windows-pcs/lenovo-collects-usage-data-on-thinkpad-thinkcentre-and-thinkstation-pcs.html

Written by Craig Stacey

September 23, 2015 at 8:14 pm

Posted in Uncategorized


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