Current news...



More machines in the German Cities cluster

Three more Dell GX260 systems have been added to the German Cities compute farm (also know as the Pentium 4 farm) bringing the total up to 22 machines; the names of the new machines are:
bielefeld
stade
ulm
There is an interesting rumour associated with the city of Bielefeld - it allegedly does not exist even though it is one of the twenty largest cities in Germany! Our thanks to Gunnar Pruessner for suggesting these names.

New applications packages in /usr/local

The latest versions of a number of popular packages are now available to those who mount their /usr/local file systems from the elvis Linux applications servers and these include:
  • OpenOffice.org 2.3.1 (32-bit only)

  • Intel Fortran compiler version 10.1.014 (both 32 and 64-bit versions)

  • Intel C compiler version 10.1.014 (both 32 and 64-bit versions)

  • Intel IDB (Integrated Debug Environment, 32 and 64-bit versions)

Note that the 32-bit OpenOffice.org application will happily run on 64-bit systems.

Is your screen cluttered?

Can't see what you're typing because the mouse pointer is in the way? Menu items obscured? That infuriating I-beam in the way in your xterm?

Help is at hand for those who find the mouse cursor hovering around when it's not wanted - enter unclutter! This is a small X-windows utility installed in /usr/local/bin for those who use the elvis applications servers and when activated, runs in the background of your X-Windows session and makes the mouse pointer disappear after 10 seconds of mouse inactivity. As soon as the mouse is moved, the pointer re-appears. To use unclutter, simply type the following in a shell:

unclutter &

and watch the pointer vanish after 10 seconds. (the '&' at the end of the command is important - it tells your shell to detach and run unclutter in the background). To stop unclutter and revert your system back to normal, typing:

killall unclutter

will work on most Linux systems; if this doesn't work on your particular Linux system, then try:

kill `pidof unclutter`

or if your system doesn't have pidof, then kill it the hard way:

kill `ps ax | grep unclutter | grep -v grep | cut -d' ' -f2`

unclutter works at the X server level so is independent of whatever desktop environment or windows manager you are using and will work with any of these. (Note: this handy utility is for those running Red Hat and other spartan Linux distributions - some better-endowed Linux distributions will already have unclutter installed).


Linux Matlab upgraded to R2007a

The networked version of Matlab served by the Linux applications servers (elvis1 and elvis2) was upgraded to Matlab R2007a (also known as Matlab 7.4) on November 8th. This is now the default version started by simply typing 'matlab' at a shell prompt - earlier versions are still available and can be started with the following commands:

matlab65 - starts Matlab 6.5 (release 13)

matlab71 - starts Matlab 7.1 (release 14)

Note that there is no proper support for X-windows in the 64-bit Linux version of Matlab 6.5 so this version will start up in command line (CLI) mode only on 64-bit Linux systems. (The 32-bit version of matlab 6.5 however is fully functional in both X-Windows and command line modes).

Users of older Linux distributions note: Matlab R2007a requires a recent version of Linux as it depends on certain newer libraries only available in later Linux versions. If you are using a system with an older Linux installation, please continue to use the previous version of Matlab 7.1, at least until your system is upgraded.

cathedral is now a general access Linux system

From Monday, November 5th, the Linux computer cathedral in the Huxley 613 open access room is no longer a member of the Maths Physics cluster. Instead it is now available for use by anyone in the Maths department and the default home directory at login will be the general Maths one hosted on the geometry2 server.

If you are a Maths Physics user, you can still use this system but you must login using your college username & password (which may be different to your Math Phys account) and once logged in, the default home directory will be the one from geometry2 rather than the Math Phys home directory on the ICT NFS server. You can then change to your Math Phys home directory under /home/icnfs/ma/i where i is the first letter of your username.

Math Phys users who still wish to log into a Maths Phys Linux machine via a remote connection should now use whistler instead - this system has an identical software installation to cathedral although it is not publicly physically accessible.

Closure of Imperial's Usenet news server

Although not widely advertised to members of the College, the ICT news server news.cc.ic.ac.uk was shut down on Friday, June 29th 2007. The reasons for this are not clear but those of you who use Usenet news can use the JANET news server instead and the address of the server is ic.jnrs.ja.net. All you need to do is to update your newsreader configuration, replacing news.cc.ic.ac.uk with ic.jnrs.ja.net.


Andy Thomas

UNIX/Linux support,
Faculty of Natural Sciences

last updated: 18.06.2008