computer science


The departmental network

When you log onto a machine in one of the labs, you are initially placed in your "home" directory, which is an area where you keep all your personal files. This directory isn't actually stored on the machine you're sitting at. It is stored on a disk system which is physically attached to a file-server in the server room, and this disk is "mounted over the network" on all the lab systems. Many of the programs which you run on your local machine are similarly mounted (from the /usr/local disk). If the network connection between the lab and the server room goes down, you'll lose access to your home directory, and to quite a bit of other stuff. Naturally, we work hard to ensure that this doesn't happen. Unfortunately, since ITS "owns" and manages the network, there are some outages over which we have no control

So - no matter which computer you sit down in front of (whether it is in one of the Owheo labs or a remote connection from your home computer through hex) - your home directory will be physically, exactly, the same. If you delete files from your home directory while you are logged on to one computer, they will be just as gone from any other computer you log into. (You should make sure to have backups.)
A consequence of everyone's files being on the one big disk, is that, if one person fills up all the available disk space, nobody else will be able to store their files on it. This may well turn out to be tragic.

The machine which we provide in order that you can access your files from home - called - also mounts this disk system. So if you are unable to come in to the lab to work (e.g. if you are sick, or it is night, and there is not a bus service), you should still be able to access the files in your home directory. More details are available here.