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What you should expect from a CLASSE-managed system

Computers provided by or purchased through CLASSE are the property of Cornell University. The CLASSE IT Group has been charged with installing and maintaining computing resources for CLASSE in a scalable way that conforms with Cornell University policy and best-practice guidelines.

We are responsible for over 1200 CLASSE-managed computers, and we configure them in a way that provides a uniform and stable computing environment across the whole lab. These computers include a common set of software utilities, access to printers, file storage and computational services, along with constantly updated protection against viruses and malware. The goals of this managed environment are to increase productivity for the lab, reduce maintenance costs, and facilitate compliance with relevant University policies.

Because of its specialized nature, the CLASSE computing environment is quite different from what you might be used to at home. Some examples:
  • Administrative access on CLASSE computers is restricted and, in fact, usually unnecessary. For information on requesting software installations, please see our SoftwareInstallPolicy.
    • In rare cases, when justified by a research purpose, people who need special access may be provided with elevated privileges, which allows software and device drivers to be installed without touching other sensitive system resources. Please contact the CLASSE IT group for more information.
  • We use automated processes to keep operating systems and software (including anti-virus programs) up to date. While these updates are beneficial to the lab as a whole, there are some practical consequences for users:
    • Performing these updates may consume significant computing resources, which can make your computer seem sluggish at times.
    • Except in emergencies, software and operating system updates occur overnight between Monday and Tuesday. These updates may be accompanied by a system reboot. Please see below for details.
    • When possible, we configure software as closely as possible to the vendor defaults for simplicity of deployment, stability of the software, and ease of use for the end user. As a result, desktop shortcuts will installed if they are part of the default configuration. When custom configuration is required in order to function in the CLASSE environment, we use the same configuration across all computers.

Updates and reboots on CLASSE-managed Windows computers

We are required by the Cornell University Policy on Information Security to apply software and operating system updates within 14 days of their issue. Unfortunately, on Windows computers, these updates often require the system to be rebooted.

Update schedule

Unless other arrangements have been made, weekly updates on CLASSE-managed Windows computers are scheduled to begin at 2:00 AM Tuesday mornings. Usually, updates are completed by 4:00 AM Tuesday mornings. Please avoid performing lengthy or critical operations during this time. In rare cases (e.g. machines for CESR operations), we are able to support alternative schedules for these reboots. Please contact the CLASSE IT group for details.

Details on reboots

  • During the weekly update period, Windows computers may be rebooted multiple times (at ~30-minute intervals).
  • For Windows operating system updates, a 15-minute on-screen warning is given before reboots.
  • For updates to third-party software, you may (depending on the software) see on-screen notices of impending reboots just as they are about to occur. Other times, no warnings are given.

Special considerations for laptops

  • Laptops that are not connected to a CLASSE network during the update period will not receive updates at that time. Instead, updates will take place the next time the laptop is connected to a CLASSE network. No automatic reboots will occur from noon on Tuesday until 2:00 AM the following Tuesday.
  • To receive updates while offsite, please connect to our virtual private network (VPN).
  • LaptopUsersGuide

Details on third-party software

Third-party software refers to any program not made by Microsoft. In order to minimize disruptions, we install updates to third-party software only during the Tuesday update window. Therefore, there may be a slight lag between when a software vendor issues an update and when it is installed on your computer. If you wish to receive a particular update before the next Tuesday update period, please submit a ServiceRequest.

More information

Topic revision: r8 - 25 Jan 2021, WernerSun
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