Postgraduate Computer Administration
Our goal is to provide you with a computer system that is reliable and supports your research. If you are involved in Computer Science research or software development these two criteria can be in conflict; if you need to experiment with a computer then the system that you rely on for email and word processing could be part of your experiment! For many students we are able to provide a generic environment that will be reliable and support their research, but the following policy also allows for those situations where you may need more freedom, with consequent responsibilities, to administer your computer.
Students doing papers only (i.e. Masters Part 1 and PGDipSc) will have access to a pool of machines that are maintained in a similar manner to undergraduate labs. If any updates to the software on those computers are needed then it would normally be done as part of regular maintenance, or from planning for delivering the relevant courses. If students find that software is not suitably set up for a course, they should alert the lecturer who can arrange for appropriate changes to be made.
Students doing research projects (thesis students, honours students, and research assistants) will normally have access to a dedicated machine. However, this machine is still regarded as a shared departmental machine and good reasons would be required to restrict access to it. Because of licensing arrangements, there may be a fee that needs to be paid if a machine is for strictly individual use.
Some research projects may have special requirements for the setup on the computers (hardware and/or software). You should initially consult the head systems manager about the best way to meet these requirements; often we can find a simple way to achieve what is needed. If a simple solution cannot be found, you should make a brief case for what you need to the Chair of the Facilities Committee, with a supporting note from your supervisor. Things to consider include where funding would come from for any non-standard hardware or software required (usually your supervisor would help with funding).
Sometimes the request will be for "administrator" access to a machine to install and maintain additional software. For a one-off installation, we would normally assist directly with this. Ongoing administrator access is possible, but students need to be aware that the person administering the computer is entirely responsible for its stability, security, backup, keeping system patches up to date, etc. This page details the administrator responsibilities and how such administrator permission may be obtained, but it will only be granted in exceptional and necessary circumstances.
If a self-administered system fails in any way the technical staff can guarantee to restore it only to a standard setup, so you will need to take responsibility for any backup and reinstallation required from that point, since those changes would have been made originally by you and not the technical staff. Note that if you bring your own computer/laptop into the department, then ICTS policies on connecting these to the University network must be followed.