This week Google announced that all Google Apps for Education customers (such as UMN) will have unlimited storage available to them at no additional charge. The program supports individual files up to 5TB in size and will be available in the coming weeks.

Every file uploaded to Google Drive is encrypted, comes with the same high-level security that protects all Drive users, and remains the property of the individual or school who uploads it. The Google Apps for Education group of services is free to nonprofit educational institutions and will remain free of ads and ads-related scanning.

CLA-OIT's Loaner Laptop and Equipment Pool Moved to Rarig

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To streamline all CLA-OIT technology pick-up and drop-off to a single location, the CLA-OIT loaner laptop and equipment pool is now located in 508B Rarig along with video cameras. CLA-OIT staff manage the inventory and equipment is available to all eligible CLA faculty, staff, and graduate students.

Online reservations are currently unavailable, but will be active later this semester. In the meantime, reservations can be made by calling 612-626-5881. Equipment is available for pick-up and drop-off Monday-Friday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The CLA-OIT website contains additional information regard the types of loaners available.

As the University works to provide the latest technology to enhance learning, obsolete and failing platforms must be retired. During the 2015 Spring Semester, VCR and DVD players will be permanently removed from the general purpose classrooms in Folwell Hall. This is part of a multi-year plan designed to encourage the safe storage of materials online and to limit the upkeep on outdated platforms.

The Office of Classroom Management will oversee the projection system upgrades and removal of the video players.

Faculty and staff that require assistance in transferring their DVDs and tapes to a digital format can contact their department's relationship manager.

CLA OIT Research Support staff Tom Lindsay and Alicia Hofelich Mohr presented recently at the 2014 International Association for Social Science Information Service & Technology (IASSIST) conference in Toronto. Their presentation "It takes a village: Strengthening data management through collaboration with diverse institutional offices" impressed an attendee of the conference in such a way that she blogged about it.

Read the post at Data Pub: Blog about all things data from the California Digital Library

On Friday, May 2nd, IT will replace the anti-virus software on your computer. This process will include remote installation of our new product and removal of our current product on all Windows computers. There is nothing you need to do except allow the process to happen uninterrupted. The license for Symantec Endpoint Protection expires at the end of June and the University has purchased Microsoft System Center Endpoint Protection to secure our computers.

The installation is scheduled for 1:00 am on May 2nd. If your computer is asleep at that time, it will wake up and the installation will take place. If your computer is off or otherwise doesn't wake up, the installation will happen during your subsequent use of the computer. This update will also work while your computer is off campus. In either case if it doesn't happen right away, that's fine. You'll still be protected with Symantec and the Microsoft installation will keep trying periodically until it succeeds.

What might you see? If the installation takes place without you present, you may notice simply that Symantec's yellow shield tray iconhas been replaced with Microsoft's green shield tray icon .

If the installation takes place while you are at your computer, you may see a few messages to which you may not be accustomed.

A time-lapsed version of what you will see is available in this short video.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact the CLA-OIT Service Desk at 4-HELP (4-4357).

Oz No Longer

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Dorothy, along with the Tin Man, Scarecrow, and Lion, were terrified of the great and powerful Oz, until they realized it was only an illusion puppeteered by a very non-threatening man behind a curtain.

Too often, contacting tech support can be like seeking help from the wizard. In CLA, however, we take a different approach -- we enjoy talking to you!

Have general or specific questions about server infrastructure? Interested in a consultation about supporting a new research project? Work off campus frequently and prefer to schedule a specific time to meet? Connect with us in person, via phone, or in a Google Hangout.

To ensure we're ready to assist you, and so you don't have to worry about coordinating with a specific engineer, select from our calendar of appointment times:

Learn more about Google Calendar appointment slots

Look Ma, No Passwords!

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We are finally back to the blog after a long summer hiatus. Based on your feedback, we will use the blog to post some how-to articles addressing commonly asked questions, starting with this article.

CLA-OIT's Linux terminal server,, allows you to access dozens of other servers from within a single session. While the access is very convenient, it would be very inconvenient if you had to type your password every time you wanted to log in to a server. There is a very elegant, but technically complicated way, of removing passwords from the login process while still keeping logins secure.

We have documented how you can configure this for your login on, as well as provided links to resources describing the same process for OSX and Windows:

Configuring Public/Private Key Authentication

Feedback about the format or content of this article? Email us at

On the Farm

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On August 4, our Windows Terminal Server freya will be put out to pasture and replaced by a new Windows Remote Desktop farm. What does this mean for you? Instead of having only one server to handle your Windows computing needs, we'll have three (and possibly more). More servers means more CPU cores, and more memory available for your jobs. In fact, two of the new farm servers have 64GB of RAM and 32 cores each!

When you connect to the new farm, you'll be routed automatically to one of the Remote Desktop servers. If you already have an existing session on one of the servers, you'll be reconnected to it, wherever it may be.

The new farm will have a different name: Starting in August, connect to instead of Note that freya will be retired on August 4, at which point incoming connections will automatically be routed to the new farm.

Questions or comments? Email us at

News and Updates

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Recently we've been updating key applications running on our Linux and Windows servers. Read on for the major updates which include links to information about new features.


We've upgraded SAS on freya, the Windows terminal server, to version 9.3. We are still running SAS 9.2 on loki. Since loki is one of our older servers, and is already overloaded with the SPSS server software it is running, we have decided to move our SAS install to one of our new machines, apollo. This will be happening over the next few days.


We are now running Matlab 2012a on all our Linux servers and freya. We have not recently upgraded Matlab since there has been no demand for the newer versions, but we have received requests for version 2012a and decided that it was time to move on. We have also removed some of the older versions that we've been keeping around for backwards compatibility. We have done this because we needed to make room for new software installs, and also because some older versions stopped running under current Linux versions.


Stata has been updated to version 12 on all Linux servers.


Mathematica has been updated to version 8 on Windows and Linux servers.

Tell Us What You Think

As you use the servers, you might notice that the "default" versions you get are different from one machine to the other. Since we do not have a fully automated method to deploy these applications yet, we might have overlooked some servers for some of the applications. If you notice something outdated or missing, on any given server, please let us know.

There are many other applications that we are running on our servers. Most of these are specialized ones that we will only update when explicitly asked. If you happen to use one of these and would like it updated, send us a request.

Virtual Servers

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Years ago when servers had just one or two processors and only a couple of gigabytes of memory, it was not very easy to run more than a couple of computing tasks at one time. If you needed a server, you had to buy your own at a substantial cost.

In recent years, computing technology has grown by leaps and bounds. While our current generation of servers can have sixteen processor cores and almost a terabyte of memory, there is almost no task big enough to require this kind of power in our environment. Even the least expensive server we can buy, for around $4,000, has twelve cores and 16GB memory.

Now virtualization has become really useful--running multiple independent servers on a single piece of hardware, under the virtualization hypervisor, offers a way to make use of all the excess power in a modern server.

Our Server Infrastructure

CLA-OIT is running more than 120 virtual servers on 10 physical servers using VMWare's technology. This saves a tremendous amount of money and makes it very easy to create new servers. While it might take weeks to choose, order, receive, and configure a new physical server, we can create a virtual server in a couple days, (or hours, if needed).


Virtualization is a great convenience for system administrators, and wonderful news for accountants, but why might it be important to you? Imagine a research project or a class needs a single-purpose "simple" server that does not require a lot of horsepower. Spending thousands of dollars on a physical machine that will be 90% idle is not the best idea, and running server software on an office computer is even worse. Our no cost virtual server hosting service makes it easier to build prototypes, initiate pilot projects, or support classroom work that lack funding for hardware investments.

In addition to the ease and speed of creating new servers, virtualization offers great benefits in redundancy and high availability. For example, if you are using a physical server, any hardware failure means that you are dead in the water until the server is repaired. Since our virtualization environment in composed of servers working in tandem (in a cluster), a hardware failure is just an inconvenience--it is only a matter of minutes to move virtual servers that were running on a failed piece of hardware to the next available server. Over the next couple of years, we will be working to enhance this capability, so that our virtual infrastructure will be able to keep running even when the University's entire datacenter is unavailable.


One downside of virtualization is server "sprawl," which is what happens when it is so easy to get a new server. Five years ago, when we first started our virtualization project, we had fewer than 100 servers. Today, we have more than 300--most of them virtual. Even though we tripled the number of servers we're running, we haven't tripled our staff so we must find ways to make running servers easier. Standardization and manageability have become key points for our server design. When you request a virtual server we will ask you to follow our standards, and you might have to reconsider certain decisions to fit those standards.

Requesting a Server

If you have a server-related need, we want to hear from you--even if it is about a service we aren't currently offering. While a dedicated virtual server may be the right answer, we offer many options. In any case, our staff will go through an in-depth planning process with you to ensure we find the solution that best meets your needs.