Computing Resources FAQ

Users may of course use their desktop machines for all of their work. In addition there is a pool of Linux compute servers (, accessible through slurm) which can be used for intensive computations. For remote access and for general application computing, we also maintain login servers (; we request that you do not run CPU-intensive computations on these machines.

Remote users, please note that individual desktop machines are not guaranteed to be online at all times. Machines may need to be shut down for maintenance or may even be replaced for various reasons. The cluster and login services are guaranteed to be available.

Several classes of file storage space are available within the department, the main distinction between them being the types of backups performed on them. When storing files, the user should consider the purpose of the files; the user's home directory is quota-limited, but this space is also comes with the highest guarantee of availability and data protection. It is not the best choice for large, temporary files. For large temporary file space, please consider /usr/xtmp or the /var/tmp/local area on your desktop machine. Research projects will often maintain large storage spaces in the /usr/project hierarchy; please contact your advisor about gaining access to this space.

Most filesystems in the department have snapshots, a type of online backup, from which the user can retrieve files on their own. Snapshots are taken at intervals during the day, as well as nightly and monthly.

For filesystems which do not have snapshots, users can submit a request to the Lab Staff to retrieve files from our tape backups.

Users may bring in their own machines and request access to the untrusted network. Do not disconnect department machines from the network!. Placing your own machine on the incorrect network will generate an alert to the Lab Staff and that network port will be deactivated.

The department no longer maintains a wireless network, but instead relies upon the Duke OIT wireless network.

Students and faculty may also choose to administer their own department-provided desktop machines. Users interested in this option should first contact the Lab Staff; changes must be made to the machine and it's network before it can be handed over to the user. The Lab Staff can provide OS installs from a limited choice of options, but the user will be responsible for all machine administration. Users should not remove the machines from their office.

On the trusted Linux machines, the Lab staff will generally be happy to globally install whatever software is needed. If the user's requirements cannot be met this way, the desktop machine assigned to the user can be turned over to their full control. The Lab staff will provide as much help as reasonable in setting the machine up, if desired.

In addition OIT provides a list of site-licensed software, available to the Duke community. Any software not covered by these options will generally need to be purchased by the user, or will require consulting with the department managers.

Generally there are at least 2 public printers on each floor. are encouraged to notify the lab staff during office hours if a printer is not working. Printing paper and other printer supplies can be obtained the administrative assistant on the first floor, additionally the administrative staff on each floor may have access to supplies for the printers on the floor they are located on.