CUSSP User's Guide

Spring 2002

A Note to All CUSSP Customers

Please have your machine name, CUSSP program type (1 or 2), and the machine owner's name available when contacting any of the CUSSP problem resolution services listed in this document, including the VCC Help Desk at extension 7777.

What is CUSSP and What Can It Do for Me?

The Campus UNIX System Service Program, or CUSSP, makes it possible for Rensselaer faculty and staff to receive local, reliable software and hardware support for their UNIX workstations.

As a CUSSP customer, you have the option of tailoring the support you receive to your own specific needs. For example, you can choose the DotCIO-Managed Systems program, a free service which allows the department to administer your Sun, IBM RS/6000, or SGI workstation. If your current machine's configuration differs somewhat from those in the Rensselaer Computing System (RCS), and you choose to act as your own system administrator, the Customer-Managed Systems option, which carries an annual fee, may be just what you're looking for. A third option, Time and Materials, provides assistance to you at an hourly rate.

CUSSP Representatives and Office Hours

The names, office locations and hours, and phone numbers of the CUSSP service personnel appear below.

CUSSP Representatives

Dave Bicknell VCC 311 276-6966

Andy Mondore VCC 311 276-8156

You may also direct electronic mail to

CUSSP Troubleshooting Policies

We encourage CUSSP customers and/or system administrators to stop by and visit or call the CUSSP support personnel during their regular office hours if they have a problem. If the problem requires that a CUSSP representative remotely log in to the customer's machine from the VCC, and the problem occurs during regular business hours, the representative's log-in time will not count against the customer's site-visit allowance.

However, if the problem does not occur during regular business hours, and the CUSSP representative does not deem the problem to be an emergency, the CUSSP personnel's time will count against the customer's site-visit allowance.

If the CUSSP representative deems the customer's problem too extensive to solve within the range of normal CUSSP office hours, the customer should arrange for either an appointment with the CUSSP representative in the VCC, or for an on-site visit by the CUSSP representative.

CUSSP On-Site Visits and Personal Consulting

As a CUSSP customer, feel free to arrange to meet with a CUSSP representative during their office hours to discuss any personal computing problems you may have, or if you need further information on software- or hardware-related support. You may also arrange to have your CUSSP representative make an on-site visit to your lab or office.

Such CUSSP on-site visits or personal consulting sessions will count against your on-site visit allowance.

CUSSP Software Support

CUSSP does offer software support services, but we request that you please limit your software support-related questions to the CUSSP representatives' office hours. (CUSSP will, however, make exceptions for emergency situations.)

General UNIX Consulting

Academic and Research Computing's student consultants provide general UNIX consulting to all Rensselaer faculty, staff, and students. If you have any UNIX-related questions, stop by the VCC Help Desk location, phone extension 7777, or send electronic mail to

Regular consulting hours appear in the Academic and Research Computing section of RPInfo. The department also posts any special consulting schedules in that section, as well as in both the hardcopy and on-line versions of The Kiosk, the DotCIO newsletter.

Some Basics to Get You Started

We realize that some of you may be unfamiliar with using the Rensselaer Computing System, and in light of that, we've presented you with some basic background system information, as well as assembled -- and answered --some of the more common questions we get from new users.

What is RCS?

RCS, which stands for "Rensselaer Computing System," consists of a system of networked UNIX workstations that use the AFS file system and the X windowing system. Its environment's design allows for easy use, without users needing to have any expert knowledge in the workings of the operating system itself.

Several hundred workstations -- including IBM Xstations, IBM RS/6000s, Suns and Silicon Graphics Incorporated (SGI) graphics workstations -- are connected to the campus network and are located campuswide. These machines have been configured in such a way that any file you create and save on one machine should appear and behave in exactly the same way on another workstation, regardless of type.

What Exactly is "AFS?"

AFS, which stands for "Andrew File System," refers to the network file system chosen for use as computing here at Rensselaer moved toward larger and larger numbers of distributed workstations across the campus. Basically, AFS was chosen over the original NFS (Network File System) because of its scalability and reliability in the workstation environment.

AFS works by providing access to files stored on remote file servers, located either here on campus or at other universities across the country. When an AFS user retrieves a file from one of these remote servers, a copy of it gets stored in that user's local disk in a disk cache. And since accessing local files is usually considerably faster than accessing files over the network, software performance often improves once the user has the file available locally.

What is My "Userid?"

Your "userid" (pronounced "user eye-dee") is a unique identifier you use whenever you log in to the Rensselaer Computing System. Typically, your userid consists of the first five letters of your last name, and the first initial of your first name. However, in the event that two or more people end up with the same userid via this method, the administrators who create the userid accounts add numbers on the end of each affected userid to make each one unique.

Can I Change My Userid Once I Get It?

To some extent, yes. You may obtain a userid request change form at the VCC Help Desk.

What Do All Those Mouse Buttons Do?

Unlike a Macintosh mouse, which has only one button, or a PC mouse, which often has two buttons, the mice on the Sun, IBM and SGI workstations have three buttons, and we realize that this can often confuse new users. Therefore, we've included the following figure, to illustrate each mouse button's functions.

What Are Some Standard Features of My Account?

What are System Bulletins?

System bulletins provide the ARC staff with a quick way of relaying late-breaking, important news to all RCS users. Very often, these bulletins announce recent software upgrades, and system shutdowns or reboots. Please keep in mind that these important announcements may not appear anywhere else, so it's important that you at least check for any system bulletins daily. To read a system bulletin, click the Read Bulletin button; the contents of the bulletin(s) will appear in the window.

Where Can I Print My Output?

The various campus computer labs house a number of printers, including color printers in the CII, Sage, and the VCC.

You can use the printerchooser application to easily choose a printer or to obtain information about a printer, including its queue name and location. To use the printerchooser, left-click on the printerchooser option in the RCS Applications menu.

Where Can I Get More Information?

You can check some of the following sources for more information.

Still Have Questions?

In closing, we want to remind you that CUSSP was created with you -- the customer -- in mind, and we want your CUSSP experience to be a pleasant and positive one. So please...if you ever have a problem, don't try to remedy the situation yourself. That's what we're here for! Instead, contact one of us, or another member of the staff. We'll gladly work with you, and take measures to ensure that your problem gets solved quickly and that it doesn't recur.

We hope that you find your computing experience here at Rensselaer to be a happy and productive one!

Dave Bicknell

Kelly Catelli

Andy Mondore

Chet Osborn

Your CUSSP Representatives