Campus UNIX Systems Support Program (CUSSP)


The Networking and Telecommuniations Group of the Division of the Chief Information Officer (DotCIO) provides software and hardware support for Rensselaer-owned faculty and staff UNIX workstations located on-campus through the Campus UNIX Systems Support Program (CUSSP) for software and the Rensselaer Computer Repair for hardware maintainence.

CUSSP offers workstation support tailored for your computing outlook and needs. If you want DotCIO to completely maintain your software, create accounts, backup your files, automatically update your software, and more, then the main CUSSP program, is for you. It's like having the DotCIO Networking and Telecommunications group work directly for you. You can automatically take advantage of all Rensselaer Computing System (RCS) developments right in your own office, with no system administration on your part! Best of all, this program is FREE!

If you prefer to administer your system yourself, or you already have a system administrator, but want the advantages of professionally-installed operating system upgrades, the ability to use RCS software if you wish, the expertise of DotCIO systems staff, and an electronic mail answer line, then the Time & Materials service, is for you.

This document describes the two CUSSP programs, including what kinds of systems each program supports, what services each provides, the respsonsibilities the customer has under each program, and each program's fees. This docuement also describes related DotCIO services that are available to existing and potential CUSSP customers.

Please note that while some or all of the administration may be free, there may be fees associated with operating systems, specialized software and licensing of software.

Program Descriptions

Program I: DotCIO-Managed Systems

This program is available to faculty and staff whose workstations are substantially similar to those DotCIO manages in its workstation labs.

The distinguishing feature of this program, from the customer's perspective, is that DotCIO assumes virtually full responsibility for software support of the system.

Supported Systems

DotCIO guarantees support for any of the following system configurations for the length of the contract. This support will be in place at least as long as one or more DotCIO-administered RCS labs are populated with this hardware.

A customer may have the following additional devices attached to the workstation, while still remaining eligible for Program I:

Note: For any hardware component, if that component has not previously been installed and integrated into an existing RCS lab or CUSSP Program I system, then the component must undergo a period of "integration testing" within DotCIO facilities, and/or installed on an DotCIO system before it can be added to the customer's system at the customer's location. This is the only way in which we can guarantee that a given component will work in the RCS environment.

Detailed Program Features

Additional Features

In addition to the benefits listed above, the CUSSP Program has the following features:

Program Fees

There is NO annual fee associated with CUSSP Program, although the Customer must fill out and sign a contract annually. In addition, there is a $30 per hour rate applied for work beyond the five-hour allowance. (This rate covers software support only.) For information on hardware support, see the section "CUSSP-related DotCIO Services" in this document.

Conditions of Service

To qualify for this program, the system must be continuously powered up and connected to the RPI campus TCP/IP network. You should obtain a network connection before, or at the same time as, applying for CUSSP support. For information on obtaining a network connection see the section "CUSSP-related DotCIO Services" in this document.

Program Caveats

Program II: Customer-Managed Systems

This program is available to RPI faculty and staff whose workstations do not qualify for Program I or who prefer to do their own system administration.

There are several features that make this program different from Program I. First and foremost, you retain control of superuser access to your system. You may keep your own account names and home directories separate from any DotCIO-administered accounts. DotCIO will perform periodic, scheduled maintenance of system software and certain applications. DotCIO will assist with installation and will be available to help with problem determination when software-related problems arise. You continue to perform day-to-day operations.

Within Program II you will need to make an important decision: Do you want the Andrew File System (AFS) installed on your system? With AFS commands and a cache installed, your system will be joined to the RCS campus file system containing all the RCS userids, home directories, and, more importantly, RCS applications. All you need to do to participate in the campus file system through AFS is dedicate a modest amount of local disk space to serve as an AFS cache partition.

Supported Systems

CUSSP Program II support is available for a variety of hardware platforms. Currently, this list includes:

Please note that this list of supported vendors and models is subject to change. Support for a given model or vendor will only be dropped, however, at the time of contract renewal. In general, the list of DotCIO supported models will continue to include some models that the vendor has recently declared obsolete.

Supported Operating System Releases

The list of operating system releases supported under CUSSP Program II includes:

The list above highlights a principal difference between Programs I and II in that, as a Program II customer, you may continue using an older version of your operating system if you so choose, so long as DotCIO still supports it. In some cases, however, you may be informed that a specific problem you are experiencing cannot be fixed without an operating system upgrade.

Detailed Program Features

Additional Program Features

In addition to the benefits listed above, Program II has the following features:

Program II Fees

The program fee for Program II is $40 per hour, though initial setup is free.

Conditions of Service

Program Caveats

Time & Materials Services for UNIX Systems

This service, available to any Rensselaer faculty or staff, covers the same machine types and operating system release ranges as in the CUSSP Program above, and is designed for UNIX system owners who occasionally need some assistance. The program requires no formal contract between DotCIO and the customer. However, you should keep in mind that customers with contracts in the CUSSP program will receive higher priority than those who choose the Time and Materials service.

The Time & Materials hourly system support rate is $50/hour; this rate covers software support only. For information on hardware support, see the section "CUSSP-related DotCIO Services" below.

Typical Uses of CUSSP Service Time Allocation

A list of software maintenance tasks for which customers typically request CUSSP assistance appears below, providing examples of services for which a CUSSP Program customer might use some of their on-site service allowance hours. The list also includes things that Time & Materials customers may wish to contract CUSSP support for as well. (We do not intend this to be an exhaustive list; customers should feel free to request any type of system software assistance they require.)

CUSSP-Related DotCIO Services

CUSSP Office Hours

Any RPI UNIX System Adminstrator is welcome to take advanatge of DotCIO's UNIX expertise. This service is aimed at helping System Administrators who are having a non-urgent system problems which they suspect will be easily solved by someone with more experience. The designated CUSSP representative will be available during office hours in their office location (they will not make site visits), or you may contact the representatives by phoning the numbers listed below, or by directing e-mail to

Dave Bicknell is available at extension 6966 or in VCC 311.

Kelly Catelli is available at extension 8165 or in VCC 311.

Andy Mondore is available at extension 8156 or in VCC 311.

Chet Osborn is available at extension 8169 or in VCC 211.

During regular office hours, we will make a "best efforts" attempt to solve your problem. However, the CUSSP represenative on duty deems your problem to be beyond the scope of office hours handling, you will need to make a CUSSP service appointment. If you are a CUSSP contractee, that appointment will be charged against your allocation of CUSSP service time; otherwise, that appointment will be billed as a Time & Materials call.

Please note that the amount of effort the CUSSP representatives can give to any particular office hour request depends upon the demand for the service. In other words, if they have other requests pending on-line, each help request will get a smaller amount of attention.

Pre-purchase System Needs Assessment

The best time to involve DotCIO in your UNIX system support is before you purchase the system. CUSSP personnel will help you determine the most appropriate hardware and software configuration for your needs, as well as describe the various support programs CUSSP offers. You need not be a current contract holder to request this service, which is provided free-of-charge for systems of three or fewer machines.

Local Area Network Planning and Installation

Connection to the RPI TCP/IP network is a prerequisite for CUSSP. DotCIO has considerable experience installing and maintaining the types of local area networks most frequently used by UNIX systems. Our services in this area include pre-purchase Local Area Network planning, purchasing, installation and post-installation system software configuration. For further information, contact Mike Addario, Manager Technician Services, by phoning ext. 6557 or by directing e-mail to

UNIX System Hardware Support

Hardware support contracts may be available from DotCIO for IBM RS6000 systems and Sun Microsystems workstations. For further information, contact Joyce Armao, Rensselaer Computer Repair, by phoning ext. 8178, or by directing e-mail to

DotCIO's Informational Newsletter: The Kiosk

DotCIO's newsletter, The Kiosk, is published five times during the school year and contains articles dealing with a variety of computing-related topics, schedules for any upcoming UNIX short courses, announcements of CUSSP changes, and software update news. A free subscription to The Kiosk is included with each CUSSP contract.

Also, regularly check the On-line Kiosk for the most up-to-date computing information.

DotCIO Short Courses

From time to time, DotCIO will offer short courses on topics ranging from Introduction to UNIX to Shell Programming. Please check the ARC Short Courses page for details.