GAS will be reutilized

By Edina A.T. Strum
Arizona Summer Wildcat
July 24, 1996

Gregory Harris
Arizona Daily Wildcat

CCIT Systems Programmer Viji Malidharan stands with CCIT's Manager of Research Support, Mark Westergaard in front of the larger "U" account computer system.


Students and staff who now have General Access System computer accounts will have to change their accounts to the "U" system by the end of the fall semester.

The Center for Computing and Information Technology will be converting the General Access System accounts to "U" computer system accounts to create a faster, better system, said Linda Drew, computing manager at CCIT.

The "U" cluster has been operating on the campus since 1994, primarily serving the research community, said Mark Westergaard, manager of research support at CCIT.

However, a $150,000 grant from IBM has made it possible to expand the system to offer improved services, Westergaard said.

The upgrades include:

Messages will be sent by electronic mail to all GAS account holders describing the changes and instructions on how to set up a "U" account, Westergaard said.

Viji Muralidharan, systems programmer for CCIT, said GAS users will have to create their own "U" accounts. They will be able to keep their old user name and password, as long as the name does not already exist on the "U" system.

Although it puts the burden on the student, adding a new account can be done quickly through CCIT's ADDACCT system. Users can and follow the prompts to create or modify an account.

Most students in an engineering computer lab last week had not heard about the planned conversion, but said as long as it works well, they don't care.

Frederick Weldon, an education post-baccalaureate student who has accounts on the GAS and VAX systems, said, "GAS could use the improvements. Students only have 1 megabyte of disk space. It would be better if we could get 5 megabytes."

The "U" conversion will allow each user up to 2.5 megabytes of disk space, Westergaard said.

Other improvements include the choice between using a menu-driven or shell interface.

The menu-driven system, which is currently in use, is designed for less experienced users, Westergaard said. He said that after logging onto the system, a menu of options including mail, library, network and UA Info will come up. The user simply chooses a function and is immediately connected.

The shell access requires some knowledge of UNIX operating commands and more closely resembles the current GAS configuration, Westergaard said.

However, Graciela Vazquez, a Russian and international business major and GAS user, said she has concerns.

"I don't think they should do it in the fall. They should give people more time to adjust," Vazquez said.

However, CCIT has given a six-month phase-in period and considers this long enough, since during that time students can still use the GAS accounts as well as "U" accounts, Muralidharan said.

Muralidharan said that during the transition students can also set up a forwarding address from their old GAS address to a "U" address or an address on a private carrier. She said a forwarding service will continue for a year, so even after the GAS system no longer exists, students will get their mail.

Some students have expressed concerns over a recent crash on the "U" cluster and have questioned its reliability.

However, problems on July 4 were not related to the upgrades or inadequacies in the "U" cluster, Westergaard said.

"The mail server went down. It was a hardware problem, and we had to wait for IBM to get us the parts. The mail was held up. It was unavailable, but nothing was lost."

Also, summer is a difficult time for CCIT because electrical storms often cause power outages that disrupt service.

"The 'U' cluster is the most reliable system we have," Muralidharan said.

She and Westergaard want to remind students that regularly scheduled downtimes are used to maintain the systems, and power outages are unpredictable and leave everyone stranded.

The two new "U" servers are and

For more information about CCIT's services, the CCIT info line provides recorded information at 621-2248. Anyone with concerns or suggestions can call the CCIT help desk at 621-4357 or send an e-mail message to

Wildcat Weblink: The U.Arizona Cluster