Unix Systems: To Integrate or Stand Alone

Date of last revision: 6/26/2001

Once upon a time, the School of Engineering had large Unix system in the Design Center, and all faculty workstations and research labs were independent entities. This system sufficed for many years, but by the late 1990s it had become apparent that integrating some of these isolated systems into the Design Center system would make them both more useful and easier to maintain. A few test cases confirmed this, so the Design Center Unix system evolved into the Engineering Unix system.

However, there are some limitations on systems tied into the main Engineering system. This page summarizes the major differences between integrated and standalone machines. If you still aren't sure which is best for you, or you have no preference, we recommend trying an integrated system.

The most critical differences are that integrated systems use a single login and have a much wider variety of software which is updated more regularly, but they have additional dependencies on our servers and you will not have administrative privileges on the machine. If you are integrating an existing standalone machine, existing home directories will be relocated and some usernames may change (although we try to use the same username everywhere whenever we can).

Integrated Standalone Notes
Supported Platforms HP/HP-UX, Sun/Solaris, SGI/Irix, x86/Linux All of these, plus potentially more. Additional modern systems may be able to be integrated, but system setup will take much longer.
Supported Hardware Obsolete systems must be de-integrated. Obsolete systems don't need reconfiguration. See our end-of-support schedule; old hardware is not supported by us in either configuration.
Supported Operating Systems HP-UX 10.20, 11.00, 11.11; Irix 6.5; Solaris 7, 8; Red Hat Linux 6.2, 7.0 All of these, plus Solaris 2.6 and potentially others. See note to Supported Platforms above.
System Availability System must remain turned on so that we can perform maintenance and upgrades; nightly system maintenance from 3:00 - 4:00AM may make some services unavailable; occasional server maintenance requires down time; server problems can interrupt service. No dependencies on other systems. We try to do maintenance late at night or on weekends, but that is not always possible.
User Accounts Single logon for all integrated machines. Separate logon for all independent machines. If you are integrating an existing standalone system, it may require some username changes, and it will mean that existing home directories will be relocated in favor of your integrated-system home directory.
Superuser (root) Access ECSS staff only. ECSS staff, and optionally the machine owner or other designated user(s).
Disk Space Most data lives on server. All applications and user data must be on local disk(s).
Software All compatible software installed by default (subject to licensing restrictions). Basic software is installed; other software available by request. New or upgraded software is usually available on integrated systems first.

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