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Campus Computing News

Internet Bandwidth Upgrade

Connecting to the Academic Mainframe May Require New Software

Student E-mail Services to be Improved

New Internet Software CD-ROM Coming

Computer Advantage Program Disbanded

GroupWise 5.2 Proxy

RSS Notes for the New Year

The Controversy Over On-line Instruction

The Network Connection

List of the Month


Short Courses

IRC News

Staff Activities

Shift Key


Student E-mail Services to be Improved

By Dr. Ty Young, UNIX Systems Administrator

Student E-mail services will be moving to a new, faster and more powerful system this February. Although the new system will actually run on a different machine than it does currently, users can rest assured that few if any changes will be required on their part. With over 24,000 active account-holders at UNT, we're committed to making the transition as smooth as possible. Our goal is to make the change transparent. We expect that users will be able to connect to the new system with virtually no changes in the way they connect. We've worked extremely hard to ensure that the E-mail software we support (for example, Simeon and, for some users, Pine) will talk very nicely to the new system. We'll also copy existing E-mail that users have on the old system onto the new system. And, perhaps most importantly, users' E-mail addresses will not change.

The new system takes UNT's main student E-mail service off of the Computing Center's 'general-purpose' UNIX server, known to many as 'Jove,' onto another server designed exclusively for E-mail. Jove will continue to be available to students who wish to have 'shell' access on a UNIX system, and will run software allowing those users to connect to the new server in order to read and send E-mail. Among the benefits of the new system:

  • Storage space: With the introduction of the new system, users will have 15 megabytes of storage space exclusively for E-mail, and an additional 10 megabytes of storage space for other files (such as World Wide Web content development.) This almost triples the presently available per-user quota of 10 megabytes.
  • System reliability: The new server, a Sun Microsystems Enterprise 3500, features more memory, faster processors, a redundant power supply system (in the event that one power supply fails, the other can take over instantaneously, minimizing downtime) and a redundant hard drive system, among many other benefits. The current system, on the other hand, was purchased in 1993 and has been running almost continuously since then with only a few outages of service.
  • Improved system security: By moving E-mail services onto a separate system, the Computing Center hopes to minimize security threats. The new system will be 'locked down' in such a way as to deny connections except from E-mail clients (i.e. 'programs' running on PCs like Simeon, Outlook Express® or Communicator®.) We believe that unauthorized access to users' accounts will be very infrequent after we bring up the new system. Most of the problems we'll see in this regard will be a result of users making their passwords known to others, which is in itself a violation of UNT Computing Policy.
  • Faster transaction speed: the new server has much faster and more powerful processors and a higher bus speed than on the current system (the 'bus speed' is the speed of communication between the processors and, for example, the hard drive system.) By moving E-mail services onto a dedicated server, additionally, performance on both systems should be greatly improved.

A number of issues have made the migration prudent. When the Computing Center first started handing out E-mail accounts beginning around 1993, E-mail was a very new and uncommon resource of which most students (not to mention faculty) were unaware. There were probably only about 2,000 accounts on our present system, Jove. Over the years, however, 'The Internet' has become a household word, and in the interest of providing this valuable resource to students in support of their academic studies, we've extended our user base to over 20,000. Jove presently serves student World Wide Web pages, provides high-performance computing power (i.e., program compiling), runs (and stores) the entire student E-mail system, and a number of other Internet-related topics. E-mail is, by far, the most popular service running on the system. With so many students reading and writing E-mail every day, however, the system's performance often gets bogged down. Moving the student E-mail service onto its own dedicated server will help alleviate that problem.