Centre for Extragalactic Astronomy

Information for Laptop users

Support information
Try contacting nigel.metcalfe@durham.ac.uk for information. We have experience of Fedora and Kubuntu linux (as well as WindowsXP) and some limited MacOSX experience.
Specific support pages:
If you are desperate then there are usually a few old Group-owned laptops lying around which will probably suffice for powerpoint presentations etc. See Lindsay Borrero.
The University insurance policy does NOT cover personal property - only laptops owned by the University are covered. Even then, the excess on theft from an unlocked room is currently £1,100, so for practical purposes most laptops are not going to be covered. For theft by forced entry, or other claims, such as accidental damage, the excess in only £275, so you might recover some money. See the University Procurement insurance - computers for more information.
If you are buying a laptop with University money you must go through the procurement system - you cannot just buy on-line and claim the money back. All computing purchases now have to be undertaken by the CIS - in many cases they have recommended suppliers which must be used unless a good case can be made otherwise ("it is cheaper" does not count as a good case). See Nigel Metcalfe for futher information, but note you can order the goods yourself via the physics database requisitions form.
What to do with a new Laptop
If you bring a new laptop into the department it should be safety (PAT) tested before being plugged in to the mains. This applies to personal laptops as well as departmental ones. PAT testing is done by the Physics Electronic Workshop.
Network connection is via the DU wireless network, which extends throughout the University. You will need your CIS username and password to connect to this.
Windows (& Mac) software
The University has a subscription to the Microsoft Campus Agreement which allows members of Staff to install Microsoft Office and Windows upgrades on University owned machines. See Microsoft Campus Agreement for the full rules. Copies of the MS Office disks - both Mac and Windows versions - (and certain other MS software) can be borrowed for this purpose from the Physics CIS office (room 4, ground floor). For more esoteric software you might have to go to the CIS Helpdesk (in the Bill Bryson Library). There is also a "home-use" scheme whereby staff can purchase Office or Windows upgrades for one personal machine (for work related purposes) for a nominal fee. This software must be removed if you leave the employ of the University. This agreement for private use does NOT apply to postgraduate (or undergraduate) students. In many cases, Postgraduate students can still get cheap deals on Microsoft software by purchasing through the CIS - see the (Microsoft Student Select Scheme.
Linux Software
There are so many different free versions of linux than we no longer recommend any. The Starlink computers use Scientific Linux. See our separate page about Fortran on Linux.
Anti-virus software
The University uses the Sophos Endpoint Security Control suite for University-owned Windows machine. This may not be useful if you take your machine away from the University, as it relies on contacting a server in the University several times a day. There are some CIS suggestions for personal machines, but nothing is provided.
Dual Boot Tips
  • You will need at least 10Gb of system space per operating system, maybe more to allow for updates. So that's 20Gb of your hard disk gone immediately!
  • Linux can now write to Windows XP (NTFS) partitions (see e.g. ntfs-3g, or Linux-NTFS). For many years this was not the case, so for older operating systems, if you going to need to transfer files between Windows and Linux, create an extra suitably sized FAT32 partition. This will become the Windows D: drive (probably!) and can be mounted read/write under Linux. Any files on here can then be manipulated by both operating systems.
Partitioning Tips
  • Upgrading Linux is not always reliable - it is often best to wipe off the old version and do a fresh re-install of the new one. It is therefore a good idea to keep anything which is not system stuff, or which you have installed privately, on separate partitions, so that you can keep them safe. In particular, make /usr/local/ a partition and put private software on there.
  • Following on from the above, if you can, always leave plenty of free space on your system partition(s), so that (hopefull) to do upgrades/reinstalls you do not have to re-partition the disk. New versions of Fedora always seem to need more space!