- 1 What is the Sun Lab?
- 2 Where are the fire exits?
- 3 Which computers can I use?
- 4 Who are the consultants?
- 5 What do `cslab3b' and `9a' mean? What is a 'node'?
- 6 How do I log in?
- 7 What is the email address for my account?
- 8 Are there any rules that I should know about?
- 9 What's the whiteboard for?
- 10 Can I work in my account from my dorm room?
- 11 Who should I see if I have more questions?
What is the Sun Lab?
The Sun Lab is the primary facility used by students taking computer science courses and other selected classes. It is located in Room 143 of the Thomas J. Watson Sr. Center for Information Technology Building (a.k.a. the CIT). The lab consists of 80-odd PCs running Debian Linux. It is used mostly by undergraduate students for coursework, but is also sometimes used as a classroom for computer science courses.
Where are the fire exits?
There are two fire exits, one at the back of the lab (where you usually come in), and one at the front of the lab, to the left of the stage. If the fire alarm goes off, there is no need to log out. Just go to the nearest fire exit. Officials will notify you when you may go back into the building.
Which computers can I use?
Students who have been given a CS course account can use any of the computers in the lab except the one named cslab9a, the first computer you see when you walk in. This machine is reserved for the consultant. If you cannot find a free computer, ask the consultant if there are any free machines, and if necessary, a waitlist will be started.
Students who are looking for a Macintosh or who do not have a CS account should go to the CIS clusters, located in rooms 169 and 167 in the CIT. Help for cluster problems can be found in the CIS Consulting Room 101.
How can I print in the Sunlab?
See the Printing in the Sunlab page for more information.
Who are the consultants?
The sunlab consultants are the people who sit at the first machine you see as you walk in (cslab9a). They are here to:
- help you if your computer does something strange
- answer questions about the software you're using
- help to familiarize you with Linux
- point you towards more sources of information
- monitor the lab and safeguard the computers
Don't be afraid to ask the consultant on duty a question, even if you think it may sound funny. They are there to help you. If they do not know the answer to your question, they will be able to refer you to other sources or other people who may be better able to assist you.
What do `cslab3b' and `9a' mean? What is a 'node'?
These are names which are used to identify the computers. The rows are labelled from 9 (nearest the door) down to 0 (the one on the stage). There is also a row 10 which is against the back wall of the lab, behind row 9. Within each row the computers are labelled alphabetically from left to right. Sometimes, you will hear people refer to machines just by their row and location for short, for instance `6c' or `4e.' Often times, you will hear the word 'node' used to mean one of the computers in the lab. In the lab there are two posters which diagram the layout of the lab. They are located on the columns on the left side of the room. You can also refer to the [LabDiagram.gif diagram] at the end of the Sun Lab Guide to see the current layout of the nodes in the lab.
How do I log in?
- Look for a computer that is displaying a login box. There will be a grey rectangle on the screen with a prompt for your username. If the screen is black, try moving the mouse or hitting the RETURN key. (Whatever you do, please DO NOT touch the power switch!)
- Make sure your mouse arrow is over the login box and the cursor is blinking in the space where you enter your username. Type in your account name (this is generally the shortid assigned to you by Brown) in the Username: field and press return. If you make a mistake, hit the BACKSPACE key to remove the last character.
- Type your password in the Password: field (you won't see what you're typing on the screen, rather you'll see an asterick for each character you've typed) and press RETURN. This should log you in. If it doesn't, try it again in case you mistyped your password the first time. If you're sure you didn't, see the consultant. Remember that passwords are case-sensitive, and that the CAPS LOCK key might be depressed.
What is the email address for my account?
Your e-mail is simply your login name plus "@cs.brown.edu." For example: if your account is 'jcarberr', then your email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. Ask the consultant about email programs if you do not know how to use one.
Are there any rules that I should know about?
There are only a few but important rules which everyone is expected to follow when working in the Sun Lab.
- DO NOT TURN OFF THE MACHINES! The Linux workstations in the lab are part of a network that operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Thus, unlike regular personal computers or laptops, it is unwise and unsafe to suddenly turn off the machine because there may be other users who are logged into the same machine and doing important work. If you are having problems, such as if the machine stops responding, ask the consultant to help you. They are able to solve 99% of the problems you may have. They are your first source of help if you should encounter trouble while working.Note: Logging out does not require you to turn off the machine. Simply select 'Logout' from your background menu options, and the computer should return to the grey login window automatically. If you need assistance, ask the consultant.
- No Food or Drink in the Lab. No one is allowed to have any food or drinks near the machines at any time. If you do, the consultant may ask you to leave the lab or logout. Please be considerate to others and to the machines and finish your food and drink before coming into the Sun Lab.
- Obey the Waitlist. When there is a waitlist running, please be patient and work with the consultant to help things move smoothly. Refer to the [waitlist.html chapter about the waitlist] for more information about waitlist etiquette and how the waitlist works.
- Save course related questions for TAs. The consultants will answer as many questions as they can, but they do not know the answers to most course related questions. If you have trouble with your machine or your working environment, feel free to ask the consultant. Otherwise, save your questions for TA hours. They will be able to answer your questions more efficiently.
You will also want to look at the page on Identities, Quotas, and Limited Shell for more detailed information about working in the Sunlab as a student, and the quotas on space for the work you will be doing there.
The Sun Lab will become a second home to most of you. Thus, like any good home, there are rules of etiquette that must be adhered to so that we can all coexist happily. Most of these rules are straightforward and obvious, but they should be stated anyway.
- No ringing cellphones - Nothing is more annoying than to be interrupted when someone's cellphone goes off. Turn off the ringer and turn on vibrate (or even *gasp* turn your cellphone off entirely).
- Shower - A simple rule, but a rule that many people don't abide by. For the love of God, there's only one door and no windows, so for everyone's sake, cleanse thyself.
- No extended xlocking - If you know you're leaving for a long time (ie, anything more than 30 minutes), log off, don't xlock.
- Keep the noise level down - Even though all your friends are here, the Sun Lab is a place to work, not socialize. If you're dying to tell someone something, zwrite them, don't scream it across the lab.
What's the whiteboard for?
The small whiteboard located on the column by 9a is used to display general messages about the status of the lab. Check the whiteboard when you come into the lab to see if the lab is closed for any reason, or if there is a waitlist running.
Can I work in my account from my dorm room?
Yes, you can work from your dorm room. See the Portable Sunlab page for information about logging into the Sunlab from outside the CS Department building, or ask the consultant for a hotsheet on how to log in remotely. The hotsheet goes over the steps you need to take, as well as the software you will need.
Be aware that if you do log in remotely, you may be asked (via email) to log out of your current node if a user in the Sun Lab needs more processing power. Please be gracious about switching nodes. Especially when there is a wait list, it is easier for you to change nodes than for someone in the lab to do so. Tip: look for free nodes in the middle of the lab to log into when you log in remotely. People in the lab tend to sit near the ends.
Who should I see if I have more questions?
- The Consultant. Ask the sunlab consultant if you have further questions about the lab, the computers, your account, or available software and tools. The consultants can also guide you to other sources of online help and documentation. Problems involving any of these things that the consultant cannot solve will be passed along to the Technical Staff (tstaff) who will fix your problem as soon as possible.
- Teaching Assistants. For course related questions, you can ask the Teaching Assistants for your class. Every CS class has TAs who can answer specific questions about the course material, programs and homework. Most TAs hold office hours up in the TA Room (2nd floor, in the room between the elevators). Remember, you will have to use the elevators to get up to the second floor after 5pm and on weekends. Please do not bother your TAs with questions outside of TA hours or class time - they are fellow students and have their own work to do!
- Faculty. All CS Faculty hold office hours each week. To find out when, ask your professor after class or call x7600 and ask someone on the Administrative Staff (astaff). In general, talk to your TAs first. For questions about placing out of classes or doing summer research you should mail or make an appointment with the appropriate professor.
- Other Students. Your fellow students are a wonderful resource for more information about almost everything having to do with the field of Computer Science. You may ask any student about UNIX or your working environment, but do not violate any non-collaboration agreements in your classes. Students are a great source for help, but be careful not to abuse the privilege.