Operational Procedures

Operational Procedures for Using Computing Resources at the University of Southern California

Section 1. Printing

ITS provides printing resources at a number of locations throughout campus. Printing is provided on a per-use fee basis; that is, customers are charged for each page they print. Payment can be made through USCard.

No custom paper or personal forms are allowed in ITS Computing Center printers.

Section 2. Password Changes

In order to provide account and system security, ITS requires that passwords be changed on a regular basis. At this time, the system automatically requests that passwords are changed every twelve months for most users. Users with privileged access to administrative systems or systems containing sensitive information may be required to change their passwords more frequently.

If you are on a UNIX system, know your correct password, and would like to change it, you can do this yourself by logging into your account and typing the UNIX command passwd at a system prompt.

University Park Computer Accounts
Account holders who forget their passwords and need to have them changed can do so by visiting an ITS computer consultant. Consultants are available in Leavey Library’s Lower Commons at the Reference and Computer Consultation Desk. To have a password reset, the customer must present his or her USCard or another form of picture identification. Passwords cannot be changed based on requests made via electronic mail.

Health Science Computer Accounts
Customers with accounts on the the health sciences server (hsc) can have their passwords reset by contacting the appropriate authorized signer for their area. Passwords cannot be changed based on requests received through electronic mail.

Section 3. Network Identities

3.1 There are various naming and authentication conventions in place on the USC Network. Some of those conventions, like UNIX IDs (formerly called usernames) and friendly names (or friendly aliases), are visible and require administrative structures to ensure their integrity.

3.2 UNIX IDs (usernames) are created automatically by the system based on your legal name and have an 8-character limit. Due to the difficulty in meeting all requests for custom UNIX IDs, there are only four instances when a UNIX ID can be changed on an ITS system:

  • The user’s name has been legally changed, and he or she can provide documentation of the change (driver’s license, passport, USCard).
  • The legal name on which the UNIX ID is based was misspelled at the time of account creation.
  • The user wishes to change his or her UNIX ID so it matches his or her already existing UNIX ID on another USC system. The two systems cannot share password files for this type of change to be possible.
  • The UNIX ID yields a word in English or another language that is derogatory, defamatory, ethnically or culturally insensitive, or in violation of one’s religious beliefs. USC’s Information Council must review and approve all requests of this type.

In the case where a UNIX ID is changed, it can only be changed to reflect all or a portion of the user’s legal name. No aliases or nicknames can be used as a UNIX ID. Additionally, it may not be possible to change a UNIX ID if the proposed change is already an existing ID for another individual. In this case, a middle initial will usually be inserted.

If you meet the criteria for a UNIX ID change, and you wish to have your ID altered, please send your request via email to accounts@usc.edu or contact the ITS Customer Support Center at 213-740-5555.

3.3 Friendly names, likewise, are generated automatically as a derivation of your legal name, without the 8-character limit (e.g., tommy.trojan@usc.edu). Due to the difficulty in meeting all requests for custom friendly names, there are only four instances when a friendly name can be changed on an ITS system:

  • The user’s name has been legally changed, and he or she can provide documentation of the change (driver’s license, passport, USCard).
  • The legal name on which the friendly name is based was misspelled at the time of creation.
  • The friendly name yields a word in English or another language that is derogatory, defamatory, ethnically or culturally insensitive, or in violation of one’s religious beliefs. USC’s Information Council must review and approve all requests of this type.
  • An alternate friendly name derivation, for a prominent member of the university community, will enhance the visibility and image of the university. USC’s Information Council must review and approve all requests of this type.

In the case where a friendly name is to be changed, the new name must reflect all or part of the user’s legal name. Additionally, it may not be possible to change a friendly name if the proposed change is already in use by another individual. In this case, a middle initial or numeral will likely be inserted in the friendly name.

If you meet the criteria for a friendly name change, and you wish to have yours altered, please send your request via email to accounts@usc.edu or contact the ITS Customer Support Center at 213-740-5555.

Section 4. File Restorals

ITS makes nightly backups of files on the major timesharing systems and departmental machines that are under ITS support. This means that your file(s) must have existed for at least one night in order for a backup to exist. Backups are generally kept for two weeks. Therefore, depending upon when your files were lost, if they existed for at least one night and it has not been more than two weeks, your files should be retrievable from our backup tapes. If it has been longer than two weeks since you’ve lost your files, the backups may no longer exist. End-of-semester archives are kept, however, and sometimes older files can be retrieved from these.

The necessary steps for submitting a file restoral request depend upon the host on which the files resided.

If your account is on a ITS-owned machine (e.g., student, faculty/staff, research, health sciences, and some departmental accounts), you may request a restoral. To have your files restored, you will need to visit the Customer Support Center (Leavey Library Lower Commons) and speak with an ITS consultant on duty. You will need to tell the consultant when you deleted your files and when you last modified them, if you know. The consultant can record the necessary information to submit your request. Processing a restoral request may take up to 2 weeks.

If your account is on a machine that is not owned by ITS and has backup support by ITS (support must be for the partition on which the requested files reside), there is no fee for the restoral, and you can submit your restoral request by sending email to consult@usc.edu. In your email message, please include the complete path name(s) of directories and/or files to be restored, as well as the creation and last modification dates of the files.

ITS encourages account holders to take measures to prevent loss of data. These measures include using the -i option with the rmmv and cp commands which will help prevent accidental data loss and also downloading important information to a backup diskette. For more information on downloading, speak with an ITS consultant.

Section 5. Disabled and Expired Accounts

Once an account has expired and been disabled, the files will be archived to tape. An account holder can request to have files retrieved. ITS will download the files to a DVD (to be supplied by ITS). The customer can then pick up the DVD or have it mailed. In order to retrieve files from an expired departmental, faculty/staff or research account, the approval of the appropriate authorized signer is required.

To request a file download, the account holder must contact the ITS Customer Support Center at 213-740-5555 or in person at the Leavey Library Lower Commons during regular business hours to make the necessary arrangements and provide the relevant information, which will include verification of identity and payment.

Section 6. Software Acquisition

Software for shared host computers and for managed desktop systems located in the computing centers in KOH, LVL, SAL, and WPH is evaluated and purchased by Information Technology Services (ITS) in consultation with the university community. Basic general-purpose software libraries exist in all locations and for most common operating systems.

ITS is only able to provide software that is used by a reasonably large group for instructional or research purposes. Discipline-specific software or software required by a limited number of individuals must be funded by the relevant unit(s).

ITS will evaluate and install unit-funded software for teaching or research purposes after it has been found to meet system and administrative requirements. ITS will provide system support for software installed in the ITS Computing Centers for the duration of the contract or course, or for the period of one year. ITS cannot support many types of client/server applications (i.e., Microsoft SQL Server, Filemaker Pro, Oracle database, calendaring systems, etc.).

Only ITS can load software applications and modify desktop configurations on ITS-supported systems located in the ITS Computing Centers and auditoria.

In order for software installation to be completed by the beginning of the fall semester, the ITS software group must receive the request by April 15. Requests that are submitted after April 15 may not be completed by the beginning of the fall semester. Requests for the spring semester must be received by October 1. Requests for the summer semester must be received by March 1. ITS cannot install new software or upgrade software during the course of the semester.

Installation requests are generally processed on a first-come, first-served basis. Critical classroom applications may receive higher priority over less essential requests.

Due to the variety and complexity of software applications, ITS cannot guarantee that all applications will load and function properly. ITS will verify authenticity and licensing. If situations are encountered that will prevent the installation or use of the application, ITS will notify the requesting customer within 10 business days after starting the installation process to explain the situation and offer any alternate options that might be available. Once the software installation is complete, the ITS software group will notify the customer.

In order to maintain a current and robust software collection, ITS will conduct an annual review of the general-purpose collection each spring. Software determined to be used infrequently or by a limited number of individuals may be removed and will not be available at the beginning of the subsequent academic year. Changes in software availability will be communicated via email to faculty and instructors who have requested the software. Review and renewal of special-purpose software funded by a unit will be conducted in collaboration with that unit and require affirmative action on the part of the relevant budget officer or dean(s).

As operating systems are upgraded, ITS will work with its customers to identify any issues with software currently in use. Software on general-use computers that is not supported by the manufacturer and that does not function properly with the latest level of the operating system may need to be replaced with a new, fully supported application or removed from the general-use environment.

For more information, or if you are interested in acquiring software for a special purpose, please contact Karen Juday, senior manager for Learning Environments Support, at 213-740-1789. You may also submit software requests online using the Software Request Form available at: https://web-app.usc.edu/web/its/spaces/software_request/.

Section 7. Temporary (/tmp) Space

USC’s UNIX time-sharing hosts provide temporary storage space at /tmp. Both users and the UNIX operating system can access and store files in this location. Because only a limited amount of space exists in /tmp, ITS has developed a set of policies to govern this directory. These policies attempt to ensure that tmp space is available for the system, which requires temporary storage for proper operation and users alike.

Please note that /tmp space is temporary and, therefore, is not backed up. It should not be relied upon as primary storage. Users are encouraged to make backup copies of data onto another location. ITS reserves the right to remove files stored in /tmp whenever necessary in order to ensure continued operation of the system. If needed, ITS will make every attempt to remove the oldest files and/or ones causing a problem for the system.

The following policies governing /tmp will be enforced:

Student Computing Facility (scf)
Files saved to /tmp on time-sharing hosts (aludra, nunki) will be deleted if they have not been modified in the past 24 hours.

Basic Computing Facility (bcf)
Files saved to /tmp on time-sharing hosts (mizar) will be deleted if they have not been modified in the past 24 hours.

Health Sciences Computing Facility (hsc)
Files saved to /tmp on time-sharing hosts (hsc) will be deleted if they have not been modified in the past 24 hours.

Research Computing Facility (rcf)
Files saved to /tmp on time-sharing hosts (almaak) will be deleted if they have not been modified in the past 5 days.

Users who must store large files for more than five days should utilize the associated research project’s data directory and not /tmp . For quota increases on research project directories, email hpcc@usc.edu.

Section 8. Quotas and Quota Increases

All ITS computer accounts are subject to a disk space quota. Quotas limit the amount of files a given user can store in his or her account. Current usage and quota for an account can by viewed using the command quota -v typed at a UNIX prompt.

Quotas may be adjusted (increased or decreased) with the approval of the authorized signer for the department or unit the account is associated with. The list of authorized signers is available online (web-app.usc.edu/web/its/accounts/authsigner/).

Requests for quota changes should be sent by the authorized signer to the ITS Customer Support Center via email to accounts@usc.edu.

For student accounts, quota adjustments will only be valid for the current semester while quota adjustments for faculty/staff and research accounts are valid for the life of the account. For faculty/staff and research accounts, quota increases can be requested at anytime throughout the year, however, quota decreases can only be requested at the time the account is renewed for the upcoming fiscal year.

Section 9. Setting up Mail Lists, List Servers, and Newsgroups

ITS provides several alternatives to electronic communication that is intended for a large audience. Mail Lists, List Servers, and Newsgroups provide three distinct approaches to handling mass electronic communication.

Mail Lists
Mail lists can be setup for a list of email addresses. This approach is most commonly used for department mail lists or other groups on-campus. For example, a list of staff members in the computing organization might have the mail list address computing-staff@usc.edu. When a message is sent to this address it is then forwarded to all members of the list.

The mail list is a text file that resides on one of the UNIX servers that contains all of the addresses that will receive the mail. A mail list must have a USC faculty, staff member, or member of a recognized student group (with a faculty/staff sponsor) as the list owner. The list owner will be able to change the list.

To request a mail list, send email to consult@usc.edu and include the name/purpose of the list along with a list of the people to be placed on it initially. When the list is setup, ITS will reply to the request with information about how to change it.

List Servers
List servers provide an email address (usually based on the group’s common interest) that participants can send mail to. The list server then forwards a copy of the message to all members of the list. USC maintains mailing list management software (listproc) to assist its community in electronic communication, in accordance with its electronic mail policies. This software allows computer users to subscribe and unsubscribe from the list online.

A list must have a USC faculty, staff member, or member of a recognized student group (with a faculty/staff sponsor) as a list owner. It is the list owner’s responsibility to deal with the errors on the list, to be the final authority of list content, and to be the point of contact when dealing with the systems support staff. There may be more than one list owner at the same time. All the list owners need not be from USC. The list must be of interest or benefit to the USC community.

For more information, or to submit a request for list creation contact listmgr@usc.edu.

Newsgroups
Newsgroups provide a public forum for discussion about a topic. Newsgroups are commonly set up for classes and other groups that have a common interest. Unlike the case of Mail Lists and List Servers, where messages are sent directly to participants, participants must access the newsgroup in order to read new information that is posted to it. A newsgroup must have a USC faculty, staff member, or member of a recognized student group (with a faculty/staff sponsor) as the newsgroup owner. To request the creation of a newsgroup, send email to consult@usc.edu and include the name/purpose of the group. When the newsgroup has been setup a reply will be sent indicating the name that was given to the group.

Section 10. Reserving a Computing Center Classroom

The computer classrooms in King Olympic Hall (KOH), Salvatori Computer Science Center (SAL), and Waite Philips Hall (WPH) are designed for hands-on computer instruction only.

WPH B36 has a capacity of 35 students, KOH 208 has a capacity of 32 students, SAL 126 has a capacity of 36 students. SAL 127 has a capacity of 36 students; SAL 109 has a capacity of 31. Moving additional seats into the classrooms is not allowed.

The rooms can be reserved only by a department head, a faculty member, or a staff member. The department head, faculty member, or staff member will be held responsible for damages to the rooms and the equipment they contain during the session.

Reservations should be scheduled with Classroom Scheduling by calling 740-4612 or visiting the Classroom Scheduling website.

Section 11. ITS Computing Center Public User Areas

The following guidelines are provided to support a positive working environment in the computing centers. These guidelines are subject to change without notice.

Visitor Conduct
A valid USC ID is required for entry to SAL between the hours of 8:00 p.m. and 8:00 a.m.

Making loud noises, smoking, wearing skates or roller blades, riding bicycles, or bringing pets (except for guide dogs) is not permitted in the computing centers.

You are expected to pick up and throw away your trash. If your behavior is disruptive or you refuse to follow the policies, you will be asked to leave. If necessary, security will be contacted.

Computer Usage
The computing centers have a limited number of workstations available, and we rely on students’ good judgment to share resources appropriately. If others are waiting to use a computer, game playing is not allowed. The computers are intended for school work.

Students may only use one computer at a time.

If you leave your assigned computer unattended for over 10 minutes, you will be logged out and the station may be assigned to another user. The stations are for interactive work. If the station is locked, this time limit is still enforced.

Facilities
Users should not move equipment or furniture. If you need assistance, please contact the student technical assistant.

Hardware
Please do not power off any equipment. If a computer or laptop is “frozen,” or non-responsive, or if you are having any software or hardware problem please report this to a computing center staff member. Do not attempt to troubleshoot the issue yourself.

Section 12. Deletion of Email in Trash Folders

Deleted email messages contained in trash folders will be purged from the email system on a regular basis.