Archive for the ‘Announcements’ Category

new ISG staff member

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2020

It is my pleasure to welcome Stephan Müller into our group. He joins us to replace Christian Schneider in the Linux team.

Welcome Stephan!

Hardware maintenance of storage front-end servers.

Thursday, July 30th, 2020

Update 23:50: we ran into severe problems and the migration took longer than expected. Everything is back online now. Sorry we’re late.


Planned maintenance will be taking place on all shared-storage front-end servers on Thursday, August 6th, starting at 17:00. The service will be down for approximately 2-3 hours. This post will be updated as soon as work is completed, were we to finish earlier than expected. We will be upgrading the network switch and replacing hardware in several machines.

All group shares will be affected, i.e. group-data, IPA, IGP and Galaxy. Only the home and backup servers will be accessible during this time.

For emergency cases, there will be read-only access to last night’s backup as described here.

New backup service (beta)

Friday, July 10th, 2020

TL;DR we have a new backup solution mainly for laptops that frequently leave campus and are looking for testers.

Among the many things we had to learn during the Corona-induced home office stint, one particularly interesting one was: which of our services do work from outside the ETH network, and which do not. I’d like to believe we fared rather well in general, but one glaring counter-example is our BackupPC service for lab and laptop computers. It relies on the client machine having a .dhcp.phys.ethz.ch host name, which only works on wired campus connections. We understand this meant missing backups for those of you who had to take machines off-campus.

In order to be prepared for a second wave, we’ve partnered up with our colleagues of isginf to provide a lab/laptop backup system that works with whatever network connection you have available. It’s based on the tried and tested Open Source restic backup solution that runs on Windows, Linux and macOS clients.

At the current stage we’re looking for early beta testers. Since lab computers are typically still in the lab and continue to work fine with BackupPC, laptop users are currently most interesting for us. So if you’d like to test out our road-warrior compatible backup solution, please get in touch. Be aware that this service still has some rough edges, but we’ll walk you through all necessary steps and the backup runs themselves have been working fine for weeks now.

Group-data server hardware maintenance.

Tuesday, June 16th, 2020

Update 18:15 group-data is back!

Planned maintenance will be taking place on our group-data.phys.ethz.ch server on Friday, June 19, starting at 17:00. The service will be down for approximately 2 hours. We will be replacing the network interface card to improve service stability.

All group shares will be affected except IPA, IGP and Galaxy.

For emergency cases, there will be read-only access to last night’s backup as described here.

New D-PHYS collaboration/chat service (Slack replacement)

Friday, March 20th, 2020

Now that we’re all forced to work from home, one of the biggest challenges is effective communication. Some of you might have heard about Slack, a popular proprietary collaboration/chat solution for group communication. At ISG, we have worked on a D-PHYS-hosted alternative for quite some time, and have now redoubled all efforts to get it out to you as soon as possible. Today we’re launching our Matrix homeserver and Element chat client to all D-PHYS employees and students. In contrast to Slack, which is a proprietary communication silo that holds your chat history hostage, Matrix is an open source project that publishes the Matrix open standard for secure, decentralized, real-time communication (chat, VoIP, AR/VR, IoT). All parts of your communication (chats, uploaded documents etc) will be hosted at D-PHYS allowing data self-sovereignty (making it compatible with ETH regulations).

If you’re interested to use this service to communicate and collaborate in your group or with us, please see this readme page.

Please note that we’re starting with a basic set of functionality (group and direct chats, image upload). Internally we’ve already tested features like video calling and custom bots which will be rolled out incrementally in the coming weeks.

Informatikdienste will soon announce the availability of Microsoft Teams, which tries to achieve the same goal but which we neither recommend nor support in D-PHYS.

Corona and ISG

Thursday, March 12th, 2020

ISG is working from home. We will not be able to pick up the phone. If you have any helpdesk request, please use isg@phys.ethz.ch

As ETH and D-PHYS are working hard on every level to prepare for all conceivable situations related to Covid-19, also here at ISG we are trying to deal with the situation as it evolves. Some information from our side:

  • we’re currently dealing with a great number of requests. Please bear with us if reaction time is somewhat longer than usual
  • please always send requests to isg@phys.ethz.ch and not to individual people (fun fact: this also applies in non-Corona times!)
  • we have created a readme page that helps you prepare for home office
  • there is a D-PHYS internal wiki for easy sharing of information
  • please don’t take your managed Windows or Linux workstation home. It won’t work.
  • if you feel that you need some IT assistance or major changes to your setup, please get in touch with us at an early stage
  • we have taken precautions to be able to maintain D-PHYS IT Services and ISG Helpdesk even if we were being requested to stay home

new ISG staff member

Friday, February 7th, 2020

It is my pleasure to welcome Maciej Bonin into our group. He joins us to replace Patrick Schmid in the Linux team.

Welcome Maciej!

Migration of Dynamic DNS

Tuesday, January 21st, 2020

Some of you make use of our DynDNS infrastructure that automatically assigns hostnames to computers with a dynamic IP address. This feature enables you to connect to your computer using its sent hostname, followed by the dhcp.phys.ethz.ch domain (eg example.dhcp.phys.ethz.ch) instead of the ever-changing dynamic IP address.

Thursday morning

Jan 30 2020 between 9:00 and 11:00

we will be migrating our DynDNS service to the servers of central Informatikdienste. As a consequence the resolution of example.dhcp.phys.ethz.ch to its dynamic IP address may not always work during that time. The global phys.ethz.ch and ethz.ch domains are not affected. Therefore the bulk of our users will not even notice the migration.

Update: Informatikdienste have postponed the migration from 23rd to 30th January.

Phishing and malware emails

Sunday, September 29th, 2019

In light of the recent surge of malware waves, we have decided to quarantine all incoming emails containing Microsoft Office documents with macros enabled – actually, we have been doing so for a week already. Unfortunately way too many of you still open those documents and risk (or succeed in) infecting your computer. Emails containing such dangerous documents will be quarantined and are never shown to the user. Emails with static office documents (no macros) will be delivered unaffected. We’re aware of the fact that this policy might create the occasional false positive, but the benefits for all of D-PHYS far outweigh the downside and real use cases for macro documents via email are in fact very rare. In the 8 days of operation so far, we’ve detected ~850 infected office documents and only 1 false positive. Quarantined emails will be deleted after 30 days, so you have ample time to contact us in case a valid document gets flagged by accident.

Please get in contact if you have any questions.

Groupware upgrade

Wednesday, September 25th, 2019

Update 08:00: Migration completed. Please note that a legacy CalDAV URL has changed – if you’re using a CalDAV client (for example Thunderbird or Apple Calendar), make sure you have the correct URL according to the documentation

For our calendar solution groupware.phys we schedule a migration on Friday, September 27, starting at 07:30. The service will be down for approximately 1 hour. We will move the service to a new virtual machine and upgrade to a new version.