Archive for the ‘Announcements’ Category

Web server upgrade

Tuesday, February 8th, 2022

This Thursday 2022-02-10 starting at 07:00 we will upgrade the server hosting most of our websites.

Affected websites

The following websites are unavailable during the downtime:

Important changes for website owners

All website owners: If you are a website owner/admin, please join our new Matrix room #web:phys.ethz.ch, to get support and news. After the upgrade, please check your websites for problems.

Python WSGI app owners: All WSGI apps have been switched to use a virtual environment to pin the currently used Python package versions. We encourage you to review and upgrade your dependency versions (via requirements.txt) after the server upgrade. Please read our new WSGI documentation for details.

Versions

  • OS: Debian 10 -> 11
  • Python: 3.7 -> 3.9
  • PHP: 7.3 -> 7.4

Partial Network Downtime on Mon 6th Dec after 19h00

Monday, November 29th, 2021

The central Informatikdienste will have a scheduled downtime of all networking (cable and wireless) in the buildings HPK, HEZ, HPM, HPL and HPW on Monday 6th Dec 2021 in the evening between 19h00 and 23h00.

This is the second of three downtimes for the ongoing project to split the current networks into smaller chunks. This major undertaking will also induce a short downtime for some computers in the dynamic DHCP pool in other buildings (as some of our IP ranges are being moved to the listed buildings).

Users don’t need to do anything and their computers should come back online automatically. Otherwise try to reboot or get in touch with us.

In order to prepare for the migration, Informatikdienste will forbid all changes to their DHCP servers between Friday 3th Dec 13:00 and Tuesday morning. As a consequence we will not be able to register new devices or hostnames during this period.

Emails erroneously flagged as spam

Wednesday, November 24th, 2021

Between yesterday Tue 23rd Nov 07:27 and tonight Wed 24th Nov 01:48 several hundred emails have erroneously been flagged as spam by our mail server. Please check your SpamBox folder for potential false positives during that period.

While we are constantly updating our filtering rules to catch the nasty spam, we are always doing our best to avoid flagging real emails as spam. We apologize for this and are still investigating the details of the root cause. Because the bulk of the messages were being correctly delivered, it took us several hours before we noticed the problem and could fix it.

Partial Network Downtime on Mon 8th Nov after 19h00

Monday, November 1st, 2021

The central Informatikdienste will have a scheduled downtime of all networking (cable and wireless) in the buildings HPH, HPP, HPR, HPS, HPV and HPZ on Monday 8th Nov 2021 in the evening between 19h00 and 23h00.

This is the first of three downtimes for the ongoing project to split the current networks into smaller chunks. This major undertaking will also induce a short downtime for some computers in the dynamic DHCP pool in other buildings (as some of our IP ranges are being moved to the listed buildings).

Users don't need to do anything and their computers should come back online automatically. Otherwise try to reboot or get in touch with us.

In order to prepare for the migration, Informatikdienste will forbid all changes to their DHCP servers between Friday 5th Nov 13:00 and Tuesday morning. As a consequence we will not be able to register new devices or hostnames during this period.

Rethinking groupware

Tuesday, October 12th, 2021

In August of 2010, we introduced our groupware solution for D-PHYS. In the last 11 years the system has served the Department well, but we believe now would be a good time to think about the future of groupware at D-PHYS. Here's an incomplete list of things we noticed over the years:

  • the groupware system seems to get used almost exclusively as a calendar
  • for distributed calendars, the world and people's expectations have changed
  • file and sync formats have come and gone
  • 17 people will have 634 completely orthogonal and incompatible use cases for calendars
  • the product that won our evaluation round in 2010 is not necessarily the best system for 2021

We have sampled the market and test-installed several candidates, but since our humble ISG-internal calendar only covers one very specific use case, we strongly encourage you to give us your feedback so that the next D-PHYS calendar solution will suit you well. In particular, we're interested in learning

  • are you using any other egroupware module(s) aside from the calendar? If you don't tell us about it now, a potential replacement may not have this functionality!
  • what's your current calendar use case? Just a personal calendar? A group calendar? In which configuration?
  • what's your desired calendar use case? This might be the most interesting thing to learn...
  • which sync protocols/devices are you using?
  • what other software/products/services have you been/are you using?

If you would like to help make sure the next evolution in distributed D-PHYS calendars is a success, please join our Matrix room and participate! Thanks a lot.

D-PHYS network migrations

Wednesday, July 7th, 2021

Several network migrations will take place over the next months that will have an impact on the design and inner workings of the ethernet network at D-PHYS. Even though all hosts will be affected at a technical level, we believe that most changes will not require any involvement from your side. By the end of the year this should further increase the fault-tolerance of the cabled network infrastructure and enhance the security of the bulk of the computers at D-PHYS.

Network segmentation

The central Informatikdienste are splitting several networks into smaller chunks to increase the overall stability and fault-tolerance. Unfortunately the details are flagged as confidential, prohibiting us from exposing the precise structure of this segmentation. The main repercussion is that our D-PHYS networks will no longer be able to span across all current buildings at once. So depending on the building, we will have to introduce new subnets and assign new IP addresses to the computers inside.

NAT network

Motivated by the above-mentioned segmentation as well as security considerations, we are planning to migrate a large number of hosts to a NAT network. This means that the computer will only get an ETH-internal IP address and will no longer be directly reachable from outside of ETH. From inside ETH or VPN, all communication with that computer remains unaffected. However, while the host can still communicate with all of the internet, it will no longer be exposed to direct attacks from the outside. We believe that this is a very sensible default for most computers and laptops. Of course it will still be possible to assign a public IP to selected hosts in order to provide a specific service to the outside. The new NAT network also provides DynDNS with sentname.dhcp-int.phys.ethz.ch hostnames and full IPv6 connectivity. So if you rely on DNS entries for dynamic IP addresses, make sure to use the domain dhcp.phys.ethz.ch for public subnets and dhcp-int.phys.ethz.ch for internal subnets.

DHCP migration

Right now, some of our networks are serviced by our own D-PHYS DHCP servers, while others use the DHCP servers of central IT services. We are now consolidating all networks and migrating the remaining ones step-by-step to the DHCP servers of Informatikdienste. This change is mostly technical and should remain unnoticed by most users.

For further details and up-to-date information please refer to our readme page.

Web services downtime

Tuesday, January 19th, 2021

Update 07:00 All web services are back online.

Tomorrow Wednesday 2021-01-20 starting at 06:00 we will upgrade the server hardware hosting most of our web services. We expect them to be back by 08:00 at the latest.

Affected web services

The following services are unavailable during the downtime:

Our Debian, Ubuntu and Raspbian mirror as well as Grafana, InfluxDB and Webmail will not be affected.

We will not be able to send any status updates via our news blog or via our Matrix news and status rooms.

Hardware maintenance of storage front-end server igp-data.

Monday, November 30th, 2020

 Update 00:30:

All shares coming back online now. My sincerest apologies for the delay. And good night to all.

Update 22:40: We have run into hardware problems with one of the backends. The shares remain offline as we continue to diagnose it. A further update will be posted as soon as possible.

On Wednesday, 02 XII 2020, between 18:00 and 20:00, access to
igp-data shares will be interrupted for scheduled maintenance.
The shares need to be taken entirely offline for a network upgrade.
At the same time we will be adding more space to the underlying SAN.
This affects all shares on the igp-data storage gateway (ggl, pf and gsg).

Thank you for your patience, and kindest regards.

Update on Matrix (chat)

Friday, October 9th, 2020

Since our launch of Matrix at the D-PHYS in March a few things have changed.

Important changes

  • The subdomain of the D-PHYS hosted Riot Element Web App changed and is now at element.phys.ethz.ch. If you still use the old subdomain riot.phys.ethz.ch, please move over to the new domain and verify your new session. We will start redirecting the domain in 2021. If you have no other way of getting access to your encryption keys, you could lose access to your encrypted messages
  • New documentation is available at readme.phys.ethz.ch/chat

Other changes

  • Federation with other Matrix instances at ETH and the rest of the Matrix network, giving us access to bridged networks like IRC, Slack, etc. as well
  • We now auto-invite new users to two more ISG moderated rooms (News/Status). Opt-out by leaving if you do not wish to receive updates from us (discouraged!). All existing members of the D-PHYS Lobby have been joined last night
  • End to end encryption support (enabled by default). Element Web does not provide a search function in encrypted rooms as that would be a security issue, use the Desktop App instead
  • Secure key backup method has been set to show one option only ('Security Passphrase') to new users, which will still provide the secondary recovery method using a 'Security Key'
  • We opened up public rooms and room aliases for everyone. Publish your room in the public room directory to be discoverable by others on the Matrix network
  • We enabled quota of 2 GiB (initial) quota per user for media (uploads) to protect from accidental or abusive over-usage
  • Bots for gitlab, reminders, RSS feeds and more
  • Bridges for webhooks and Slack
  • Integrations (widgets)
  • Import of the Slack workspace history of 3 groups at the D-PHYS
  • An Element Web instance with experimental (Labs) features like tags
  • A tag manager to organize many rooms in large accounts
  • Jitsi video conferencing and screen sharing solution (still experimental but used by ISG on a daily basis)
  • URL redirecting service to invite people via websites or email

Lookout

  • We will focus on improving performance and less on features
  • Stabilizing 1:1 calls and video (TURN server) and Jitsi (group calls)

For help and discussion about Matrix and Element join #matrix:phys.ethz.ch

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!