Archive for the ‘Announcements’ Category

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 Riot 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 (details will be available here).

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.

FileMaker Upgrade

Friday, August 30th, 2019

We will upgrade our FileMaker server next Tuesday 3rd September 2019 between 20:00 and 22:00 o’clock. This will lead to a downtime of the services that depend on a FileMaker database, for instance experimente.phys.ethz.ch and lager.phys.ethz.ch.

The new FileMaker server will only work with FileMaker clients version 16 or newer. If you need to access a FileMaker database from your computer, we recommend you install the latest FileMaker 18 from the IT Shop. If you have a ISG-managed computer, we will take care of upgrading the FileMaker client.

Web server upgrade – step 2

Wednesday, August 28th, 2019

With the migration of the ‘personal’ web sites completed we’re now addressing regular web shares. The easy ones have already been moved to the new web server and we’re now asking share owners to prepare for migration. We will perform the migration for you, but your web site has to be ready for the environment on the new server (PHP 7 or Python 3 in particular). We’re currently planning to power off the old web server at the end of 2019, so if you haven’t migrated by then, your site will be offline. Please work with us to keep this deadline.

Web server upgrade – step 1

Tuesday, July 9th, 2019

Update 10:15 – migration done, please let us know if you experience any problems.

After 11(!) years of loyal service, the current D-PHYS web server hardware will be retired in 2019 and all web sites hosted by ISG will migrate to new hardware. We will take the opportunity to reorganize the way we host web sites and improve the general setup of the web server.

In a first step, we will migrate the ‘personal’ web sites (those residing in public_html/ in a home directory or group share) on Wednesday, 17.7.2019. We have extensively tested the new setup, and unless you’re using dynamic content in your public_html folder (like PHP or other CGI scripts), you should not notice anything. With CGIs, there’s a slight chance we might have overlooked something, so please test your dynamic content after that date and get in touch if you see a problem.

The regular web sites hosted by us will be successively moved to the new hardware at a later time and we will get in touch with their owners should it be necessary.

Note that this will not affect the department website in any way as that one is hosted on the CMS of Informatikdienste.

Home server maintenance on Tue, July 9, 17:00

Wednesday, July 3rd, 2019

Update 20:10 Migration finished! Everything should work as normal.

In order to guarantee sustained performance and availability of our storage system, we schedule a maintenance downtime of our home directory server on

Tuesday, July 09, starting at 17:00

This only affects the home shares (technically: smb:\\home.phys.ethz.ch & /home/USERNAME). Email and group shares will have no interruption.

Since the server also needs a file system check, the downtime will take several hours.

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

We will update this posting once the home server is back online.